Ever have an Airport Express (AE) that will not power up anymore? Most likely it is from a broken power supply unit.  The cause is usually from a bad 3.3v regulator and/or bad capacitors.  This guide will show you how to bypass Airport Express PSU and power it with USB power.  This will great if you want to use an 5v USB A/C adapter, power it off your computer, or use any other USB power source.

Here is a list of suggested tools and materials you might need:
Airport Express
Hand Saw
Soldering Iron, Solder
USB cable
USB Compact Flash card reader, $2 online (slightly smaller than the AE so it fits inside)
3 wires (2-3inch in length), one for ground, one for 5v and one for 3.3v.

Update: I changed the blue tape to white tape on the reassembly of the housing.

Step 1: How to Open the Airport Express Case

Use the hand saw and cut along the case seam of the Airport Express.  The seam is where the two pieces of the case is joined together. The depth you need to saw is 1/8 of an inch. You should stop right when the plastic breaks through and you can see the insides.  Go slowly as you do not want to damage anything inside.
<p>Hi everyone.</p><p>Tried to use this : Wingonneer USB to TTL Converter Module with Built-in CP2102</p><p>http://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B00AFRXKFU?psc=1&amp;redirect=true&amp;ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00</p><p>The only thing I get is the green light flashing once, and then nothing.</p><p>Does anyone have an idea on haw to fix it, if ever possible ?</p><p>Many thanks in advance !</p>
<p>cheers! thanks for sharing, I've used this instruction a bit as a reference repairing a broken Apple Airport Express A1264 54 Mbps Wireless N Router (MB321LL/A). It all started with accidental reboots of the router and then it would just power on, but won't even boot. I fixed it by opening it up with a knife instead of a saw - I just cracked the internal lockers, but the gap between two parts turned out to be way smaller then it would have been if I'd saw cut it through. Then I looked at the power supply half and found a capacitor that heated too much and even left some marks on a PCB. It was somewhere around 10V 100 uF 105 ˚C and that was clearly not good enough, so I replaced it with a 16V 100 uF 105 ˚C capacitor and actually assembled the unit back. Works just fine for a month or so already. </p>
<p>What specific CF card reader and why not one of these?</p><p>http://www.amazon.com/6-5-12V-MB102-Breadboard-Supply-Module/dp/B00O9YSSUM/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1439013860&amp;sr=8-18&amp;keywords=Power+Supply+USB+-+5V%2F3.3V</p><p>or </p><p>http://www.petervis.com/Raspberry_PI/Breadboard_Power_Supply/YwRobot_Breadboard_Power_Supply.html</p>
<p>I'm doing this with a fully functional AEX first generation N (blue board) The power lines between the two boards are all black, but the first 3 are ground, the last 3 are 3.3V. So while the form factor of the first generation N is the same as the one above, the circuitry is much more aligned with the latest 2nd Gen AE (white AppleTV) with on board audio as opposed to snap chip.</p>
<p>Just in the process of taking my Airport Express apart too. First off my unit appears to be a slightly different revision than the above. First all the wires are black, ok, looking closely at the circuit board there is 3.3v on one side and GND on the other. Easy the side with 3.3v must be 3.3v. I pulled out the multimeter and dialed it to the continuity indicator, hmm, the 3.3v has continuity with the shielding. So I pulled out an old usb cable stripped it down to test if the 3.3v side has continuity with the black usb wire, yep, what about the usb shielding, yep. Crap that must be GND. Ok so the first wire is GND, which other wires have continuity with the first wire, the next to wires beep, so the the three wires from the 3.3v label are GND. No I start from the other side, the next two wires have continuity with that side. Well crap, there basically only two leads and one of them is almost certainly ground. So is there a short in there or is there only one positive lead? Is that lead 5v or 3.3v. The label on the circuit board says 3.3v so that would seem the safe bet, but the USB port needs 5v, and a DC booster would likely need a capacitor large enough to stick out of the shielding, where as a 5v to 3.3v voltage regulator could fit discretely on the circuit board.</p>
<p>Thanks for the research and writeup - Since I have no card reader with 3.3v output I have just added two a LM1117 IC to a 5V wall mount adapter to get both voltages.</p><p>However: the airport express wants a lot of power. I think at least a 1A 5V adapter is a must (but everyone with a RapsberryPi around probably has one of those)</p>
What CF Card Reader did you use? and for some reason all 6 wires of mine are black.
You ever figure out what the black wires voltage output where? I'm in the same boat. <br>
<p>Same for me : all 6 wires are black, have you sorted it out ?</p>
Nice this will be great for a <a href="http://www.montecarloinns.com/Airport-Suites/airport" rel="nofollow">toronto airport hotel</a>.
Hey man, regarding the power cable from the AE. I had a speed bump! I think mine is most prolly second gen or just from a different batch. The power cable is all black. :\ Help?
Hi, <br>I just made the fix, and it seems that I need some help... I have locate the ground, 5v and 3.3v on my CF Memory Card reader, wire them, plug the power cable back into the AE and Power up the USB CF memory card reader. Eureka; the AE light up in green! But that's all... My AE is not visible on the wifi network... :( So i recheck my wires with my multimeter, and then i see the 3.3v was no longer on 3.3v but on 1v! So I unsolder this wire, check an another time the 1v on the CF Memory Card reader and mesure 3.3v... In conclusion the 3.3V drop to 1v when i wire it on my AE. May this explain the fact that the AE does not work? How to explain and remedy the voltage drop? I really need to fix my AE... Thank you in advance for your help.
try this first: when your AE lights up, hold the reset button to force the AE to reboot until your airport utility on your computer detects it. if your AE works, then you should be able to configure it. <br> <br> <br>the voltage might drop since theres a load now. good luck.
I have tried it, but the AE don't reboot. The led stay green, and nothing happen. :(
sorry cant help you there, could possibly be that something else is wrong with the AE or that theres other power issues. my guide is only to replace the power supply with usb power. you might need to experiment and test the AE.
Nice repair! But my problem is that i'm a newbee in electronic, and i'm not sure to correctly locate the ground, 5v and 3.3v on my CF Memory Card reader. In fact, i have found the same Memory Card reader as you; can you post high resolution pictures of your soldering to be sure i'm not doing mistakes? Tx!
you could probably google how to use a multimeter. if you need help on soldering or other tools in this guide, you can probably find videos on youtube. good luck.
nice fix....have a fix for a burned-out processor? I bought one of these and promptly murdered it. the modems didn't last either....
boy I hope I can find the AE that died some time ago... I've been a sad camper over that loss! Hopefully not for long! <br><br>GREAT mod, thanks imjasonc :)
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Actually, fiddy one cent or sixty cent
just a thought, but due to the higher draw than that cf card reader is used to using, why not just try to add it to your psu inside a desktop. i know that my 5v and 3.3v rails will support a hell of alot more than the amperage needed. though a step down circuit and a 5v psu like a usb car charger and a sla or other 12v source could make a nifty little semi portable wifi spot. that could be used for the myfi cards they sell these days because i know how small a radius those can have. the airport can then just amplify the myfi card, say, from in a car! the ideas are endless. you could even have a netbook with a itunes library stream music to a car audio system simultaniously. i might just do the mod with or without the dead power supply! =]
youre right, you can use any source that outputs 5v and 3.3v such as a computer psu. heck, you can build a battery back if you wanted to. have fun modding.
Very cool! I have two AEs at home. Both still work, but when one finally quits, I'll hook it up to some kind of power regulator with 5V and 3.3V (maybe not one of my two USB ports!)
sounds good. there are different ways of getting a new power source. you could always find a 5v ac adapter and just create a 3.3v step down regulator. have fun!
what is an airport express?
Kind of like an access point, can be used for extending a home wifi network or using it in a home wifi connection to share internet, files, itunes...etc.<br><br><br>More info here:<br>http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/
I thought it was the shuttle to the Airport... Jk. =)
This site sums it up pretty well http://tinyurl.com/qpfnxv

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