CLICK FOR FULL SIZEUpdated 3/27/05

Why the hack?

I love my Tivo. Ask anybody who owns a Tivo if they would get rid of Tivo or their microwave first, and 9 out of 10 of them will tell you the microwave has got to go! What better way to celebrate Tivo and its cool remote than to make it even more cool. And what better way to make something cool than to make it glow!

What does it do?

It's quite simple. Every time you press a button (any button) on your Tivo remote, a one-shot is triggered that lights up EL-wire inside the remote. The EL-wire remains on for a set duration (5 seconds works well) and then turns off (and the one-shot goes into deep sleep). While the EL-wire will wear down the batteries more quickly, the lifetime is still months (depending on remote usage). However, since you care about our environment, you use rechargeable batteries, right?


The first two Glowing Neon Tivo Remotes were made in 2002 for Scott & Jason. I will ocassionally place these remotes on eBay for sale, and I can alway$ be per$uaded to make more. Since the original units, I have found a better inverter and improved EL-Wire. The new inverter is both quieter and smaller.


How to do the Hack:

The rest of this page is for the do-it-yourself type who loves to dremel and hack stuff apart. You are the type who throws caution to the wind and doesn't mind risking your remote to a slip of the hand. I take no responsibility, and I'm nearly positive that this will void any remote warranty! Give yourself at least 3 hours for the total hack (assuming you have the circuitry for doing a one-shot all rigged up). There's a lot of nit-picky soldering in this one.


Go to the Tivo store and get thee a clear remote. Expect to drop some cash.


Find yourself some EL-Wire and a small inverter. You're on your own on this one. You will need >3 feet of EL-Wire (<.125" diameter) and an inverter that can run on 3VDC. It's nice to have a switch on the inverter you choose so that you can "disable" the glowing feature for formal occasions and whatnot.


Get or make yourself a one-shot that is triggered on a high to low transition. My particular one-shot is a Cribbage Peg with modified code that simply wakes on interrupt (high->low) and then goes back to sleep after a delay. (OneShotWithDelay code will here eventually).


Now begins the fun! Remove the batterry cover and the one screw.


Pry apart the two halves of the remote. You'll see the plastic weld joints all around the parting line. I recommend a small straight screwdriver and a little twisting. The remote makes a terrible sound as you pry its body apart. This is cool.


Don't be afraid if you snap the weld points in a few places.


Get to know your PCB and the remote controller chip. Here's a closeup. Yours may look slightly different. I have seen several different revisions.


Here are the basic components to your remote.


You are going to need to figure where to find +3V, GND and #LED on your remote. If your remote looks exactly like this, you'll find the hookup points at a later step.


Our goal here is to find the trace connected to the Cathode (-) of the LED. How do we remember that Cathode is negative? Because cats (except Puck & Zambi) are negative creatures. Why the negative? Because most controllers sink current rather than source it, and such is the case with the Tivo remote.


Here's a picture of the unstuffed one-shot Cribbage Peg and the inverter.


I recommend making sure your inverter fits somewhere in the bottom shell. This is a good time to eyeball if you need a switch hole or not and where it should be.


For your benefit, I went ahead and marked where I planned on cutting. Suffice to say, any rib that is in the way gets obliterated or cut through.


Here's a closeup of the wall that is being removed for the one-shot and the cut out for the inverter switch.


Choose a Dremel bit slightly larger than your EL-Wire diameter. The management buzzword for this is "Right Sized". (We all know that in reality, "Right Sized" means far smaller than appropriate, but that won't work here.)


Start cutting and hacking. I like to work with my remote shells in a vice to keep them from moving on me. Whatever makes you comfortable and feeling safe.


Here's a closeup of what I mean by "Thru Holes" in the ribs. This is a great way to constrain the EL-Wire and keep it from flopping around in there.


The top shell is a little more tricky and requires some brute force.


The top-front ribs really should be thru-holed or undercut-ed. You'll thank me later.


Before putting it together, it helps to double check your one-shot.


Begin wiring the lower section. Not the thru-holed ribs make things look cleaner.


Wrap the EL-Wire once around the bottom shell.


Begin hot melt. Color coded wires help a lot. The one shot is already hooked up (and tested) to the inverter at this point. Feel free to use hot melt, for this is a true hack.


Another view of one-shot and inverter. Note the thru-holed rib in the foreground.


Now, run the wires from the one-shot back towards the end of the remote. I find that wire-wrap (30AWG kynar) wires work great for these types of projects.


CLOSEUP of the connection points for this remote. If the image on the right is not the same as your remote, perhaps you remote uses this revision PCB.


All connected (and maybe tested again), put the PCB back in place.


Begin snaking the wire around the top shell.


After snaking it around the top shell, hope for extra so that you can cut to length.


As promised, those thru-holes in the top-front-ribs sure help control the EL-wire. You may some additional hacking to do on the IR filter.


Close it up, snap it together. This is easier than it sounds.


Replace the screw and put the battery cover back on.


See how the hotmelt *almost* looks good now! Hack complete.