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Broken Trace Repair

In this post I will share a repair I did for a client out of California.

If you are not very careful when taking apart your graphics card, you might accidentally damage the delicate copper traces on the pcb, or knock off some components. I noticed that knocked off smd components is common on 10 series founders edition cards as they have proprietary screws that require a mini hex socket, which people usually use pliers to take off, and end up slipping on the screw heads and into the pcb.

In the case of this customer, they had a gigabyte 2080 ti water-cooled card. and they had accidentally made a gash in the pcb knocking off a 0402 size cap, ripping the pad, and also ripping apart 4 the pcie traces. Unfortunately the first few pairs of traces for the gpu are important because they enable pcie 1x to work, which is required for pcie 4x, 8x and 16x to work. So this card would not boot.

First I had to clean the area up, and see the extent of the damage. to see what traces are damaged. So i very delicately scraped the areas of the traces that were intact, and tested the continuity.

In blue you can see the damage done by the customer, and the red circled areas are the test points i made to probe the traces. I knew that the two pairs of traces on the right are for defiantly severed because I inspected them upclose with a microscope.

Once I verified the only broken traces were the two pairs on the right, I got to work. for an hour strait I painstakingly aligned and soldered 30awg x 1mm long wire and soldered both ends of the traces. I remember what was hard about this process was that the two pairs of traces were really close to each other, and merely touching another fixed trace with my soldering iron would knock it off. So I had to be careful and fix them from left to right. This took the most time of this repair. I had to restart the fix 2 times but I feel confident that I am way better at this kind of repair because of the experience I got from starting over twice but being successful in the end.

In the picture above, the red circled areas are the scraped off areas of the traces which I did on purpose. This was to test the continuity of my repair, and verify that the bridged traces I made work. And they did.

The blue circle is customer damage, but I deemed that not to effect the trace in any way so I let it be for the next step.

The last step was to cover the area in a solder mask, its basically a glue type substance that will cover the exposed metal traces and keep them from oxidizing or being physically damaged again. The solder mask is a resin, that is cured by uv. I use a 405nm near UV laser pointer I made to cure this resin.

This is the end result. The customer has confirmed to me that the card is back in working order.