9V Battery Powered Sensor Bar Hack - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 79 Old 11-28-2006, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to JaremyP for the inspiration. See his DC adapter hack thread here:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=754430

We have a front projection system, and last night (first with the Wii) we had everything in the open (rather than in the media rack custom built for the room) due to this sensor bar issue. While it worked fine, it was inelegant, at best, and I needed a better solution.

I was hoping I could get Jaremy's fix to work, but I was unsuccessful, as he was at first, with an old universal adapter (set to 7.5V) that I found around the house. It's possible that my adapter was shot (I didn't test it with another appliance before snipping its wire) or my soldering was poor.

So to try and achieve something a little better (and not requiring soldering the tiny little wires) I went to "the Shack" this evening and bought:

1. A five-pack of 9V Battery Snap Connectors (~$1.99) part 270-325
2. A pack (24) of insulated telephone "Butt connectors" for 22-26 gauge wire (part #64-3073). No, I'm not joking--that is what they're called. They are basically a small cylinder surrounded by an insulated sheath. You stick a bare wire in each end, and then crimp the middle.
3. One 9V battery

I proceeded to strip the wires as in Jaremy's post, and simply crimped the battery connector wires to the sensor bar wires using the butt connectors (red from the battery connector from the Wii sensor bar red wire, and black from the battery connector to orange from the sensor bar).

I did a quick test with my old sensor bar unplugged, and it seems to be working perfectly. One disclaimer--I haven't tested this for any lengthy period, yet. I would also suggest that you do this with a replacement sensor bar rather than your original(they're in stock shipping straight from Nintendo, for $10).
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post #2 of 79 Old 11-29-2006, 08:36 AM
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Just a thought:

You can buy the lithium battery holders (watch/medical/the thin ones) at Radio Shack and use one of those instead of a 9v. That way you could find a 7.5v if you have any issues, and I'd imagine that the current draw is so miniscule that it will last a long time and be a much smaller, easier to hide element.

-n
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post #3 of 79 Old 11-29-2006, 10:08 AM
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pictures?

"the one who has the most fun wins."
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post #4 of 79 Old 11-29-2006, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by premio View Post

Just a thought:

You can buy the lithium battery holders (watch/medical/the thin ones) at Radio Shack and use one of those instead of a 9v. That way you could find a 7.5v if you have any issues, and I'd imagine that the current draw is so miniscule that it will last a long time and be a much smaller, easier to hide element.

-n


Good point. I went with the 9V because Jaremy found that it required 7.5V or so, and since I knew it would be easy to unhook at the end of a gaming session. I guess I could also wire a switch in the circuit, but this was a first attempt. A single (4 AA) battery holder might have been better since rechargeable AAs are so easy to find, but I wasn't sure that 6V would be sufficient given what I had read. To be honest, I have no idea how long the 9V battery will last. I tested for around 2 hours of continuous use with no issues, but it's anyone's guess how long it will take to drain the battery.

I'll try and post a picture at some point. It's not going to look too exciting, and I didn't take pictures during the modification process.
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post #5 of 79 Old 11-29-2006, 03:37 PM
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did you notice any improvment in range with running them at 9v?
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post #6 of 79 Old 11-29-2006, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xargon321 View Post

did you notice any improvment in range with running them at 9v?


Good question, but I didn't test this. It wasn't a primary objective (since we have perfectly fine Wiimote usability from the 12' distance of our first row of seating). I may and try to compare the two to see if there is an obvious difference.

KK
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post #7 of 79 Old 11-30-2006, 12:32 PM
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kktx: I'd be interested to know how long your 9v battery lasts when the sensor bar is running off of it. I ordered the Radio Shack parts to do the same thing you did, and I'm curious as to how many batteries I should pick up.

Thanks for the easy-to-follow explanation!
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post #8 of 79 Old 12-01-2006, 06:50 AM
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This is a good idea. It might be handy to throw a switch in there, too, so you can turn it off when you aren't using it.
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post #9 of 79 Old 12-01-2006, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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So far, I've used the battery powered sensor bar for a total of about 5-6 hours without the battery failing and with perfect performance thus far (ordinary Radio Shack alkaline 9V). I went online to buy some bulk 9V batteries. It looks like you can get Duracell ProCells (not sure if these are actually better than the standard ones) for about $1 each. This is significantly better than the $2-3 typically charged for a single battery.

I've been unhooking the battery manually at the end of each use session, but I think the switch idea is a good one.
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post #10 of 79 Old 12-01-2006, 12:35 PM
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Has anyone tested the voltage coming out of the Wii? Are there only two conductors coming out of the Wii?

As far as running 7.5V, you can just run 5 AAs in series.

It's also worth noting, as no one has mentioned it, that over driving LEDs can significantly reduce their life. Whil LEDs typically have lifespans in the tens-of-thousands-of-hours range, overdriving them could make it a fraction of that or even burn them out in a matter of hours if significantly too high. Also they might not burn out entirely but provide drastically lower output which would probably make them ineffective for the wiimote.

It has been my understanding that most LEDs cannot be run directly of batteries but need some resistors. But as there are, what, 10 LEDs in the sensor bar, maybe they offer enough resistance if running in parallel. If I'm not mistaken running cells in series increases voltage while running loads in parallel increases total resistence. For those more knowledgeable, is this correct?
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post #11 of 79 Old 12-01-2006, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
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JaremyP did a reading and got 7.8V. Without testing further, I used this as my frame of reference for deciding on a 9V. As for running 5 AAs, it's easy to find a cheap battery holder for 4AA, but not more.

If I burn out my sensor bar, I'm out $10, so I'm not too stressed about the possibility of overdriving the LEDs. For all I know, there may already be one or more resistors within the sensor bar, and I suppose we could find out for certain if some intrepid owner is willing to take a hammer to his/her sensor bar.

Also, you'll note that I did it with a spare purchased from Nintendo, so I can always default to the OEM version, though I suspect that won't be an issue.
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post #12 of 79 Old 12-01-2006, 01:29 PM
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i just ordered a second sensor bar. i'm going to try this out next week (assuming i get the sensor bar)

so if i walk into the shack with that parts list, can they recommend an inexpensive switch to use or should i plan ahead? any suggestions?

"the one who has the most fun wins."
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post #13 of 79 Old 12-01-2006, 01:56 PM
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I know I've seen 5 AA cell battery hoders before but I did a quick internet search and nothing comes up. Oh well. You could get a six cell holder and just solder a jumper across one of the slots that would work just as well.
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post #14 of 79 Old 12-01-2006, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billymac View Post

i just ordered a second sensor bar. i'm going to try this out next week (assuming i get the sensor bar)

Where did you order the sensor bar. A search at http://store.nintendo.com for wii doesn't return any sensor bar for sale.
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post #15 of 79 Old 12-01-2006, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgi View Post

Where did you order the sensor bar. A search at http://store.nintendo.com for wii doesn't return any sensor bar for sale.

Don't try and search. Click on the "Part Finder" button on the lower right side of that page, or navigate through the submenus to Wii Parts and Accessories. You'll find it soon enough.
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post #16 of 79 Old 12-02-2006, 01:51 AM
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You guys may not know this but you can make your own sensor bar .. You just need to put IR LEDs in a row or as an array.. it might be nice to make it bigger as well for those of that stand farther from your tv than others. maybe double or triple rows of IR LEDs


You can get them at radio shack or maybe order them. The send side of the IR LED.
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post #17 of 79 Old 12-02-2006, 05:52 AM
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If you don't want to overdrive your sensor bar, I would suggest instead using a 7.2V battery pack. You can get these at the shack too:

7.2V RC battery pack + Charger ($24.99) 24-322
Connector Repair Kit ($3.99) 23-445

Solder the bare wires of the repair kit onto the Sensor Bar for easy connect, disconnect.

As for creating your own Sensor Bar, Radio Shack also stocks infrared LEDs:

High-Output Infrared LED (1.2V, 100mA, $1.79 Each) 276-143

Doing some quick calculations, if you wire up 6 LEDs in series with the 7.2 V battery pack you should get roughly 1.2V across each LED
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post #18 of 79 Old 12-02-2006, 06:39 PM
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I tested the Voltage coming out of the Wii for the sensor bar, and it went from between 12v and 12.5v.. I tried a 9v battery and it woulden't work very good from where I sit from my projection screen (about 11ft) (the cursor was jumping all over the place, not enough power I guess).

So i decided to use a 9v power supply that was giving about 12-13v output (according to my multimeter) and it works great, I can even stand in the back of the room (16ft from the screen) and it has great response.

And I also did this without cutting the wire on the sensor bar, I just took a small speaker wire and then cut down a pencil end to fit inside of the connector, and then stuck it into the connector along with the wires (so that the wires will stay in, and stay on the sides) and then taped it up (the side of the connector that is angled is - and the flat side is +).

I'm happy that I don't have to have the sensor bar on my coffee table now and don't have to trip on it every 5 minutes.
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post #19 of 79 Old 12-03-2006, 01:25 AM
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For those interested, I found a 6-AA battery holder here:

(Since I can't post links yet, just google Thomas Distributing and go to the battery holders link)

6 AA NiMH @ approx 1.2V each = approx 7.2V output. Great if you're already an avid NiMH fan and you have a charger and whatnot. I'm going to try running this to the 9V plug but with an inline switch, see how it goes!
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post #20 of 79 Old 12-03-2006, 09:30 AM
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i'm headed to the shack. going to try the 9v hack first and see if they can recommend a switch. my 2nd sensor bar shipped friday, but didn't get picked up by ups yet, so worst case i'll have it tuesday or wednesday. i'm hoping 9v works since i'm about 11-13' back from the screen.

"the one who has the most fun wins."
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post #21 of 79 Old 12-03-2006, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xfsbikerhcjcx View Post

I tested the Voltage coming out of the Wii for the sensor bar, and it went from between 12v and 12.5v.. I tried a 9v battery and it woulden't work very good from where I sit from my projection screen (about 11ft) (the cursor was jumping all over the place, not enough power I guess).

Interesing...I'm also using this in a front projection setup. Our first row of seating is at 12' and the second row is at 18'. No problems (following extensive use) in the front row, and at least anecdotally, things also worked from the second row. Perhaps you should increase the sensitivity in the Wii menu? Mine is set at "5" (highest setting) and I have no problems.

I ordered a bunch of 9V batteries online for about $1 apiece. I should add that I forgot to unplug the battery one evening, and the sensor bar still worked the next day. That means that the original 9V battery I tried has been working for over 18 hours.
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post #22 of 79 Old 12-03-2006, 01:46 PM
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i went to the shack and bought 4 9volt batteries, the connectors listed above and the little crimp connectors. i tried it first with a piece of pencil so i didn't have to cut the wire and it works great. i just taped the two ends on the side of the little piece of wood as described above and it works great. with my front projection setup i am about 12' back.

thanks for the great tip!

"the one who has the most fun wins."
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post #23 of 79 Old 12-03-2006, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kktx View Post

Interesing...I'm also using this in a front projection setup. Our first row of seating is at 12' and the second row is at 18'. No problems (following extensive use) in the front row, and at least anecdotally, things also worked from the second row. Perhaps you should increase the sensitivity in the Wii menu? Mine is set at "5" (highest setting) and I have no problems.

I ordered a bunch of 9V batteries online for about $1 apiece. I should add that I forgot to unplug the battery one evening, and the sensor bar still worked the next day. That means that the original 9V battery I tried has been working for over 18 hours.

I did try that, it did not help and it was a brand new battery.. Not a big deal though since i was planning on hooking up a power adapter anyway.
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post #24 of 79 Old 12-04-2006, 02:16 AM
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Call me dumb but I don't get the Pencil thing (maybe it's because I don't have a Wii yet so can't see the connector).
Can someone who's left the sensor bar intact please post a picture?
Thanks
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post #25 of 79 Old 12-04-2006, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingtimes View Post

Call me dumb but I don't get the Pencil thing (maybe it's because I don't have a Wii yet so can't see the connector).
Can someone who's left the sensor bar intact please post a picture?
Thanks

To be honest, I'm a bit lost about the pencil thing, too. I'm not sure how I could have done this without clipping the sensor wire, so if it's really possible, some additional clarification would be appreciated.
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post #26 of 79 Old 12-04-2006, 10:54 AM
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i cut down a piece of pencil so that it was about 2mm square and about a half an inch long. then i taped the two leads from the 9-volt connector to it and inserted it into the actual plug of the sensor bar. i did it this way because i don't have my 2nd sensor bar and i didn't want to risk messing it up. i was a little skeptical that it would work, but it works fine. does that make sense?

"the one who has the most fun wins."
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post #27 of 79 Old 12-04-2006, 11:00 AM
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I think so - so you basically make pins which push into the female connector - is that right?
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post #28 of 79 Old 12-04-2006, 11:17 AM
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no, i made pins that pushed into the male connector of the actual sensor bar cord/plug

"the one who has the most fun wins."
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post #29 of 79 Old 12-04-2006, 11:24 AM
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I'm sure it'll all make sense when I get my hands on one. Only 3 more days to go to UK launch!
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post #30 of 79 Old 12-04-2006, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billymac View Post

i cut down a piece of pencil so that it was about 2mm square and about a half an inch long. then i taped the two leads from the 9-volt connector to it and inserted it into the actual plug of the sensor bar. i did it this way because i don't have my 2nd sensor bar and i didn't want to risk messing it up. i was a little skeptical that it would work, but it works fine. does that make sense?

I get it now--thanks!
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