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February 8, 2011 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Replacement USB cord and repair guide for MS Trackball Explorer?

My cousin has two MS Trackball Explorers. One is in need of a replacement USB cord. Does anyone know of a place to get the parts or the info needed to do the repair?
posted by mkb to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are only 4 wires inside a usb cable.

I would imagine that you could use any usb male cable, strip the opposite end if not already stripped, open the mouse, and replace what you see.

Is there something I'm missing?
posted by TomMelee at 11:24 AM on February 8, 2011

Is there something I'm missing?

USB cables are tricky to assemble. Some of the connections rely on having precisely matching impedance, so where, say a telephone cable needs only to have conductivity connected at each wire, the USB needs to have connectivity that is precisely matched. A bit more or less solder at the contact can cause it to fail, even if it is connected.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:34 AM on February 8, 2011

Hmm, ok. I've done several mouse/controller cord swaps/mangles and never had any issues.

Also, what's wrong with the USB cord? Is it nicked? Can you just splice it?
posted by TomMelee at 11:42 AM on February 8, 2011

High-speed USB can be fidgety about cable & connection quality; but mice are (almost always) low-speed USB which is simpler and less fussy.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:04 PM on February 8, 2011

A bit more or less solder at the contact can cause it to fail, even if it is connected.

No, a little bit of solder is not going to change the impedance to any significant amount. It is surprising how robust the USB interface is. You can have dangling wires, stubs, and test connections and USB works just fine.

If you are at all handy with a soldering iron you should be able to replace the cable as TomMelee suggests. Keep in mind that a mouse typically has a smaller diameter cable than the typical USB cable you find in the store so you might have better luck cutting the cable off of a discarded mouse to use for your replacement. The mouse wires are quite tiny but you should be able to do it with care.

The wires are color coded so just make sure you hook them up the same way. There are four wires -- white, green, red and black. There may also be a foil shield. You should not connect the shield to your mouse and make sure it does not short to any of the other bare wires. Take pictures of every step of your disassembly for reference. This seems like a good low cost project to sharpen your repair skills.
posted by JackFlash at 12:12 PM on February 8, 2011

Agreed with finding a donor mouse and using the cable as suggested above. The first thing I'd do though is open each device and take a look at how the cables are attached to the device. I've taken apart many USB mice and keyboards and the connectors are very often the same across models, brands, etc. They are usually a small 4 pin connector that comes out easily enough if you're gentle with it. It might be a simple swap of the cables. Just double check the order of the pins and size of the connectors (of course).

Sorry, I'm at work, so I can't play with a Trackball Explorer or other mice right now to see if the cables match. I can try to poke around my parts bins when I get home because I'm sure I have at least parts of a MS TE and another cheap model that you could use as a donor. Hell, I'll send you a cable if you like because I hack the devices for the controllers and encoders, and only keep the cables because I'm a packrat.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:39 PM on February 8, 2011

Sorry, it took me a bit to find time to dig through my junk, but I did have a MS Trackball Explorer and the USB cord on it is not soldered, but on a little plug. I also found that the MS Wheel Optical Mouse and a Dell OEM (by Logitech) mouse share the same connector. My model may be different than yours, but these mice are everywhere and can be had for very cheap or free, so it's worth a shot. I'll send you the cable if you want to MeFi-Mail me. It'll just sit in my box of stuff until I go through another purging session anyway...
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:55 AM on February 10, 2011

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