Can anything external interfere with the infra-red on a dvd remote control?
November 8, 2007 2:16 AM   Subscribe

Can anything external interfere with the infra-red on a dvd remote control?

Since Tuesday, the remote control to my Panasonic dvd player has only been working intermittently, for a few hours at a time. At first I thought the remote needed new batteries but that didn't help then I thought the dvd player had malfunctioned but when I moved it into another room on the other side of the flat it worked fine.

So something must have happened in the last couple of days and since I live in a tower block, I'm wondering if someone might have bought something electrical which when switched on is somehow blocking the signal between the remote and the dvd player.

It is unusual because it seems to either work completely or not at all suggesting that a neighbour is switching something on and off for long stretches. It was dead last night and at 9am this morning. It's now 10:15 am local time and working perfectly.

Note I haven't bought of plugged in anything new myself.
posted by feelinglistless to Technology (9 answers total)
Very unlikely. If it's infra-red it needs line-of-sight to function—or malfunction. Did you change anything in the room? A new lightbulb, gadget, or laser-tripwire security system?
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:52 AM on November 8, 2007

This page has some other ideas of what might be the cause.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:56 AM on November 8, 2007

Next time it stops working, try this. Put the remote in your hand with a finger on the power button. Use the other hand to wrap the remote, and your hand, with at least three layers of tin foil. Crush in the ends so they are protected, leaving only a small hole for the IR transmitter. Now try hitting the power button and see if it works.

It's hokey but that should tell you if it's electromagnetic interference with the remote.

Does it work if you are really close? One other idea would be to take the cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels and place one end over the IR transmitter in the remote, and the other on the receiver on your DVD player. That would block out visible or near visible interference. Then give it a go. If you try this you should then try it without the tube, just to confirm it's the tube making the difference.
posted by jwells at 4:58 AM on November 8, 2007

I doubt the tin foil would do anything other than entertain onlookers. It's not likely that something is upsetting the remote control and somehow keeping it from emitting light.

It's more likely that something is shining on the receiver in just the wrong "color" and all it sees is noise.
posted by cmiller at 5:10 AM on November 8, 2007

Too much sunlight at the wrong angle, maybe? This could be cleverly explained by daylight savings time, even if you used the remote at the same times last week, the sun is now at a different angle at those times. Try pulling a shade.
posted by anaelith at 6:34 AM on November 8, 2007

Uhm...batteries? My universal does this when the batteries are getting low. Also, it's possible to accidentally press the wrong source button on it, like "DVD" instead of "Cable", so I'm nailing the power button and the cable box stays off. Mostly though, it does that when the batteries are getting low.
posted by TomMelee at 6:38 AM on November 8, 2007

Other sources of infrared light interfere with it (such as bright sunlight). Also low batteries. Those are about it.
posted by chundo at 8:00 AM on November 8, 2007

Is there something physically blocking the sensor on the DVD player?
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:40 PM on November 8, 2007

Response by poster: Low and behold, the things started working again, all of the time, for no particular reason. Thanks for the suggestions though.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:21 PM on November 13, 2007

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