Makerbot Replicator X Axis Ribbon Cable Upgrade

I’ve been the happy owner of a Makerbot Replicator for almost a year now. But I’ve started running into repeated problems with the X axis motor. Well not the motor itself, but the wiring harness that goes to it. The wires go through some flexing with every movement of the Y axis and with enough flexing, the copper starts to work harden and break. It’s definitely repairable but requires patience to find the break and the finesse to re-solder it and patch it up well enough.

My solution is to use a wire that’s meant to take a few million bends; A Printer’s ribbon cable.

The donor for this project was an old inkjet printer that had been relegated to the garage for the past 2 years. Inside was a 22 conductor ribbon cable, meant to last for thousands of pages and millions of flexes.

The conversion

 

The Ribbon is essentially flat copper conductors sandwiched between a plastic support, so soldering to the pads on either end is a bit of a challenge. For this attempt, I cut the wire down to 10 conductors and soldered 5 pairs of ends together while pinned flat to my workbench.

Makerbot Ribbon Cable 2

 

 

 

Once everything was soldered together and I amazingly enough did not have to use my spare 5th conductor I taped up the ends of the ribbon cable with some electrical tape to prevent any shorting that might occur.

Makerbot Ribbon Cable 3

 

 

The cable seemed to be just the right width to place into the original holders for the wiring harness. I wedged it in place and reinstalled the new hybrid harness. Just a few checks to make sure that I had the proper length that could move and I tucked the remainder of the new and longer cable underneath the machine near the motor drivers.

Makerbot Ribbon Cable 4

Repairing a Canon 5D

The Canon 5D is a beautiful Digital SLR camera that retailed for far more than I’m willing to spend on a camera when it was introduced back in 2005. Fortunately with newer generations of the 5D coming out, it’s price has dropped to something more reasonable, even cheaper if it doesn’t work.
I bought a Canon 5D about 2 months ago with the interest of outgrowing my little powershot. I knew it had problems, but I thought that I would be able to fix them. For the price and the included accessories, I didn’t think I was losing out on the deal even if it was irreparable.
I tore into the camera and found nothing out of the ordinary. I spent 2 days with it in pieces on my desk and couldn’t figure it out. To the camera’s credit, it’s really well engineered and is made to be serviced.
I decided to purchase a second used camera to see if I could trace out the problem. I should be able to sell the spare camera once I’m done and make back a reasonable amount.
Which brings us to today.

The problem with Camera #1 (on the left) is that aside from the top LCD, it’s completely unresponsive. I sat the cameras side by side and checked the differences in the top LCD.
(picture)

The idea here is that Camera #2 is a “known good”. Everything seems to be functioning as it should. By swapping parts between the two cameras, I can narrow down the problem. Rather than tearing down #2 and inserting known good parts, I will be inserting the unknown parts into camera #2 to confirm function. If suddenly both cameras cease to work, then I know that I’ve both found a bad part and that #1 has multiple failures.

The first thing to do once the rear covers are off is to swap them to check the rear LCD.Backs off
Camera #2 lights up. Both LCDs are good.

What about swapping the secondary board? I thought it might be the processor board, but that requires desoldering parts to pull it out.

A swap and camera #1 is still dead. #2 responds fine.

Darn. That’s all I can do without firing up my soldering iron. I have to carefully remove the shields on the center of the processor boards. Unfortunately, the solder that Canon uses seems to melt at a higher temp than what I normally use and it takes a little time, but I manage. I’m pretty sure that it’s the processor board. Apparently that’s known for failing and I can order new ones on ebay.

At this point, Camera #1 contains known good Rear LCD, Secondary board and primary processor board and still doesn’t light up. Camera #2 functions.
Well… Shit.

The next switch comes without much hope, but I have to take off the top of the camera to access the power board so I check the top LCD and don’t see a change.

About what I expected.Power Board Closeup
The power board has 2 soldered terminals leading directly to the battery. Since my iron was still hot, this didn’t take much time. However, I did have to spend a while with some solder wick to clean the thru holes for the terminals. Swap the boards, resolder the connections, flip the switch and…

Nothing changes.

Wow. That’s almost everything I can think of. The good news was that all of the boards that I thought could be fried are actually working. The bad news is that I still don’t know where the problem is and I have to go deeper.

I wonder if I can isolate some parts by just leaving some of those ribbon cables unplugged. As I have a “known good” camera, I can start unplugging things and see what happens.

If I remove the red and black power wires from the top of the power board, camera #2 shuts off and stops working. Replace that.

Unplugging the upper 3 ribbon cables on the power board causes 3 shutter clicks on power up. Interesting.
Camera #1? 3 clicks! This is the first sign of life I’ve seen out of this outside of the upper LCD.Now I know that it’s not a jammed shutter.

There’s one more large board in there that I haven’t gotten to yet. The DC/DC converter board. This one requires some desoldering and some finicky tight cables to get out. Of the 4 soldered wires, 2 of them go to the video out port (It’s a dual function board). Since it’s an open circuit anyway, I’ll leave them disconnected for the switch.

Another swap, some soldering and crossing my fingers.

Camera #1 is working! The rear LCD is on and the top LCD shows the shots left on the CF card. Can I hope that everything works?
A press of the shutter gives a very satisfying *clickit*.

So now I’ve found the problem. The DC/DC converter board is bad. Ebay shows replacements selling for about $80. Not bad. Not great, but doable.

Let’s see what burnt out. A little finessing with my soldering iron and the shield comes off.

I don’t see anything. I did absent mindedly flick off a little piece of loose solder from one of the traces, but nothing appears burnt or otherwise shorted. I do notice a few SMD fuses on the back and pull out my multimeter to find that F103 is open. It has a little “P” on it, but I don’t know what that means.

The fuse looks like a 0603 SMD fuse. 0603 is a standard surface mount size that I use for my own boards. It’s about the lower limit of sanity for DIY. A quick check with my calipers confirms the size, but the height is really thin.

I don’t have much experience with SMD fuses so I have no idea what the “P” stands for. Google turns up this forum (http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=85680) on ThinkPads where someone  traces a backlight problem to a “P” type fuse that looks exactly like mine. They suggest a Digikey part  LittleFuse part # 0467003.NR which leads me to the Datasheet. A “P” on the fuse means that it’s rated for 3 Amps.

Digikey is my go-to source for looking up electronics so I start looking for alternatives. It seems that the majority of 0603 fuses are much taller than mine and indeed the “Littelfuse Inc” part seems to be the best match. Now we’re talking $.94 for a replacement.

Let’s see if the fuse is the only problem before we get to ordering the part.

I carefully solder some small wires to either end of F103. Any larger wires would make me nervous about tearing off a solder pad from the board. On the other end of the wires I solder in a large 3 amp automotive style fuse.

F103 check

Soldering another fuse in parallel to Fuse 103.

 

Automotice Fuse Soldered in Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plug the board back in and it works! I’ve confirmed that the fuse is bad. Now to make a digikey order.