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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Fixing a broken USB stick

Fixing a broken USB stick

Okay, this post is really exciting! Maybe not for you, dear reader, by I got excited anyway. Those of you that follow my blog know that not everything I do actually works out, so it was great that this one did – even though I didn’t expect it to.

The problem was that a USB stick had be pulled out of the computer, leaving the USB part behind! It meant that it was impossible to use the stick, with a whole bunch of files and information that wasn’t able to be accessed.

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As you can see below, there are four pins that should be soldered to the memory stick board, but they have come undone, resulting in the separation of the stick.

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The first thing that I needed to do to fix the problem was to pull the whole stick apart. This particular type has a sliding part in the middle of a cover that hides the USB section. I pried it apart, the folded metal thing is the outside cover. The part with the electronics was the part that slid. I threw out the rest of the stick and just kept the USB part and the internal electronics.

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As I said above, the problem is that the solder holding the USB part in came undone. The obvious answer would be to solder the pins back in place. Unfortunately, I don’t have a soldering iron that is accurate enough to be able to do that… nor the skills/experience.

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Instead, what I decided to do was to connect the two pieces with wire. Again, I didn’t actually have any wire handy, so I kind of made some. I got some copper wire from another piece of wire and twisted them together, covering them with heat shrink (so they wouldn’t touch each other). This seemed to work okay.

Once I had four wires – one for each pin and where they should have been soldered onto – I set about soldering each wire to the connection spot. This was really had and you have to be careful not to have any of the wires or solder touching. The result isn’t pretty, but it seemed to work okay.

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Once they were solid, I then attached the other end of the wires to the corresponding pins. It was essential to ensure that the right wires went to the right places. This was challenging, but a little easier than the other side. Once I got all the wires attached, I accidentally pulled too hard on one of the wires and had to resolder it’s end to the connection. But eventually they were all connected.

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To see if I was successful, I plugged the USB part into a USB extension cord, the other end of which went into a computer. I used the extension cord because there was less chance of the USB stick moving and less chance of the USB part getting stuck in my computer!

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So much to my extreme excitement, after a couple of seconds the computer recognised the USB stick and it’s contents! I was able to copy all the files across to another USB stick (that wasn’t broken) and then could throw out the old one.

This turned out to be a fairly easy way to be able to recover files that you would think are lost forever. I’m really not very good at electronics and definitely pretty dodgy at soldering, but it worked!

 

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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Electronics

 

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