RMED’s Tips, Tricks & Hacks: Repairing a Mini-USB port on a Makey Makey

I recently had the mini-usb ports on two second generation Makey Makey’s fail, pop their solders, and detach completely! First, yes, you can reattach and re-solder the mini-usb connector’s brackets, but it is ‘fine’ scale work and a bit tricky. In a effort to repair them I have made some helpful discoveries:

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  1. There are two plastic pins on the base of the mini-usb connector which are needed, if not essential, for the realignment of the part. They break off VERY EASILY so be careful. Without them, getting the part to set right is tough at best.
  2. When realigning the part, I recommend putting some e-tape on the back of the connector before you start, so your finger or clamp is not grounded, allowing you to test the Makey Makey before you solder the part back on.
  3. The alignment has to be spot-on, is not at all forgiving, and you need to make sure all 5 pins on the base of the connector hit the contacts on the board. Test, wiggle and test again.
  4. I pressed down on the part/board quite hard, almost hard enough to bend the connector, before I re-soldered the feet/mounting brackets.
  5. To be clear, I pressed the bracket into place, tested it, and used a medium-hot, fine tipped iron to use the existing solder to reattach the bracket. My tip-bracket contact was 0.5 sec. on three of four, and closer to 0.85 sec. on the last bracket. Tough one!
  6. Then I was able to add a small amount of solder to the two corners, away from any other parts. If you are used to fine scale work, then you could likely get all four.
  7. I tested the first repair and when I flexed the cord the bracket popped off again (to my chagrin). While trying to reattach it I learned about the pins breaking off and that one is done!
  8. On the second Makey, I added quite a bit of hot glue after reattaching, as well as additional solder (being very careful not to hit or heat the parts near there) and it seems to be holding. So far so good!
  9. If you had a micro-screw clamp, or perhaps a surgical clamp/vice grips, to hold the connector’s brackets in place, it would make the testing and soldering process a lot easier!
  10. I use 3D printed cases I developed for CU Boulder to protect my fleet of Makeys  (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1840328) and I have found that if I add an additional layer of craft-foam (2 total) on the bottom of the case, it acts as a shock absorber and helps keep the mini-usb cord stable.

If you have other tips, tricks or hacks, or ways of improving this one, reach out on our Contact Us page. Thanks and Happy Hacking!
Eric Carpenter, Rocky Mountain Education Design

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