11) I Fixed the Power Button on My Wife’s Phone #NewThingEveryDay

For a few weeks my wife’s phone has had the dreaded boot loop problem. It’d just randomly shutdown and try to reboot, then 4 seconds later it’d shutdown and reboot again. Monkeying with the power button for a while would get it to stop, but then it’s go into a boot loop again a few hours later.

I pulled it apart about a week ago and cleaned out the switch with some rubbing alcohol. That seemed to temporarily fix the problem,but I ordered a replacement switch in case it happened again.

This weekend the phone started to have problems again. So today I bit the bullet and replaced the switch. I knew it would be challenging, but this was the hardest repair I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve fixed cameras, tablets, iPods, and a bunch of other electronics and I’ve also ruined a device or two, but So many things were against me this time.

Taking apart the phone is easy. You snap of the back with a spudger, take out 6 screws, pull a few cables and the mother board lifts right out. Okay maybe it’s a little fussier than that, but this was the second time. When it came to desoldering the old power switch I found my Metcal just wasn’t working, my tips are high temperature for soldering with non-lead solder, but the solder on the phone motherboard had a wicked high melting point.

The only thing I had to try was my little butane powered iron. I knew it would get hot enough, but it isn’t a precision instrument. sure enough I could heat the solder enough to get the switch off, but my next problem was that just couldn’t get enough heat to clean the solder of the board with desoldering braid. After a while I finally got the two positioning holes cleared.

The switches had 5 places to solder, 3 that hold the switch in place and two that are the actual switch contacts. The electrical contacts were so small I could barely see them I’m talking smaller than 0201 resistors. So I tried to solder the new switch in place. That was a mistake, because once I had the switch tacked down the 3 structural solders, I couldn’t get my soldering iron in close enough to actually solder down the electrical contacts.

Luckily they shipped two switches. I had to desolder that switch, then I made sure there was a drop of solder on each of the switch contact pads. When I soldered it into place again, I was able to melt the solder on the pads and it pooled enough to make contact with the switch leads. I put the phone back together and to my surprise the phone booted when I held down the power button.

Unfortunately I’m not really confident in he joints I soldered. I wasn’t able to heat up the switch contacts, only the pads on the board. I can;t be sure that it’s a good connection. So I needed to find a way for my wife to use her phone without the power button. At least this button doesn’t randomly stick closed.

I found this neat app called gravity. It uses the tilt sensor and the proximity sensor to tell when you are using your phone and when you’re not. for instance you can set it to turn off when you put it down horizontally on the table and turn on when you pick it up. Hopefully this will seave some wear and tear on her power button until we can find her a new phone. I’m waiting for the Nexus 5 2015.

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