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Post 1 made on Tuesday August 12, 2014 at 03:03
Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum
Long Time Member
July 2002
After many, many years of One For All remote use, dating back to 1996, the only complaint I've ever had with an OFA is the buttons getting worn. When this happens the buttons work intermittently and then stop working altogether at some point.

In the past my solution was to simply buy the latest OFA and get all the previous cool features and whatever new stuff they added over the years. I did this with 4 different generations of OFA's, starting with the '8 Upgradeable' and most recently with a few 10820's. Unfortunately the OFA brand is seemingly no longer as viable as in the past, as the number and type of remotes they offer today are lessor versions of past products, in terms of ergonomic design, features, and number of devices controlled. Of course this is nothing more than my personal opinion and others may disagree.

In any event, I decided to embark on finding out if repairing a OFA was possible and at what cost in terms of time, money, and energy.

Reading the numerous on line sources for ideas on repairing remote control buttons, an obvious, consistent trend emerged - somehow replacing the contact surface. Among the options are using rear window defogger repair paint, cutting off the contact surface of buttons from another remote and gluing them on, remote control repair paint or epoxy, pencil or other graphite source, tin foil & adhesive, etc. All of these options are recommended as working to some degree or another, but if you read enough you'll find others that have contradicting experience.

After my research I decided to try using a foil material with adhesive already on it, used in HVAC systems. The product is Duck Brand HVAC Aluminum Foil Repair Tape. It's relatively cheap at $7.47 plus tax and widely available at Walmart. You get 50' that's almost 2" wide, which is enough to repair more remotes than anyone will ever own.

After removing the screws and prying open a OFA, I cleaned the rubber button pad well with dish soap and warm water, and cleaned the circuit board with isopropyl alcohol. I also cleaned the plastic body parts with dish soap and warm water. Once everything was ready I used two paper punches, 1/8" and 1/4", to make the different size foil pieces needed. The process is to cut a ~2" piece of foil, remove the backing, pick a corner to hold the foil from, and use the punches to make the new button contact surfaces. Use a toothpick or other similar sized tool to transfer the foil from the punch to the buttons and when the foil is centered on the button adhesive side down, push on it with equal pressure for a moment or two. It takes about 4-5 pieces of 2" foil to do an entire remote. When all the buttons are covered with the new foil surfaces, press again just to be sure they are firmly in place. Reassemble the remote and, Voila! you're back in business again. Each remote took about 2 hours from start to finish.

There was a learning curve involved, including how to remove the backing while keeping the foil from curling (place the foil side down on a flat surface and peal the backing slowly away), finding the right size punches (eBay), etc. You have to have patience to work with the foil, which is easily screwed up while getting it punched and in place, because the adhesive 'grabs' the punch guides. Don't use any foil where you touched the adhesive. A few of the foil pieces needed were custom cut with scissors and took a few tries before getting workable pieces. There may be better techniques for any of the steps involved and I'd be glad to hear what others think.

I've done this procedure to 3 OFA's and so far (more than a month of daily use) all 3 work great again, just like new. The only downside is that some of the buttons have the text worn off and you have to remember what buttons do what. An interesting thing is that even the oldest remote, a Cinema 7, still remembered all the original programming, after not being used for probably 10 years!

The only concerns I've thought of are:
- Will the foil eventually wear down the circuit board contacts?
- Will the foil adhesive hold up over long term use?

Only time will tell and I'll report back here if anything changes.

That's it for now. If anyone has questions, please ask, I'll get back at some point.

PS. I'd guess this process would work for any remote that has a rubber key pad. Probably.

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