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John's Broken USB Wireless Network Adapter

7. It's Alive!

posted Mar 6, 2010, 11:49 PM by Bill Bai

Well, looks like all the hard work paid off.  John has been using the USB wireless adapter for a while now and it seems to be in perfect working condition.

Unfortunately, the new connector I got is not exactly the same size as the old one, so the PCB doesnt exactly fit back into the casing, but that's really a minor cosmetic issue.
Oops, it doesn't fit!

A slight discrepancy in the way the connector sits on the PCB.

The original connector (right) sits slightly lower on the PCB compared to the new one.

6. Soldering the Connector to the PCB

posted Mar 1, 2010, 3:45 PM by Bill Bai   [ updated Jul 20, 2010, 7:12 AM ]

Soldering the Connector

So here's a quick video of me soldering the new connector onto the PCB.  Honestly, I did a somewhat sloppy job on it.  I was a bit heavy handed with the solder, but I'm a firm believer in "more is better than less", especially with solder joints.  I also neglected to use flux on the pads and the pins, but technically there's flux in the solder, just not as much as would be optimal.

Here are some pictures of the end result
Top of the PCB
Bottom of the PCB

5. Getting the New Connector

posted Mar 1, 2010, 3:36 PM by Bill Bai   [ updated Jul 20, 2010, 7:12 AM ]

It slipped my mind that it was Chinese New Year and the factory I had contacted for new samples didn't contact me until the vacation was over.  Unfortunately, by that time, I had already ordered the USB connector from Sparkfun.  They're only $1.50, so it wasnt too big of an issue.

The pins on this particular connector were actually straight when I got it, so I had to bend the pins to have the right angle and be coplanar to the PCB pads (aka parallel).

4. Cleaning up the board.

posted Feb 15, 2010, 9:06 PM by Bill Bai   [ updated Jul 20, 2010, 7:11 AM ]

Took my soldering iron to this bad boy today and removed all the broken pins.

Cleaning up PCB

The last part of this video got cut off for some reason.  I found out that the broken pieces of shielding left in the through holes were preventing the solder from being wicked up by the braid.  I added some more solder to each through hole until the pins came out of the hole.  After the remnants of the pins were out, it was easy to wick the solder out of the holes, and as you can see in the next picture, everything is nice and clean with no solder remaining on the solder pads or through holes.

Also cleaned it off using alcohol.

3. New Connector

posted Feb 14, 2010, 8:03 PM by Bill Bai   [ updated Jul 20, 2010, 7:08 AM ]


Trying to find some new connectors for this thing.  They're only $1.50 at Sparkfun, but it would be nice to snag some free samples from some company.

I found a site for getting in touch with manufacturers in China and such.  Found some USB A Male SMT Connectors.  I ordered a few sample pieces, so we'll see how those turn out.

2. The Damage

posted Feb 14, 2010, 7:53 PM by Bill Bai   [ updated Jul 20, 2010, 7:07 AM ]

The USB Connector is upside down in this picture, but it looks like the pins broke off pretty cleanly.  As far as I know, the rest of the board is perfectly fine, so this should be a fairly trivial fix.  I just need to take the remnants of the pins off the board, clean off the pads, get a new connector, and re-solder the new connector onto the board.

Other side of the board and connector.  The shielding is clearly warped from mechanical stress, so it's pretty clear who the culprit in this failure was.

The ends of the pins are still visible in their plastic enclosure.  The pins broke cleanly exactly at the end of the connector.

The ends of the pins still left on the board.

1. Oh Noes! Broken USB Dongle!

posted Feb 14, 2010, 7:41 PM by Bill Bai   [ updated Jul 20, 2010, 7:06 AM ]

My roommate John just got back from visiting home and brought me a little project to work on.  His mom had a USB Wireless-G Network Adapter from Cisco/Linksys, model number WUSB54GC v.3.  It seems that the USB connector snapped off of the PCB due to mechanical stress on the pins, most likely due to plugging and unplugging the adapter very often.  John mentioned that this adapter was for his mom's laptop, so mechanical stress is a likely explaination.

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