Repairing the Miniscule: How to Fix a Printed Circuit Board

Your laptop may be a Sony VAIO, an Apple Mac, or a Samsung ATIV. Your television may be from LG, Panasonic, Phillips. Your cellular phone may be a Nokia Windows phone, Samsung Android phone, or an iPhone that runs on iOS. But what all of these electronics have in common, in spite of the differences in brand names is what is inside of all of them. The electrical components that make up your technological devices are, more or less, the same, perhaps with only slight differences in the design, and the one thing that holds these components together is called a printed circuit board, or PCB.

A PCB is a thin copper plate etched with the wiring design of the device. The electrical components are then mounted and soldered on its side or sides, depending on the type of PCB required for the job.

pbc-manufactureMany hobbyists, technology geeks, and students of computer science find a satisfying experience in doing their own Pcb assembly or manufacturing their own PCBs from their own home. This gives them the chance to test their skills first-hand. Even amateurs can join in, as there are many links on the Internet that lead to instructions on how to do your own Pcb assembly.

But what happens when the printed circuit board on your electronic device gets fried?
Think you can fix it? Well, most likely, the answer is no.

Creating your own printed circuit board is relatively easy, but fixing it is an altogether different story. In most cases, bringing your device to a repairman or the brand’s repair shop is the most logical move. But if you, for some reason, want to try your hand at fixing a faulty PCB, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Assess the damage, and figure out a way to fix it. This will determine the materials you will need, as well as the level of difficulty of the task. Common damages to printed circuit boards are loose electronic components and faulty traces. If you are hazy on the damage but still want to fix this on your own, direct your query at forums specializing on electronic equipment. It might also help to study the Pcb assembly, or how this certain PCB was made, to determine where the fault lies. If you are the one who conducted the Pcb assembly, retrace your steps to know exactly what went wrong.

Have all needed materials at hand. This means buying a soldering pencil and a digital multimeter, which will serve as your weapons for this task. Depending on your damage assessment, you might also need other tools, such as non conductive epoxy and a razor knife. If you are unsure where to purchase your materials, go online and ask for referrals.

Get fixing. Once you have done your damage assessment and gathered all the materials you need, it is time to start the repairs. Find a desk with a good height, as well as a bright light source. This will give you a better view while you work. Do not forget to exercise caution, especially if you are using volatile chemicals, such as acid.

When you think you have got it right, reassemble the device. Test to see if your handiwork was effective. Or, better yet…
Bring your device to a repair shop. Because, really, unless you are experienced in this field yourself, there is very little chance that you will be able to fix your electronic device correctly. It is always best to consult an expert. But if you are doing this to study the intricacies of electricity and electronic devices, by all means, go ahead.