Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Repair faulty buttons of your remote control in 15 minutes!

One of the most commonly faced problems in remote controls is the "dead" button syndrome. Do you hate that you'll have to dump the remote simply because only one or two buttons are not functioning? Well, fret no more! The fact is that most remotes with this problem can be repaired more easily that you thought possible. And believe it or not, all you need are some double-sided tape and a small piece of aluminum foil from your kitchen.
I've been using this method to successfully keep my favorite universal remote control "alive" for over 7 years now.
It should be a pretty straightforward affair for anyone to strip apart the vast majority of remotes out there using a screwdriver. But there are some remotes which are constructed using the "snap-on" method. These could prove difficult to pry open.


To help those of you who may not feel brave enough to take apart a remote control, here is a picture of the components typically found in a stripped-down remote:
As you can see, sandwiched between the front and rear covers are usually only 2 components; a rubber keypad and a circuit board. On some remotes (very few these days), there are additional individual hard plastic buttons between the front cover and the rubber keypad. These buttons will drop out like plastic Lego bricks once you take the covers apart, which means you'll need to know where to put each one back to its correct location when assembling the remote. With such remotes, I'd recommend that you have a visual record of the button locations before taking it apart (either take a photo or refer to the user manual). So what do you do now that you've successfully taken the remote apart (did I hear that sigh of relief there?). Simple, you can either proceed to the next step below or, do something about the years of accumulated dirt and grim that you are probably seeing now! Just be sure not to get the circuit board in contact with any liquid. I recommend just using a damp cloth to wipe the circuit board. It should be safe to wash the other parts in mild detergent, so yes, go ahead and do all that scrubbing you clean freaks! After cleaning, make sure that everything is dry before you proceed.

Now comes the repair part. Ready? Just use the double-sided tape to paste a piece of aluminum foil over the back of the rubber keypad that corresponds to each faulty button. Here's a picture of what I mean:
It should be easy for anyone to cut and paste the foil to the keypad using the double-sided tape. As long as the end result looks like the picture on left. But one neat way is to paste the foil onto the tape first, then use a hole-puncher to punch out uniformly sized pieces of self-adhesive foil.
That's all you ask? Yes, once you are satisfied that you've pasted the foil over all the faulty buttons, you're ready to put things back together as they were. And then go back to enjoy using your refreshed & rejuvenated remote again!

P.S. In case you're wondering how the humble kitchen foil is able to revive the "dead" buttons, here's a quick explanation: Coated behind each key on the keypad is a layer of electrically conductive carbon material - the black portions. When a button is pressed, the key is moved down and its carbon touches the corresponding open-circuit patterns found on the circuit board, thereby causing that particular circuit to close and triggering the remote to fire a signal. When a button is used heavily, dirt & wear kicks in and can reduce the conductivity of the carbon layer on the keypad to the extend that it can no longer behave as a electrical conductor. Thus, by pasting an aluminum foil over the carbon area on the keypad, we are effectively replacing the old carbon layer with a highly conductive metal, and so the button works again. Many keypad devices (excluding miniature devices such as mobile phones & MP3 players) share the same construction principles as the typical remote control, so you should be able to apply this DIY repair technique to a wide variety of gadgets such cordless phones, calculators, keyboards, etc.

75 comments:

Mark said...

That is an excellent idea. I can't help wondering if someone sells a product to re-coat those conductive pads.

iAmLOCoSuCkA said...

http://www.replacementremotes.com/store/productdetailp.cfm?productid=3063

for a keypad conduction applicator... but aluminum foil is MUCH cheaper...

Eric said...

Excellent idea. 2 questions: How long does the repair last, and what specific double sided tape do you use?

I have an older amateur radio HT to repair, and it requires a lot of intricate work to get to the keypad, so I want to make a reliable, long term repair, so I want to make sure this will last just as long as, for example, Caikote 44 or one of the other liquid based repair options.

BlogDog said...

I just fixed my remote using this method. It works like a charm now! Thanks!

Abigail said...

Since most remote control cases are made from plastic mouldings, it is easy to find ways on fixing our remote controllers. Plastic cases act as a shield for circuit and membrane keypad that protect it from any harmful element that may damage the device. If ever our remote controls accidentally fell, the device is not damage because of the case that protects it.

Mario said...

shaking your remote for a few seconds will increase its funcionality...good luck !

mehul said...

Thank you very much.it work for me.

JK-JR said...

Try the foil tape used to seal seams in your home ventilation ductwork. Seems to work as a contact, and it comes with an adhesive back so you don't need to worry about double-sided tape.

Sebastian Grady said...

I have a URC MX-900 remote. Most of the buttons are getting difficult and take hard pressing.

Is it possible to just put a sheet of aluminum foil behind the whole rubber keypad and fix them all without the double sided tape and all the cutting?

Sebastian Grady said...

Is it possible to just use a whole piece of aluminum foil behind the complete keypad if many of the buttons are becoming a bit faulty?

Ryan P said...

I had a remote that was severely dirty and sticky... few buttons worked. I took it apart and washed it down with rubbing alcohol, and used a blow dryer to dry it fully. Of course the buttons didn't work after I washed off the carbon on the back of the silicon buttons, soI use a little bit of thermal paste (used for mounting heat sinks on processors), it just takes a little... wipe off the excess and it makes the contact between buttons and the board :)

Alexandre Winneschhofer said...

Very easy and button working better than its original condition

Erik Nodacker said...

Did the same thing with copper tape and crazy glue. Works great now! Wish I'd thought of foil, it would have saved me a few bucks!

shahin maleki said...

OH MY GOD! man you saved my life

cfghb said...

Worked very well for Panasonic EUR77212. Snap on, pretty tight but used rule from top end down.
Thanks for this, saved me £32 for new remote from Panasonic.

Dawnhenry said...

Thanks to Erik I remembered I had some copper foil tape for stained glass. I had cleaned both the keypads and the circuit board according to some guy on youtube but my remote didn't work.....I took it apart again, applied dots of copperfoil tape to the backs of the key pads and IT WORKS LIKE NEW!!! Thanks...I was dreading buying yet another remote control!!!

MiniDIY said...

Hi everyone. It's been a long while since I abandoned this blog, and I'm surprised but glad that the info is still serving well for many of you til today!

For those who have asked about pasting a large piece of foil to cover the contacts of several buttons, my advice is not to do so. If you are lucky, it might work for a while. But you will risk damaging the remote because the electrical signals might leak from one button's contact to another. Each press of a button is meant to close the circuit for that button only, so having the same conductor in contact other conducting parts of the circuit board is a recipe for disaster.

karen dennehy said...

thanks for the info, I didn't have any double sided tape or cleaner but I was able to get a piece to stay in the correct spot. finally I can change the radio station. I will be investing in some cleaner and some double sided tape so I can get everything working.

Dorival Junior said...

Congratulations!!! Thanks for this idea! It's very easy and warranted.

ParangolƩ said...

Thank you very much, works fine with an old remote control here...

MichaelS said...

Very useful, thanks. In my case the type of hole punch used for punching paper for ring-binders was too big, so I used a 6-position leather punch (for belt holes &c) on the biggest hole, pushing out the circle with a stiff wire (straightened paperclip).

There are several products said to fix these contacts; I understand that the only long-lasting one uses a special conductive epoxy and costs in the region of US$20 or £20. It will do quite a lot of contacts BUT is usable only within about a day of mixing (maybe 3 at maximum). And you can't prepare a smaller amount.

wave rider said...

Good idea...

slinky said...

Wow, thank you for this awesome idea - you saved a keyfob for me!

And, I found something even handier, aluminum foil tape typically used in HVAC work. If you have some around, as I did, it works great. I didn't even bother cutting round pads, just little squares did the trick.

Fantastic! Thank you!!

heckraiser said...

I used super glue to glue small pieces of foil to the pad. Seems to work just as good. Just a miniscule amount. Let dry then reassemble.

Sandra Wada said...

Often rubber keypads are easily to repair. I think that's one of the unique advantages to using rubber keypads on remote controls.

elniƱoyuntero said...

I just wanted to stop by and say THANK YOU VERY MUCH !! for your advise. You just saved me 35 Euros on a new Phillips remote control. A little suggestion. Foil from certain medicines wrapping like Rennie is stronger than kitchen foiland can last a little bit more. Again you made my day !!!

Fernando

reyranet said...

Reyra have same problem with this and need to repair,
thank you somuch

CoffeeCanary said...

You're awesome! I just fixed the buttons on both of my cordless phones and they work like new. :) You saved a perfectly good phone from going into the trash (and quite a few dollars now that I don't have to buy a new one). I am forever grateful there are people like you that take the time to do these blogs.

STAFFBOMBER said...

wow whoever gave the idea of putting silver paper in the the buttons is a genius..its saved me around 50 pound for a new remote.i just cant thank you enough just brilliant wowwwww

Skg said...

Readymade conductive carbon-coated die cut stickers of various shapes are available in electronic component shops. You can peel off the required size and stick to the back side of button. It works perfectly.

Unknown said...

SKG - Please provide a link for these carbon-based tabs. THX!

ionel rusu said...

you deserve a nobel, saved my remote

cjj said...

Just what I needed to know ... I've been pulling like-sized buttons that still work, but which I seldom use, off the device (carefully) and replacing the non-functioning buttons with the less-used functioning ones, but of course they are then detached and can fall out easily and get lost.
However, I'm down to a single double-sided button with only one functioning side, so I needed help.
Got it first try: you were #3 in my Google search, so good job doing that! Hope you didn't have to pay them.

liz hodgson said...

I am trying to repair my Subaru Forester key fob. But in my case the contact has come loose from the circuit board. I need to re-attach it to the circuit board. Do I need to solder it? What type of adhesive should I use?

Thanks!
Liz

sudeep kumar said...

Thanks for the tip. Aluminium foil did the trick. I just fixed my remote button. Now it is working like it's a new remote.

Andrea Evans said...

I just Fixed it..Good and Thanks! and we repair a range of Game consoles in UK

Tamy Poh said...

I don't usually comment on anything i learnt from the Internet.
This solution is easy, low cost and material used can be easily found in our homes. Got me really surprised that THIS TRICK REALLY WORK LIKE MAGIC AND I WANNA GIVE A THUMBS UP!

Also credit to pellepeloton from instructablesdotcom for which i visited and got redirected here. Aluminium foil just did the trick before i having the need to resolder any possible dry joints as suggested in instructablesdotcom.

I suggested to test via camera on and pointing to the infrared led. A red light indicates that the remote is working. Mine is like this on most buttons except the Power button. (which is why i cant switch on the Tv with the remote thinking that my remote died :D)
This convinced me that the PCB board circuitry is ok and probably is the connectivity between the buttons and the board.

coleman in fair oaks said...

I have a 20 yr.old adjustable bed with a remote that has 2 buttons that don't work.
I ran across your site today and tonight the remote is operating as it should. Thanks for the instruction on how to restore it. I found that there arn't many places that repair these remotes but now I don't need them.

Thanks again.

Red Wood Creations said...

Very nice post, impressive. its quite different from other posts. Thanks for sharing.

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Justin said...

Great post! Using the foil tape, I have successfully repaired one of my Atari 5200 controllers! I'm getting ready to repair the other one. Thanks for the advice!

Niranjan Panse said...

Does the tape(two way tape) helps retain the conductivity of aluminum foil..? or very small portion of foil needs the sticking ? (will normal glue/gum can be used to paste this foil ?

Shashi , CEO, Addy Wheatgrass said...

O used quick glue which glued silver foil to button instead of double side tape. it worked.

Rodrigo Gutierrez Padron said...

I used glue and aluminum foil for my universal remote. It worked great. I read about using a soldering gun to heat the pad and create some carbon but I didn't want to risk my remote. Your method is flawless. Greetings from Mexico.

Rodrigo Gutierrez Padron said...

I used glue and aluminum foil for my universal remote. It worked great. I read about using a soldering gun to heat the pad and create some carbon but I didn't want to risk my remote. Your method is flawless. Greetings from Mexico.

paxton said...

Used double face carpet tape and pressed alum foil on one side. Had leather hole punch tool and made enough for all buttons. Works like new. Great idea.

soldertools1 said...

Wow! What a blog it is. Frankly I am facing problem with my remote since last week and I have no time to go to shop and repair it. But when I came across your blog I got the idea and ordered a tool kit which help me to repair according to your guidance. I must say thanks to you for sharing this blog with us.

Chittaranjan Panda said...

Low cost & technically easy to repair . Thanks a lot.

Abhay Paliwal said...

Thanks for this gr8 idea. I fixed remote of my ac. It works well.

kar said...

Thank you very much sir. You have been very helpful.

kar said...

Thank you very much sir. You have been very helpful.

mladen said...

Ryan P mentioned thermal paste?
but how?

it is greasy and doesn't dry out

Eric Carlson said...

This is a great idea, but the rubber on my car remote is very worn out, since it is so old, so dirt easily gets inside, and makes the contacts dirty very quickly, and I couldn't find a cheap replacement remote.

A fix that I found that worked great for me, and prevents the contacts from getting dirty is the "ButtonWorx rubber keypad repair kit", which are replacement stick-on conductive buttons that you stick right on top of the circuit board, and you continue to use the original rubber buttons, but only as "pushers" for the new contacts. I bought mine from Amazon, and I bought the kit with 25 buttons (15 small and 10 medium).

I only needed to repair 3 buttons, so I have lots left to repair other remotes.

I had a small problem with 1 new button initially, where it stayed "pushed", so I replaced it with a 4th. The problem was that some extra conductive material was still on that 1 new button. So if you get these, make sure to clear away any extra loose material from the new buttons before applying them, and then you shouldn't have the issue I had with that 1 button. They did include a few extra buttons too: I don't know if they always do that or not.

The repair has been working perfectly for 4 months, and the remote would start to have problems about a week after I would clean the original contacts, before I made the repair.

Alingy said...

Worked a treat with super glue & alum foil cut out buttons but not with double sided tape. However, may be my tape is a little thick & tge buttons did weird things!

Sultan Pepper said...

Worked perfectly! My panasonic remote is like new now. I didn't tape or glue the foil, I just folded it over the buttons. My remote has a plastic template which goes over the back of the buttons so this works to hold the foil in place.
I owe you a beer, Cheers!

BeadyE20 said...

Thanks for sharing this. Went to YouTube first, found good tips on cleaning circuit board with an eraser and washing silicone keypad with warm soapy water. Combined, tips revived all but one dead button on my Toshiba SE-R0329 TV remote control. Comtemplated buying conductive paint for £15 online, which is more than a new replacement and even considered expense worthwhile as it could be used on other devices. Sooo glad I didn't and continued online search. THIS FIX COSTS LESS THAN A PENNY!!! Had no double sided tape, improvised with masking tape doubled back on itself, then attached a piece of thick catering foil - Hey presto! problem solved FOR LESS THAN A PENNY. Cheers mate.


Snoopy said...

This saved my mom's remote in two minutes flat. Thanks a bunch!

Snoopy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Malcolm Macdonald said...

just repaired the buttons on my wife's paper craft machine with this tip, fantastic, i have to say its just saved me £50. and it took 10 mins and a screwdriver.. well done indeed guys, excellent.


malcolm

Ann Blachly said...

Went searching for the little connector buttons to fix a sticky key on wireless keyboard, but found your DIY instead.
This fixed the on/off button on the remote of one of our televisions (Proscan). This television won't link to the satellite remote for on/off or volume....so we always need both remotes. For over a year we needed to get up to turn on or off the television. Now we can be in the kitchen and turn it on/off or change volume.
Glad to discover it didn't require a new remote or television repair. Just 1/4 inch square of foil and double sided tape...although the tape didn't stick. But the foil will stay in place.
I'm sharing this link on FB.
THANK YOU!

jaysh said...

Hi , can u pls tell me whether i can try this method for my panasonic cordless phone buttons? will it break the circuits?

MiniDIY said...

@jaysh - The repair should work on your cordless phone too. Happy tinkering!

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Joseph Selvan said...

Fantastic idea and it's working!!!
Thanks a lot...

brianljnr said...

Brilliant idea thank you. Also saw the tip to use a digital camera to check for ir signal but I know of another way, if you have an old AM radio just tune it in between radio stations and if you hold your remote close to the radio and when you press any button you will hear if you are getting a signal. Hope this helps.

Mudassar Hussan said...

Your can Simply found the Aluminum foil from cigarette pack for Prepare the buttons

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Geo said...

Well post, but I have an other problem. I have this divice http://www.mandouniversalparatv.net/logitech-harmony-700/ and doesnt work well. Its hard to open the controler....or is it better if I send it to Logitech?

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Charles Wohl said...

OK, all you people out there with remotes with failing buttons, read this post and I guarantee it will save you some time and maybe money, and the repair will be closer to the original specs of your remote.

Forget the double-stick tape or glue and you can forget the aluminum foil as well.

Open your remote as described above and locate the squiggly contact on the circuit board as well as the black carbon pressure pads of the offending buttons. Make sure you have the right ones.

All you are going to need is a fresh pink pencil eraser on the top of the pencil, a couple of Q-Tips and some isopropyl alcohol - I'd recommend the 91%, but the regular concentration in your medicine cabinet will work fine as well.

Dip the Q-Tip in the alcohol. You want it moist, not dripping. In a circular motion, clean off the squiggly pads and the carbon pressure pads. The Q-Tips are going to turn black. Don't worry about this; just keep on cleaning for about a minute at each location. Now dry all the locations off with a clean dry Q-Tip.

Take hold of the back end of the pencil (eraser side) and rub the eraser in a circular motion on the offending squiggly pads and the carbon pressure pads. You'll begin to see a brushed sheen from the mild abrasives in the eraser. Blow off any fragments and again clean the areas with a moist Q-Tip, then wipe the area down with a dry cloth or dry Q-Tip. Let it dry for five minutes then put the remote back together.

The faulty buttons on your remote will now work like new, and the remote won't have any non-original materials in it.

I worked as an electronic tech and engineer and used this method in the past for many years. Before sending this post I performed this repair on two flakey remote power buttons, one for an older Pioneer plasma screen TV, another for an older Yamaha receiver. Both remotes are now functioning like they were new!

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Tony said...

Thank you so much that was something extra ordinary idea.Excellent.. i did it and it works pretty well. Thanks again for sharing your idea .. god bless you brother.

Tony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.