iPhone Fixed!

My iPhone 3g Front Panel Repair Kit came in the mail just two days after I ordered it from iFixit, complete with tools and proper ESD-safe packaging!  As soon as I got home from skiing I set right to work.  The instructions on the iFixit guide are very clear and complete with several pictures for each step.  The process was incredibly easy with the included spudgers, metal and plastic, as well as a thumb-screwdriver for those pesky, tiny screws, custom cut adhesive tape, and the all-essential suction cup.  I took just a few pictures to begin with, but towards the end i was really wrapped up in not breaking anything I didn’t dare stop for photos.  The repair went something like this:

  1. Turn the iPhone all the way off.
  2. Remove the two screws on the bottom and suction-cup the screen off the base, hinging it along the top connector harness.
  3. Carefully disconnect the 3 display assembly cables from the device with a spudger and set aside the expensive part.
  4. Unscrew the 6 screws holding in the display, set that aside.
  5. Painstakingly slowly heat the edges of the touch glass along the top and bottom plastic mounts to melt the adhesive and remove the panel.  This step took 4 hands, my Aoyue 852A++ rework station, and a spudger, and about half an hour to get the bulk of the panel off.
  6. The broken corner and bottom presented a real challenge because I had to wedge out each shard with tweezers.
  7. Scrape off all the remaining adhesive.  This took 15 minutes of scrupulous cleaning.
  8. Apply the fresh adhesive strips to the frame.  This looks harder than it is so long as you go slowly.
  9. Press in the new front panel and hold each corner for 60 seconds, per iFixit instructions.
  10. Reassemble everything following these steps backwards, dusting and polishing at every move to eliminate all possible contaminants.
  11. Turn it on, hope it works.

Between steps 10-11 there was lots of effort to get all the connectors aligned, remove all dust when replacing the screen, and heads scratching when the home button didn’t work.  As we soon found out, the button relies on the device being completely assembled and closed to have the necessary mechanical contact with the phone body.  All in all, a pretty smooth repair that was actually quite fun.  It feels like I cheated Apple or something, and my new front panel has no dust spots, scratches, smudges, or fingerprints under the glass.  Plus it’s gloriously shiny and smooth!

And now onto the iPhone case project.  I’ll eventually get around to this one, but the main premise is that if I must have a case (fine, dad) then it will be the case I want.  Criteria:

> Charge the phone, talk/use time is horrible, 1-1.5 days.
> Provide a micro-USB port instead of apple’s proprietary connector, fewer cables to carry.
> Thin.  I hate bulky things in my pockets.
> Geeky!  Clear case, anyone?
To accomplish this, i need a connector for the iPhone, a micro USB connector, LiPo charger, and 4 batteries all embedded into the case.  The iPhone 3g measures 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.5″ thick, and 1/4″ is my maximum case thickness.  Allowing room for a backing of 1/16″ material, that gives me internal dimensions of approximately 4.5 x 2.4 x 3/16″.
As for batteries, i have found some 600mah single-cell LiPos for $3 at HobbyKing.com that are 50 x 30mm and just over 3/16″ thick.  To give a comparison, the internal battery in the iPhone is 1140mah.  Using four of these cells together, I can achieve 2400 mah in a space of 3.9 x 2.35″, leaving about a 1/2″ at the bottom for the charging and interface PCB.
The PCB must have a 5v boost converter, the MCP73833 LiPo charger, and a micro USB port for charging and communication grafted to the Iphone connector.  For materials, I’m thinking a heat-formed clear acrylic about 1/32″ thick.
Total cost should be around $30-$40.  Sounds like fun, right?  Well along with the MicroQuad, Touch Table, Nation History Day’s aggressive deadlines, a second LENSE launch, I don’t have enough time.  Add “time machine” to that list.
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