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  Phone...

[29 June 2020] A client of mine gave me her old faulty phone, a "Rugged128" from "fonerange". The (micro) USB socket was damaged; it powered on briefly to inform me the battery was low. I attempted to repair it; not so long ago I successfully repaired the charging socket on a USB power bank (although my soldering work wasn't so neat).

From my research, this phone was likely purchased from Aldi. It is supposed to be waterproof, although I'm not going to test that since the plugs for the various sockets likely don't fit well any more. [Plus, I later noticed there should be a rubber gasket on the battery cover; that was found to be missing so it would most certainly let water in].

It apparently has 16GB of storage. It has dual SIM slots (unlocked to any network). 2G connectivity. 1.3 Megapixel camera.

It reportedly weighs 138g, and measures 56w, 119h, 20d (mm)

While it probably has little resale value in a working condition, and I have no need for it, I don't like throwing things out and I decided, for the sake of a project, it was worth attempting to repair it, and that I could send it away for recycling if I couldn't fix it.

Someone had listed a faulty one on ebay for 9.99; I doubted anyone would buy that.

I ordered some replacement USB sockets and carefully chose the correct ones (top)...

They arrived the next day... but ended up being not the same as pictured. They can be made to fit though with gentle bending with pliers.

I dismantled the phone and removed the faulty socket and attempted soldering in a replacement but that was unsuccessful.

I have little experience with such fine electronics; I have watched a few Youtube videos on various methods. I tried using my soldering iron which has a fine tip but it's still too bulky for the job. The preferred method is to use a heatgun; I have one of these but it doesn't have a narrow-enough nozzle since it is meant for jobs like paint-stripping. I am loath to spend a lot on a tool that I will use infrequently; there are cheap heatguns that appear to be only suited to craft work and heatshrink; they claim to reach 200'c whereas in one Youtube video I watched the guy stated that he set his heatgun to 360'c for such a project.

I therefore acquired a nozzle for my heatgun in the hope that I could use that by pressing the trigger only briefly so as no to heat things up too much. I also used 'kapton'-type-tape to protect surrounding components (a trick I also saw on Youtube).

My first attempt with this method almost worked but the 5 contacts on the rear of the socket didn't quite line up since I'd had to bend the two main contacts to fit the board and I wasn't precise enough. Also, one of those contacts failed to go into the board and instead folded outwards. Not good.

I removed the socket and tried again, but by now the extra heat had removed some of the pads for those five little contacts. I have since learned that these are only held in place with adhesive, and will come unstuck with the heat. Once these pads are lost or damaged like this then traces wire would be required.

This is all too fiddly now; I've seen people use a microscope for such fine work and I was relying on my unaided eye-sight. I have since purchased some magnifying glasses but have now lost interest in pursuing my tinkering with this phone.

- - - - -

[03 October 2020] While work on this phone has halted, I recently watched a video by BigCliveDotCom about Soldering for Beginners.

I found it very useful, even to me as someone who has been doing bits of soldering for years (although not always successfully). Particularly, I had been trying to get hold of another soldering iron with a fine tip; I have one but it needs a new tip and I couldn't find one to fit without replacing the whole iron. It's only a cheap iron but that's what I go for. Clive's video featured a USB-powered soldering iron; I had looked past these in my search as I thought they would be borderline useless and woefully underpowered. How wrong I was. You can watch his video to see him demonstrate it and I why I have since purchased on (although not yet tried it for myself!).

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