A simple fix to resurrect your broken iclicker

simple_iclicker_battery_fix

If you are currently attending college, the odds are that you are familiar with iclicker classroom remotes. If you have one of these, you might also be aware that they tend to be flaky at times, particularly when it comes to powering on. [Todd] received a few “broken” iclickers lately and has found an easy to fix design issue that might possibly save yours (and others) from the trash heap.

When he started pulling the units apart to diagnose them, he noticed that something with the battery contacts was not quite right. They are held in place by the device’s plastic shell which is pretty common, however in the iclicker, the portion of the plastic case that holds the positive battery contact is too big, preventing some batteries from making a complete circuit.

Now you might be thinking to yourself that AA batteries are all the same, but they are not necessarily created equal. Through a small bit of testing, [Todd] found that many different batteries experienced intermittent connectivity issues depending on the height of the positive terminal, and that due to their design, Duracell batteries flat out didn’t work. With the careful removal of a portion of the plastic surrounding the positive contact, [Todd] was able to fix each of his “broken” remotes.

He hopes that this information helps some people resurrect their non-functioning units, because a few minutes work sure beats buying another $30 iclicker.

32 thoughts on “A simple fix to resurrect your broken iclicker

    1. Got it. Those are pretty cool. Couldn’t help but laugh at this ‘feature point’ on their site:

      “Simple battery compartment. With only two AAA batteries to replace, keeping i>clicker2 running smoothly is easy.”

    2. don’t feel bad, I had to google it. but hey “When I Went to college” . . .never mind, it was a stupid thought and you all don’t need am ancient history lesson

  1. Did you know that in the iClicker is an AVR microcontroller that has neither code nor eeprom lock enabled? Even handy ISP pads are provided.

    Also the used encryption is based on swapping bits, which you can easily work out looking at the transmission.

    1. $30 for the iclicker is a ripoff. We used a thing called a quizdom before, which had a numeric keypad and an LCD screen, and that was even kinda expensive at like $35 or $40. The iclicker (besides having a terrible name) is just 6 buttons, 3 LEDs (one bicolor), a micro, and a transmitter.

      1. One of my professors had us bring in four different colored half-sheets of paper. It worked perfectly fine for everything except being an easy to grade quiz; He just had our grades based on homework, tests, and final.

  2. I have two different types of these, because no one can agree which format to use. For the most part, I think they make a lousy anonymous lecture even worse, but have the potential to make it slightly better if the results aren’t graded.

    For the lousy classes, I’d be inclined to reprogram a remote into a jammer, forcing the teacher to actually teach instead of rely on such tools.

    At least they’re fun to paint bright colours.

  3. While you have it apart, take the PCB out and paint the case. I spray-painted mine black freshman year. Was the only one on campus that wasn’t white. lol

  4. That design protects the circuit board when you put the batteries in backwards. Cheaper than a diode, and doesn’t waste power.

    The negative side of the battery can never make contact as the metal is recessed.

    1. Agreed. All apple has to do is come out with the iComputer and iLaptop then everything they produce will begin with the letter i

      Very neat post tho. It will make me re-look at some of my “broken” electronics laying around the house.

  5. I worked at an off-campus bookstore for 3 years during the last years as an undergrad. We would buy back iclickers to resell and some would seem “broken”. I found that I could cut a small sliver of the plastic near the contact off and get them working. Simple fix. They should never have left the factory like this.

    1. Exactly, I cant count the number of cheap kids toys from prizes and fairs that have flaked out and left one of my kids whining only to be fixed by a piece of aluminum foil to help the battery make a secure connection.

  6. It’s a common design flaw present on many small consumer electronics, and it has caused quite a few of them to come into my possession over the years.
    As for it being cheaper than a diode, I must have a slightly different sense of logic and math. One single warranty replacement costs more than many hundreds of silicon diodes…

    1. A piece of plastic is ‘better’ than a diode as all it needs to do is stop the batteries making contact – too well in this case.

      Don’t forget you lose half a volt or so across a diode – not good when your power source is only a couple of batteries.

  7. The fad of placing the letter “i” in front of a word, any word, can not die off soon enough for me.

    My God, can’t they even use a different letter from time to time? Why “i” ALL the time??

    Do these people not have imaginations of their own? Seriously, it reminds me of back in the 70’s I think, when everything had “turbo” attached to it. Turbo this, and Turbo that, even a cologne called “Turbo”.

    KILL IT already!!!!

  8. i>clickers use an AVR microcontroller with no protection on it, and it has pads to solder an ISP header on. There is a hacked i>clicker firmware floating around somewhere, where pressing Power+A enables a special mode where the clicker spams hundreds of bogus votes a second (generates random ID numbers). It generates so many “votes” that it often times crashes the base station/software! It’s really great to be sittin in the lecture hall, prof decides to have a clicker quiz, and I think ‘f this crap’ and crash the system.

  9. easier fix. scratch up the contact…solder a drop of solder. problem solved. worked perfect for me. also, beware iclicker 2 . pointlessly over-complicated and coming to a univ near you

    1. Thanks so much for posting this; it solved my problem! I was upset enough at having to buy one iclicker, having to replace it would have just added insult to injury

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