Thursday, August 22, 2013

Roku 3 enhanced remote number two: repair

My second Roku remote has broken.  This is my replacement Enhanced Remote that Roku sent me under warranty.  About one month of use on this remote, and it has failed in the same mode as the first one did.  One of the antenna modules has fallen off, because the solder joint failed.

I posted on the Roku forums stating this is a design flaw.  Internal parts shouldn't fall off.  Some of the forum veterans replied, saying that they haven't heard of any failures like this.  I'm glad to hear that, because it wouldn't be good for anyone if this was a common problem.

Rather than ask Roku to replace it again, I've repaired it myself, shown in the pictures below.

In the second picture, I am showing the component staged before soldering.  I have soaked a piece of solder braid with solder.  Next I place it in contact with both solder lands on the board.  I added some paste flux, and then put the antenna in contact with the lands as well.  I heated the braid, which heated the lands, and hopefully the antenna leads as well.  Then I slid the antenna into place before the solder cooled.

In this third picture, you can see the reworked component, and a small bit of the lands extending out.  This took me about three tries to get an acceptable solder joint.

Next, I coated the board with silicone conformal coating.  I wish I had thought of a better solution though, because my goal was to make this an "indestructable"  repair.  I would have liked a stronger reinforcement like epoxy, since my solder job is probably not very good.  I would like the remote to last a decade if needed.  For example, my kids have been using the same single Wiimote since 2009.

The remote works, and probably will stay repaired.  The first remote would have continued to work as well, except that the loose component may have shorted somewhere, because that one stopped working altogether.

In conclusion, I still think that this particular design and manufacture process is flawed, regarding the attachment of these antennae.  It's also possible that my kids mistreated the Enhanced Remote, although I have taught them to be careful with things.  Either way, the company shares some responsibility when a solder joint fails.  Please share with comments if you have had internal parts fall off any handhelds, including phones, GPS, remotes, Wiimotes, calculators, etc.

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