The title of this post should say it all.  Ultimately, the byline should read something like: “If you mess this up, you may as well go and buy another KAOSS Pad”.

It took awhile to actually begin this step as I kept putting it off because it required the steepest learning curve.  After having completed it, the actual work wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Just take your time, and you should be okay.  Some of you will already know how to solder / de-solder better than you know the back of your hand, but that wasn’t me.  I began this exercise by watching several tutorials on YouTube.  I’m not going to type up a detailed instruction on soldering, as this subject has already been exhaustively covered in MANY easily accessible places.  Ultimately, I felt that I needed to just jump in and practice!

So I went to Radio Shack and picked up all the supplies that I would need (please excuse the political yard sign in the background of some of the images as this was the only protective work surface cover I had until I decided to get some handy cardboard).

Soldering Iron – $10.99 / 20 Watts

Note: I took a wild guess and bought some 0.022 solder to use for this project.  This turned out to be WAY too small, and ended up burning up before ever coming close to any components.  Take my advice, and purchase 0.032 sized solder.  You’ll save money on this mistake, as each spool ran about $5.99 (or about one half of the cost of the actual soldering iron itself).

Desoldering Iron – $10.99

This is an important tool as I needed to remove a tiny, proprietary, connector from the KAOSS Pad circuit board.  This tool acts as a vacuum to remove molten solder, once heated.  Again, search for tutorials on using this on YouTube.

Practice!

I realized that I had a few factors working against me:

  1. I had never even turned on a soldering iron before, let alone did I understand how to properly use one.
  2. For the actual exercise, I needed to work on an EXTREMELY delicate circuit board.  There would be no room for error, and a mistake here could end up costing me over $200!

So I decided to hack apart an old wifi router, and test solder some wires to its innards.  I figured this would be as close a test scenario as possible.  Better to mess something up here, than on the real deal.

Success! After a few attempts, I managed to not only solder the wire, firmly, to the PCB but I managed to make the joint (point at which the wire meets the board) very clean!

More success!  You may think I am getting a bit carried away, but remember, I don’t want to waste a $200 KAOSS Pad by trashing those delicate innards!
The Actual Work
Below is a picture of the work that needs to be done.  In the following picture, you will see a white ribbon cable connector that needs to be removed from the KAOSS Pad PCB.  This is the interface that connects to the clear ribbon cable which relays data from the actual touch screen.
The first step is to remove the wire that provides power to the “edge lit” numeric indicator on the face of the unit.  This is the screen that displays the program number that is currently dialed into the KAOSS Pad base.  This connector is stubborn, but I managed to delicately pry it apart using a kitchen knife.  

Now you may feed this wire through the back of the unit, so that you can remove the PCB completely from the metal chassis.  At this step, you need to desolder the white connector from the board.  Being a novice, and given the fact that I didn’t want to make any irreparable mistakes, it took me about 30 minutes to do this.  Once completed, you will be left with a white connector, whose purpose will be further detailed in a later post:

And you will also be left with a circuit board, sans connector:

The board is now ready to accept new connector wires, which will also be detailed in a later step.
All in all, if you are able to get through this step, then you should be very happy with your progress.  After having this hanging over my head for the last week, I decided to stop here, as I felt this was a major victory!

Feel free to let me know if you have done one of these mods, and you have an easier way of going about it than I’ve been painfully detailing!

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