USB Flash drives are great pieces of technology. We are able to hold 100's of gigabytes of files in our pocket. Unfortunately, we these devices are rather fragile and when they break it can be a disaster. This happened when my wife accidentally snapped the USB connector Off the flash drive and on that drive was all the research and drafts of her graduate school Thesis.
Luckily I was able to temporarily recover all of the files using some really thing wire, some solder and a soldering iron.
This Instructable will show how I did this.
Step 1: Prep and Material
First things first. You should be able to solder. I am not very good at soldering but I can hack it. If you need to learn how to solder check out this Instructable below:
Note: Focus on Step 4
Once you have a basic idea how to solder, Gather the following tools and materials:
- Soldering Iron
- 32 guage wire
- Wet Sponge or Paper Towel (to clean the soldering Iron Tip)
Step 2: Investigate the Board
Now its time to look at the board. Are the solder pads (little copper pads) for the USB connector still accessible? If they are then you are in great shape and you will be able to just solder jumper wires from the USB connector to the Solder pads on the board.
If the solder pad is Not in contact (which one of mine was not) then you need to break out the Multi-meter to start probing around the board. Also, you can look online for any information about the chips on the board. If you are lucky, the trace on the board is on the top layer, then you could just scrap off the solder mask and solder a wire to the trace. If that doesnt work, then the trace is on an internal layer of the board and all I could do is get the tip of the multi meter probe onto a tiny section of copper. Then I started probing around the main Chip on the board to see if I could find continuity. I was Lucky that the missing Pad was for the +5 volts so I just found the same PIN on the small chip. Wiring stright to the chip is not advised because it bypasses all the voltage conditioning and protection on the board but in this case, we just needed it to work for a few minutes and it was OK to do so.
In the End I was able to solder to one solder pad, one ground pad (connection point for the USB), one trace and one pin on the Chip.
So Now you should know where on the board you are going to be soldering to. In my case it was the 3 solder pads and a single pin on the chip.
Step 3: Wiring It Up
now that we know where we want to solder the wires to, we will start soldering.
First solder 4 wires to the 4 conductors on the USB connector. make sure the wires are long enough to give plenty of room to flex when connecting them to the board.
Next solder the appropriate wire to the correct placement on the board.
In the End it should look like the picture above.
Step 4: Finally
Now that its all wired up, carefully plug the USB connector into a computer. Be careful not to break and of the solder connections.
If the computer recognizes the USB device, Copy everything on the flash drive to a folder on your computer. Do this in one shot and dont touch anything.
Now hopefully you have recovered all of your Files.