Remote Control Mod

My apartment complex is a “gated community”, meaning they have large iron gates that give the impression of security, thereby allowing them to charge more rent. Along with a key, each tenant receives a remote control to open said gate as well as the garage door to the apartment.


My apartment complex is a “gated community”, meaning they have large iron gates that give the impression of security, thereby allowing them to charge more for rent. Along with a key, each tenant receives a remote control to open said gate as well as the garage door to the apartment.

This remote is crammed into a key fob plastic case (see below).

remote & fob

The problem is that these remotes are made incredibly cheaply. The circuit boards inside them are not conformally coated, which is an environmental sealant. Thus, over time, the board’s connections will corrode and cause problems.

Also, the switches on the remote consist of nothing more than little tin snap-like tactile momentaries, which aren’t even soldered into place. They just sit there suspended. Hence, switch closures are intermittent at best.

Needless to say, over time my remote worked poorly. I resorted to getting out of the car and getting right next to the garage door to get it to open.

remote, top side

On the back side of the board are the battery contacts. The remote takes two coin cell 3V batteries. They are arranged in series so that the board input power is 6V.

remote, bottom side

For one, I don’t really like having a bulky remote on my keychain, whether it’s small or not. I’d just prefer something that sits in my car anyway, so I don’t care it it’s the size of a brick as long as it works!

So naturally I took the remote board out and soldered my own nice switches to it, along with power wires.

new switches

Next step was to put together a little power converter board to step down 9V (from a nice big 9V battery) to 6V. I didn’t have a 6V regulator, but I did have a 5V. That would have to be close enough

new case & power supply

Finally, put it all in a new case and Dremeled two holes for the switches on the top side.

new box, switches

Voila! Works great!

Full Project Gallery (Phase 1):

>>>> Update! <<<<

I put some new, better switches in this remote.ย  Now it’s all clunky and cool with the big toggle switches!

5 Replies to “Remote Control Mod”

  1. rob these mod things are fun to read. i need to find someone like you in indy who can come and add mods to all my small appliances…a voice activated hair dryer, for instance, would be fabulous. seriously, though, you remind me of McGyver.

    this post brought back some fond memories of my 7th grade science fair project in which i built (all by myself) a transistor radio. it was the only time in my life that i have ever soldered anything. and although i actually found the soldering quite relaxing, my little seventh grade heart was quite broken when all i got was static.

    :o(

    alas, i am not the mod genius that is rob lund…

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