A garage door opener openly displayed inside your car can be an incentive to thieves. Documents from the glove compartment are likely to reveal your home address, and with the remote in hand a thief can help him- or herself to the contents of your garage, and (if it’s an attached garage) secure a concealed location from which to attack one of your house’s exterior doors. Together with other conspicuous valuables, a visible garage remote–say, clipped to the sun visor–can make the difference between a thief choosing to break into your car and choosing to move on to the next one.
Sure, you could just pop the remote in the glove compartment when you get out. But having it immediately accessible is convenient, and it’s easy to forget or get sloppy in your concealment habit.
This easy garage door remote mod retains all of the convenience of the remote clipped to the visor while dispelling most of the risk. The remote button is concealed on the underside of a plastic beverage cup that rests in your cup-holder, with the electronics concealed inside the cup. To activate the opener, just push down on the top of the cup. From outside of the car (and from inside it, too), the remote looks like an empty soda cup you just haven’t thrown out yet.
Pushbutton momentary switch, large (1)45mm or greater without exceeding lower diameter of cup. Mine is a '45mm HQ Momentary Illuminated Pushbutton Switch' from eBay seller 'chaudiolab.' Illumination is not necessary; I used an illuminated button only because the biggest pushbuttons I could find on eBay, at the best prices, included illumination.
Remove the case. Mine was a snap-together clamshell design that opened easily on prying with a flat-blade screwdriver. Yours may have screws you will have to turn out.
Remove the circuit board. Mine just lifted out, but again, you may need to remove a screw or two.
Identify the door button. This should be easy, as there probably will only be one. If not, just test them.
Use caution, of course, when working on a remote with the battery installed. The battery currents and voltages are harmless, but it's likely you'll accidentally activate the garage door once or twice. Be sure the area around the door is clear of obstructions, children, and pets.
Pick two solder pads attached to the door button. Short them with a small jumper wire and verify that the garage door is activated.
If you want, it wouldn't be hard to de-solder the remote's factory button from the PCB. I left mine in place, to make it easier to restore the remote to its original condition if I want to.
Strip both ends of two 8" pieces of ~20AWG hookup wire. Solder the leads to the pads you tested earlier.
Arrange for strain relief on the button leads, so pulling on the wires doesn't rip them off the solder pads. My PCB had a handy-dandy hole in the middle of it for indexing to the case, so I just tied a couple of loose knots in the button leads and threaded them through it. Now, pulling on the leads puts strain on the knots and the board as a whole, rather than the relatively fragile solder joints at the pads.
I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.