Tuesday, March 08, 2005

How to clean your Nokia cellphone.

I am no longer having problems with my Nokia phone ever since I decided to do something about it. No, I did not throw my phone out the window.

What I did was buy a set of screwdrivers for my phone. I can build my own computer, I built our office's network from scratch, why can't I do something about this phone? So, that's what I did. For those of you with Nokia 6610 cellphones I am going to tell you how to disassemble and clean your phone.

Disclaimer: The following worked for me. I do not guarantee you will not break or damage your phone. If you break your phone, you get to keep the two pieces. Also note that opening your phone may void the warranties on that phone.

Still here?

  1. You will need the following:
    • A set of star screwdrivers for cellphones. The points of these screwdrivers are shaped like stars that's why I call them star screwdrivers. I bought mine from ACE Hardware. Just ask the
      friendly attendant to point you to the correct set of screwdrivers.
    • A one-inch wide paint brush, the kind used to paint walls. I bought mine from the local hardware.
    • Also, see if you can get an ear syringe from a drugstore. The drugstores near our place don't carry them but ear syringes are balloon-like contraptions that can be used to blow dust away. You must blow dust away from electronics using blowers. Do not use your breath to do the job.
    • Plenty of cotton buds.
    • A jar of the cleaning fluid carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), (you can get these from drugstores or specialty shops). If you don't have CCl4, rubbing alcohol will do. Select the brand that has a plenty of real alcohol instead of water.
    • Brimfulls of belief that cleaning your cellphone is not something that you need to pay P500 for. You can do it yourself and save that money for your next load.
  2. Let's
    begin. First turn off your cellphone and remove the case and the key pad. This is quite easy to do. You don't have to remove the battery. Just make sure that your fingers are not damp that they can potentially short some very sensitive components.

    When cleaning your phone, make sure that the battery does not fall off. It's not catastrophic if that happens but you will then need to reset the phone's setup again after cleaning it. That's a lot of work to do for the sake of cleaning so just support the battery with one of your fingers whenever you turn the phone over.

  3. Turn the face of the phone towards you and you will see the LCD display on the top half of the phone and the keyswitches at the bottom half. The LCD screen is sensitive so be careful that you don't damage it.

    Notice that the keyswitches are very very thin! Despite that,
    they are very reliable and hardly need replacement. When the 6610 is having keypress problems, the switches are not the culprit. The problem lies elsewhere.

  4. Get the paint brush and gently brush away the dust that has accumulated along the edges of the phone and the keypad. Brush the case clean too while you're at it.
  5. The LCD panel is sensitive but you need to brush the dust away from that too. Be careful that you don't touch the screen and accidentally leave your fingerprint there. There is a rubber gasket that surrounds the LCD panel and if you are not careful during brushing, the dust could accumulate under the edges. If you got an ear syringe or blower, use those. I prefer to use the brush, however.
  6. If your 6610 is not having any keypress problems then you are finished. Replace the keypad and the case and turn your phone on again! Smell the pine scented aroma of a newly cleaned cellphone!

If your cellphone is having keypress problems then you need to continue with the next set of instructions.

  1. Along the sides of the face of the phone you will see six star screws. Count them. Those screws hold the keyswitches and the LCD panel faceboard to the backplane of the cell phone.
  2. Select the correct size screwdriver and loosen the six screws slightly. One-half turn will do. That is how you remove or put screws. Do not remove screws one at a time. Instead, you strive to remove the screws at the same time so that the pressure the faceboard exerts on the backplane is even.
  3. After you have turned the screws one-half turn, loosen the screws again, one-half turn at a time, going from one screw to another until all the screws can be removed. Put the screws someplace safe where you can't accidentally sweep them away with your elbows or arms or shirts. I always put
    mine in a small jar.
  4. The faceboard should now separate from the backplane very easily. Be careful with the faceboard as it is very fragile. You crack it, your phone's gone.
  5. Surprised by what you see? There's almost nothing there isn't it? That's right, there is nothing that is even remotely repairable in a cellphone like the 6610. If a component is broken it is replaced, not repaired. Many cellphone repair shops are fraudshops preying on the gullible. Aren't you glad you are cleaning your phone on your own?
  6. Peer under the faceboard somewhere below the back of the LCD and you will see very short, hair thin, gold-plated contact wires sticking out like the myriad feet of a millipede. The achilles heel of the Nokia 6610 is right there.

    If you follow the place on the blackplane where the little wires go, you will see small goldplated pads where the wires are supposed to make contact with. The contact
    points are so small that a little tarnish or oxidation is enough to break the contact between the faceboard and the backplane, hence, leading to keypress problems.

  7. Moisten a cotton bud in CCl4 or alcohol and gently clean the wires and the contact pads. Do this gently and carefully. Make sure that you don't leave cotton fibers or waterstains on the pads and the wires. Clean the wires with an upward sweeping motion rather than a brush your teeth like motion. Remember that it is the ends of the wires that need to be cleaned as that is the contact point with the pads.
  8. After you are satisfied that you have cleaned the wires and the pads, replace the faceboard on the backplane. There is a small recess at the top of the backplane where contact points from the LCD screen are supposed to go. Make sure that they are properly fitted.
  9. Put the screws in one at a time and turn them slightly so they will hold. Do
    not tighten any screw until all the screws are in place. Remember to tighten the screws at the same time.
  10. Do not over tighten the screws as this will damage their threads. Tighten them just enough so that the wire and the contact pads are really in contact and that the screws don't fall out while the entire phone is jiggling in your pocket.
  11. Replace the keypad and the case, turn on your phone and enjoy the P500 you just saved cleaning your phone.


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