Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fix a USB Mouse Cable

broken mouse
Cheap mouse, bad cable
I bought these cheap $5 optical computer mice from a local computer store (CompUSA, when they still had storefronts) several years ago. They've held up great to daily abuse but after awhile, one of them started disconnecting itself if I moved the mouse in certain positions. One of the wires inside the USB cable had broken.

Sure I could throw it away like everyone else and add yet more crap to the landfill. Or I could pull the ultimate "in your FACE, throwaway society" move and actually repair an ultra cheapo piece of disposable modern technology. Well, obviously the latter was my choice.

Ha. Take that, throwaway society!

Identifying the problem, it was pretty clear from bending the wire with the mouse plugged in that the break in the wire was very close to the mouse body itself.  I'd have to cut out the bad section of wire. Easy.

First, take apart the mouse. Most look pretty similar inside. A small circuit board with optical sensor, USB chip, etc., to which the USB wires are soldered, an optical sensor on the board. Couple of buttons, scroll wheel, etc.

repairing broken USB mouse cable
The exposed mouse guts. USB wire at top, sort of left
Next, cut off the bad part of the wire, desolder the end of the bad wire off the board, making careful note of the position of each of the colored wires.

repairing broken USB mouse cable
Newly stripped USB cable with color coded wires re-soldered
You might consider knotting the wire to prevent it pulling out of the mouse housing.  Now, strip the remaining good wire outer jacket.  Then individually strip a short section of each of the wires, and resolder to the board. Reassemble the mouse and you're set.

I didn't bother with the strain relief at the mouse body. A blob of RTV would work but I think it'll be fine as-is. There, that's all that it takes to repair a bad mouse wire!

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