I'm wondering what materials would block visible light (emitted from LEDs, for example) but would not impede IR signals or Bluetooth.

Context: I'd love to block all the blinky lights on my home theater setup without invalidating any of my remotes and PS4 controllers (or wifi devices). Ideally I'm looking for a fabric of some sort, but open to other suggestions.

I'm thinking it would be cute to install a pull curtain over the part of my shelving where I want to block the visible lights, thus why I'm inquiring after fabrics. If there's a glass or other material that might work, then I might consider a door of some sort.

Any help/insight would be appreciated. Note that I am aware of IR repeaters and am not interested in installing one. Plus my understanding is that it wouldn't help at all with my PS4 controllers.

EDIT: Many have suggested I just "tape" over the lights themselves. I really would prefer not to do this, as I find value in being able to see the lights easily when I need to debug an issue. For example, one piece of equipment is an HDMI switcher where the lights indicate which input source is currently selected; it doesn't switch automatically with the Apple TV I have connected to it, so I would need to see the lights to determine if I need to switch the input. I need to do this before consuming media, not during, thus why I'm interested in a fabric or a door that can conceal the lights temporarily. Another item in this space is my cable modem, so same deal: if my internet is acting wonky, I want to see those lights easily. But if my internet is fine, I don't want to see them while watching a movie or playing PS4.

  • 3
    Bluetooth is radio. Few fabrics will block it significantly. – keshlam Jan 13 '17 at 7:47
  • 3
    Most of us use black electrical tape directly applied to the lights themselves. Much easier and simpler. Or pick another color if you've got non-black front faces on some of the electronics. – Carl Witthoft Jan 13 '17 at 15:46
  • @CarlWitthoft see my edit regarding taping – neezer Jan 13 '17 at 18:40
  • I tend to agree that black tape is your friend here. – keshlam Jan 13 '17 at 19:30

Visible-light blocking IR-passing "black" plastic (plexiglas, etc) is very common, found in almost all IR receivers. Finding a sheet of it might be a bit more work (and let's not make this a shopping question, which would be off-topic - go hunting for yourself), but hardly impossible. Infrared transmitting (IRT) plastic seems to be one good search term. Infrared Bandpass is another.

As mentioned multiple times over, won't have any impact to speak of on Bluetooth radio signals.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Those search terms were super helpful. Many thanks! – neezer Jan 14 '17 at 5:39

Unless you get metal lined material or mirrored glass doors the radio won't have an issue. And to be honest even if you did it would probably still work fine by going through the wood or whatever the sides of the shelves are made of unless they are solid metal.

Any solid fabric is going to block the IR. You could potentially go with a fairly lose weave fabric so that the light can get through the holes. The remote will probably still work but you will also still be able to see the blinking lights.
If the amp is right at the front of the shelf you could potentially put a small hole in the curtain in line with the IR receiver in the amp to allow the remote to get through. But if there is any separation between the two you end up either needing a big hole or the remote only works from one direction.

A dark tinted glass or plastic may be your best option. Some will block IR, some won't. The problem is being able to test the material without having to first buy some doors made out of it. You could do a test, get some of the stick on limo tint plastic, it's fairly cheap, and see if your IR remote works through that with sufficient range. If so then get some plain glass doors and add the tint. That wouldn't completely block the blinking lights but would make them a lot dimmer.

The other option is the more direct approach, put something over the blinking lights. You could use something solid like a sheet of black plastic in front of everything with a cutout where the IR receiver is. Or you could use a dark colored tape and put it only over the lights. Visually not always the nicest approach but once everything in there is dark then you could put some fairly transparent glass doors over the front and it wouldn't be visible.

|improve this answer|||||
  • +1 And you could also use a fiber optic flexible light pipe to carry IR signal to a receiver if you physically blocked the main area. – bib Jan 13 '17 at 17:23
  • Any mainline plastic dealer will sell you a sheet that is specified for IR transmittance, no by-guess and by-golly post-purchase testing required. – Ecnerwal Jan 13 '17 at 22:42

See if you can get IR filter glass. Used to be a ?Wratten 87? filter would screen out most all light except for IR. We used to use those with IR film and it would even "muffle" strobe flashes - you'd only see a dull glow when they went off. Bluetooth I believe uses 2.4G radio energy so metallics or water screens that, but not glass. If you can't find the glass, there used to be "gels" that were a plastic sort of substance that you could try to apply to the back of regular glass.

|improve this answer|||||

If you have glass over the front, you could install a window darkener and then add an Infrared extender (example) that would repeat the IR command to the components that are hidden.

|improve this answer|||||

Just tape over your blinking lights and spare yourself the complexity of fabrics, tinted glass, and the like. Get a handheld shaped paper punch at a craft store to punch out electrical tape in squares, circles, spirals, or stars and your blinky light will disappear without you worrying about wifi, IR, bluetooth, etc....

|improve this answer|||||
  • See my update regarding taping over the lights directly – neezer Jan 13 '17 at 18:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.