Fix Broken Buttons on Harmony Remote

Logitech’s Harmony Remote is a really nice remote. I’ve had mine for a couple years but now the most commonly used buttons are wearing out. Since I have a Tivo the most used buttons are the forward buttons that I use for skipping commercials. These buttons are pretty much unusable now, they will work some of the time but only if you press really hard.

It seems stupid to buy a new Harmony remote every couple of years just because the buttons wore out. So here is how you can fix the buttons. These instructions are for the 676, but should work on most other versions too:

  1. Open the remote by removing the four screws at the bottom (two are under the battery compartment.
  2. Pry the remote open.
  3. Remove the two screws that are holding the circuit board on.
  4. Take the button piece out and flip it over too see the backs of the buttons.
  5. On my remote the buttons that were broken had some kind of shiny liquid on them. I’m not really sure what this is or where it comes from, all I know is you need to get rid of it.
  6. Take a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol and scrub the keys and the contacts on the circuit board.
  7. Put the remote back together, it should now be working.

After I performed the above procedure the remote buttons started working perfectly.

Update 4/8/2010: The buttons stopped working again so I tried the cleaning process again. The buttons look very clean but for some reason the buttons still don’t work. I’m not sure why it would work great the first time but have no effect the second time.

I was looking around online and found a product called CaiKote 44. This product is designed for exactly the type of button repair that I needed. It is a paste that you put on the bottom of the buttons and it restores the conductivity. Application is pretty easy, using the included swabs just spread a thin layer of CaiKote on the button and let it dry for a few hours. Once I put the remote back together it was working perfectly again.

The problem seems to be finding CaiKote. The only physical store that I know of that carries this product is Fry’s Electronics. They sell it for $5.99. It was difficult to find, it took two workers a while before we finally found it. If you go it is located in the electronics parts department near some LCD screen cleaning products.

I haven’t found a good place to buy it online. You can but it from the manufacturer, but they have a $25 minimum order. It is also sold on Amazon here, but as of right now the price is very high, maybe it will drop to a more reasonable price in the future.

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26 Responses to Fix Broken Buttons on Harmony Remote

  1. leigh says:

    T Fogarty wrote: “For anyone that may need to fix the stupid hard buttons on the 785 (they click when pressed and don’t rely on conductive back on the button). ”

    Thanks for the suggestions! I had a similar issue with the volume buttons on my Harmony 550. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much luck with either superglue or tape to try and reduce the button travel.

    In the end, I figured out a software fix: Swapping the functionality of the CH+/- and VOL+/- buttons. I rarely change the channel that way anyway so it made sense to swap over to the other side of the remote.

  2. mark says:

    For the guy with the Harmony 650 I will tell you how to open it .
    The are 4 visible screws at the bottom and the top two were a mystery to me as well. I tried to figure out what was connected and just was not seeing how you get to those screws. So I just broke those off as I had tried to reassign to another key and still did not havev ol + on that key either.
    (BTW it seems to still all go back together and hold well enough without them. It is not as tight but functional. )
    But you will not have to go through that as I am hear to tell you how to get to those two screws.

    To avoid this, here is the secret. See that shiny plastic with the Harmony logo at the top (on the back)? That is the plate and it is just held with sticky tape! using a razor or other thin blade, pry that off to see your two screws. I wish I had know this. It jsut seemed to move with the back and I thought it was a molded piece since from the underside you only see one piece.
    Once the cover is off
    try plastic tools as my metal screw driver, as small as it is, just gouges the plastic. The gray seems to be painted since I see a little blue color where I pry. Maybe softer tools will be kinder.

    I now have the Volume up working again. Note the Harmony 650 does NOT have conductive buttons for all the buttons. This is a good thing. The center buttons are a pad stuck to the PCB board with metal flex disks.
    At first I thought cleaning would not work but I took a shot and it did.

    When you take apart you will see 3 silver screws that hold the board to the remote. I took off and found dirt on the LCD as well as some sort of corrosion around the ribbon cable. So I cleaned that up.
    From the top I carefully lifted the white button board from the PCB just enough to reach the Volume button. These work by two concentric circles on the board and a silver disk on the sticker. The button has a leg that flexes the disk to make contact between the circles to make the connection.

    To be honest I could not see what was wrong as it still seemed to make the button click. I saw only the slightest cloudiness in the smallest of spots so took a cotton swab and alcohol to rub the disk and the gold contacts. I did not think that could be the solution. I also checked out the other button I assigned Vol + to and it too had just a little bit of marks so cleaned that up.

    I re-affixed the pad sticker and reassembled and both buttons sent the volume command.
    So the Harmony 650 lives on.

  3. Theo says:

    To repair Repair Rubber Membrane Buttons you can also use this.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/231745849851
    Scroll down and see this chapter: Keypad Repair Fix Remote Controls.

  4. John says:

    P.S. Except for case color, the Harmony 700 is physically identical to the 650, mentioned just above by Larry R. His experience is what I’m fearing with my 700.

  5. John says:

    My Harmony 700 is exhibiting the same problem with several commonly used buttons now almost useless. There are no exposed screws on the back of the 700, though. So, taking the 700 apart is a task I’m afraid to try for fear I’ll destroy the remote. Any recommendations on how I might take the 700 apart?

  6. Larry R says:

    I have a 650. Same problem with my “ok”. Bummmer I could not get the top to come apart. I could release all the snaps but the top acted like it was glued to the back. I almost made it 🙁

  7. Lee Hopper says:

    My Harmony 300 had buttons failing – especially the ones most used. I took it apart, cleaned everything with alcohol and painted backs of buttons with CaiKote 44 & dried it under a desk lamp. Works like a charm. Thanks for the info.
    LeeH

  8. wesley says:

    My activities button did not work anymore.
    After opening the harmony i found out that there was some white plastic covering some of the push buttons.
    i removed that white plastic under the activities button with the tip of a knive. Now you see a shiny metal button and it works like new now.

  9. Gordon says:

    the plunger yeilded better results, but I still have a problem and some time down the road I will need to pull up that pad. Here is a link to a guy with a similar remote, and this is what I will try…
    http://forums.logitech.com/t5/Harmony-Remotes/Harmony-880-and-890-volume-control-button-issue/td-p/376234/page/5
    look for a post from 02-18-201203:54 PM

  10. Gordon says:

    Spirits, Yes – I believe the design has changed. I don’t see how Calikot is going to work on this design. I am going to try and do the thing someone else suggested and build up the “plunger” with crazy glue. If that doesn’t work, I may try to pull apart the contact as you suggest. I will post my results here.

  11. Joel says:

    Ok, so I have a harmony 880 and when I disassemble it, there seems to be to two layers to the keypad. One just seems to be a green and white cover with holes for the small round metal contacts. It seems to be attached with an adhesive. I don’t know if it has a function. I imagine it does.

    Then there’s a second layer which seems to be held together by adhesive and if I pull up one small side, I can see the top and bottom parts of the contact.

    So my questions are:

    1. are others seeing this or did the design change drastically between the two versions?

    2. should I try to pull up the entire adhesive layer (both of them) and try to clean or repair the contacts?

    I have about 3-4 buttons that simply aren’t responding anymore. it’s infuriating for something that we spent hundreds of dollars on.

    Thanks for the help so far!

  12. T Fogarty says:

    For anyone that may need to fix the stupid hard buttons on the 785 (they click when pressed and don’t rely on conductive back on the button). I just made mine work nearly as good as new, by putting a small drop of superglue on top of the metal dome that is stuck on the board, I tried to keep the drip in the centre of the dome and smaller than it. I guess you could maybe put a couple of layers of tape over them too. I think the bottom of the button wears down and just doesn’t allow the travel necessary to operate. I had to push my channel and volumes buttons nearly to breaking point, now all thats needed is just a tap. Very happy this has annoyed me for about a year now and I knew the hard buttons were different.

    Don’t know how long it lasts, probably longer than it did originally is my guess. Logitech should be shot for putting the hard button types on it, I’m certain they tested them to last just outside warranty. When you pay $200 plus for a remote it should at least out last an OEM remote, not in the case of harmony remotes though. I’ve had 3 now all with buttons that were dead on arrival or soon after. It’s a pity as the rest of the hardware is reasonable.

  13. Dan Ferguson says:

    To those of you with Harmony Remotes and buttons don’t work, good info on this site. Have had this problem with other remotes I have-usually I spilled something on them and have to take-em apart and clean with warm water then they work fine. The Harmony 676 I just got (only 5 bucks!) the volume would not go up only down. Took it apart and scraped off the gel and it worked fine. As for taking it apart-there are two screws on the back (very small philips) you can get a set of small drivers at the dollar store. Remove the two screws on the back then the two screws in the battery compartment. Then on the bottom of the the remote use one of the small screw drivers and pry the two halves apart a little then use another small one and it work it further up the control carefully. there are three tabs spaced about 1.5 inches apart on each side of the control- You can’t see them until you pry it apart a little-when you do put another small driver in there and pry it lose. Be carefull you don’t want to break them. When you get the halves apart there are two small screws holding the PC board down- they are located at the bottom near the battery contacts, remove those. Pull the PC board out and look at the bottom of the push buttons you will see the bad one has some shiny stuff on it. Scrape this off with one of the small screw drivers-wipe down the contact surface on the PC board and re-assemle-you are back in business. Hope this helps.

    Dan-Lynnwood, WA

  14. Trini says:

    George :
    I was able to fix my 520. Several buttons required me to hold them for 1+ seconds before the connection was made and the signal was sent. I didn’t clean away any of the existing conductive liquid with alcohol or anything. I just flexed the rubberized keypad enough to “scrape” up any extra conductive gel (there was some gel on surfaces that didnt require it) onto the backs off the buttons that had stopped working. I didn’t have to buy any conductive liquid at all!

  15. Trini says:

    Hi!
    I think maybe the rubbing alcohol dissolved the conductive film.

    I didn’t have any rubbing alcohol …so I used hand soap.
    And it’s made my buttons easy to push again!
    (How long it will last ‘I don’t know’.)

    Thanks for the tip on the CaliKote!

  16. Joe says:

    Thanks so much for posting this, especially the tip about CaiKote 44! Bought the small kit from allelectronics.com for $10 plus shipping, followed your instructions and the instructions for the CaiKote, and now my Harmony 676’s buttons are all working smoothly again!

  17. Kyle says:

    Thanks for posting this blog entry. A little caikote44 on my skip forward, play and pause buttons and they work like new.

  18. George says:

    I was able to fix my 520. Several buttons required me to hold them for 1+ seconds before the connection was made and the signal was sent. I didn’t clean away any of the existing conductive liquid with alcohol or anything. I just flexed the rubberized keypad enough to “scrape” up any extra conductive gel (there was some gel on surfaces that didnt require it) onto the backs off the buttons that had stopped working. I didn’t have to buy any conductive liquid at all!

  19. Rob says:

    This technique seemed to work on all the buttons except my skip forward button. Which is the button I use most of the time. All the other buttons are now fixed and are very responsive. I don’t have the push the buttons as hard anymore. Any ideas why it didn’t work on the skip forward button?

  20. Adam says:

    Just did it on my Harmony 676, and it worked perfectly!

    Thanks for the post, it certainly saved me some money.

  21. MBOYLE says:

    Did this to the xbox harmony remote, worked like a charm. getting the remote apart was the hardest part, almost broke the face bezel several times, take your time and go slow, it will come apart. Works like the day I bought it!

  22. PK says:

    This works very well. I was about to toss my 676, but this method brought it back to full functionality. Works like it did right out of the box. I’m content knowing that I’ll know exactly what to do if this problem crops up again. Cheers to Patrick. This guy saved me another c-note.

  23. Patrick says:

    RJ, sorry I don’t have pictures of the disassembly. That would have been a good idea, next time I’ll take pictures.

    I used a Phillips screwdriver from a jeweler’s screwdriver set. The screwdriver says 0x20mm on it.

  24. RJ says:

    Hi Patrick
    I have a 676 and the LCD display died on me. Want to open it up to see if I
    can do a simple fix. Is it possible to share pictures of your dis-assembly.

    BTW, what type of screwdriver did you use?

  25. Patrick says:

    Sorry, I’m not sure how to fix a problem with the remote when it is freezing. You might just have to buy a new one.

  26. help says:

    I’m having problems with the remote freezing and not working. Do you by any chance know how to fix that?

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