AUKEY (CB-H5) USB 3.0 Hub Repair
I have an AUKEY (CB-H5) USB 3.0 hub that recently stated playing up after a few years.
This is a rather attractive hub as it has a heavy extruded aluminum case anodized in space grey, so I was rather reluctant to abandon it even though it has a tendency to cause radio interference around 2.4 GHz (a problem with many USB 3 hubs). The original connecting cable was thin, so I got a thicker cable that might have better radio shielding, but the problem persisted (it caused disturbance with my Wife’s wireless headphones).
My first thought as to why it was no longer working was that the issue might be with cold solder joints from the use of lead-free solder, so I opened it up (the screws are hidden below the side stickers) and found that the board itself was further glued into the internal slides of the aluminum extruded case and it took some care to remove the glue and free the board without damage.
The USB connectors on the bottom seemed to be suffering cold solder joints, which were hard enough to see with a strong magnifying glass and don’t show on the photo, and even then, I couldn’t be sure.
I was reluctant to add any new solder as that would have probably resulted in cross-connections, so instead I applied a generous amount of flux (Kester 186) to the connectors and reflowed each USB connection with a soldering iron. Although the flux was no-clean, I elected to clean the board with 91% isopropyl alcohol, being fortunate enough to have a small ultrasonic cleaner, although an old toothbrush would have been sufficient.
I didn’t feel the need to glue the board back in, so left that part out so I could later disassemble it more easily should that prove necessary. Fortunately, the original cold-joint conjecture turned out to be true, and the hub is once again dependable and hopefully will remain so for many a year to come as I believe the problem originated in manufacturing.
I actually have a second such hub (one for home, one for work) on which I preemptively performed the same procedure, anticipating the same issue not too far in the future. There is always the risk of doing damage when working on electronics, but I threw caution to the wind and was lucky enough that the second work went just as smoothly as the first.
This article was written by Anwar (Andy) Shiekh originally from London, England; he repairs things to help make an income go further and presently teaches Physics in Colorado, U.S.A.
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Note: You can check his previous repair article on Computer Mouse Repair (switch replacement)