Friday, July 12, 2013

How to Repair a Broken Raspberry Pi SD Card Slot

The SD card slot on the Raspberry Pi is easy to break. A four foot drop, SD card first, on a hardwood floor turned my brand new Raspberry Pi into a doorstop. I had ideas of duct tape, hot glue, and bubble gum before deciding that replacing the SD card slot shouldn't be too hard if I could find the part.

As expected, finding the right SD card slot turned out to be the hardest part. Toby Electronics in the UK carries what appears to be the exact part but the cost of shipping to the Detroit area is almost more than the cost of two new Raspberry Pi model B’s. I couldn't locate another supplier for the OEM part, but I was able to locate a part that could be made to work from Digikey (less than $10 for two including shipping).

I like this card slot a little better than the OEM part. I think it's going to be more robust and it fits both of the Raspberry Pi cases I have, the Adafruit Pi Case and the Adafruit Pi Box. Adafruit also makes a micro SD card adapter that would have prevented the thing from breaking in the first place, but it doesn't work with the cases I have.

To replace the SD card slot on a Raspberry Pi you'll need the following items:

Soldering Iron
Flux Pen
Solder (Lead-free solder is harder to work with but less toxic. The choice is yours.)
Solder Wick
A Well Ventilated Area or a Fume Extractor
Würth Elektronik 693 063 020 911
Valcon 412D02F-09PC003-SV SD Card Slot (OEM Part)

The old broken SD card slot has to go. Use solder wick to suck the solder off of the pins and mounting tabs. Try not to put too much heat into the pads as this can cause them to separate from the PCB.

Remove and discard the old, disappointing, SD card slot. This is easier said than done. Anyone with some electronics experience should have no problem removing this part, but if you're new to this sort of thing, go slowly.

Once the majority of the solder has been removed with the solder wick, it should be easy to pry the old socket away from the board. Start by heating the mounting pads with the soldering iron and prying the socket away from them one at a time. Only lift the socket enough to separate the feet from the pads.

Starting on one side, gently pry up the socket... heating and de-soldering the pins as you go. Once the old socket has been removed, clean up the pads with your iron to even out any little solder messes.

The new SD card slot, Würth Elektronik 693 063 020 911, isn't an exact fit for the OEM part. The plastic alignment pins do not line up with the holes in the circuit board. They need to be removed to allow the card slot to lay flat on the circuit board.

The pinout isn't exactly the same either. The two card detect pins (on the right in the picture below) need to be bridged as they are not present on the new slot. A little extra solder does the trick.

Use the flux pen to put a little flux on the pads on the PCB. This extra flux will help draw the solder in between the pins and pads. Line up the pins on the new socket with the pads on the board starting at the left side in the picture below. Solder a couple pins to hold the SD card in place. Finish soldering all the pins and the mounting tabs near the edge of the PCB. Finish the installation by bridging the card detect pins with a little solder.

The Pi's back!


  1. If you can't wait for the replacement slot to be shipped, that's an instant fix: cut a 17mm x 5mm piece of an old credit card and glue it with superglue on the brocken bar. Be careful with the switching contacts, use the glue sparingly.

  2. To reduce the heat put into the soldering pads when getting rid of the broken slot, cut the pins with a cutting plier. Unsolder the socket from the Pi and then the rest of the cut pins.

    Buying a single spare socket could be more expensive than a buying a complete USB-to-SD-Adapter and disassembling it.

  3. Replacement socket:
    £1 shop / dollar store USB/SD card reader should be a prime candidate for harvesting the SD card socket from.

    Upgrade the fix:
    use a short length of IDE ribbon cable (or similar - whatever's to hand) to make a flexible connection between the replacement socket & the board. The replacement socket (with card) can be folded back under the board, in it's case so that it no longer sticks out the side, vulnerable to knocks and bumps.

    1. Good idea about the pound shop sd reader, Never thought of that...

  4. This worked great for me. The part from Digikey has a metal sleeve, which will be more durable than the oem part. Removing the broken slot with cutting pliers facilitated removing the old solder pins.

  5. Excellent choice for replacement part and great write up! Based on this information I was able to replace the broken SD card slot with the DigiKey metal reinforced replacement. This is a clean and reliable replacement. I live in the USA and ordered it Sunday night and it arrived first class mail the following Wednesday. I would only add a few details from my experience. To ensure that the pads on the board will not be lifted when heating the pads add solder before using the solder wick. Solder also has flux in it and will easily get the existing solder to flow and then allow all of it to flow into the solder wick. If the solder is removed from the main left and right sd slot mounting points at the edge of the board first an exacto knife can be used to lift the plastic sd card slot at the edge of the board up off the board. Not as I intended lifting slowly left those mounting pins in the board (with all other sd connection pins still in contact) and were pulled out of the plastic sd card as I lifted up (maybe due to heating those mounting pins). I was than able to use a pair of pliers to catch those pins after again heating them with the soldering iron. After that I very slowly and gently continued to lift the sd card bending the existing sd card connecting pins up. At that point starting from one side I cut the pins and worked my way to the next. After cutting only two or three pins I was able to pull (carefully) the entire old plastic sd card slot off of the rest of the pins and making it easier to add more solder to each pin and catch each pin with the pliers until they were all removed. Then I went back with the solder wick and cleaned up each pad. Definitely want to emphasis that over heating a dry pad (or a pad with only a little solder on it) will almost surely take the pad off of the circuit board. If you do not want to attempt to pull the old plastic sd card slot away from the pins than just cut the pins all the way through before removing the pins off of the board and cleaning up the pads with the solder wick.

    1. techtonic, I'm good to hear that you were able to repair your Pi. You make some excellent points in your comment that some may find useful.

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