A FREE Way to Check Infrared Remote Controls

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Here's a really fast, simple, and best of all free way to check whether or not your remote control is working and all you need is a webcam. This trick only works with infrared remotes, not UHF.

Normal remote controls use an infrared LED to flash a light pattern which is invisible to the human eye. The sensors in webcams and camcorders are sensitive to infrared light. Many cameras have infrared filters but they still let a fair amount of infrared light through.

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Step 1: Point and Shoot

If your remote is hesitant or only works every now and then you can point your remote at a webcam. If the remote's batteries are good you'll see the LED flash brightly while you are pressing a button.

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    7 Discussions

    Noah Legroom

    7 years ago on Introduction

    When I worked at a national electronics retailer, we did this test all the time when customers would complain that their remote no longer functioned. We had camcorders set up right at the counter. It worked great.

    I wouldn't depend on this though, many webcams have built in IR Filters designed to increase video quality, so just because the light doesn't come on doesn't necessarily mean that it's not working.

    1 reply

    I did mention IR filters in the body of the text.

    Obviously you should check your webcam / camera phone / camcorder / whatever with a known working remote to verify that it can see infrared signals. I just got a new cell phone and it wasn't the first item to check out on the phone, but it was on the list of things to verify.

    Once you know that your camera can detect IR remotes you can be fairly confident whenever you use it in the future to check out a remote.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I knew this tricj using a cell phone camera!



    9 years ago on Introduction

    Really impressive trick! Who knew webcams could be used for this