Gutting an air freshener for the parts

[Doug Paradis] took a good look inside the Air Wick Freshmatic Compact i-Motion and then stole all the parts for other projects. We’ve looked at adding a manual spray button or making air fresheners Internet enabled before. Those models didn’t have parts that were all that interesting, but this one has a passive infrared motion sensor. You’ll also gain three switches, a PNP transistor, and an LED.

Price seems to be all over the map for this model, but [Doug] says you can find it for $8 or less. After showing how to make a tool to bypass the triangular security screws, he explains how to access the PIR sensor. But if you want to be all you can be with the hardware, he details the modifications needed to patch into the analog and digital circuitry on the rest of the board too.


  1. girrrrrrr2 says:

    The other day I cut the bottom out of one, now it can spray any type of air freshener, you just have to duct tape it in…
    If there is enough interest I can do a write up…
    but its pretty simple lol…

  2. Stephen Zuercher says:

    Cool. I wonder what kind of distance he was able to get with it.

  3. jeditalian says:

    build into steering wheel as chloroform antitheft device? or modify it to MACE people who open your laptop/safe/liquor cabinet/ whatever without proper fingerprint identification

  4. jeditalian says:

    that cartridge looks the same form factor as a butane canister. add a spark gap and you’re set.

  5. Dan Fruzzetti says:

    Triangular security screws can be easily beaten by just the right width flathead screwdriver and a little extra pressure.

    Or, if you have a flathead screwdriver with a broken tip, flatten out the tip and use that. The broad section of a flathead screwdriver seems to lodge in there best.

  6. Erik Johnson says:

    @jeditalian LOL I actually popped in here to post that exact project (not mine). Here:

  7. Jesse says:

    In my experience, hex drivers are all that are needed for removing triangular security screws. I’ve even seen security hex drivers that have a hole in the center, should the screw have a pin in the center of the triangular hole.

  8. Osgeld says:

    I use a triangular jeweller’s file also works ok on Y head screws

  9. wouter says:

    lol at the flamethrower.. :p why doesn’t had have like buttons :p

    I like this project a lot, it’s so easy to find an air freshener like that. I don’t have a clue where i could use the flamethrower but I’m will find a project for that :p

    Did I hear someone say rc hot air balloon?

  10. Grazz256 says:

    Flame thrower would make a great security device!

    Security screws are easy to bypass, I just use a drill. Slightly larger then the size of the bit usually works.
    Alternately you could just buy a set of security bits, most contractor suppliers will have them.

  11. Captain Matt says:

    Would make for an excellent prank just be swapping the freshener out for a can of Silly String, although that might just be the UK name for it, the synthetic foam ‘string’ in an aerosol for parties.

    Hide it up somewhere and whoever walks past, gets a nice covering.

  12. Maroc says:

    I did this about a month ago for my airsoft Claymore project in conjunction with a wireless doorbell, wished that the board was smaller but lift happens. By the way there is also a push solenoid that activates the air freshener canister haven’t quite figured out how I use that yet.

  13. Myrph says:

    @jeditalian That laptop/Mace idea sounds amusing! Replace the built in camera with the spray nozzle, secrete the rest of the gubbins elsewhere, got quite a nice security system!

  14. Malvineous says:

    I’ve had a look at some of these and it’s worth pointing out that some of the cheaper models seem to use a mere light sensor, and react only when a shadow passes over the sensor.

  15. fuckin' rich says:

    Ya know, once the internet starts to add smell, requiring the use of network-interfaced air fresheners, I’m going to move into a cabin in the woods.

    If there are any woods left.

  16. mick says:

    @Erik Johnson
    thanks for the link. alot of cool things there

  17. Pat says:

    Note: some of these guys have pretty interesting motors, as well. I know the Lysol brand one has a low voltage, high torque motor in it, way higher than is needed – it’s the same motor as in Fisher-Price baby swings, and you basically can’t find anything that small with that much torque available online.

  18. Greycode says:

    I am trying to find a reason for putting security screws in such a device. Anyone who wants in to one of those will get into it regardless of the screws. I own a dremmel, and there is precious little that the air freshener companies can do to keep me out of it, especially if I buy it and take it home with me.

    Anyone who does not want into it, simply will not go into it. The excuse of it being child-proof is no good either, as any kid with a hammer is going to beat the hell out of it until it gives up the ghost.

  19. BP says:

    Looks like the same screws used by Nintendo.

  20. echodelta says:

    Definitely some hacks with this puppy. Tripping camera or a counter, or cat flap! CYA design by lawyers with the screws, makes it hard to break down and recycle electronics. Air on Earth is as fresh as it gets,how on earth is chemical pollution supposed to make it fresher. Stink bombs!

  21. M4CGYV3R says:

    Or, instead of grinding a metal rod to make a new tool, you could just cut through the cheap plastic shell…

  22. pff says:

    Seriously, why don’t people just buy components anymore? oohh look i got a pir sensor for $8.
    you could just buy one for less than half that price. sure so what you get a few switches? i don’t know anyone that builds circuits that doesn’t have a handful lying around anyway from a previous project. oh yeah and a transistor? awesome find!!! like they aren’t pennies brand new, with the specs that you require, with full length legs. sure, whatever, if he got it from a skip or it was broken or whatever then fine, but if went out an bought one of these just for the parts then you are retarded.
    also, i don’t particularly care about the environment, but no way would i buy this for a sensor and just dump the case and spray and whatever else comes with it.

  23. Mr Hacker says:

    Air Wick air freshener uses a PIR sensor so thats the one im gonna hack

  24. Richard says:

    @ Captain Matt
    1) Convert unit to silly string and add about 20 secs delay
    2) Put it on the windowsill of the gents in your local bar aimed where you’d stand to use the urinal – the delay means you catch your victim mid-stream
    3) Profit???

  25. @pff

    It’s about the hacking spirit, something I can see that you will never understand… Using what you got on hands to create completely different new things.

    It’s a really good exercise to use what you have on hand, instead of just buying everything from new, believe me.. I torn apart my first toys at age 5 and build cranes with the motors ^^ Good old days….

  26. Fili says:

    @Henrik Pedersen:
    hacking an air freshener to spray foam or stinky gas onto victims: epic win
    hacking an air freshener to get the PIR sensor in the middle of the night when you have something urgent to fix: epic win
    hacking an air freshener that you just bought to get the PIR sensor just because you’re lazy to buy it: epic loss…

  27. Fili says:

    Actually I meant epic fail, not epic loss… Epic fail for me too :P

  28. 0x4368726973 says:

    The point of this is NOT to go out and buy one to strip for parts. It is to take a USED one to strip for parts or repurpose.

  29. Doug Paradis says:

    I have just updated the instructable to show how you can reduce the size of the sensor module.

  30. pff says:

    Quote: “This air freshener sells for $8, but you can sometimes get it cheaper with coupons.”

    dont try and tell me what hacking is. you dont know i didnt take my toys apart as a kid. who do you think you are anyway? i tried to make it clear in my post if he had this lying around it would have been understandable, but the article seems to suggest that it was bought specifically, especially when it gets compared to a pir module, which is obviously going to be more expensive because its a module, not just the sensor.

  31. boingx says:

    Read the article, the instructable shows how to make a PIR “module” not just a sensor. It also shows how you can grab the functionally of the relay driver and LED to improve the “module”. It has been updated to show you how to reduce the size of the module. He mentions the price, because folks should know if it is something in their budget. Finally it is on sell at Walgreen’s right now for $4. I just bought one.

  32. Whatnot says:

    Free security screws!

    J/K, sorta

  33. pff says:

    wow i’m so happy for you.
    enjoy your junk.
    going to do anything useful with it? no i didn’t think so.
    connecting it up to an arduino and having it twitter when someone walks past does not count as useful btw.

  34. Peter says:

    This is just what I’m looking for! My neighbor smells really bad, so i was thinking if one of those things could be modified to automatically spray always before I enter the hallway.

  35. FridgeFreezer says:

    I’d buy 8 or 10 of these and make a dot-matrix spray can graffiti writer… if only I had the time!

  36. walt says:

    this story links to instructables! BOOOO!!!

  37. Phil says:

    The Glade unit uses a photo sensor shadow technique but it only costs $5 at Wal-Mart. It uses ordinary Phillips screws and even comes with two AA batteries.

    Certainly worth the price for the sensor, motor, circuit board, and batteries.

    One very obvious application would be to keep track of people moving around, certainly an extremely useful application for commercial purposes like tracking the number of people who visit a museum and when are the peak times. Not that I’m planning on building that project – just pointing out that there are many useful purposes even excluding just having fun and learning a little more about electronics (which I think is a good goal on its own and doesn’t need additional justification).

  38. Mizugumo says:

    I got a couple of triangular head screw drivers from an Amazon seller for $4.99 each. They are described as “Silverhill ASD3T Triangle Head Screwdriver”. The plastic baggie they came in has a label that says “ASD-TR1 Triangle Head Screwdriver for roombar(sic) and happy meal toys”. So, they’re good for opening other cheap crap.

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