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Home > All Articles > Multimedia > Increase Operating Angle of Infrared Remote Control

Make Your Infrared Remote Control Work At Any Angle

Today's infrared-controlled equipment is better than those of a few years ago in the sense that many infrared remote controls now work at almost any angle. Even so, you might still be using older equipment or less well-designed new devices that still require you to align them well or to be sitting more or less directly in front of them to operate them reliably. Inconvenient? Sure – but there is a free and fast do-it-yourself solution to solve this problem and to increase the operating angle.

What's This? What's the Problem?

I'm the owner of a few devices that are quite picky as far as the alignment of the remote control is concerned. The worst of them is a set-top box that doesn't even respond when the remote control is directly in front of it. You need to hold it at an angle of approximately 15 degrees to the left or right of the center for it to work – and I can assure you that this can be very annoying.

After placing some of my equipment behind frosted or sanded glass, as explained in another article, I noticed that I could control these devices from a wider angle than previously. This was surprising at first, since I feared that the frosted glass would instead weaken the signal.

But it turns out it works perfectly, since the scattering through the frosted glass makes the signal appear to come from all angles – including the front.

Infrared Remote Control Limited Operating Angle    Large IR operational angle through frosted glass

When I realized that this could also be a solution for the set-top box, which I couldn't place in the frosted glass cabinet, I hurried to my local do-it-yourself store to get a piece of frosted-glass waste. I taped it to the front of my set-top box and…Eureka!!… problem solved. Now I could control the silly thing at an angle of almost 90 degrees!!!

But a fragment of frosted glass taped to my gear didn't exactly look like a high-end design solution. Well, it might be modern art, at best. So I started brainstorming about what else looks like frosted glass. And then I saw it right in front of me: the transparent matte Scotch tape, with which I'd taped the glass to the device. Removing the glass, I placed the tape over the remote control sensor, and … another Eureka … it also works! One inch of matte Scotch tape, taped to the most picky device I've ever seen, turns it into a charm that accepts remote control commands from almost any angle. Now I understand why they call it Magic Tape (and no, I’m not being sponsored by 3M).


     Scotch Magic Tape


Then I applied it to my laptop because I wanted to use the remote control during a presentation while walking around. This was also functional in 30 seconds!

My family had been suffering from the same frustrations for three years with this set-top box, and now matte Scotch tape has solved the problem! Now I was convinced that my family would think that I was a genius, but it turns out that I'm "quite stupid not to think of that any sooner" … sigh.


Other Applications?

Since I placed most of my AV equipment behind frosted glass, I got rid of my IR extender, so I can't test whether it works, but let us know if you've checked out the following. An inconvenient property of IR extenders is that you have to tape each transmitter to the IR receivers of the devices you want to operate, also requiring a cable from the extender to each transmitter.

     AV equipment with IR extender

It might be possible to place the IR transmitter(s) of the extender somewhere in front of your devices but not attached to the devices themselves. Then tape a piece of matte tape to each receiver on your devices.

     IR extender and optimal operating angle

Whether this works or not will probably strongly depend on the signal strength of the IR extender that you're using.

Summary

  • Frosted glass or matte Scotch tape in front of an infrared receiver makes it almost insensitive to the angle of the remote control
  • Works with a variety of IR devices, AV equipment, remote controlled toys such as cars or helicopters, camera's, projectors, etc.

Tips

This is useful on the receiver side, but not on the transmitter side! It might scatter your signal too much for it to work.

For short-distance IrDA connections – for instance, between a laptop and a phone – you could try to apply it to both sides to avoid having to align your devices every time.

Approx. price: $0

 Other Home Audio/Video Solution on Clever & Easy

Categories: multimedia, do-it-yourself

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Comments (7)
  • Jimby
    Thumbs up for t his tip! This really works, solved a nasty problem for me!!!!
  • Jay  - This really does work
    Fixed my delimma
  • Sandy  - Remote control
    Has Remote Control been used for anything else besides television, laptops or toys?
  • Clever & Easy
    This should
    generally work, because it is based on physical characteristics of infrared
    light and has nothing to do with a specific device.
    I hope this answers your questions.
  • Freddie Henderson  - This works, tried last night
    I have a harmony one remote which links in with my AV system and HTPC. I have had problems in the past where I have to carefully point my remote at the Marmitek pyramid and hope it picks up and transfers the signal.
    Even the original remotes are tempermental, so I know it's not just the harmony.

    Anyway, put some tape all over the front of the pyramid and now the problems have gone away. We can now sit on the sofa and wave the remote in the general direction as you should be able to and it picks it up no problems.

    Best fix i've done to my AV system in ages, thanks for that
  • Clever & Easy
    Thanks for letting us know! Glad that it worked for you.
    Manufacturers would better design their IR receivers with a matte front from the start, this could avoid a lot of frustration.
  • P R AGRAWAL  - tv remote operating angle
    tv remote can be now operated from wide operating angle. The s***ested method is successful.
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Last Updated on Friday, 21 May 2010 01:15