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Extend Your Own Sensor Bar

post #1 of 213
Thread Starter 
So like many here, I have a front projection system that I game on and also picked up a Wii on Sunday to end up disgusted at the 11' sensor bar cable and general lack of component cables. Good job Nintendo, way to keep up the shortsightedness. We're not all 12 years old playing on 19" combo dvd/tv's in our bedrooms. Anyway, I digress.

Stuck without a way to make the console work as I needed a 30' sensor bar connection and not seeing anyone else take the plunge yet, I snipped my sensor bar wire in order to splice in an extension.

The wire is 2 conductor stranded and very thin. There's white fabric shielding around the wires and a couple strands of white shielding wrapped up with the wires. The 2 conductor wires are twisted. So, I stripped the lines back and separated to the two wires. Again, they are very fine, thin strands. One is red and one is orange.

I cut a short segment of 24 gauge, 2 conductor wire I bought at Radio Shack, and proceeded to solder it in for testing. I figured no sense using a huge wire length just to verify if this works. The sensor bar wire doesn't take to solder too well. It was resistant to sticking. Finally, though, I got the solder to stick and went to test.

I just got failure. The system wouldn't respond to the controller at all. I did all kind of tweaking. Power cycles and so on, but nothing fixed it. I thought maybe I had a bad solder connection as I did it myself and it was difficult to hold the wires.

So, I cut that splice out and re-soldered a new one. This time my wife assisted to hold the wires together and get a better connection. I went to test that splice and again failure. I was getting some voltage readings on the exposed wire this time, but it was intermittent. When I did get a stable reading, I got 7.8 volts DC.

Again I tried power cycling and different placement. Still the sensor bar ignored the controller. Finally I gave up and went to lead my World of Warcraft raid.

After the raid, I figured I'd give it one more time before bed. This time IT WORKED!!! I really don't know what changed or what was different, but the system responded to the Wii remote like nothing had changed. It was quick, responsive, and accurate.

Tonight, I'm going to cut the splice out and put in a full 20' extension and run the line through my basement to my gear closet properly.

As far as why it went from not working to working, I'm still at a loss. The instructions say to connect the sensor bar before powering on the system, and I was connecting and unconnecting the bar earlier without always power cycling. I guess it has some load detection/fault handling electronics logic perhaps. I do have some bright lights that can shine into my living room as well, so I'm not sure if they played a part.

Anyway, splicing the cable does work. You can also buy replacement bars from Nintendo.com for $10, so if you're stuck like I am and don't want to wait for months until some 3rd party solution is released, you can fix it yourself.
post #2 of 213
you might want to use solder flux if you can't get the wires to "stick."
post #3 of 213
Thread Starter 
The flux is what wouldn't stick. I wasn't taking 2 bare wires and heating them with a soldering iron hoping to make them stick together LOL.
post #4 of 213
It probably felt sorry for you for having to run a raid in WoW.

Sorry, recovering MMORPG addict, couldn't resist :P
post #5 of 213
A quick way to determine if your sensor bar is working is to look at it through the display of a digital camera. You should be able to see a cluster of five LEDs at each end of the bar.
post #6 of 213
Thread Starter 
Quote:


It probably felt sorry for you for having to run a raid in WoW.

LOL, feels like that sometimes, but I enjoy it. We're progressing into Naxx now with a few bosses down so far. I GM a guild that's almost a year old.

Quote:


A quick way to determine if your sensor bar is working is to look at it through the display of a digital camera. You should be able to see a cluster of five LEDs at each end of the bar.

I read that somewhere as well. Thanks for reminding me cause I forgot to try it later. I tried it with my original solder job and saw no lights. I should try it again with the working splice before I break it to extend it.
post #7 of 213
Certaintly shouldn't have any trouble with that distance if it's powering it with 7.8 volts DC. Resistance should be almost non-existant at 20'. I got a 9V battery to make a 120 ft loop a couple weeks ago with no loss or degradation. So good luck!!!
post #8 of 213
So is it possible to hook the bar itself to a power source instead of to the system itself? instead of even running a 20' cable you could have a 9v batter attached to it or something from 1' away.
post #9 of 213
This is what I want to know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CieJe View Post

So is it possible to hook the bar itself to a power source instead of to the system itself? instead of even running a 20' cable you could have a 9v batter attached to it or something from 1' away.
post #10 of 213
Nice work - keep us posted on the 20' version.

If the sensor bar isn't attached - does the Wii still function? Or does it think there's a problem and stop you from playing?
post #11 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuckWild024 View Post

This is what I want to know.

If the remote communicates directly to the wii, and the IR is only there to determine a coordinate to send back, this sounds like a great and easy solution. You may have to insert the male end into wii with a resistor, as I think the system checks to see if the connection is there.
post #12 of 213
Awesome! Thank goodness people are already playing around with this. I'd be perfectly willing to hack my cable and connect it to a battery if it can be done. I've never soldered anything in my life, but I'd be willing to try. If it is done, pictures would be really helpful!
post #13 of 213
Thread Starter 
Quote:


So is it possible to hook the bar itself to a power source instead of to the system itself?

I bought a switchable AC/DC power supply that runs up to 7.5 V as well. It's something I plan to hook up and try.

Quote:


If the sensor bar isn't attached - does the Wii still function? Or does it think there's a problem and stop you from playing?

Yes, it stuff functions, but you can't access anything. Without the Wii-mote being used a pointer, you don't have any interface to select anything from the main menu, so the system is basically useless as you can't launch anything. I had hoped they'd let you use the analog stick on the nunchuk or the Wii-mote d-pad as alternate menu control, but nope.

Luckily, I did find out that pointing the Wii-mote just off axis from my kitchen light will operate the cursor for me.

I'll be playing with it a lot more tonight and tomorrow and should have pictures to follow as well.
post #14 of 213
I see - at least it doesn't put a big "Sensor bar not connected" sign up there, which means that if you manage to power the bar, it should work (providing the Wii doesn't need to receive any info).
post #15 of 213
So, what if you used five remote controls laid out to mimic the sensor bar and taped down a button on each to get the LED light on ... would that work?
post #16 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshuaL View Post

So, what if you used five remote controls laid out to mimic the sensor bar and taped down a button on each to get the LED light on ... would that work?

It'll work with two.

Quote:
An intrepid Wii user has posted an online video showing intermittent pointer reception using two TV remote controls in place of the sensor bar.

http://www.joystiq.com/2006/11/21/tv...ii-sensor-bar/
post #17 of 213
Thread Starter 
My hack job works like a charm.

Radio Shack Power Adapter #273-1696
Radio Shack 6" Power Lead #273-1742

Cut your sensor cord.
Strip it back and separate the wires.
Red is power, orange is ground.
Solder the red wire to the black/white stripe wire of the power lead.
Solder the orange wire to the black wire of the power lead.
Set up your sensor bar by your screen.
Plug in the brick.
Play Wii.

Note that the Wii normally puts out 7.8 v. I have the adapter set to 7.5 and it works fine.

If you don't like this route, you can easily snip the wire and solder in an extension splice. I haven't tried this yet more than a 6" splice to test it out, but I have no reason to think longer lengths would fail.
post #18 of 213
I followed your directions to the letter JaremyP, even bought the same radio shack parts, and it works beautifully! Even with my old hand-me-down soldering iron and general lack of skill.

Now I can play on my projector's 100" screen with the wii tucked behind the couch along with the rest of my equipment.

Thanks for being the first one to bravely cut your sensor cord.
post #19 of 213
JaremyP you should wright that up and get pics and send it to a mod site so they can see what you did or make a ac adapter that just plugs into the connector and runs it that way you can make a lot of money
post #20 of 213
i just had another idea, leds get brighter the more voltage is applyed right? so it you use a external power supply you might bump the voltage up to increase the range on the ir leds so projection people can stand farther away.
post #21 of 213
JaremyP: awesome!! Thanks for the easy-to-follow directions. I think I'll pick up an extra sensor bar and give it a whirl. I'd also like to buy stick-on magnets to attach to the bottom of my projector screen.
post #22 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaremyP View Post

My hack job works like a charm.

Radio Shack Power Adapter #273-1696
Radio Shack 6" Power Lead #273-1742

Cut your sensor cord.
Strip it back and separate the wires.
Red is power, orange is ground.
Solder the red wire to the black/white stripe wire of the power lead.
Solder the orange wire to the black wire of the power lead.
Set up your sensor bar by your screen.
Plug in the brick.
Play Wii.

Note that the Wii normally puts out 7.8 v. I have the adapter set to 7.5 and it works fine.

If you don't like this route, you can easily snip the wire and solder in an extension splice. I haven't tried this yet more than a 6" splice to test it out, but I have no reason to think longer lengths would fail.

Truly a pioneer - congrats - I shall be extending mine as soon as it arrives. (easier to hide than another power adapter for me).
post #23 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaremyP View Post

My hack job works like a charm.

Radio Shack Power Adapter #273-1696
Radio Shack 6" Power Lead #273-1742

Cut your sensor cord.
Strip it back and separate the wires.
Red is power, orange is ground.
Solder the red wire to the black/white stripe wire of the power lead.
Solder the orange wire to the black wire of the power lead.
Set up your sensor bar by your screen.
Plug in the brick.
Play Wii.

Note that the Wii normally puts out 7.8 v. I have the adapter set to 7.5 and it works fine.

If you don't like this route, you can easily snip the wire and solder in an extension splice. I haven't tried this yet more than a 6" splice to test it out, but I have no reason to think longer lengths would fail.

Wow. A record. I was expecting a hack within weeks, not days. Well done, and thanks for sharing!
post #24 of 213
Nice finding. Just curious on how much amp is really needed. That radioshack adaptor, rated at 2000 mA, seems like overkill. Most 500-800 mA universal adaptors cost a fraction of that one.
post #25 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaremyP View Post

My hack job works like a charm.

Radio Shack Power Adapter #273-1696
Radio Shack 6" Power Lead #273-1742

Cut your sensor cord.
Strip it back and separate the wires.
Red is power, orange is ground.
Solder the red wire to the black/white stripe wire of the power lead.
Solder the orange wire to the black wire of the power lead.
Set up your sensor bar by your screen.
Plug in the brick.
Play Wii.

Note that the Wii normally puts out 7.8 v. I have the adapter set to 7.5 and it works fine.

If you don't like this route, you can easily snip the wire and solder in an extension splice. I haven't tried this yet more than a 6" splice to test it out, but I have no reason to think longer lengths would fail.


so a question on this. so you're saying you don't have to have the sensor bar plugged into the Wii at all for it to work then? you simply cut the wire, provided power to the sensor bar and you're good to go?!
post #26 of 213
One thing I read though is that the Wii doesn't actually provide constant power to the sensor bar and instead flicks it on and off in a certain pattern. I think someone suggested that this was to remove the shakyness of the player's hands from the equation. Have you noticed that this is more of a problem using the sensor bar with an always on power source?
post #27 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by billymac View Post

so a question on this. so you're saying you don't have to have the sensor bar plugged into the Wii at all for it to work then? you simply cut the wire, provided power to the sensor bar and you're good to go?!

Yes that's right, as I did this mod to my sensor bar this afternoon so I could place it where I wanted (on top of my projector's 106" screen ). That universal power supply is definitely overkill for this application as there's no way it should need even remotely close to its 2A limit for this but I just bought that exact one anyway.
post #28 of 213
So who will be the first to hook it up to a rechargeable battery?
post #29 of 213
I can see Pelican selling replacement battery powered sensor bars aimed at people with projectors.
post #30 of 213
Nice. I did this this afternoon, replacing the power adapter with a 800mA multi-voltage from radio shack at 7.5v (pn 273-1667). Works like a charm, and is now sitting on top of my screen where I get much better response than the previous spot on my coffee table.

Another note is that I had to melt off the plastic coating on the red and orange wires, after they were seperated, before they would work.
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