Removing a ribbon from a circuit board.
October 21, 2013 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Trying to swap-out circuit boards between a couple of really old Quantum Fireball CXs in attempt to retrieve data from failed unit. Cutting to chase; how do I disconnect this, without damaging it. Muchos thankos!
posted by JABof72 to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Best answer: That looks like it's unlocked, just gently pull on the ribbon (soft nosed tweezer might help)
Those two tabs on the side will be flush when locked.
posted by Packed Lunch at 9:43 AM on October 21, 2013

Looks like you need to push the plastic tabs on each side of the ribbon down (towards the bottom left in the photo).
posted by ook at 9:43 AM on October 21, 2013

(Or else Packed Lunch is right and I have it backwards, of course.)
posted by ook at 9:43 AM on October 21, 2013

Response by poster: I pulled the tabs out like that, and gently moved it every which-way.
Will try pulling on the ribbon as Packed lunch suggested. I'm not at home right now.
Thanks for the help. ...never seen this type of connection
posted by JABof72 at 9:51 AM on October 21, 2013

Packed Lunch is right. Pull out the tabs as far as possible and pull on the ribbon. Those connectors do tend to stick a little bit even when unlocked, so try wriggling it side to side a bit.
posted by Behemoth at 9:54 AM on October 21, 2013

Response by poster: BTW the hard drive I bought to salvage it's circuit board, the whole connection is missing...pins and all (blank space where the pins were...). So I was wondering if there's a way to remove the whole assembly.
posted by JABof72 at 9:55 AM on October 21, 2013

The board will be removable, but likely not compatible. Sounds like it's a different revision.
posted by Packed Lunch at 10:13 AM on October 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks again PL. The boards are the same. The pin assembly has been removed from the replacement. The hole for the mounts are the same.
posted by JABof72 at 10:27 AM on October 21, 2013

It is hard to tell precisely from the photo, but it looks like this could be the type of ribbon connecter that "flips up" (to reveal the contacts of the cable lying flat). If so, there may be tabs, but instead of wiggling the ribbon after pulling or loosening the tab mechanism, try gently using a fingernail to push upward under the edge of the connector.
posted by aecorwin at 11:15 AM on October 21, 2013

Note that none of the white plastic is going to come out along with the cable. Put something long and thin like a small screwdriver underneath the cable and lever it straight out of that white fixture. It'll be flat with some connection pads on it.
posted by chazlarson at 11:20 AM on October 21, 2013


yes, you can successfully desolder a connector like that. you'll need a low wattage soldering iron and a good place to work.

ideal tools would be a small exacto knife, a spool of desoldering braid (also called wick), an illuminated magnifying glass, needle-sharp tweezers, some liquid flux (water cleanable), thin solder with no-clean or water clean flux or none, if you can find some liquid flux. (what city are you near? some of this is radio shack stuff, and some is more professional.)

my technique would be to put a few drops of flux on the pins, and starting from the position in your photo on the left, to run down the entire length of the pads with wick, changing it often to suck up the majority of the solder. then, starting again from the left, and with the iron held in the left hand, heating each pin while having the exacto blade under it. when the solder melts, rotate the blade to gently lift up the pin just enough to clear the board. hold it there while it cools off...1-2 seconds. move to the next one. if you do it gently, the connector can be removed.

to reinstall, clean off the receiving board's pads using wick, apply a few drops of flux. put a dot of solder on the left most pad AND the right most pad. melt the left pad while holding the part and place the pin exactly on the pad. easier than it sounds. once you are satisfied with the perfection of your position, move to the right most pad. when left and right pins are perfect, the rest should line up. solder them. clean off the flux.

i've been doing this stuff for decades. for me, i'd allocate maybe 45 minutes to an hour, but i have all the stuff. a noob, a few hours and a 10-25% chance of success without killing the connector or making a mess of the recipient board. if you have to buy all the stuff i listed, it is questionable that the effort makes economic sense. is there a tech school close by with an electronics department?

BTW, the pix you shared shows the ribbon ready to be pulled out. genlty pull it and it will come out. when you put it back together, insert it HARD all the way in and push those tabs back in. (they should be OUT when inserting the ribbon.) that stuff is capton, I think. very strong plastic. high tensile strength and super stable. that's why they use it in those applications.
posted by FauxScot at 12:52 PM on October 21, 2013

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