Introduction: Add a Remote Control to Just About Anything!

Picture of Add a Remote Control to Just About Anything!
In this Instructable I’ll show you how to add a cheap remote control to just about anything! that takes your fancy.

Last year I built a compressed air rocket launcher which was featured in MAKE Magazine.  The rocket launcher is a heap of fun and my kids love it.  The rockets themselves are made from paper and masking tape and are surprisingly strong and robust.  So strong in fact that you can tape a “spy” camera to one and shoot it off and get some great aerial footage as I did in this Instructable.

One of the drawbacks of the design is you need to have a wire attached to the launcher and then trigger with a switch at the other end whenever you want to launch a rocket.  The wire has to be long as you don’t want to get too close to the rocket when it goes off, and it always seems to get tangled and twisted. 

To alleviate this I decided to add a remote control to the launcher and get rid of the wire altogether.  After a little searching I found this remote control on EBay.  It only set me back a couple of bucks and works like a charm. 

Check out the Youtube clip below - Apologies for the dodgy American accent!

This Instructable is really just a guideline on how to wire one of the remotes up as I couldn’t find much at all on the net.
I hope it also gives you a few ideas on what you could hook one of these remotes up to.

Step 1: Things to Gather

Picture of Things to Gather

Part needed:

1. 2 X 9V battery clips
2. Wire
3. Remote control and receiver – try eBay
4. Project box
5. Wire connecting terminal (terminal block)
6. Heat shrink

Tools needed:

1. Soldering iron
2. Wire snips
3. Multimeter
4. Small Phillips head
5. Small Screwdriver

Step 2: So How Does It Work?

Picture of So How Does It Work?

The remote is made up of the (surprise surprise!) a remote (transmitter) and a receiver.  The remote is powered by a small 12v battery and works from a distance of supposedly 100 meters, although I’d be wary of this!  The wireless signal can pass through walls, floors and doors.  Once the button on the remote has been pressed, it activates the receiver which turns on a relay and allows power to flow to whatever you want to turn on. 

The remote control receiver needs to have 12v to enable it to trigger the relay.  I used 2 X 9v batteries to do the job and it works fine but you could potentially use a small, 12v battery; the same used in the remote. 

As the rocket launcher uses 18V to activate the sprinkler valve, I was able to wire up the receiver so when the relay was closed (activated by the remote) it used the power from the 2, 9V batteries to trigger the sprinkler valve.   
If your device that you want to power uses a different voltage then the receiver, then you can also rig it up so it uses a different power source.

Step 3: Wiring Schematics

Picture of Wiring Schematics

The 2 drawings attached show the different ways that the receivers can be wired.  The first is if you want to use the same power source as the receiver, and the second is if you want to use an alternative power source.  For the Compressed Air Rocket I used the first option.

There is also an on/off switch added to the receiver.  I found that the receiver slowly leaks power (it's always on) so you will need to add a switch to make sure you can turn it off when your not using it

I have also included a drawing of how the relay works.  For more info check out this website - its really good at explaining how they work.

Step 4: Getting Started – Wiring the Terminal

Picture of Getting Started – Wiring the Terminal


1. First you need to wire-up your terminal.  The terminal isn’t an essential but I find they make wiring-up something like this very simple.  Wire-up as shown in the image below

2. Next you need to connect the 9v terminals together.  Solder and use heat shrink to make sure all bare wires are covered.  Connect to the terminal.  Don’t add the batteries yet – it hurts if you get shocked by 18 volts!

Step 5: Wiring the Receiver

Picture of Wiring the Receiver


1. Now connect the power wires from the terminal to the receiver, making sure polarities are correct.

2. Connect the rest of the wires from the terminal to the receiver as shown in the drawing.

3. Check that the receiver is working properly by attaching the batteries and testing with a multimeter.

Step 6: Adding Everything Into a Project Box

Picture of Adding Everything Into a Project Box


1. Once you have tested and everything works ok, add all of the bits into a project box.

2. Drill a hole in the project box and stick the wires out that will join up to the launcher.

3. Connect the project box to your device – in my case it was the launcher.

4. Test.

Step 7: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

Now you have one fine looking remote control - time to go and take over the world.

Have fun and if you making something cool - post a picture so i can check it out!


Agent803 (author)2016-10-17

would attaching the circuit to an electromagnet be a good idea?

lonesoulsurfer (author)Agent8032016-10-17

Don't see any issues with doing that.

The Lightning Stalker (author)2013-03-31

What is the range? I need something which will transmit reliably at least 600ft/182.88m.

They go about 100 metres (300 feet) but you could probablly find one on ebay that might go 600 ft.)

My experience with the ones off ebay is that the range kinda sucks if the circuit it's connected to generates any RF of it's own, or creates noise on the power bus and you are powering the receiver from the same power source. If they are isolated and there's no interference around the receiver, they are OK.

Ok, thanks.

If you have an old cellphone you can add a small circuit that will activate when someone calls it. Just block all numbers exept the one you call it with.

MitchIsTheOne (author)2014-02-24

I am 17 years old. I came across (Inherited) a significant amount of money a couple of weeks ago, and I am trying to connect a remote to the speakers in my house. they are battery powered and should work but I'm not very good with this sort of stuff. You mentioned that you had an Ebay account? If you could build a couple of these and sell them on Ebay you could make a small amount of cash and get your product out there. :) if this is not possible, is there any way to do this without a soldering iron or solder? (Heat == Bad)

You would need to provide more details about exactly what you are trying to do, but I create custom PC Boards and circuits. Let me know what you are trying to do and what your price range is for project from start to finish.

I recently added wireless remote function to my 8X8X8 LED Cube Controller boards.

See example here:

lonesoulsurfer (author)2013-10-10

hey there,
Yep you won't have an issue. All you need to make sure is to rig up the 12V (18V if you use 2 9V batteries), separately to the 6V that the wings take. Have a look at step 3 and you will see a drawing on how to do this.

Good luck

Khuynh09 (author)2013-10-08

I'm a complete novice about electronics and wiring, but these instructions are fantastic! I want to try it on this project that I want to do. I have toy wings that retract when you press a button and it takes 4AA batteries (6V). Will this work if the receiver takes 12V?

fjr_scoot (author)2013-04-01

Great Instructable. As to the accent, I'm not offended one bit. Like they say, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I'm a Yank, and even I am guilty of imitating the US southern accent on occasion. It's unavoidable, actually. :-)

Anyway, to my point: I made an air-powered potato launcher that also uses an 18V sprinker valve, and it seems to trigger just fine with one 9V battery. I wonder if the remote might also run on 9V?

Thanks again for posting this Instructable.

lonesoulsurfer (author)fjr_scoot2013-04-01

Thanks man - I love the US southern accent; it's one of the easiest and at the same time one of the hardest accents to do! Mine was terrible ; )

In regards to using a 9v, I also used one on my air compressed rocket but I found that once the power started to go on the battery it wouldn't trigger the switch in the sprinkler valve once it was pressurized - do you also have that probllem? I would think that the relay in the receiver would probablly work ok with 9v.

vigfus (author)2013-04-01

In the diagram in step 3 you show the batteries as connected in parallel but later it's shown in series. This may confuse someone not very familiar with electronics. I'd suggest adding a note or changing the diagram.

lonesoulsurfer (author)vigfus2013-04-01

I'll get the schematic sorted - nice spotting!

ggarnier (author)2013-03-31

The link for the remote and receiver seems to have been a one-time eBay offer which has ended. Is this hardware still available?

lonesoulsurfer (author)ggarnier2013-04-01

sorted - the link should be fine now. Thanks.

westgross (author)2013-03-31

The fake American accent is kind of insulting but not that big of a deal. I know it's already been said but a radio remote to set off a rocket is extremely dangerous.

lonesoulsurfer (author)westgross2013-04-01

It was suppost to be a parody of dodgy 1970's adverts. Didn't mean to insult anyone but southern American accents are bloody hard to do if your Australian.

In regards to safety - I added a switch to the transmitter which means it can't be triggered by mistake and no-one is even close to the rocket before the air chamber is pressurized.

westgross (author)westgross2013-03-31

Although it is a cool project for other applications.

dtierce (author)2013-03-31

In step 3, the wiring diagram for the batteries shows them in parallel. This is probably an error. In step 4, the photo shows the batteries wired in series to make 18V.

lonesoulsurfer (author)dtierce2013-04-01

Cheers - I'll get this sorted

wikkit (author)2013-03-31

Your schematic shows the batteries in parallel, for 9V, but the photos and text talk about them in series for 18V. Might confuse someone trying to copy your results.

lonesoulsurfer (author)wikkit2013-04-01

Cool - thanks for the heads-up. I'll sort out the schematic.

1994deano (author)2013-03-31

Thanks a million my friend, I bought one of these a while ago and had no idea on how to make it work.

lonesoulsurfer (author)1994deano2013-04-01

My pleasure. Hope it helps

arpruss (author)2013-03-31

Thanks for posting! What if someone else within 100 meters has a remote on the same channel? I think it could be dangerous to use unsecured wireless for something like a rocket launch, even an air rocket.

I wonder if you couldn't also adapt one of the cheap wireless doorbells?

lonesoulsurfer (author)arpruss2013-04-01

Theres always the chance - but I'd hazzard a guess and say that there isn't around the area that I live! I have also put a safety switch on the transmitter so it doesn't just suddenly go off.

fjr_scoot (author)2013-04-01

By the way, although the auction for the remote mentioned has expired, if someone wants to find a similar switch, then search eBay for "12V Remote Control Switch", you'll find many options including one similar to the one posted. You'll want the ones that say, "Non Lock", which equals "momentary" (the switch only makes contact while the remote button is pressed).

legless (author)2013-03-31

I found these remote controlled switches are quite useful. You can get ones that run off 12V and others that can be powered from the mains. I have one connected to a 20W LED floodlight that will switch 10A at 250VAC (mains here) and has a range of about 200 metres (some have a range of 1 km - most are 20-50m). It is so I can switch the light on in my carport as I approach the house. My sensor light switches off sometimes too quickly on the occasions where I need more time. I can also switch the light on if I hear something in the carport.

shizumadrive (author)2013-03-31

This gives me some Interesting ideas. Im disappointed (not lonesoulsurfer's fault) that there it wasn't actually a leather case covering the remote. Don't know why such a thing interests me.

sarju7 (author)2013-03-25

Do you use the ires leading out of it as the switch to control your invention

bricabracwizard (author)sarju72013-03-30

I believe the switch is in the box. When the transmitter is pressed it turns on the switch (relay) which provides the voltage to launch the rocket.

lonesoulsurfer (author)sarju72013-03-25

The wires coming out of the box are from the receiver. These are joined-up to whatever you want to turn on with the remote (transmitter)

STUFFMAKERS (author)2013-03-29

hah i made one of those but mine was 6 ch and we made a rc car with a flamethrower

Adum24 (author)2013-03-28

Haha slightly off on the American accent, but a very good attempt. Nice instructable, I may use this soon!

Misac-kun (author)2013-03-25

My fog machine use a Remote very similar to this one.

About This Instructable




Bio: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with.
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