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Topic:
New life for a One For All remote - Worn Button Repair
This thread has 14 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Tuesday August 12, 2014 at 03:03
Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum
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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.


OP | Post 2 made on Sunday August 24, 2014 at 23:52
Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum
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Update: Remotes are still working great. I did come across someone on line, from a few years ago, who recommended the same basic approach that I outlined above.
Post 3 made on Monday August 25, 2014 at 00:52
edmund
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Glad you have working fix, keep us posted.
OP | Post 4 made on Wednesday December 10, 2014 at 03:00
Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum
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Well, it took a few months, but my fix failed. The adhesive did not hold up, the foil came off and started shorting out contacts.

If I get the patience I'll try using regular tin foil and a better adhesive.
Post 5 made on Wednesday December 10, 2014 at 23:12
mdavej
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Check out the newly updated list of OFA remotes and see if anything strikes your fancy. UEI still has some pretty good models in the lineup, especially the Xsights (12, 15 or 18 device), OARUSB04G and Inteset INT-422 (8 device with JP1 cable, 4 device otherwise).

My tin foil fixes have never lasted more than a few months. It's a losing battle.

[Link: hifi-remote.com]
OP | Post 6 made on Monday January 5, 2015 at 13:03
Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum
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On December 10, 2014 at 23:12, mdavej said...
Check out the newly updated list of OFA remotes and see if anything strikes your fancy. UEI still has some pretty good models in the lineup, especially the Xsights (12, 15 or 18 device), OARUSB04G and Inteset INT-422 (8 device with JP1 cable, 4 device otherwise).

As I'd expect we are on the same page, looking for other OFA alternatives.

I tried the OARN08G and it has too many subjective drawbacks for me; slippery surface, poor button layout, buttons 'click' when pushed.

I found the RCA RCRP05BR on sale for less than $5 and bought a few. It's now the standard remote for my AV systems, although it would be better with more devices. Maybe I should buy a few more and stockpile them.

My tin foil fixes have never lasted more than a few months. It's a losing battle.


Thanks for the info, I won't bother any further.

Did you ever try any of the epoxy paints? I tried rear window defogger repair paint once and that had a very short life before failing again.
Post 7 made on Monday January 12, 2015 at 22:06
mdavej
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The OARN08G is a truly awful remote. The OARUSB04G is a brilliant remote, but does have clicky buttons as well. The RCA you bought has 8 devices internally. You need a JP1 cable to unlock them, so to speak. Technically it has unlimited devices if you load an extender. A while back, I was running 12 devices with my RCA.

I have use conductive paste in the distant past. It's gotten me several more months of life, but is too expensive considering a new remote is only $5, as you discovered.
Post 8 made on Tuesday April 14, 2015 at 12:32
drhendrix
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Hi Ken,

I've also been looking for a durable repair technique for remote control button conductive contacts.  I'm trying to fix intermittent buttons on my URC MX-700.  I tried doing disassembly and cleaning with no improvement.

Have you run across this option?  It consists of new conductive pads to replace the worn pads on the bottom of the buttons.  There is a video there showing how to use wire cutters to snip off the worn pad and then use silicone glue to secure a new pad in its place.

I ordered a kit on ebay for about $8.50 total.  I'll give it a try and report back if there is interest.

Dennis
OP | Post 9 made on Tuesday April 14, 2015 at 12:53
Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum
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On April 14, 2015 at 12:32, drhendrix said...
Hi Ken,

Have you run across this option? It consists of new conductive pads to replace the worn pads on the bottom of the buttons. There is a video there showing how to use wire cutters to snip off the worn pad and then use silicone glue to secure a new pad in its place.

I ordered a kit on ebay for about $8.50 total. I'll give it a try and report back if there is interest.

Dennis

Never saw that option before. Let us know how it goes, thanks.
Post 10 made on Wednesday April 15, 2015 at 11:19
drhendrix
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On April 14, 2015 at 12:53, Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum said...
Never saw that option before. Let us know how it goes, thanks.

OK, I will. I don't know how long it will take to receive since the kit is coming from outside the USA.

One issue I'm not sure about is how to make the button and pad length the same as the original. Hopefully there is some wiggle room.
OP | Post 11 made on Thursday September 24, 2015 at 00:28
Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum
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Did you ever have any luck with this project?

I've been thinking about taking another try, using a different method.
Post 12 made on Wednesday November 2, 2016 at 18:43
mjfoxtrot
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I know this is a relatively old thread, but I am a new user and just read this topic today.

The idea of fixing buttons on a remote has always been interesting to me, and I recently repaired three MX-850 remotes that all had partially or non-working buttons. In all cases, they were the volume up and down and the channel up and down buttons. It seems that on an MX-850, these are the first to go.

Like Ken H, I went with the aluminum foil fix. I used simple household aluminum foil. I cut out tiny squares, and after opening the MX-850s (which was no easy task and requires controlled brute force,) I simply used scotch tape to affix the aluminum squares to the protective pad inside the remote. The plastic pad is a simple covering put in the remote by the manufacturer, and I find it works well for the purpose at hand. It is relatively easy to tape the aluminum squares securely to this pad. I made sure the tape does not come between the plastic buttons and the aluminum. The aluminum is secured on that pad pretty good.

Bottom line: the remotes have worked like new for about five months (I know I am going to jinx myself by writing that ;) . . . the volume and channel buttons work great again.

Do I think this will last forever? Well, probably not. The aluminum could wear out, or the adhesive on the tape could lose its grip. Or who knows, I might get lucky. It seems to me that the adhesive is the key. While Scotch tape might seem like a relatively simple solution, I find the tape affixes very well to the smoothness of the pad inside the remote. I've also thought that perhaps copper or gold foil would be another alternative. There is copper tape with conductive adhesive for sale on Amazon . . . of course, I have no idea how long the adhesive will last.

I can appreciate mdavej's point about the relative futility of tin foil repairs. But as someone who likes to tinker and see if I can fix things (especially a high-end remote like the MX-850), I don't mind trying possible fixes from time to time. So far, they have worked, and I'll be on the lookout for better options if my current fix eventually fails. There's always another way.
Don't know something? Just Google it. In five minutes, you'll know more than 95 percent of the rest of the public.
Post 13 made on Thursday May 4, 2017 at 15:23
drhendrix
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Ken H. wrote:
"Did you ever have any luck with this project?"


Ken, sorry about the long delay. I've had to deal with serious health issues, but today I actually did the carbon pad replacement on two buttons of a URC MX-850. I need to let the silicone adhesive dry until tomorrow before trying it out.

I'll post the outcome after I try it out tomorrow.
Post 14 made on Monday May 8, 2017 at 16:06
drhendrix
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Well the new glued on pad worked well for the Volume down button, but not so well for the Channel down button. It does work, but I have to hold it down for several seconds.

I think the reason could be the height of the silicone adhesive that I applied under the pad was too low, causing the button to not make good contact with the motherboard.

I do think that this technique would work well to repair non working buttons with some experience though.
OP | Post 15 made on Wednesday June 14, 2017 at 01:28
Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum
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First, good to hear your feeling well enough to reply on the forum. I hope your recovery continues.

Your new link looks promising. They had a link to an ebay store, so I pulled the trigger. If the adhesive works and the pads fit, bingo!

Future report to come.

Last edited by Ken H, AVS HDTV Forum on June 14, 2017 01:56.


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