Amazon Fire TV remote issues, Android Fire TV Application Problems

AmazonFireTVlogo

The Amazon Fire TV remote crapped out over the weekend. I have a feeling  Duracell AAA alkaline battery corrosion did it in.  I cleaned up a bit with iso and with Corrosion Block but no dice.  AA and AAAs  leak on you especially if there is a long term low current drain. Sometimes it’s just a shiny film and hard to see if you don’t really inspect the battery and battery compartment. The remote has telltale signs of corrosion around the batteries. Hard to tell what went wrong but I suspect a leaky battery burned through a trace in the battery compartment.

This event sparked a brief effort into learning a little about FireTV and FireTV remote apps.  I’ve dug up a few random bits of information about FireTV  workings underneath the opaque black plastic packaging.

Random factoids:

  • The earlier remotes used Bluetooth.  So you don’t have to point the remote at the TV? Seems like I had to but could be wrong about that.
  • After about October 2015, new FireTV remotes use wifi-direct and not Bluetooth.
  • I suspect the broken remote I have is the “old” bluetooth model.
  • The FireTV menu system provides a means of pairing more than one remote to the FireTV unit.
  • I have seen the Wifi-direct access point belonging to my FireTV show up on my phone’s wifi access point list now and then, but not consistently.  It shows a secure connection.  I have no idea what the password is to it or whether and why one would connect to it.
  • To their credit Amazon support will replace the remote. No warranty issue at all.

I did something like this picture – an exploded view of a remote control:

amazonFireTVremote

Warranty? What Warranty? Six screws, not four hold the remote together. To get at the other two you have to pry off a second plastic cover piece on the back of the remote.  It’s stuck on with two sided tape and also snaps in.   There are a few clues on google images..

amazonfireteardown

Here is one way to pry that second plastic back cover.  The fifth and sixth screws are under this piece.  I used a small flathead screwdriver and didn’t break any plastic.  The double sided tape however…

Did I fix the remote?

No.

It may be possible to repair an open trace caused by corrosion, but so much easier to call Amazon for a replacement.  Losing the remote is not the end of the FireTV I found.

Next- did you know that you can plug a USB keyboard into the Amazon Fire?   By chance I found I could control all the functions of the Fire TV this way ( I have the model that came with the remote and external brick power supply, not the “stick”).  So while I’m waiting for the remote, this will keep us connected to the big screen TV for Netflix.  Hint. You use the TV screen as the monitor see and set the TV input to the AmazonFire HDMI port.  There is some mumbo jumbo about the USB port being for developers.  That’s a bit further than I want to go with this.

Next – The Amazon FireTV app… https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ODIASKC/ …  the obvious alternative to the Amazon TV remote control is to use the Android device with the FireTV app.  This normally worked well,  I’ve used it on and off for a while,  and only recently on my phone, but today I managed to kill the app somehow.   The symptom … the app begins with the “elect a Device to Connect and Searching for Fire TV devices,  but cannot “find” the FireTV device.  The “Troubleshooting” link suggests rebooting android device, rebooting the FireTV (restart), deleting all data from the FireTV app,unistalling and reinstalling the app, multiple power cycles of the FireTV.  No dice.  ( I did not do a factory reset of the FireTV – it can be done with the USB keyboard for example if you don’t have a remote.)

Several hours later …

The app is working again.  Why?  I don’t know.  I decided to try it, then for the sake of form,  power-cycled the FireTV.  Suddenly the device showed up on the app and we’re in business.  There is still an issue with the app finding the FireTV device.  Or having found it, it Cannot Connect. The app is unreliable now.

But what is the cause of the app failure? What changed?

I wonder if this is a software problem in the FireTV …  gotta be.  The user can do nothing.  There don’t seem to be any easy ways to pry open the software like you can the remote control case.

Links

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Amazon+Fire+TV+Teardown/23856

Amazon’s Fire TV Remote Control

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