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Repairing Those Tiny Motherboard Traces,


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#1 RDC

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 06:46 AM

This isn't a full blown kinda trace repair tutorial, everyone goes about this sort of thing a little different way and it really depends on the type of board you're working on, the size of the traces and the level of damage involved as to how it should be approached to repair it. This is just to show some of how I go about fixing up something this small damaged in this way and if nothing else will show some that are attempting or wishing to do this kinda of thing one of the ways that it can be gone about, though be aware, this isn't yer every day trace repair job and after ya actually get a first hand look at the size of the traces on your board you'll understand why. wink.gif

Here is the damage in question..

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No idea how it happened, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out it was X-clamp + not being careful related. On a side not, with these traces damaged like this the 360 has no Video output, shows the 3RL, but no Secondary error code can be obtained, in fact Eject works like it should making the drive's tray open up.

At first glance it looks like 4 to 5 traces are bad, but after getting all of the 'loose' bits and such cleaned away it's only 3 that are really severed and need some attention, with the 4th one being a little dinged up, but still intact.

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You may notice there is copper in the bottom of the gouge in the board. This is one of the inside layers, and is a power line for the GPU, so we need to do something with it before repairing the traces above it, the last thing ya want to do is short this to Ground or one of the lines you're repairing.

All this really takes is a tiny bit of Super Glue, not a drop, just a tad, in fact 1/10th of a tad. You can use a needle and get a little bit of glue on the tip of it, then dab it into the open crater there to cover the exposed trace and insulate it.

NOTE: Be EXTREMELY careful using Super Glue around any place you'll be soldering to later on, as soon as an iron hits that stuff it fumes up and if ya get it in yer eyes you'll wish you'd never heard of Super Glue, Soldering or even had eyes for it to get in there in the first place.

This is what it looks like after a tiny bit of glue is applied to get that exposed trace in there covered up.

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Now that has been taken care of we get out the Masking tape and the tiny arse wire. If ya are new to soldering/working with really small components (SMT/SMD) get to learn to use masking tape, it's one of the best 3rd, 4th and 5th set of hands you can have for working on that kinda thing, and for doing trace repair work this small is in most cases a must. The reason Masking tape is good is because ya can't melt it with the solder or the iron (as long as you're doing things properly) it's easy to remove and the only down side is when it gets hot the 'sticky' backing of it stays behind on the board when ya remove it, which can easily be cleaned up with some Rubbing Alcohol and a few Q-tips, so there's really no down side to using it.

What ya do is 'mask off' just one trace. Start at one side or the other, not in the middle, and mask just one off like so..

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Make sure you're as close to the trace as ya can get, ya don't want the soldering you're about to do get on any of the other traces.

Once ya have that done lay the wire on the trace and tape it at both ends so it's as straight and flat against the trace you're repairing as ya can get it, then solder away.

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If all went well ya should end up with something like this after cutting the wire down to length after removing the Masking tape, you'll notice some of the Masking tape 'sticky' that was mentioned earlier is left behind..

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..and then after repeating the steps for the rest of the traces ya (should) end up with something like this..

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After it's cleaned up a little bit (optional really) ya end up with your pretty much finished repair..

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Covering the entire repair area with a thin layer of Lacquer or Super Glue is another additional step as well, even just a piece of Electrical tape will do really, but again it depends on the board you're working on and if it would really need the additional protection/insulation or not.

Edited by RDC, 19 May 2009 - 06:48 AM.


#2 Sic Of Life

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 06:25 PM

Great tut RDC, as usual. Never thought of the masking tape idea, so that will come in handy from now on.

#3 postal worker

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 08:31 PM

holy shiz.... i can't believe you just did that. thats pretty wild. GOOD job man.

#4 Chickan

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 11:57 PM

Very clean job, I also like the masking tape idea. What did you do to remove the green layer on top of the traces?

#5 RDC

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 12:41 AM

QUOTE(Chickan @ May 19 2009, 05:49 PM) View Post

Very clean job, I also like the masking tape idea. What did you do to remove the green layer on top of the traces?

Green layer = Masking wink.gif

I use an X-acto knife most of the time, though ya have to be careful with it around traces this small. They make a FiberGlass pencil that can also be used. Another thing that can be used is some fine grit sandpaper, 1000 grit, and that will take the masking off as well, though it's not as precise and ya end up 'unmasking' a larger area than ya really need too, but it's harder to damage the trace with it and faster to use if say 20 traces were all severed in a row versus going and doing each one with a blade, so it has it's advantages.

Edited by RDC, 20 May 2009 - 12:42 AM.


#6 Mholt215

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 03:49 AM

YOUR amazing.

#7 Deathbringerrr

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 06:25 AM

Question?i have a wireless 360 controller the old version and if i had a broken trace as i plotted the traces in the picture below would it render the controller unusable..as in unusable i mean the 360 still recognizes it and only The LB and RB Buttons work and when its on the dashboard my avatars head is stuck at a slant position like information is stuck somewhere im a newb at this and tried to replace the joysticks with ps2 controller joysticks and when i was de-soldering them from the board i think i ripped all of the solder pads off and killed that trace as in the picture please any help would be greatly appreciated as this is very baffling and when i touch metal on the broken trace his head moves so its still working but theres something not right with it im not understanding why its doing this any insights would be great thanx!!!

http://img212.images...tracebroken.jpg

Edited by RDC, 17 July 2009 - 10:58 AM.


#8 RDC

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 11:06 AM

If the trace is broken then yes there's going to be a problem, that will cause the Right Stick to not move up/down, and can cause some weirdo issues in some games. You need to fix that first and then go from there.



#9 Deathbringerrr

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 08:02 PM

ok so does that trace go to the tp12 component lead or does it go all the way to the chip in the middle right just trying to find out where it goes so i can solder a wire from that trace lead to the joystick if that will work!?

#10 Deathbringerrr

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 08:41 PM

oh well it doesnt matter now lol cause i tried touching a wire to the tp12 lead t the joystick lead the trace was running to and it slipped off and compoletley shut the controller down so i think i fried it!! lol oh well maybe next time!!But thanx for your help though man when i try to mod or fix another controller ill be coming here lol

#11 RRODXbox

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 08:44 PM

Great tut, I have tried this sorta stuff but with little success as I didn't have wire thin enough + I didn't think about using masking tape!

Thanks smile.gif

#12 RDC

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 11:14 PM

QUOTE(Deathbringerrr @ Jul 17 2009, 03:41 PM) View Post
oh well it doesnt matter now lol cause i tried touching a wire to the tp12 lead t the joystick lead the trace was running to and it slipped off and compoletley shut the controller down so i think i fried it!! lol oh well maybe next time!!But thanx for your help though man when i try to mod or fix another controller ill be coming here lol

Glad ya could wait a whole 30 or so minutes to see if that was an ignoramus idea or not before trying (it was by the way) and while there's something to be said for the enthusiasm there, it rarely turns out to be anything you'd wanna hear.

Just because it shut off doesn't mean it died, and while the controller can typically take a lot of that kind of 'abuse', until ya remove the batteries for a bit and then see if it fires back up ya aren't going to know if it's fried or not for sure. If it's really toast it's not gonna hurt to try, plus if it is really tanked you'll have a good test board to work on soldering techniques and how to follow a trace to where it really goes. wink.gif


#13 Deathbringerrr

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 07:05 PM

yeah its completeley fried so im an idiot for not waiting i know but it was a lesson well learned and good soldering practice as you said so yeah thanks anyway though man!

#14 brandogg

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 03:51 AM

I'm about to try this method out. I just bought 2 RROD consoles for $50 - when I brought them home I realize one had 3 *major* slip up from the previous owner trying to remove the X-Clamps. I'm too lazy to make "before" pictures, but I'll post the "after" ones...if I get it working.

#15 brandogg

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 05:18 AM

Yeah, nevermind. I can't even find wire that thin, and there's probably 15+ completely obliterated traces. Looks like this board is going to be my guinea pig for figuring out my heating profile when I get my BGA rework station. Probably has a good keyvault on it too. Still $50 for 2 broken systems (although 1 is basically unfixable), including power supplies and A/V cables (1 set of component) is a pretty decent deal




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