Help, I Need a Custom Remote Control for My Product! (Part 2)

Picture of a man using a remote control in a hotel room

In this post, we will discuss the process of developing a custom hospitality remote control by utilizing a standard remote control enclosure. This will include product requirements, specifications, things to consider, project milestones, and the final deliverables. All of the standard Celadon remote control and receiver enclosures can be found at:

Developing a custom hospitality remote control for your product can be a daunting task. Working with a competent partner with years of experience in developing and manufacturing remote controls can make all of the difference between a successful product and a failure.

Celadon has been producing custom remote control and receiver systems for more than 30 years and has more than 50 different standard remote control and receiver enclosures. These standard models can be easily customized for a variety of applications. Utilizing a standard enclosure for a new remote control project can help to dramatically reduce development time by several months and development costs by tens of thousands of dollars, since the industrial design, mechanical design and tooling fabrication development stages can be skipped entirely.

Define Product Requirements and Specifications

The first consideration in developing a custom hospitality remote control is to compile a list of product requirements. Product requirements should include items like:

How many buttons/functions are required?

Should the remote have a smaller or larger form factor?

Will the product be used indoors or outdoors?

Will the remote control a single device (dedicated remote) or control multiple products?

What is the maximum transmission distance between the remote and the receiver?

Once these requirements are determined, specifications can be determined and a number of enclosures can be selected. For example, we might consider the following specifications:

  • The remote shall have 12 button and the form factor should be small to mid-size.
  • The enclosure shall be black plastic with high-contrast artwork on the keypad and overlay.
  • The product shall control a set-top box via IR communication (protocol TBD)
  • The remote shall include a universal code library for control of LG and Samsung hospitality TVs.
  • The functions shall include POWER, VOLUME, MUTE, NAVIGATION, BACK and MENU
  • The product will be used indoors and have a maximum transmission distance of 25-30 feet.

Select an OEM Remote Model

From these specifications, one can review the various standard enclosures available and determine which models are most appropriate for the application. Based on the short list of specifications, we might suggest one of the following remote control models:

SH15 OEM Remote Control - 15 Key remote control with navigation pad
SC-24 24 key Remote Control with membrane keypad front
SC-33 33 Button OEM Remote Control Front

All three of these models will meet the product requirements, but each model has unique features. The SH-15A (left image) has a rubber keypad with up to 15 buttons and uses metal domes for a stronger tactile feeling. A keypad overlay is used to remove unnecessary buttons and label the functions of the remaining buttons. The SC-24 (center image) uses a membrane keypad with a 3-column matrix. The key layout can be modified by removing domes from the membrane keypad. Membrane keypads provide less tactile feedback, but can be easily cleaned and are commonly used for medical or hospitality products. The SC-33 (right image) has a maximum of 33 buttons, which provides many different key layouts and function grouping options.

Artwork Proof and Code Table Documents

All of these models can be molded in different colors and designed to have specific button colors, as well as text and icons printed on either the keypad or overlay. An artwork proof will be prepared to define all of the cosmetic specifications for the remote control. Clients can specify particular colors for the keypad, overlay and plastic enclosure, typically by using Pantone colors. Specific font styles and sizes can also be selected for printing on the keypad, overlay, and plastic enclosure. A code table document would be prepared to define the IR protocol and HEX code values for each button. Details on setting the universal code libraries, setup features and all other functionality is also detailed in the Code Table document. An example of a code table and artwork proof for an IR remote control is below.

Picture of top,front and profile images of a custom infrared remote control
Picture of a remote control code table, which includes an image of a remote and a spreadsheet to detail IR protocol information

First Article Engineering (FAE) Samples

After the artwork proof and code table are approved, first article engineering (FAE) samples will be submitted for testing and manufacturing approval. It typically takes about 4-6 weeks for microcontroller programming, PCB fabrication, preparing plastic enclosures, rubber keypads, and keypad overlays to be created. Once all of the components are ready, the first article samples are assembled by skilled engineers and tested to ensure that the samples meet all of the cosmetic and functional product specifications.

Typically 3-5 FAE samples are sent to the customer for testing. This is the opportunity for the customer to thoroughly review the samples to ensure that they meet all of the product requirements. The samples should be tested against their equipment to confirm the IR protocol and all of the code functionality is working properly. If any items are found to be non-compliant, new samples will be created to ensure that all of the specifications are met. Occasionally, the FAE review process will drive specification changes. The changes could be major or minor, ranging from color changes, swapping buttons or functionality, or adding additional functionality. All specification changes will be reviewed and additional NRE charges for the requested changes might be required.

When the customer is ready to approve samples for mass production, the development process will be considered to be complete. The project manager or responsible party will be responsible for signing an engineering sample approval document. Once the final samples are approved, the manufacturing process will officially begin. The next blog post will explain the manufacturing process, shipping logistics, and delivery to the final destination.

Celadon provides free consultation services to discuss any new Infrared, Radio Frequency, or custom product development projects. Please complete the Contact Us form on our website and a representative will contact you to discuss your project.