Introduction: Auto Spy Remote

Picture of Auto Spy Remote

Sure the original Thinkgeek Micro Spy Remote was fun for a while but there was a major drawback. In order to wreak havoc on someone else's TV, you had to be within visual range. After a while your prey would realize you had something to do with it. Why not eliminate yourself from the equation entirely? With this hack to the Micro Spy Remote, you can cause chaos even when your not around. Now when the person your pranking asks to see your hands or what's in your pocket you can simply smile, knowing your secret is safe and the chaos will continue.

With this hack you will be able leave the remote in a room and it will turn the TV on or off/change the channel every couple of minutes automatically.

Please note that this was produced n a college dormroom and was done with the few supplies I had. I am sure that there is a way to make this more compact but I did what I could.

Required Materials:
Thinkgeek Micro Spy Remote
Thinkgeek conductive glue
Various resistors
555 timer chip
9-volt battery
9-volt battery connector
1N4001 diode
1N4148 diode
High Gauge wire
Aluminium can (optional)
Circuit board
Tape (electrical tape works well)

Soldering iron
needle nose pliers
wire cutters and strippers
possibly other common household tools.

Step 1: Deconstructing the Remote

Picture of Deconstructing the Remote

In this step you will take apart the remote in order to reach the all important circuit board. It is relatively easy to get to but you have to be careful.

Step One:
Use a knife to peel back the front covering of the remote. It is a flexible piece of plastic with an adhesive on the inside surface. There are also black dots of conductive material that makes a connection when the "buttons" are pushed.

Step 2:
Remove 6 Phillips head screws. Keep these in a safe location for later. Lift the circuit board out of the lower casing by carefully lifting the back side up first and then pulling out. The goal is to not damage the infared LEDs at the front of the circuit board.

Step 3:
Keep the sticking front plate from sticking to anything by keeping it in a safe place. Try to maintain the integrity of the adhesive to make it easy to reassemble later.

Step 2: Prepare Remote's Circuit Board

Picture of Prepare Remote's Circuit Board

Connect 2 high gauge wires to the power "button" or any other button besides the mute button (What you attach it to determines what the remote will do automatically). Because the mute button is used to search for the required TV code, it is better off left untouched. One wire for each side. I found that the Thinkgeek conductive wire glue works best. (Solder doesn't seem to stick to the black conductive material) When to glue is dry, apply some superglue over the conductive glue to add strength.

---Below are 2 pictures, one shows the power button being hooked up and the other shows the channel up button. The procedure for connecting the different buttons is the same. What button you choose to use is up to you.

Step 3: Creating the Circuit

Picture of Creating the Circuit

Build this circuit with these values:

R1= 512 =ohms (or close to that, this determines how long the remote transmits its signal)
R2= 300k ohms (this determines the time in between transmissions, you could increase resistance to make larger pauses between transmissions)
C1= 1500uF (micro Farads) (This value can also be changed to manipulate the time between transmissions)

This circuit also requires a relay. I used an eight pin relay because that is what I have but I'm sure other ones will do fine. The relay is not depicted in the image below but it is easy enough to connect.

Connecting the relay to the rest of the circuit
--Connect pin 3 of the 555 timer to the +(positive) side of the power on the relay.
--Connect the -(negative) side of the relay to the negative side the of power supply
--Power circuit with somewhere between 6 and 9 volts (9-volts is what I used in this instructable).

Step 4: Assembling the Remote and Circuit

Picture of Assembling the Remote and Circuit

Take the back plastic case and drill a hole in it somewhere in the middle. It should be large enough for your 2 wires to pass through. Now slide the two wires through the hole and place the remote circuit back on the plastic case. Screw down the board using the 6 screws. Take the 2 wires and solder them to the relay. The wire should be soldered to the normally open position. (It should be wired so that most of the time it is off and is on when the timer sends the signal. Don't attach the other way around or else the remote will send the signal to the TV constantly.) Most likely the relay you use will be different than the one I used but you should get the same result.

Step 5: Make a Battery Holder (Optional)

Picture of Make a Battery Holder (Optional)

You can make a simple battery holder using aluminium from a soda can. I drew out this design on the metal prior to cutting it out. The dimension I used are directly from a 9-volt battery. After it is cut out, fold all the tabs and glue the corners together. Now a 9-volt battery will fit in there nice and tight.

Step 6: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly

Attach battery holder (or just battery) to the circuit board.
Cut out pieces of cardboard to act as spacers. Make these spacer to fit your circuit and glue them down.
Apply glue to cardboard strips and attach remote to circuit. (I found that rubber cement worked well for gluing the cardboard to the plastic but other glues will work as well.)
Insert battery into battery holder and tape in place.
Reapply front button sticker on remote. Now it is DONE.

Step 7: Use

Picture of Use

Before using you must first search for the code of the TV you want to connect with. To do this, first disconnect the 9-volt battery. While pointing at the TV, hold down the mute button until the TV mutes. At this point you should now have control of the TV. Attach the 9-volt battery and find a hiding place for it. Some areas that seem to work well are dark corners or just under a pillow or cushion. IN ORDER FOR IT TO WORK, THERE MUST BE LINE OF SIGHT BETWEEN REMOTE AND TV. This means the two infared bulbs must not be covered up.

Step 8: Diode Fix

Picture of Diode Fix

 Sorry for the inconvenience but the initial instructable was incorrect. In order for the circuit to work, you must insert 2 diode into the circuit. You will need 1N4148 and 1N4001 diodes. They should be put into the circuit as follows.


Cuba Pirincci (author)2015-05-06

cool I will get it

jbond17 (author)2015-03-19

Does it work on every tv?

imckinney2 (author)2014-04-24

All New "Super Ninja Remote Control"!!!
Coming Soon...
Tip Invention Idea...

matheuz (author)2009-04-18

I wouldn't have used a relay it consumes too much energy. why not a NPN transistor? I have more of those than relays in my room.

gunner1089 (author)matheuz2009-04-18

Actually, I initially used a transistor and it worked for about 15 minutes then stopped working. I am a mechanical engineering student so I consulted one of my EE friends about the problem. He suggested trying a relay and it worked. I was low on time so I thought why fix what isn't broken. I still don't know what the problem with the transistor was. Maybe defective, but I don't know. Considering that I am a ME, I don't have many electrical components anyways so I went with what I had.

Doesn't the click of the relay give away the location?

The relay I had did not make a loud click. You would need to have your ear near the relay to hear it.

countable (author)gunner10892009-04-22

You might want to try a FET transistor: they use a relatively small gate current so they won't use much current. The only problem is that FETs have a tendency to heat up when they change from off to on...

KnexFreek (author)2010-03-17

 HAHA this is AWESOME!!!!!!!!

sjoobbani (author)2010-02-13

 I'm confused, I'm sorry, I've been up for just over 20 hours, and I don't see the point of this, please explain, it seems like an idea I would do.

gunner1089 (author)sjoobbani2010-02-13

 It was just a joke item. The only reason I built was to enter into the Thinkgeek competition last year.  Other than messing around with someone, it has no practical application.

rocksalt2342 (author)2009-11-19

spy's sappin' ma television!

dylan0345 (author)2009-08-26

thinkgeek is the best

Zem (author)2009-08-14

Hi, I have a spy remote like yours, but so far all of the TVs I've tried it on, it won't work with. Any ideas?

raykholo (author)2009-05-18

ladyada has made a kit similar to the spy remote used here, in a little more basic way though. Perhaps you could modify this instuctable, although it is very good already, so that the entire thing can be made at home, and the thinkgeek remote will not need to be used. just a thought.

Audey (author)2009-04-07

That's pretty cool. do you think there is any way to make it do a random function? prehaps how the thinkgeek annoyotron generates a random tone...

PS: I think that this is the same but a lot cheaper and slightly lower quality than thinkgeeks micro spy remote: and

Audey (author)Audey2009-04-07

huh, my links dont work.
and If you are going to buy anything there pretty please can you click this link just once:
sorry about that.

gunner1089 (author)Audey2009-04-07

Actually those look almost identical to ones from Thinkgeek. I didn't mind paying for mine because I used a number of coupons when I made my order with Thinkgeek. I even got a free annoy-a-tron with it so I can't complain.

Audey (author)gunner10892009-04-08

I haven't recieved a think geek one, but I think the dealextreme ones are pretty much the same, the problem is that they aren't quality checked so about 1 in 7 (i did a bulk order to onsell, so thats how I know) are DOA(DX will replace them free of charge, but it is a hassle). also the shipping takes up to a month sometimes.

gunner1089 (author)Audey2009-04-08

Thanks for the info.

idiotjohn (author)gunner10892009-05-17

I bought one from DealExtreme, and it came in packaging which said ThinkGeek on it. I would agree that they are probably not tested like how ThinkGeek would test them...

gunner1089 (author)Audey2009-04-07

I am sure that there is a way to make it do a random action. I think you would have to attach wires to all of the buttons though. It would require a more elaborate circuit and I just didn't have the parts. Interestingly enough, I did look into connecting the Annoy-a-tron to the remote but decided it would be easier to make my own timer.

elamre (author)2009-05-13

where to buy everything?

gunner1089 (author)elamre2009-05-13

You can buy the remote at or you could find it at another website . All of the electronic parts can be purchased at a radioshack.

captain Jack (author)2009-04-17


fib3roptix (author)2009-04-15

In a dorm By god you are the masta!

FeedTheGrid (author)2009-04-15

Well done!

gunner1089 (author)FeedTheGrid2009-04-15


crazycommanche=US= (author)2009-04-13

well it cant get much more compact its a 9v battery and could u wire this to cellphone and when its called it changes chanel as well that would be a cool new addition and some phoines can have multiple numbers so that could do the diff functions maybe/

CrazyMachinist94 (author)2009-04-08

I enjoyed this instructables. One time me and my friends brought one of these into science class when he was showing a movie and started to play with it and when he found out he took it. If only you made this about a year earlier that would've helped us out. This will come in handy for the future though so thanks

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