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DIY Electronics Repair

The battery connector on my iPod’s motherboard snapped off after one too many drops. I decided to try re-soldering it myself before rolling the broken iPod eBay dice.

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My task is to solder those tiny leads above to these pads on the mobo:

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I’ve done a good amount of soldering in my time, but I’ve never attempted to solder surface mount components before, let alone ones these small. But I’ve got nothing to lose!

First step is to clean up the pads on the mobo, since there’s a bit of a solder dome left on each. After a few minutes with the desoldering braid, they’re looking a little better than before:

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In retrospect, I should have spent more time on this. I don’t think I’d gotten the hang of the desoldering braid, and I think I could have gotten them cleaner. But on to the next step.

I place the connector in preparation for the soldering, and after a bit of extremely gentle tapping with an exacto knife, I have this:

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obamanotbad.jpg, though I probably should buy some tweezers for the next time.

Now for the dangerous part. With my right hand holding the connector down with a spudger, I tack some solder on to both sides with my superior hand. After that I don’t have to worry about knocking it loose, so I go back in and make sure the joins get fully warmed up and the solder works its way in between the pads and leads. That gives me this:

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Illustration for article titled DIY Electronics Repair

The far side (with 2 leads) is looking good. I’m not so confident about the other side (the second photo above), but there’s very little room to work between the components, so I think it’s as good as I’m gonna get.

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The last step with the iron is to grab more desoldering braid and clean up those globs so the connections only connect to what they’re supposed to. After a good 15-20 minutes doing this (during which I do figure out how to use the braid okay), here’s how it looks:

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Illustration for article titled DIY Electronics Repair

Pretty good! Honestly, I didn’t think I was gonna be able to clean them up that well, especially on the crowded side. I’m still not expecting this to work, but I’m allowing a chance that it might.

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After re-assembling everything, I slide the hold switch off orange and hit the center button:

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Holy shit it actually works!! Fantastic! I’ve got my iPod back, and it turns out I can actually do surface-mount soldering. This should come in handy.

In conclusion, surface-mount component soldering isn’t as hard as it may seem. With basic soldering experience, the right tools, YouTube videos, and patience, you can probably do it too!

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