Introduction: FreeAgent Go Dock USB Micro-B Conversion
I recently purchased a desk dock for Seagate's FreeAgent Go line of drives. Unbeknownst to me is that these series of drives uses the USB mini B connectors.
Needless to say, this will not work with the current generation of micro B connectors.
This Instructable is to demonstrate the feasibility of converting a Seagent FreeAgent Go USB desk dock from the default mini B to a more modern micro B.
Step 1: Get the Tools
This job requires some tools that most tinkering folks should have.
- Safety Goggles (can't work if you can't see)
- Phillips size 00 screw driver
- Hot Glue Gun
- Metal Shim (has to be thin and tough)
- A Second metal shim (in this case, the ruler)
- A sharp blade like an X-Acto (not pictured)
- A Donor USB Micro-B (not pictured)
SAFETY FIRST- There will be flying bits of plastic, hot tacky resin glue, and a sharp blade. Be Careful and don't hurt yourself. I am not responsible for any maiming, injuries, lost eyeballs, or fingers necessary for unlocking phones if you decide to do this.
Step 2: Disassembly
FLIP IT OVER
Flip over the dock and admire the soft grippy texture. Yea, you don't want to ruin that texture (or a finger), so work carefully and slowly. Identify the clip locations (see the other image).
USE THE SHIMS
- I found it easiest to work on the back where the USB cable exits the dock body. Using the two shims, position them where the clips would be located. Insert said shims all the way to the bottom of the space.
- Using gentle force, push the shims away from the dock body. This will force the inserted parts of the shim against the dock base to dislodge the clips. You may hear a pop.
- If successful, that part of the base will pop out of the dock.
- Use the thinner shim on the side (single clip) of the dock base and repeat.
- Repeat for opposite side (single clip).
- The base can then be removed from the dock housing.
ADMIRE THE INNARDS
There's only two weights inside the body. Lots of empty space to play with, but I'm no interested in adding a hub or some such at this time. Note where the clips are in the image.
Step 3: Modify the USB Connector
I found a USB micro B that is a similar color to the original, with the connector bit roughly the same size. Your available cable may be different. It's just more work to shave it down if the connector is thicker.
NURSE, THE SCALPEL
- Using the sharp blade, slowly whittle away at the micro-B connector on the top end (where it meets the metal). PRO TIP: Whittle AWAY from your finger by placing the B connector on its head and shave downwards at the cutting mat/table.
- Regularly test fitment to ensure the connector is centered as possible in the housing.
- DO NOT BEND AT THE CONNECTOR. Always work with flexing/pushing/wiggling the connector body, not the metal part.
- Well this particular cable connector was a bit long and the bend was outside the housing so the dock base would never close.
- Using the same method, whittle the bottom of the USB cable until the bend can be shorter.(Lay cable flat and cut away from you)
- DO NOT CUT THE CABLE! This would be very very bad. Work carefully and deliberately.
PRO TIP: An angled micro-B cable may save some hassle on this part. I had an OTG cable to test, but the housing was much fatter so more had to be shaved to fit the port opening. Also, test out the cable for functionality before continuing.
Step 4: MAKE IT STAY
APPLY SOME GLUE
- Ensure the cable bend will be within the dock housing before gluing things down
- Apply liberally where the connector end is. Can't have too much here.
- Allow to cool before continuing
- Route cable to the exterior of the dock
- Glue down the cable end where it exits. Apply sparingly. Do not glue where the wire cut out is.
- I Actually applied too much in the photo. Don't copy me there.
CLOSE IT UP
- Snap the base back onto the housing. Everything should sit flush (or very close to flush).
Step 5: TEST THE BEAST
I used a cheapy (but quite awesome!) Microsoft Lumia 640 to test the final connection and positioning. It fits! A bit wobbly because it is essentially stabilized by the connector and one side (the back). It so happens the micro B connector is still angled back a bit, so I am not concerned of the device falling out of the dock.
Once the fitment works. I progressed by plugging in a portable battery to make sure the cable still works. It charges the phone! Good stuff.
Step 6: DOES IT BLEND?
Well actually, I mean, does the dock play nice with portable drives like it was initially intended for?
- SEAGATE BACKUP PORTABLE PLUS - YES - it plugs in and is detected just fine. It is facing backward because of how I oriented the micro B connector in the dock. Slight gap on the side profile from the connector not being properly aligned during install and cable bending.
- WD MY PASSPORT- NO - The usb connector port is off-centered. Because the dock has walls on the side (of course this can be removed) there is no way to properly align the WD PASSPORT
- SEAGATE GOFLEX - NO - The GoFlex line of drives have the connector in the proper location, but its fatter profile causes it to not seat properly in the connector. PC does not detect the drive.
- OTHER PORTABLE HDD - MAYBE - The USB connector must be centered on the drive AND the drive is not too wide or thick. I am not too concerned with the width because everyone tries to miniaturize the external drives now, but the thickness (height) may be a problem.
- PHONES - MAYBE - If the USB connector is centered on the phone at the bottom, it will fit. Provided the phone is not too wide/thick AND no case. I tested Lumia 640, Galaxy S4, LG Optimus L9, Nexus 4, Galaxy S6 Edge. All works fine. Most importantly, I oriented the connector this way so that the screen of the phones would be facing forward when docked.
Step 7: FINAL NOTES
This project demonstrates the feasibility of changing out the USB connector on the Seagate FreeAgent Go Dock. The project was successful. There are some notables to this project as listed below:
- Care needs to be applied when plugging or removing devices from the dock. The connector is not as flexible as I liked. Perhaps shaving down the plastic bit more will give it additional wiggle (literally).
- Positioning of the connector is important for a clean look. I did not notice the off-angle of the connector until everything was back together. It turns out the cable was still too long and forced the connector out of its flush position with the dock body.
- Opening is not wide enough for USB 3.0
FreeAgent Dock -- $5 firesale from Seagate
USB Cable -- $1 or one lying around somewhere.
Tools -- Already available. Project is not worth it if you have to buy the glue gun ($10), knife ($1-2), shims ($5), and screw driver set ($10-20). Rough estimates.
Time -- 1 hour because I had to take pictures along the way.