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Author Topic:   Broken connector pin repair
Chriscz posted 07-06-2011 10:41 PM ET (US)   Profile for Chriscz   Send Email to Chriscz  
Does anyone have advice on how to repair a broken connector pin for a DSM output on a Raymarine unit? This is a small male pin (one of four) which plugs into the female cable going to the transducer.
Sending the unit back to Raymarine is a $500 ticket.
jimh posted 07-08-2011 06:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It is difficult to repair a broken pin in a multi-pin connector. Some connectors use pins which can be inserted from the rear of the connector individually, and such pins can often be released from the connector body individually, if needed, at a later time by use of a specialized tool. If your device uses that sort of connector you could replace a single broken pin. However, most smaller connectors with only a few pins do not use a pin design with this sort of replaceable pin method, and it is more likely that the pins are captivated in the connector body and will not be removable. If that is the case, the remedy for a broken pin will be more difficult, and it will likely be necessary to replace the entire connector.

Replacement of the connector will require finding an exact replacement connector. This can be difficult to source because of the very large number of connector designs in use. The manufacturer of the device may not be willing to sell you a connector as a repair part, and you will have to find the OEM of the connector and try to buy a replacement from them.

If the connector is soldered directly to the circuit board it will be more difficult to replace than if there are individual leads from the connector to the circuit board. Modern circuit boards are often multi-layer boards and great care is needed to unsolder and replace components without damaging the circuit board traces.

If the connector is a cable-end connector you could always cut off the connector completely and just install a new one, using a suitable connector of your own choice if you cannot find the exact replacement, or you could even forgo use of a connector entirely and just splice the two cable ends together.

hc803 posted 07-08-2011 11:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for hc803  Send Email to hc803     
Chris,
We had the same issue on our Raymarine GPS plotter on my dad's 23 Outrage several years back. We found a local marine electronics technician, and I believe he replaced the entire connector. Total cost was around $150 if I recall correctly. There looks to be some local guys in the Seattle area...
Chriscz posted 07-08-2011 06:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chriscz  Send Email to Chriscz     
Thanks guys,
I am looking into trying to re solder the pin. I saw a post on the hull truth where someone did this. The idea isnto drill the broken stub and solder on a new pin. By drilling, the solder joint is resecced and more resistant to lateral stress. I am also then thinking of connecting a cable (female connector) and not removing. If I do this with a very short cable, I can then have a new connection point between this short cable and the existing cable going back to the transducer. This connection point I can use regularly when I need to remove the display unit from the boat, just leaving the repaired connection and short cable on the back of the display unit.
I'll let you know if this works.

Chris

jimh posted 07-10-2011 06:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you are able to drill a hole in the broken pin, you have either one very large pin or one microscopically tiny drill.
Chuck Tribolet posted 07-11-2011 12:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
My big drill set has a #60 drill that is 0.040". It's smaller
than a lot of connector pins. Mcmaster.com lists a #84 bit
at 0.0185" and there are 14 different variations on that size.

In fractional, mcmaster.com gets down to 0.002".

Just gotta know where to look.


Chuck

jimh posted 07-12-2011 07:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't see the purchase of small drill bits as being a great step on the path to a remedy. After you buy them, what's next? You'll have to drill a very small hole in the broken pin. Let's assume you do that, too. Now you have a broken pin with a very small hole. How does that help? Do you put a replacement pin on a very small lathe and turn it down at one end to fit in the tiny hole?
Chriscz posted 07-13-2011 06:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chriscz  Send Email to Chriscz     
I may be going in a slightly different direction than drilling the hole, given the challenges of the small sizes invovled.
I will try to modify the female plug on the DSM cable by inserting a small piece of rubber into the hole, then inserting the broken pin and allowing it to extend slightly beyond the plug face. The rubber should provide positive pressure to maintain contact with the connection on the display side where the pin orignially broke off.
The other pins should operate fine even if they are not 100% inserted. The rubber pressure should help maintain contact if the plug moves due to boat motion.

Sixer posted 07-15-2011 10:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sixer    
Chris,

Not sure this is an option, but it might be worth a call. This shop repairs similar pins used on digital cameras. I used their services and their work is top drawer. If I recall the cost was around $100 two years a go. Camera is still working just fine.

http://www.lezot.com/servlet/Detail?no=1

Chriscz posted 08-24-2011 01:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chriscz  Send Email to Chriscz     
I wanted to post a happy ending to this story. First the one broken pin turned into two (out of four) broken pins from the Raymarine display unit to the depth sounder module. I am fortunate enough to have a great neigbor who is retired from Boeing, but spent 15 years working at the UW Applied Physics Lab making part for various Navy projects. I told him about my woes and he came up with a plan. First we manufactured two small replacment pins out of brass on his lathe--a tricky process--but a steady hand and patience did the trick. The replacment pins were slightly tappered at the end and had a seat to provide more connectivce surface. Next we used a small die (0-80) to thread the ends of the pins.

Then on to the broken off stubs on the display unit, which were like two small volcanos where the pins had broken off just above where they widened at their base entering the unit. First step here was to use a shapened screw and gently tap with a hammer to create a small start point. Next we enlarged the start point by had turning a small drill bit--my fingers still have blisters--this was a slow and delicate proccess to keep the drill bit from sliding off the volcano. Once we had a reasonable start we moved to the drill press and use the drill press to drill deeper keeping the hole level and true. After drilling we used a small tap to thread the holes. Screwed in the replacement pins and--voila--pins repaired. Boy it pays to have good neighbors.

Tested it out yesterday and the fishfinder depth sounder module works great. Even caught four Chinook and one pink salmon; the chinook were too small, but the humpy was a keeper. If anyone is interested I can post some pictures of the process.

Chris

AZdave posted 08-24-2011 05:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for AZdave  Send Email to AZdave     
Congratulations. That's a really inspirational story. I think I'll go fix something myself.
jimh posted 08-25-2011 11:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
When I wrote:

quote:
"Do you put a replacement pin on a very small lathe and turn it down at one end to fit in the tiny hole?

I was kidding. I didn't expect you to machine your own new pin(s).

Chriscz posted 08-27-2011 11:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chriscz  Send Email to Chriscz     
Jimh,
I also didn't think we would be heading in that direction, my neighbor said "let's give it a try" he hadn't worked on something this small in years but had in the past-- 40 years ago-- I don't think I mentioned my neighbor -Chuck- is in his mid eighties.
Turns out we didn't use a "very small lathe" like you mentioned, but a normal sized one :). Actually an old lathe from the 60's nothing fancy.
Just a great reminder about how good old fashion know how and skill can accomplish a lot, even in the modern realm. -- the know how and skill being Chuck's.

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