Rob gave me a 1GB clonepod. Its Chinese designers made a number of...questionable design decisions, and as a result the player was somewhat broken when I got it.

Broken bits do not necessarily deter me. In this instance, the player had been gifted with a nonstandard tiny usb plug/socket, which naturally broke apart. Here's the recipe for my fix.

  • a multimeter, alligator clips and a needle
  • fine-tipped soldering gear, some desoldering braid
  • two cdrom-audio cables
  • a length of ribbon cable, 4+ strand
  • a bit of breadboard
  • four jumper pins or a bit of terminal strip
  • superglue and a bit of epoxy

The first step obviously is to salvage...information, that is: with the multimeter and the needle I figured out the pin correspondences between usb plug and the proprietary plug and down into the player guts.

Having established that I desoldered the broken socket. And soldered in the short strip of ribbon cable. The four "fat cables" in the photo are each 1.2mm wide...


Next I ripped two four-pin connectors off the cdrom audio cables, carefully pulled the contacts out (two cables were sacrificed because usually only three pins are connected but I need four connections for usb).

Then I mocked up the future plug and placement: the point is mechanically avoiding insertion of the reversed plug, and making the replacement not worse ergonomically than the original. The resulting plug is right-handed :-).

 2007_09_29-plug-mockup.jpg 2007_09_29-plug-orientation.jpg

The dud nonstandard plug was cut off the player's cable and the bit of breadboard was soldered to the cable. I added a bit of strain relief (as the player is going to end up in my daughter's hands) and finally isolated the copper side by pouring an epoxy layer (with some blu-tack as "mould").

 2007_09_29-plug-close.jpg 2007_10_03-plug-epoxy-side.jpg

Finally the four extracted plugs from the cdrom cables were soldered to the other end of the ribbon cable, the plugs were reinserted into the plastic frame and I super-glued the whole shebang onto the back of the player.


Net cost: an hour or so of fiddling, and some bits of scrap. Net result: it works again (modulo the really stooopid firmware), and that Plug Is Solid and will not break in normal use.

[ published on Sun 07.10.2007 00:51 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]
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© Alexander Zangerl