Tiling Your TV Remote

The Tile is a small Bluetooth chip, speaker, and enough battery for a year in a keychain format. If you lose your keys in the morning, simply use the app on your phone to find the keychain. If you lose your phone simply get out your second phone.

This planned obsolescence didn’t jive with [JM] when his Tile stopped being discoverable. He didn’t want to toss a gadget that had served him so well into the landfill. So, like any good hacker, he cracked its plastic case open.

The Tile itself is a really interesting product. The largest component is the battery which has tabs spot-welded to its surface. Attached to those is a well laid out board. [JM] points out the clever use of spring contacts to engage the piezo element for the speaker as a nice example of good design for manufacture.

The hack itself was pretty easy to complete. Some electrical tape and soldering was all it took to embed the tile into the remote. Now he can take out his phone and press a button to hear a forlorn beep coming from under the couch cushions.

35 thoughts on “Tiling Your TV Remote

    1. Sky TV in the UK have added this to their new “Sky Q” receiver and remote.
      If the remote disappears, you just press a button on the receiver to make the remote beep.

    2. I had a magnavox TV in the 90’s that my parents bought me. If you powered the TV up from the set it would set the remote into a beep mode so you could find it. Even though the remote was IR, the find function was RF. Awesome piece of tech for then. That thing lasted me 20 years, until broadcast switched to digital. Then I simply bought a new TV. Funny thing is that in 20 years I think I only replaced the batteries in the remote 3-4 times.

  1. I really love The Tile. I have 5-6 different types of Bluetooth trackers, with the Tile being the only one which works every time.
    Found my daughters backpack twice using the “See where you had it” feature, and my wife uses the “Find your phone” feature on a near daily basis at home.

    Price and the fact that it’s pretty difficult to change the battery are the only real downsides for me.

  2. This thingy looks very useful. But it’s very crappy move from the manufacturer to make battery unchangeable. I guess product is waterproof so LIR2032 with USB charging wouldn’t be an option, but simple cap with rubber gasket and changeable CR2032 would solve the problem.

    1. The LIR might work in this application but would need occasional charging. Perhaps a magnetically coupled charger.

      The CR2032 stores much more energy because chemical storage is more efficient than electrical storage.

      Ball park figures –

      CR2032 – approx 200 mAh
      LIR2032 – approx 24 mAh

      1. The LIR also does chemical storage, but this type of rechargeable lithium cells has very low capacity. Perhaps it is possible to fit a a small rectangular Li-Poly battery into the “Tile”.

          1. I think i had the same issue with te msp430 on my oral-b. Putting in a fresh charged battery didn’t make it buzz. Putting it on the charger with some voodoo fixed that though!

        1. I did it successfully. But you need a difficult/expensive to get 4/5AA size Cell. Or you hack away some plastic arts and squeezE aN AA SIZE Cell into it. Gives added benefit te able to use an “Eneloop” or other low-self-discharge type.
          And yes, after changing the electronics required some seconds of initial charging to re-activate.

  3. I’ve never in my life lost a remote control. Lost a cordless phone once. Turns out I had picked it up in a pile of newspapers and dumped it in the recycle bin.

  4. I followed the procedure to put a tile in my Tivo Slide remote. It works, but after about two minutes it plays a short song and seems to shut itself down – it stops working and no longer id’s seen by the app. If I remove the remote batteries for a minute or two and put them back in, the tile will play a song, work for a couple of minutes, then “shut down” again. Any idea what might be going on? Thanks.

    1. Hi, I am seeing the same behavior. Tile powers up, plays a tune, then ~30 seconds later tile powers down. I theorize that there is a volatile bit that has cleared upon power loss (removal of the original battery). The bit cleared state indicates that the Tile has not been “registered” or “activated”… the Tile device waits for 30 seconds to allow the Tile app to activate it, with no activation the Tile “times-out” and shuts down.
      Interesting enough, during this 30 second powered up window, the Tile app can still sense and find the tile, but inevitably a time-out occurs and the Tile powers down.
      The Tile app will only activate Tile once in the Tile’s lifetime, I believe that the app will check online in a database for the Tile’s unique mac address. If it has seen this Tile before it WILL NOT reactivate…. I think this is maybe a purposeful behavior to avoid people from attaching 99 cent batteries and not dishing out the “big-bucks” to Tile Inc.

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