Introduction: Hack a USB Card Reader

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Few days ago I have found at home some forgotten SD card. I was curious abort what is written there. I searched a card reader to check the information. The only available found at home was a cheap multi - card reader bought in Aliexpress or Ebay months ago. I tried to read the memory card but the reader was not working. I inserted it in few different USB slots but without any success. Finally it started working inserted in USB extender cable and stopped after few seconds. I have found that it must be inserted in the USB slot with both horizontal and vertical tilt to start working. Even then - it works very short time and disconnects. The problem was that the USB connector was not able to make proper contact. I decided to hack the card reader adding an USB extending cable to it.

How I did this is described in this instructable.

Step 1: BOM

The materials used are shown on the pictures:

  • Male USB cable ( taken from some old defect web camera or USB charger cable )
  • Rubber grommet
  • Epoxy glue
  • Some piece of heat shrink tubing

Step 2: Disassembling Works...

I wanted to see what is inside the reader and I have extracted the internal board pulling out the white plastic cover. This step can be omitted. You can simply remove the metal shield around the USB connector without pulling out the whole electronics. After removing the shield I inserted all parts back in the housing.

Step 3: Drilling Works...

The next step was to insert the cable through the card reader cover. At first I marked the place for the hole and using small drill I did a 5 mm hole in the plastic cover. After that I inserted the cable using the rubber grommet.

Step 4: Measurement Works...

Very important step!

The cable must be soldered in the proper way. The stripped cable had 4 colored wires : red, black, green and white.

Using a multimeter I did a colored map which wire where have to be soldered. Finally I cut again the cable. I stripped it shortly, I cut the cable shield away and put a short piece of heat shrink tube to prevent that some tiny wire of the shields makes a short circuit with other signals.

Step 5: Soldering Works...

The cable was soldered to the USB contacts according to the colored map.

Step 6: It Works

To make the whole assembling strong I filled the plastic cover with epoxy glue and let it dry.

Finally I tested it and it was working perfect. Another advantage of the hacked card reader is that it ca be inserted in back side USB port, but can be placed on the working table and can be accessed easily.

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