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A friend has a USB flash drive on which the SMD USB connector broke off. When it broke, it pulled the pad traces off the board with the solder. We are trying to think of a way to reconnect the traces long enough to recover the data on the drive. We thought of filling the gaps in the coating where the pads were with solder, but one of them has an indentation that I am afraid would make solder flow onto a nearly adjacent component.

Any ideas for making a temporary connection?

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Using small wires where the PCB traces used to be is probably the best option.

There are even professional standards about how to do this kind of rework:

http://www.ipc.org/4.0_Knowledge/4.1_Standards/7721-chg2.pdf (The last page of the document seems very relevant to your question.)

Note: I still have a SONY Walkman (tm) where the battery had leaked and an entire pin of an IC got eaten away. I fixed it by carefully milling away the IC's housing until I was able to solder a tiny wire onto the IC's bond wire. The Walkman is still good as new.

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Flexible wires is probably one of the safer options.

Conductive epoxy exists but seems overkill here.

Silver filled track repair compound exists - expensive, somewhat fiddly to use (doesn't conduct when wet - needs material to dry and settle for silver particles to make contact)

Copper tape with adhesive backing exists. Used for window tapes for alarms and fake leadlighting as I recall.

I'd try flexible multistrand wires. Fasten connector in place with adhesive of your choice and run wires from connector to suitable points. You could probably have wires long enough - a few 10's of mm - to run them from a USB connector to the PCB without the two being joined.

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I have used small 30 AWG wire in the past successfully for broken traces.

Typically you just need the proper tweezers and small tip on your soldering iron to solder 30AWG wire to PCB traces.

Trying to reflow solder between the broken traces is very difficult and usually fails.

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