How to embed an IR emitter V 2.0

My last article about embedding emitters glossed over most of the steps and showed off a Xantech product that is no longer available. This update has a lot more detail and describes what to use now that the Xantech Pro product is no longer available.

Back of the cable box.

Security Sticker. Once you remove the back the security sticker gets peeled leaving part of it behind. I used to worry about voiding warranty or getting in to trouble. Then one day i realized that the cable company isn’t organized enough to police the scary security sticker.

Our clients call us for service so i get to the cable box first. If its defective i remove my emitter and put the cable box out for the cable guy when he drops off the replacement. Cable guy and I never see each other again.

A lot of cable & satellite boxes have security screws of some sort. Most are simple like the ones in the photo (star with pin in the middle) but some are more elaborate. Get yourself a set of “Security Bits”. Most kits will have what you need. In some cases ive had to google “security bit for_____ model cable box” because they have an even less common screw head.

Cover is off. Most slide right off. Some may have a clip somewhere.

Some devices have ribbons like this. If they are good quality ribbons i remove them. If they are very thin/fine conductors i might leave the ribbon in place. This makes the rest of the work difficult but not impossible and avoids breaking the ribbon.

Front clip removed. There are always plastic clips all the way around the front clip. I start at one end and work my way around releasing each one until the front clip is free.

Close up of board inside front clip. The screws have to be removed. Note where you take these out of. You will often find more screw locations than screws. This board had 5 screw holes but only 4 screws. 1 at each end and 1 on each side of the front panel buttons. The front panel button area is important to support so that button pushes dont pop the board back.

There are usually clips also. You can use your finger or a small slot screw driver to release them.

The other side of the board. You can see the IR receiver on the left hand side. The shiny black/dark red/purple receiver with the metal X over it. Most IR receivers look just like this. If you dont see anything like this you will need to look at the plastic part of the front clip for a “window”. This should help indicate the location of the IR receiver.

Xantech Emitter. Any emitter will work. This is what i had so this is what i used.

Cracking the shell off. The old xantech emitters were much easier to open. These take a steady hand and lots of patience. I use a razor knife to score each of the 4 sides of the diamond. Then i push the blade in at the bottom while working the two pieces apart. Once i get it separated enough i will use needle nose pliers to start pulling it off.

Eventually the bottom comes off.

Be very careful removing the emitter from the shell. The two conductors can short out if you twist/bend the wire too much.

At this point i look at the back of the chassis for a vent or some sort of entry point. If there is a large enough opening you can thread the emitter through intact. In this case all i found was these tiny slots. I used a small screw driver to bend on to the side to make room for the emitter wire.

Inside of bent slot.

Hot glue gun time. I heat the glue gun up just enough to squeeze glue out. I immediately unplug it at this point. I squeeze a very small drop on to the board. I like to keep it away from the receiver so that it doesn’t melt down under it or around it. This is so i can easily remove the hot glue later if i need to.

I touch the IR emitter to the dab of hot glue. It usually sets very quick. Placement of the IR emitter depends on the component. This component had an open area between the board and the front clip. Some have plastic tube shaped pieces that fit over the IR receiver. They force you to put the emitter in the tube so that the board and clip can be put back together.

Always be aware of how the board and front clip fit together. Make sure that your emitter wire doesn’t get in the way of buttons or screws.

Board is clipped back in place. Emitter wire is threaded through an existing opening.

Front clip reinstalled. Thread the emitter though an open slot. Reinstall the ribbon. Make sure ribbon is fully seated.

Pull the slack out of the wire and make a small bundle. I always try and avoid any moving parts like drive trays or stuff that has heat sinks.

At the back i put a dab of hot glue by the slot. Keep in mind that the glue gun has been cooling and you are adding this dab about 2 minutes after unplugging the glue gun. This helps make it easier to remove. Hot glue and slotted metal/plastic are very difficult to separate.

Letting the glue get cool makes it less likely to push far through the slots. Push the emitter into the dab of glue. This will hold the emitter wire in place so that its not moving back and forth across the rough edge in the metal slot.

You can see that the glue did not squeeze out of the slot.

Since i had to cut the 1/8″ connector off to thread the wire through the small slot…i get to solder. Yay (he says sarcastically). Nothing fancy. Twist wires together.

Tin. Snip about half the length off. Fold to the side. Slide heat shrink over each conductor. Heat. Slide larger heat shrink over both conductors. Heat. Done. Angrily throw soldering gun back in the corner pocket of tool bag.

Install component on rack shelf. This rack is 4 racks over from the control processor so i used 1/8″ extension cables. That is what you see with the white label on it. Emitter connector is yellow.


I used to be able to use Xantechs PRO emitters. They had a nice little block that you attached to the shelf or component. Then you used an 1/8″ patch cable to get to the control processor. Like this…

Xantech discontinued the PRO emitter. I heard (from a friend of a friend) that they stopped making it because no one bought them. :(.


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