Having just recently performed surgery on a H5450 with broken sync connector, and unable to find much useful information on the web, I thought I’d better write up my experience. This guide is probably relevant to other Ipaqs, but I have only covered the H5450 here. There is an annotated tagset at Flickr.
Although it looks a bit difficult, the job is relatively straightforward for anyone with good soldering skills, patience, and the right tools.
The HP H5450 has an extremely small and easily damaged docking connector. The device that I fixed would not charge or sync correctly, and required considerable fiddling to get a connection through either the cradle or the USB cable. I suspect that this is particularly a problem with devices that have been used extensively with the charging dongle or USB cable, rather than the docking cradle, as when using cable connection there is more tendency to wiggle the connector when un/plugging it.
The connector in question is extremely small; it is shown below, with a 3.5mm audio jack for comparison. If you don’t think you can successfully solder this, consider sending it to a repair specialist. It is unlikely that such a repair is economic, however; but rather than just throwing the PDA out, try selling it on ebay, or send it to me – I’ll pay the postage, and I could certainly use a spare PocketPC 😉
Replacement connectors are available from http://ipaqrepair.co.uk though expensive, postage is reasonable and their service excellent – and they do ship overseas.
If you aren’t confident that you are able to replace the connector, it is possible to replace the whole switch board assembly, but this is not a cheap option; however, it is a good backup option if you do damage the switch board assembly or if the switches are not all working correctly.
I’d recommend ordering a replacement backup battery at the same time you order the connector, as these deteriorate with age and now is a good time to replace it.
Remove all the loose components from the Ipaq – remove the stylus, battery, SIM card style placeholder, SD Card etc.
Remove the 4 screws that hold the main casing together; do not remove the two lower screws at this stage. You’ll need a T-6 (torx) screwdriver for all of the screws.
Prise the casing apart, it opens a little like an iPod. If possible use either soft plastic tools to do this, or a plastic credit card. You need to pull the two parts of the casing apart, at the same time stretching the back casing sideways away from the front casing so that it can unclip.
Take normal anti-static precautions for the remainder of the disassembly.
Place the Ipaq face down on a suitable work surface, then remove the rear casing. Be careful not to lose the volume rocker switch when you remove the back. You should see the mainboard in position as shown below.
Gently fold out the mainboard as shown below; be very careful. You’ll need to pull the mainboard free of the switch board connector – it should just snap free – and also pull the mainboard towards the top edge of the casing so the headphone connector is held free of its hole in the casing. Be very careful not to damage any stray wiring, and don’t strain the flexible ribbon connectors.
Now remove the two screws on the lower part of the case, also unplug the blue and red wire that powers the vibrator. Note its routing and polarity for reassembly. The small connector on the edge of the switch board in the photo below is the mainboard/daughterboard connector. Remove the switch board assembly.
The photo below shows the switch board assembly from it underside. Remove the black insulating tape strip visible in the photo, and note its position. You need to reuse or replace it when reassembling the Ipaq.
The finger print reader is shown below. This clips on to the switch board assembly, and straddles the connector.
The top side of the switch board, with the finger print reader removed. It is vital that the row of gold plated pads immediately behind the connector is not damaged or contaminated in any way, as the reader connects to this through a conductive plastic strip. The outline of the reader is shown in white on the board graphics. Also ensure the other contact pads are kept clean – the finger print reader also uses the two circular pads on the right. It is probably best to remove the chrome 5-way navigation button, this just pulls straight off the 5-way switch (in the foreground) – don’t twist it at all or you may damage the switch.
Wrap the entire switch board in foil, with an opening for the connector and the area immediately behind it where you’ll be working. The purpose of the foil is to protect the switch board and components from heat and contamination from fingers, soldering or grinding.
Use a Dremel or similar to grind/cut off the top face of the connector body; just cut along the two top corners. Other methods may work, but avoid putting any mechanical strain on the connector or the circuit board.
In my case, the connector had failed completely, with the connector core just falling out of the casing once the top was removed. All of the 22 solder connections to the board had failed due to fatigue; no wonder it wasn’t charging. In addition, there was a lot of dry solder dust and flakes in the connector area.
If it hadn’t already fallen free, I would have used a hot air gun and a heat shield to remove the connector core.
Remove the remaining parts of the casing with a soldering iron, they are located in holes on the board and soldered to pads but not mechanically connected; once they are heated sufficiently they should just pull free with very little resistance.
Use solder wick to remove as much of the remaining solder as possible, and if necessary pick the through holes clear. Make sure there is no solder bridging the extremely small spacing between the connection pads.
Place the new connector precisely in position, clamp it lightly and solder the case into position. Check carefully and correct if necessary before proceeding.
Once you are 100% happy with the connector placement, solder the 22 connection pads. This is extremely difficult; you will need the bare minimum of solder, a very fine soldering iron, a steady hand and good magnification. Take your time, and avoid getting solder between adjacent connectors. If you do get any in the wrong place, use solder wick to remove it before proceeding further.
Check the finished result under high magnification and correct any bridging or poor soldering, also pick out any loose flakes of solder or contamination. Once everything is cleaned up, remove the foil protection and check the rest of the board for damage or contamination.
The finished job is shown below; while nowhere near as good as the original factory solder job, it is good enough for a repair.
Assembly is the reverse of disassembly; clip the finger print reader in place over the connector, screw the switch board assembly in place. Remember to connect the vibrator, and take care as the vibrator only clips into its place in the front cover, it can fall loose during assembly if you are not careful. Screw the small cover in place with the two torx screws.
Fold the mainboard back into place, taking care that the headphone connector fits correctly into the case. Push the mainboard/daughterboard connector home as shown below, you will feel it snap into place.
Clip the rear cover into place, taking care that the volume rocker is correctly placed and that no wiring is trapped between the casing. There is an extremely small battery sensor microswitch that passes through a hole in the back cover (see below), be careful with this.
The casings may not seat correctly in the corner by the antenna, there is a spring connection here that tends to force the two casings apart. Carefully push the casings together, then fit the remaining 4 torx screws.
Replace the battery, and restart the device. You’ll be greeted with the setup screen, and you’ll have to reinstall your data and software.
If you are properly organised, you’ll just restore from your backups 🙂
If this guide helped you in any way, please leave a comment. Thanks.