Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Blackberry and the pavement.

I recently learned an important lesson about Blackberry cell phones. They don't necessarily survive an impact with the roadway at 50 miles per hour. Of course I suppose I wouldn't expect them to.

"How did I discover this?" you may ask. I have the wonderful gift of being forgetful, and I left my Blackberry on top of the car while driving to work. I was lucky that I at least heard it falling off of the car, just to see it skip off the pavement a few times before careening off into the grass on the side of the road.

I turned around, not actually sure at the time what had fallen, but on the way back, I checked my pocket and figured it out. As I walked up to the phone, I noticed it had come out of it's case, but it looked intact. The case was lying about 10 feet away. When I first picked it up, I initially thought it was okay, minus the road rash. I later discovered otherwise.

Everything seemed to work, but it was obvious that the factory headphones which had been plugged in to it were garbage. The phone probably would have been alright if not for that, because the headphone connector was pretty well messed up. The plastic housing had cracked and one or more of the contacts on the board had possibly come loose. Now the phone doesn't seem to be able to tell if headphones are plugged in or not - it keeps switching back and forth from the internal speaker to the headphones.

I decided I might be able to fix it at least well enough to get it to work, so I bought a T5 screwdriver from Menards and went to work on it. After completely disassembling the unit and closely inspecting the jack, I couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. I assumed some of the contacts were shorted due to the shattered plastic housing, but I couldn't tell where. After a few hours of probing, re-assembling and disassembling again to no avail, I decided it was time to just pop the headphone connector off of the board. Surely that would fix any shorts in the connector and at least allow me to use the phone.

Wrong. The phone still can't seem to determine if headphones are connected or not. I even tried using a bluetooth headset, but the uncertainty about the headphones causes the phone to continuously try to switch inputs. Right now I'm of the opinion that of the 6 contacts inside the headphone connector, there must be some that are normally closed when nothing is connected, but I haven't been able to determine which ones yet, as the board contacts are very difficult to get to when the phone is assembled enough to power on. Eventually I will probably solder some leads onto the board to allow me to do some further testing.

For now, I've found someone selling an unlocked T-mobile G1. I've wanted a G1 for a while now anyway. I met with him last night, but we couldn't get it to work with AT&T. After some research, apparently there was an APN setting that needed to be changed to use the AT&T data network, because he apparently has it working now with an AT&T SIM, so we'll try again soon I hope.

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