I think I’m almost done with my new keycoder, it’s gone thru several iterations and I’ve ironed out most of the bugs.
I’d posted earlier this week that I’d started with a box I made out of aluminum angle, and added a bunch of momentary toggle switches, I then took the guts out of two RF remotes and wired them up inside. Sounds easy but it didn’t feel like it at the time.
The switches are mini (on)-off-(on) momentary, I really wanted to try and get sub-mini’s that just did (on)-off, but I couldn’t find any at a price I was willing to pay. I think the switches I ended up with worked out to be around a $1 each after shipping.
Space is very tight and I really didn’t want to make the box any bigger than absolutely necessary, so I ended up trimming the RF boards down and consolidating the antennas as well as removing the two batteries.
The switches center solder tabs are common and wired together
This is the spaghetti I’d created once I was “done” wiring the switches in
With being generous with the wire I’d forgotten it all had to fit in the box somehow! So I ended up shortening everything down. I also wrapped the backs of the switches and any critical parts of the boards in electrical tape.
I’d tried really hard to fit rechargeable batteries inside too, but ended up with a better solution I think. I ran a cable out and up into the battery compartment of the Futaba to share it’s battery. The cable has a Y split in it for easy removal. The RF remotes come with a 12V battery, but I’ve tested and found that they work very happily on the 10VDC coming from the Futaba. When I double checked my older remotes their batteries had dropped to 6V and were still working fine.
So, that’s my new CTEC keycoder almost done.
- Having the antenna internally limits range so I’ll be moving it outside.
- Total cost was roughly $94 (incl. two RF setups $60, aluminum $10, switches $24), and about 2 or 3 days of work. On the other hand the Vantec Hitchiker product is around $450 – and only works with their special Futaba 75Mhz FM 9CAP, but does have some great features that I will need a cheap micro-controller to replicate.
- My keycoder weights in at 10oz, adding to the already heavy Futaba setup at almost 2.5lb. So I may look into making a plastic box – but the weight of the switches definitely adds up.
One last trick I learned is that you can have multiple remotes control a single RF receiver. Yep, you heard that right. I’ve been controlling multiple RF receivers with one remote for a while, but had no idea it would work the other way around – each remote doesn’t not need to have the same code even. I accidentally found this out while trying to mate the new keycoders remotes to my droid and found that my older remotes still worked.