Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fixing a Worn out Remote Control (XBOX, Playstation, Wii, TV, etc.)

Introduction

The method described below is valid for any remote control that uses conductive rubber pads for buttons. I have successfully used the same method on TV/VCR/Home theater/AC remotes and game consoles. Some time ago I decided that the next time I do it I would document it here.

Recently, I ordered an extra controller for my XBOX 360 so that when my nephews and nieces come over they can play at the same time. The controller was advertised as a brand new, original controller from Microsoft. Well, it turned out it was an original, but far from being brand new. It must have been used extensively because all the buttons had to be pressed very-very hard to register. This is caused by the rubber conductive tips of the inside of the buttons wearing out after a lot of use. (For comparison, the controller that my XBOX 360 came with is still in top condition even though I have been playing with it for years.) Since it’s difficult and expensive to negotiate a return and replacement of product from overseas, I decided to fix it on my own. I have done similar fixes in the past with some remote controllers in the past.

Those black "dots" (11 total) are the ones that had to be fixed.


Tools and materials

  • A Torx screwdriver – I got mine from eBay for 1USD.
  • A few cm2 of aluminium foil – had this in the kitchen.
  • A paper puncher – had this in my home office.
  • Some glue or double sided tape and scissors – had this in my home office.
  • Optional: 10cm sticky tape – had this in my home office.


Aluminium foil circles made with a puncher.

Torx screwdriver.


Procedure

  1. It is a good idea to put a stripe of sticky tape of some sort on the controller covering all the buttons before we start. This is not strictly necessary, but will save some time and frustration later, when you want to put the whole thing back together and the buttons just don’t want to align.
  2. Flip the controller upside down. Remove all the screws that hold the controller together. There are seven of them – 3-3 on either side and one under the serial number label in the battery compartment. If you remove this label carefully, you can put it back after you’re done, if you like.
  3. Gently pry the controller open.
  4. You can see the two small electric motors on either side that provide the force feedback. These are attached to the controller PCB with a small connector. To make the following tasks easier you can disconnect these and remove the motors temporarily.
  5. Use the paper puncher to punch 11 little circles from the aluminium foil.
  6. There are 11 conductive pads that need fixing – Buttons A, B, X, Y, BACK, START, HOME, DPAD. Put a tiny little drop of glue on the conductive pads, or if you don’t have glue, make 11 tiny little pieces of double sided tape and attach one to each conductive pad. This time I did this as I couldn’t find the glue…
  7. Place a little circle of aluminium foil made in step 5 on each conductive pad. The aluminium foil has a shiny and a matt side. I automatically attached the matt side to the glue since my gut feeling is that it bonds better with the glue. I may be wrong, I never tried it the other way, but it seems to work like this for at least a year in the remotes I have fixed with the same method, so I didn’t change.
  8. At this stage the fix is done and you can reassemble the controller. Don’t forget to reattach the force feedback motors if you took them out at the beginning…!

More pictures



The two feedback motors are easy to detach from the main board.

Some pads already got their new "hat".

All the pads are ready to go!