RSA306 repair

At work, I have a RSA306 USB spectrum analyzer. The device worked fine – until one day after lending it to a colleague, the USB connector showed connection problems.

The problem was the SMD USB connector which was partially ripped from the PCB – the tiny USB3 micro connector that is only attached to some SMD pads is no match for a sturdy USB3 cable.

Since the device was out for warranty (and this damage was probably not covered anyway), I opened up the device:

The biggest hurdle is glue: the rubber housing is kept in place by strips of double-sided adhesive tape, and the front plate is also glued. Once these parts are carefully removed, the remaining screws can be removed and the PCB comes out.

A first attempt to fix the broken PCB traces to the original USB connector was not successfull – the connector wiggled too much, breaking the delicate traces again.

The broken connector was removed, a new connector was procured (fortunately, this is a standard USB3 micto connector), and this time, the connector was glued to the PCB and additionally secured using a dremel’d bracket made of a bit of scrap FR4 material. The connector and bracket were glued using 2k epoxy (be careful the glue does not seep into the connector!).

Next, the broken connections could be fixed. I used single strands from a bit of fine braided wire for the data traces – these are quite thin. The soldering does not look great, but the connections are reliable.

After this operation, the unit works fine again!

2017-08-23 by rincewind