There was a time not so long ago when a mobile phone dock was nothing more than a glorified plug that helped to keep the phone upright and easy to use while it was being recharged. If one of these docks required rewiring, it was often less costly to buy a new one than to repair the dock. However, today many smartphone docks do more than just recharge the device. Since a smartphone is basically a mobile phone plus a digital music player plus a personal digital assistant, the docks designed for use with them may contain speakers and even connectors for keyboards and monitors that can turn the smartphone into a mini-computer. A good quality smartphone dock is not necessarily a simple or inexpensive piece of equipment. So, if a smartphone dock that is past its warranty period starts to have problems, it is often worth it to repair it rather than replacing it. It doesn’t end there, however. Once the tools and parts have been sourced, why not build a creative smartphone dock from scratch? There are so many creative design ideas out there, it allows the speakers to be selected separately, and the wiring is fairly straightforward. Alternatively, rig an existing dock for a new phone.
Where Can a Smartphone Dock Go Wrong?
Most smartphone docks contain a plug that allows the smart phone to stand upright so that it can be used both like a landline phone and as a music player. Many docks have integrated speakers. When a smartphone dock stops working, it may lose power, lose audio, or fail to charge the phone. On the phone side of the equation, the dock connector at the base of the phone may become damaged and need to be replaced.
A Few Tips
Always search for the specifications and schematics for the smartphone or external dock that needs repair before purchasing any tools or parts. That can help guide the exploratory disassembly of the phone or dock and help to pinpoint the problem. Always take notes or photos to document the disassembly process so that it will be easier to reassemble the dock. Lay out the connectors in the same pattern that they were placed within the assembly, if possible. In any case, find a way to keep track of where they came from. They are probably not all identical. Always make sure that anything that touches the electronics is properly grounded.
Tools That May Be Needed
Working on a smartphone or on a dock requires a set of tools designed for working on modern electronics. The most obvious type of tool needed is a set of miniature screwdrivers or screwdriver bits. Check the dock, or better yet, look up its specifications to find out what types of screwdrivers are needed. Many electronics use unusual screwdriver bits and are impossible to open up with the type of standard mini-screw driver sets that most people already own. An anti-static cuff or pad is also a necessity. Never open up a piece of electronic equipment without proper grounding. It is far too easy to zap the electronics with a bit of stray static electricity, and that can ruin the circuits for good. Most people find that they need something to help them handle the tiny parts that make up a smartphone dock. Three-pronged grabbers can be helpful, and a good pair or set of tweezers is invaluable. Make sure that at least some of them have tips small enough to insert into small spaces.
Replacement Parts for Smartphone Docks
Replacements for the charging ports on the bottoms of smartphones are easy to find and fairly straightforward to install. The dock attachment on the phone is a part that needs replacement commonly enough that the tools and replacement parts needed are available for all of the popular brands and models. In order to find replacement parts for the external dock assemblies, which actually recharge the smartphone and often have audio speakers as well, it may be necessary to find an identical, broken unit to use for parts. Some repairs can be made with a basic knowledge of wiring and common parts. For example, if the electrical charging mechanism or the power supply to the speakers has been interrupted, a straightforward electrical repair may be all that is needed. Other repairs require specialised parts; for example, the component that the phone attaches to needs to match the phone’s docking configuration. Similarly, if the dock’s casing is damaged, then an identical casing will be needed to replace it, and that may need to come from a non-functional dock that is being sold for parts.
Creative Ideas for Smartphone Docks
After exploring the available selection of smartphone dock replacement parts, it is easy to see how an entirely new dock could be constructed out of parts. It is a project that many people have taken on, and the results can be unique, stylish, and very functional. Try an image search to find ideas. Search the web for instructions on how to turn an auto’s ashtray into a smartphone charger. Hobbyists have constructed smartphone docks out of logs, bamboo and lumber. A ceramic bowl can act as a natural amplifier for the smartphone’s sound system. A steampunk dock design can take a piece of twenty first century technology straight into the nineteenth century. With a little design ability and a lot of imagination, a smartphone dock can become an impressive home audio system, a sculpture, or a creative, stylised piece of pop art. Why not design a double dock disguised as a toaster or an audio dock that works with a surround sound system?
Buying Smartphone Dock Replacement Parts and Tools on eBay
eBay is a good site to visit when seeking replacement parts and tools for smartphone docks. Its global reach and the large variety of merchants who use it guarantee a good selection and competitive prices. The step-by-step route to the smartphone dock replacement parts starts on the eBay home page, with Electronics and Technology, which is located in the left-hand menu. From there, click on Mobile & Home Phones and Mobile Phone Accessories. Then, select Other Mobile Phone Accessories from the bottom of the left column and check Replacement Parts. From there, just type "dock" into the search field and press enter. From there, it is possible to specify the type of part needed and the phone model. Another option is to try an advanced search for "dock repair" that encompasses the entire Mobile & Home Phones category. This will bring up some dock parts that have not been catagorised as replacement parts under Other Mobile Phone Accessories. To find a dock similar to the one that needs repair to strip down for parts, go to either Audio Dock and Speakers or to Mobile & Home Phones, scroll down the left column, and check For parts or not working under Condition. Then, select the dock’s brand and model. To find the tools needed to work on a small piece of electronic equipment like a dock or a smartphone, search for "tools" under Mobile & Home Phones for the largest selection. For a selection with a full range of options in the left column, use the Tools selection under Replacement Parts & Tools in the Other Mobile Phone Accessories menu. Of course, there are many other categories and searches that might turn up the right parts and tools. If they are proving difficult to find, then try a few more searches.
Fixing a dock, whether it is the dock connector on a smartphone or part of a charging or audio dock assembly, is something that can be done at home with the right parts and the right tools. It is only a small step from there to designing a creative, original dock from interesting casing materials and standard functional parts. Whether the goal is a simple repair or a unique and sculptural piece of technical gear, replacement parts and tools along with good instructions, a set of specifications, and a solid background knowledge of electronics can make the process straightforward and fun.