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URC - Troubleshooting Your Remote

BY MATT PECHARICH | JUNE 24TH, 2021/Home Remote Controls

One Remote To Rule Them All

We have been selling, installing, and programming Universal Remote Control (URC) remotes in our custom home A/V systems for well over 10 years now. It is a product that we believe in and trust. Their remotes are solid, reliable, and short of your dog getting a hold of it we rarely have to replace them.

These remotes are not cheap and you have to be a URC certified dealer to program them or add new equipment to the system. So we figured it is about time to do a short troubleshooting write up. There are several things you need to keep in mind before moving further.

  • The URC MX-780 remote is the go to remote for us and has been for years now. This may not be the exact remote you have, but a good bit of the troubleshooting will work for older models as well.

  • They do not lose their programming, even if the batteries die. So if it has stopped working or is not functioning properly, it is RARELY a programming issue or a problem with the remote itself.

  • We program the remotes to use both RF and IR at the same time (radio frequency and infrared). Radio frequency allows you to control equipment without seeing it (hidden in a closet or cabinet) infrared uses line of sight (point and shoot).

  • If you have added equipment or replaced old equipment and the remote no longer controls it, we probably have to come reprogram it. This happens most of the time when customers switch their cable provider or go to a different cable box.

  • Always start the troubleshooting process by making sure the system is completely powered off. For our URC MX-780 remotes, that means pressing MAIN, and the red power button in the top right corner.

  • Never, ever, ever, press the GREEN power button. We program the remote to turn equipment on when you pick it (pressing CABLE, for example). You do not ever have to press the green power button.

I will cover the most popular issues, and some easy troubleshooting tips. A lot of our service calls for URC issues end up being easy solutions. Nobody wants to pay for a service call just to watch one of our home audio technicians spend less than two minutes fixing the problem. Then when you ask what the problem was, it was something you could have done yourself in the same amount of time!

Always Check the IR Eyes

The little eyes stuck on the front of equipment are what control them. Always make sure they have not been knocked off or have fallen off. If you have a cleaning lady this can happen a lot. 

Make Sure Equipment Has Not Gone Bad

Power cycle the equipment first. Turn the surge protector off for 5-10 minutes then back on. Close the cabinets or door like normal and try the URC again. 

Next, try bypassing the URC remote by manually powering the equipment on with the power button located on it. If you cannot find the power button, find the original remote the equipment came with from the manufacturer. Put some fresh batteries in it, point and try to power it on. 

If neither of those work, keep on reading!

I Can’t See My Screen!

Check your batteries. I know that seems super obvious, but a lot of people forget that. Though the most common issue is the following one.

Just like with any screen, the URC MX-780 has a backlight. There is a button on the side, near the top of the remote to turn it on so you can see the screen. If pressing that button doesn’t work, take the remote to either a bright light inside your home or even good bright sunlight. Look at the screen under the light and you will probably just barely be able to make out the icons.

The screen hasn’t gone bad, and the remote will still work, but the backlight that lights up the screen has gone out. If you know which button is which, you can continue to use it. Or you can bring the remote into the store and we will swap the programming over for free with the purchase of a new remote. 

You take it home and it will work just like the old one did. No need to pay us for a service call.

The Remote Has Stopped Controlling Equipment

So we’re going to break this one down into two sections;

  1. The remote has stopped controlling ALL equipment (does not work at all)

  2. The remote has stopped controlling a piece/pieces of equipment, but still works some of them

If your remote has stopped controlling all of the equipment completely, go to where the equipment is. Remember, we program the remotes to use both IR and RF, so you can still point and shoot. Point the remote at the equipment, and press the buttons to turn it on like you normally would. 

If everything turns on, skip from here down to the next section.

There are a few things that could be happening if your remote is not controlling a piece of equipment, or a few pieces, but still works fine with others. Think of these remotes like an elevator in an office building. Pressing the button “MAIN” underneath the screen takes you back to the ground floor.

Picture of the screen on a URC MX-780 remote

The screen at this level is your building directory. This is where you should always start to turn the system on/off, or switch to a different source (like you’re watching cable and want to switch over to watch a DVD). Pressing “DVD” will take you to the third floor, where you can control the DVD player. As long as you stay on the third floor, you can control it. 

If you press “MAIN” again, it’ll take you back to the ground floor and you will no longer be able to control the DVD player unless you go back to the third floor. So if it has stopped controlling one piece of equipment, make sure you are on the right floor.

There are times where the remote may intermittently control equipment where you have to press a button multiple times to get a device to turn on. That’s covered in the next section as well.

RF Interference 

As we explained previously, these are RF remotes (Radio Frequency). This is how we can get them to control equipment hidden away in closets and cabinets. What it does is send a command signal (say, power on) to its hub (pictured below) in RF format. 

Photo of the URC MRF-350 RF to IR kit

The hub then translates it into IR format and sends the proper command via IR through the use of the IR eyes stuck on the piece of equipment. See the next image below for how everything should look in your own home.  

Photo of home setup with URC MX-780 Control

You see all the IR eyes are attached to the equipment's designated IR sensor. Then ran back to the MRF-350 kit.

Now its time to grab a friend for some teamwork.

We want to know if the remote is communicating with the equipment. Have someone watch the equipment while you get away from it with the remote. Remember it can still turn things on with IR. So you need to leave the room/area that the equipment is in just in case. 

You should see the IR eyes on the equipment you selected flash red. Example, you selected the DVD player, the IR eye on the DVD player should flash red and if you have a receiver for surround sound it should as well. Try to turn something on, and have the second person watch for the flashing on the eyes. 

If they are flashing, and equipment is NOT coming on or some did and some didn’t, look for the piece in the picture below. 

Photo of the URC RF receiver antenna.

This is the antenna that receives the RF signal from the remote.

The power light should always be on, the RF light should NOT always be on. It should only flash when you send a command from the remote (just like the IR eyes). If the RF light is lit up, or jumping/fading from on to off, move it to a different location. 

Something it is close to is interfering with the RF signal, so you need to move it to a spot where that light is completely off. Then close the cabinet or door and check to see if the URC remote is responding properly.

Yes, Now You Need A Service Call

If none of the above troubleshooting worked, unfortunately you need to call us and schedule a service call. A lot of the time any one of these issues could be the problem. Some are more common than others and take maybe 10 minutes to figure out, or even less.

You are always welcome to call the store and ask one of our experts for help as well. I try to explain everything thoroughly in writing but it does not always work for everyone. Please let us know if you are having issues beyond what this guide covers so we can get you back to enjoying your system!


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