How to Take Apart a URC MX-850 or Similar Remote Control for Cleaning

Old reliable

I love my URC MX-850 and Crestron ML-600 handheld remotes.  Granted, they are rather antiquated by today’s standards, but they are just so easy to use that I simply can’t bring myself to replace them.  If you’re familiar with this remote (if you’re in the AV industry and you are not, then you’re living under a rock), you know that after awhile, they can get pretty grungy.  I’ve seen MX-850s in clients’ homes that look like they’d been used as utensils for eating chinese food.  The problem is, with it’s big rubber buttons and countless nooks and crannies, the remote is very hard to give a proper cleaning.  It also doesn’t have a single screw holding the chassis together, so taking it apart to clean seems to be out of the question.  Until now that is…Braaah, ha, ha, ha!

Here I’ll show you step by step how to completely disassemble a URC MX-850 and give it the cleaning it deserves.  I should disclaim however, that this is only my own technique and may not be condoned by URC.  Also, while I’m confident that any competent person won’t have any trouble with this, do it at your own risk (or your remote’s own risk I guess).

Tools of the trade

What You’ll Need

  • Windex or Pledge electronics wipes.  Others will work too I’m sure, just make sure they don’t contain ammonia
  • CRC or some other electronics cleaner
  • Electronics duster
  • Cotton swabs
  • Precision Phillips screwdriver

ml-600_opening_the_chassisOpening the Chassis

This is the trickiest and most risky part of the whole operation.  Grasp each end of the remote firmly, and gently twist (like you would wring out a washclosh) until the chassis pops open on on one side.  Then, carefully work your way around the remote and pop open the remaining plastic clips.  The case is pretty durable, but you still need to use care with the plastic clips that hold it together.  However, I will say that I’ve done this countless times and never once has a clip cracked on me.

ml-600_opened_upRemoving the Circuit Board

Remove the four small screws in the circuit board.  There are two at the top and two at the bottom.  Then, remove the circuit board by pulling up the side opposite of the 1/8th inch jack, then pull out the side with the jack being careful not to put stress on the jack.  It’s easier than it sounds, the point is to just avoid pulling the board straight up and potentially damaging the jack.


Cleaning the Circuit Board

Spray some of the electronics cleaner on a cotton swab and gently rub all the black button contacts on the circuit board.  You can also carefully clean the glass lcd screen with an electronics wipe if it needs it.  If the battery contacts on the back side seems dirty or corroded, try cleaning them with either the electronics cleaner or a pencil eraser.  Lastly, remove any other dust, pet-hair or debris that might be on the circuit board with a cotton swab.


Cleaning the Plastic and Rubber Parts

This is pretty straightforward. Use a combination of the electronics brush, cotton swabs and wipes to clean all of the plastic and rubber parts. Just make sure everything is completely dry before reassembling the remote.


Reassemble the Remote

Just to reiterate, if there is any moisture left on any of the parts from the previous steps, make sure they dry completely before reassembling. The last thing you want is to trap moisture inside the remote so air can’t get to it.

Start by putting the dpad back into place.  There are a few little pegs that it mounts onto so make sure those are seated properly.  Next put the rubber button sheets in.  Then, place the ir window in it’s slots, and replace the circuit board with the four screws.  Slide the side-facing backlight button into place next.  Finally, put the back of the remote into place, being careful to make sure the battery terminals are in their slots, and then snap the chassis back together.  I usually start with one side and work my way around, carefully snapping a clip at a time until it’s completely reassembled.

That’s all there is to it!  You now have a better looking, better operating MX-850 that will no longer give users the flu virus when they touch it!

Aaron Craig

Aaron Craig is a graphic designer & entrepreneur. He is the founder of NTDesigns, a UI design firm that specializes in touchscreen based interfaces, especially in the home automation industry. He is the primary author for the NTDesigns Blog, and writes periodically for other blogs and publications in the UI design and automation realms when he can. Aaron lives in Milwaukee with his family and two dogs, Napoleon and Kip.

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