iPAQ Repair 101

iPAQ SwitchboardI’m so glad that I somehow inherited the “not afraid of electronics assembly” gene from someone. I picked up a cheap dodgey iPAQ off Trademe a while back. The main dodgeyness of this iPAQ was in the form of an extremely gammy sync/charge connector. Upon disassembly I discovered either a very poor solder job or a very strong short circuit had loosened a couple of the 22 tiny pins from the connector socket where they attach to the circuit board.

While I’m reasonably gun with a soldering iron (having acheived the famed ‘D0’ solder point while modchipping my XBox), I’m nowhere near the skill of the tiny southeast asian soldering pixies that connected the parts inside the iPAQ. In fact after locating1 a replacement sync/charge daughterboard at Foxconn (man I love those wacky Asian company names), I decided to have a crack at a repair myself, figuring worst case I would put the iPAQ daughterboard out of commission until the replacement arrived. Suffice to say I succeeded in simply welding four of the pins together. Thankfully on consulting a pinout diagram I found that the first three pins are all +5V, and the fourth is redundant, so the board kept working, albeit considerably more flakey than it started out.

So anyway, the new daughterboard arrived today, and was a genuinely simple drop-in replacement. Now the sync/charge port is just like new! The moral of the story? Kids, never be afraid to dig around inside your (out of warranty) electronic components. You might just wind up learning something.

Footnote 1: WTF is up with iPAQ parts suppliers? Both of the companies I contacted said “sure we have that part in stock”, yet when I placed an order they were both magically out of stock. In fact PDASmart.com never contacted me after I placed my order, until I emailed them 4 days later to cancel the order due to their lack of response. Were they hoping I would forget they said “yes we can send it on Friday”!?

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