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Mobile phone maintenance: mastering PCB repairs

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are the foundation on which all the other electronic components are assembled onto. As a result, they’re the foundational building block of most modern electronic devices – mobile phones included!

But what about when something is wrong with your phone? If the fault is with the PCB, can these faults be fixed? In this guide, we look at how you can master PCB repairs and take control of your phone PCB maintenance.

How do you know if your PCB is damaged?

The PCB is commonly known as a phone motherboard and is crucial in controlling all major functions and features on your handset. If it breaks, there are several ways you can figure out whether the PCB is the reason why your phone isn’t working properly:

  • It won’t turn on, even when plugged in, or the battery has been switched.
  • It turns on, but the screen doesn’t show an image.
  • It turns off and on randomly, without your input.
  • Settings and functions begin to behave erratically, turning off and on, failing, or otherwise malfunctioning.
  • These problems can happen for a range of reasons, from dropping your phone, letting it overheat, or water damage.

How to repair a PCB

So, if your PCB is broken, how can you repair it? Well, repairing a PCB is a relatively straightforward process.

You’ll need to start by opening the back of the phone and removing the PCB as per the manufacturer’s instructions. From there, you’ll need to test the PCB using an oscilloscope to check which section(s) are malfunctioning.

Once you’ve found the component, use a hot air gun to heat the component and then try to lift it away with tweezers or a sharp tool. Next, remove the solder, before replacing the damaged track with copper tape. Solder the joints, create a through-hole, then you’ll be ready to place and solder the new component. Once that’s in, trim any excess copper tape and test the board to see if it’s functioning correctly.

How to keep safe when repairing a PCB

Always be careful when using your tools. Scalpels and craft knives, for instance, can be used to carefully lift and remove the PCB from the phone, away from other components. But they’re extremely sharp, so be sure to wear cut-proof gloves when handling them.

When working on the PCB, make sure to disconnect it from any power sources and ground yourself so you don’t end up damaging the PCB with static discharge. Always make sure to handle the edges of the PCB too – not only to prevent yourself becoming cut on sharp components, but to prevent dirt, silicon hand wash, or water from damaging or contaminating the PCB.

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