66% or better

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.

Comments

  1. DanAdamKOF says:

    Personally I’d just shove a metal shim in between the battery and positive terminal and call it a day, lol.

  2. M4CGYV3R says:

    I must then be the only college student who has never heard of an iClicker…

    • M4CGYV3R says:

      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.”

    • aztraph says:

      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

  3. vmspionage says:

    Oh, “I Clicker”. I was just thinking, what the H is an IC Licker?

  4. nono33 says:

    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.

  5. daniel_reetz says:

    The iClicker has been on hackaday before – once you bring it back to life, hack the thing with a goodfet:

    http://hackaday.com/2011/01/25/wireless-sniffing-and-jamming-of-chronos-and-iclicker/

  6. $30?!? I wish our clickers were $30! I think I had to pay something like $70 for ours.

    • Andrew says:

      $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.

  7. Rachie says:

    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.

  8. mallory2000 says:

    Gum wrappers around the world breathe a sigh of relief :)

  9. JPD says:

    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

  10. Tony says:

    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.

  11. Kyle says:

    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.

  12. Hirudinea says:

    Hi-ho Tin Foil!

    • EvilNCarnate says:

      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.

  13. DainBramage1991 says:

    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…

    • Tony says:

      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.

  14. Microguy says:

    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!!!!

  15. tim says:

    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.

  16. easydoesit says:

    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

  17. jbarry1506 says:

    Thanks for the tip! I just fixed mine and it only took about 5 minutes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s