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Peachtree Decco Remote – Modification

I recently downsized my home stereo. My old stereo was just getting a bit dated and didn’t have the features I wanted. I started streaming all my music (apple lossless format) with an AppleTV2 and I was looking for the rest to go well with it. Mainly, I was looking for a great digital – analog converter, but without having all the hastle of the stereo to become too big and too complex. So I wanted it to sound great, look good, work well and be simple (read: wife friendly) and not break the bank. After some research and reading a lot of reviews online, I ended up buying a Peachtree Decco (version 1) by Signalpath (on ebay). It is powering my B&W DM301’s (old but great sounding bookshelf speakers, although the impedance is a bit mismatched, the B&W’s are very efficient which makes the stereo a bit loud). My main audio source is the AppleTV 2 via light pipe/optical cable for the cleanest signal path. I’m very happy with the system (although I had to do a few mods to the Decco, which are known to the manufacturer, but I’ll post about them another time).

My biggest issue with the system was the remote control of the Decco. Most reviews mention that it is not very good: the field of reception is very small and in my case, although the battery would test fine, it would run out of power fast. The original remote uses a lithium button cell batter CR2025, which provides 3V to the remote. It’s relatively expensive to replace it and doesn’t last long. I wanted to modify it, so that it would take two AA’s which provide the circuitry with a little bit more current. To make sure that two AA’s would work, I first simply rigged to batteries to the poles of the original remote, which worked well. After this proof of concept, I was sure to not waste my time with completely modifying the remote. I found a remote control from my local electronic recycler (thanx to NERRD), that used 2x AA’s and had a flat face plate that would be easier to modify and was also big enough to fit the circuit board. The exact model of the “surrogate” remote control is Pioneer VXX2866.

Here are some pictures of what I did.

Both remotes (Pioneer VXX2866, Peachtree Decco), side by side, circuitry and buttons in the middle
Original Decco Remote - The circuit board is already modified. I used the part of the Pioneer circuit board, which holds the power terminals in place. It connects to the original Decco circuit board. I also had to drill a little hole right into the center which made room for a screw in the "new" remote. I was lucky that there was a spot that would fit it, althought I had to be very careful not to hit some pretty delicate wires on the board.
I also needed to cut a hole into the rubber mat which holds the buttons.
This is the original IR diode and the new one. I had to extend the new one and guide the leads around another screw pole in the "new" remote.
This is how everything fits into the new remote. I used the original remote face plate to trace the holes that I needed in the modified remote. I used a Dremmel to cut out the holes. Again, a bit dodgy, but the new face plate is still coming.
This shows the screw posts inside the "new" remote. I could have simply cut the middle one out, but I kept it for the sake of stability (my little kids are not too easy on these devices).
This shows only the top pole with the IR diode going around it. Not too pretty, but it works.
The end result (for now). I'm still going to attach a new self adhesive face plate to the newly created remote.

The new remote sits nicely in the hand and has a nice weight to it. The original remote sits funny in the hand (there is actually a little weight in the remote, just because it must have felt weird to be so small and light). Intuitively, I would always hold the original remote upside down (which some people have mentioned online).

I also ended up using another IR diode for the modified remote. Many reviews mentioned that the field of reception was very narrow. I had a look into the Decco amp to see whether the receiving side was maybe too far into the housing and therefor blocked out the signal. It’s not really the case (compared to all my other devices which have great reception). This made me believe that the original IR diode must be relatively small in order to not draw too much power from the small button cell battery. I ended up using a much bigger and stronger diode (from one of the remotes that I took apart). I’m not sure of the exact spec’s of it, but it works great. The width of the field of reception is around 100 degrees now (I can use the remote almost from the side of the Decco amp now), which is exactly what I would expect it to be in the first place.

I hope this helps some of you, who are also annoyed by the original remote. Let me know if you find a better suited “surrogate” remote, maybe even a remote blank that works better. At 0$ so far (I still need to purchase something for the face plate), its been pretty cheap.

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