R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

R400/R500 series specific matters only
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Eto
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R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#1 Post by Eto » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:48 pm

I'm down to my last USB port!

The internal plastic tab(s) on 2 of my 3 ports have broken off and the metal contacts and are bent down! Luckily they are not shorted!

What is the best fix for this? are they a b!tch to replace ?

thanks eto

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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#2 Post by Saucey » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:01 am

I'd get an USB express card, maybe you got an evil USB thats destroying your ports.

I think the only way to save them is to soldier in new ones.
You'll need a heat gun to remove the soldier, then pry it off.
I was going to tackle the repair once, but finding the correct sideways USBs seemed like a pain, I wasn't sure if they were the correct ones either, because there are two together and one is single, the unit I was going to buy was for the T61.

Might be an easy way to add USB3 to laptop, not that it would work properly.
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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#3 Post by Eto » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:20 am

Thanks for the reply saucy, I googled "thinkpad r500 USB ports broken" and oh my god, this problem is more than JUST a little common, it's rampant across nine or ten different models(that I counted)!

I've seen some really sh!tty replies from Lenovo about this problem, mainly accusing the end user of abuse! In one hit from the google search, an IT guy at a large corporation got so P!$$ED at the attitude from Lenovo he swapped out 1000 Thinkpads and went elsewhere!

How is it possible that there are THAT many Neanderthals with that many different models of Lenovo Thinkpads, all causing the same problem?

Seems to me manufacturing went cheap (REAL CHEAP) across the board on alot of models on the selection of USB ports!

So now it's either surgery(assuming as you say if I can find or scavenge) with replacement USB ports or bite the bullet on a DOA motherbaord! I sure as hell aint buying a replacement working motherboard!

eto

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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#4 Post by Saucey » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:18 am

They are that bad?
I have a T500 that had the broken USBs, and a W500 that has one broken USB
So thats two out of the five I had bought, but maybe that was just coincidence.

There's always the USB express card option, I think they are usually two ports
At least they won't be the funky sideways style. :lol:

I am sure there are more users here to input their information, I was pretty tired last night.
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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#5 Post by emeraldgirl08 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:43 am

I've owned (2) T400 and (1) T500 and luckily none of them developed any broken USB ports. I can see how they would break easily due to a rather flimsy design e.g. lateral motion is too easily achieved which makes for easy breaking of the plastic tabs. I baby my machines too much so thankfully they did not develop broken USB issues. I do wish Lenovo had left the ports parallel to a horizontal plane e.g. the two right-side USB ports on the T61. That design seems stable and IMO more sound. Lenovo does make some questionable engineering decisions for sure :D
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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#6 Post by brchan » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:56 pm

As others have said, a usb express card would be a solution. These broken USB ports seem to be unique to the T400/T500/W500 models, since the vertical usb ports on T6x, T2x, and other series have no problems, but if they do, are isolated cases. The cause is most likely from poorer design, cheaper materials, or a combination of both.
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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#7 Post by Eric Giles » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:08 pm

I've had a couple of T400's that had this problem, as well as a R400. I ordered the replacement USB port assembly off of ebay and went thru the replacement process on one of the T400's. I have a decent amount of soldering experience and some fair desoldering equipment, but this was a tough job to accomplish. It took a lot of heat and MANY numerous attempts to finally get all the solder removed so that the old USB port would free itself from the motherboard. Speaking of motherboard, you have to fully disassemble the laptop to get the motherboard out of the bottom case to perform this.

Soldering back in the replacement is easy-it's removing the old one that's the time consuming part. I could probably do it in less time if I had to perform the same task again, but it still just takes a while.
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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#8 Post by Eto » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:45 pm

Even with solder wick or a solder sucker, the solder was hard to remove? hmmmm

I saw the replacement USB ports on ebay and it's only the pair you can replace!

anyway thanks for reply1

pclaptop

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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#9 Post by rkawakami » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:14 pm

I don't have a T400 yet so I can't say if this would work, but for many remove-and-replace operations I've had to do on printed circuit boards, I'd use a pair of diagonal cutters to first cut off the old/broken part and then unsolder each pin individually. This usually minimizes the amount of heat you have to apply and makes it easier to use a solder sucker and/or wick to remove the pin and clean out the hole (if through-hole) or the pad (if surface mount). There's no need to be delicate when butchering the old part; just make sure you don't do any collateral damage to adjacent components or the PCB.
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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#10 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:29 pm

+1 for the 'rough ride'.

I have had a number of T400/T500 and R400/R500 go through my hands, but none had any bad USB ports.
I have a spare R500 mobo lying around, and like Ray said, cutting of the damaged ports would be the easier way.
Both the double AND the single port are only held to the mobo by 2 supports each, plus 4 contacts per port.
Once the metal casings are gone, it should not be too difficult to remove the rest.
I have an adjustable soldering iron (150C - 450C) and at ca. 400C even the rotten RoHS solder soon looses its grip.
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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#11 Post by Eto » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:32 pm

Ok they say necessity is the mother of invention! Well my last USB port dies this afternoon! Panic set in! I was at a friends and just packed my R500 up in it's case and was considering cremation or direct burial! Arrggghhhhh!

Got home and serendipity set in . . . .

Temp fix: I had a Linksys USB 4 port hub (USBHUB4C) that only worked with XP (Linksys had no win 7 drivers for it, but you could buy a newer 4 port hub!)

Anyway cracked it open and removed one of the four little plastic blocks inside that holds/separates the USB pins!

I then straightened out any bent pins on my R500 (being careful to leave the little hump halfway up the pin) and inserted the plastic block salvaged from the Linksys PCB block!

Now I don't/didn't have any crazy glue To secure them permanently, but I wanted to check and make sure that this would work first with no problems. There's no shorts and data is flowing! I don't know if there's any drop in data speed (how would I test? Is there a USB benchmark proggie to see what I've got now?) but it seems like everything is OK with the exception (for now) that when I remove my USB devices 1)Wireless mouse 2)Memstick, the plastic block will come out as well!

That is only till tomorrow, when some crazy glue gets applied! Making sure the glue is dry before inserting any USB device! 8^)

I got to tell you this beats the hell out of cracking open the R500 case and de-soldering and all that that involves.

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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#12 Post by Saucey » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:28 pm

Man, what are the odd of that port breaking after you enquired about them!?

Well, at least you know what the long task it would bring if you'd ever want to replace them.
Hopefully you can have smooth sailing with that last USB port. :thumbs-UP:
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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#13 Post by Eto » Thu Jul 17, 2014 3:03 pm

Murphy's law, is how the last one broke so soon! It ain't easy being a Neanderthal!

Anyway the scavenged plastic USB "tombstones" from the Linksys worked quite well, going to crazy glue them in today.

It seemed as though the Lenovo plastic "tombstones" were made of a somewhat porous (if at all they were plastic) material looking like Styrofoam. The Linksys scavenged pieces were made of a SOLID white plastic that was a REAL b!tch to break off out of the USB hub!

Did Lenovo skimp on the solid plastic for weight loss? (how much could they have saved?) or did they use a material they already had in mfr'ing stores for another component!

Either way, I Rube Goldberg'ed all three, and all seem to be functioning fine, lets hope the crazy gluing goes as well!

thanks Eto

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Re: R500 USB ports dropping like flies!

#14 Post by rkawakami » Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:01 pm

My assumption is that Lenovo (or the manufacturing associate that actually built the motherboard) had a contract with a maker of the USB connector. As such subcontractors typically receive their business based upon the "lowest bid" premise, that's most likely why you are seeing a problem with those connectors.
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