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Author Topic: VCR Commander Range Improvement  (Read 11960 times)

al437la

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VCR Commander Range Improvement
« on: March 20, 2006, 11:27:53 PM »

The VCR Commander has a poor range. Although it is advertised to be 100 feet, at best you get 20 feet out it. Many posts report a similar problem. I have been experimenting with my commander and found a very reasonably fix to this problem.
You do need to be familiar with electronics and soldering.
Here is how I extended the range at least twice.
Takeout the backup batteries.
Unscrew the four screws the hold the backcover.
Carefully open the backcover, but only slightly.
The IR port has a nut on it that needs to be unscrewed and now you can seperate both halfs of the commander.
Carefully lift the antenna out of its slot.
Gently take out the whole printed circuit board. It slides along two notches on each side. The batery terminals come with it.
Follow the white wire that runs from the antenna all the way to the printed circuit board.
It ends near the STOP button.  The last part of the white wire is shielded.
Use a 20Watt soldering iron to disconnect the white wire from the circuit board
Do not heat it for long since the surrounding components are surface mount and can not tollerate the heat very well

Now cut a piece of insulated thincopper wire (20 gauge stranded or solid) that is stiff enough to act like an antenna.
The length of the wire should be approximately 12 3/4 inch. The reason for this is that the motion detector that strats the commander, sends an RF signal at frequency of 433.92 mHz.
The indeal antenna length for the frequency would be a 1/2 wavelength so approximately 12 3/4 inch.

Solder this wire to the point where you previously removed the white wire. Again,heat it shortly so not to damage to surrounding components.
Route the wire over the circuit board towards the antenna. Be carefull not to damage any other components. Ideally you want the portion of the wire that runs over the circuit board to be shielded, with the shielding grounded to the same ground that was used for the shielding of the white wire. I experimented with this, and in my case it did not make any difference since the distance I had to bridge was only 40 feet.

You also might have to drill a small hole in the housing to allow for the wire (new antenna) to be tunneled towards the outside. This assumes that you will reuse the antenna and install it afterwards. You do not have to do this. You could snip the white wire near the antenna and do no reinstall the antenna. In this case you have already a hole for the new antenna to be routed out if the commander. I left my antenna so in case I need to return the unit, I reverse the modification and can send it back in.

You are done with the modification.

Insert the circuit board in the upper half. This works best if you hold it slightly canted to ensure that the IR diode (used for training the remote) fits in the hole of the case. Also when inserting the board back into the commander, make sure that the red LED sllides in the hole. Firmly press the batterry terminals into their slots.

Next to the circuit board are two plastic posts for the screws from the backpanel. Make sure they are clear and no cables are running over them since otherwise you will not be able to fit the back panel. Check the perimeter on the housing tht no cables are sticking out.

Slide the antenna back into the slot (only if you want to ruse it)
Put both halfs together.
Insert the batteries and connect to AC adaptor.
Reset the VCR and motion detector as instructed in the manual. (1-Push and hold PWR button and wait for the 13 beeps. 2-push and hold PLAY until the red light is steady lit, release the button, push and release once the START button and the red light goes out)
Remember to reprogram the VCR codes and the Motion detectors.

Tip: For those that have floodcams to activate the commander. You do not have to run out to trip the floodcams.
You can use the remote control that came with you X10 system (assuming you bought the remote as well)
Simply push the START button until the red light stays ON (stops blinking)
Now switch the floodcam ON by pushing the corresponding button on the X10 remote control.
The red light on the Commander goes out and starts blinking slowly (every 1.5 seconds)
That's it.
If you have multiple floodcams, repeat this process for every floodcam.


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billy

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Re: VCR Commander Range Improvement
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2006, 07:20:20 AM »

al437la,

Great work, I have one question, do you live in North America or elsewhere?

You stated that:  "The length of the wire should be approximately 12 3/4 inch. The reason for this is that the motion detector that strats the commander, sends an RF signal at frequency of 433.92 mHz."

In North America, the X-10 RF carrier frequency is 310MHz.  In the UK, they use 418MHz and 433.92MHz.
In the rest of Europe it is 433.92MHz.

468 divided by FREQUENCY IN MHZ  = LENGTH IN FEET (MULT. BY 12 FOR INCHES)
300 divided by FREQUENCY IN MHZ  = LENGTH IN METERS (wavelength)


Antenna Lengths:
Frequency  Mhz                          310
Half Wavelength Inches               18.116
Quarter Wavelength Inches          9.05

Frequency  Mhz                          433.92
Half Wavelength in Inches :          12.94
Quarter Wavelength in Inches:      6.47
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"I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is."  Albert Camus

Riverineb

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Re: VCR Commander Range Improvement
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2007, 03:47:47 PM »

I have 3 floodcams.   I can get 2 to work fine with motion and the palm pad and commander.  I can get the 3rd to work with the commander only with the palmpad remote, it will not work with motion.  I purchased the one that is the problem before I purchased all the others and commander.
Any ideas.
The range on all the cameras are about the same distance. 
What would you recommend to solve the problem and provide better picture quality
Gene
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HA Dave

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Re: VCR Commander Range Improvement
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2007, 07:05:11 PM »

I have 3 floodcams.   I can get 2 to work fine with motion and the palm pad and commander.  I can get the 3rd to work with the commander only with the palmpad remote, .........The range on all the cameras are about the same distance. 

What would you recommend to solve the problem and provide better picture quality
Gene


What I reading here....if I understand correctly.... Is your Video receiver, and VCR commander are about equal distances from the 3 floodcams. However... 1 of the cams isn't quite making the grade

There are things that effect reception other than range or distance. Obstructions like brick walls, large metal objects, even metal lathe in plaster walls can all reduce the range. With that in mind, moving the receiver and commander may be helpful. Even just elevating them may help.

If that doesn't resolve the VCR command problem: You can extend the RF singal to the commander with a (SR731) Smart RF Repeater. Placed near to the (problem) floodcam it will receive it's signal to start the VCR commander and rebroadcast it.

If the video signal is still a problem: You can use a 2nd video receiver (set it and the floodcam to a different letter setting than the other two) then hardwire back to your VCR. You can use regular video cable to do this for several feet.

If you need to you can even rebroadcast the video signal by getting both a sender and receiver, setting the problem floodcam to a different letter code as the others. Set the receiver near enough to get good reception. Then plug the receiver into the (new) sender which you set to the same letter code as the other two cameras. Of course, you may also need a appliance module or two to make this work, and even a transceiver if your not using one now.

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