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Restore an iPhone 3G/3GS with an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Apple challenged the mobile phone industry with the iPhone 3G/3GS. Packed with a higher resolution than its predecessor, this iPhone model offers graphics that are clearer and more crisp making it perfect for gaming purposes. Endless wireless connectivity is also offered by this device with its 3G and WiFi capabilities that keep users perfectly in sync with business or world news while at play. With these features, it is important to keep your iPhone 3G/3GS well maintained to perform at its best. This includes cleaning your phone's printed circuit board (PCB) with an ultrasonic cleaner for increased functionality of your device.

iPhone 3G/3GS can take a lot of abuse including being left out in the rain, dropped in the soup or otherwise rendered inoperable. Unless your iPhone 3G/3GS is irreparably damaged, it can most likely be restored to operation in an ultrasonic printed circuit board cleaner. With the same technology used by printed circuit board manufacturers, ultrasonic circuit board cleaning quickly and safely removes contaminants from the delicate components in your iPhone 3G/3GS.

Here you will learn:

  • How an Ultrasonic PCB Cleaner Works
  • How to Select and Set Up your Circuit Board Cleaner
  • How to Disassemble, Clean and Reassemble your iPhone 3G/3GS

How Ultrasonic PCB Cleaners Work to Restore Your iPhone 3G/3GS

Ultrasonic cleaners from iUltrasonic are used in a wide range of applications to remove virtually any soil or contamination by using the power of cavitation action. This is the term used to describe the implosion of billions of minute bubbles contacting iPhone 3G/3GS PCB components and surfaces. The bubbles are created by generator-powered ultrasonic transducers bonded to an ultrasonic cleaning tank and typically operate at an ultrasonic frequency of 37 to 42 kHz (37,000 to 42,000 cycles per second).

When the bubbles implode contaminants are quickly and safely removed from PCB surfaces without damaging delicate parts. So tiny are the bubbles that they penetrate minute cracks, crevices and blind holes that might lodge dried residue, dust and dirt particles. The ultrasonic PCB cleaning system will complete the job in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. And it will do it in an environmentally friendly manner because the ultrasonic circuit board cleaning solution formula is a biodegradable concentrate that minimizes disposal problems.

How to Select and Set Up your iPhone Circuit Board Ultrasonic PCB Cleaner

Ultrasonic PCB cleaners come in a variety of sizes from bench top units to a floor-mounted industrial ultrasonic cleaning machine, so you can select any size you need. Our most popular models for cleaning iPhone 3G/3GS circuit boards are the ¾ gallon Elma EH075EL and 1½ gallon Elma EH150EL. You should select an ultrasonic PCB cleaner equipped with a frequency sweep function, such as this Elma Transonic, to prevent damage to sensitive components during cleaning. Choose a model also equipped with a heater to improve the ultrasonic cleaning process.

Whatever the model and size of ultrasonic circuit board cleaner you use there are steps to take before cleaning begins.

  1. Fill the ultrasonic cleaner tank to the fill line (or approximately 2/3 full) with ultrasonic cleaning solution such as Elma tec clean A1 diluted 1:20 with water.
  2. Turn on the ultrasonic cleaner, set the heater to approximately 50°C, and operate for about 30 minutes to drive off cavitation inhibiting entrained air. Degassing is complete when bubbles stop coming to the surface and must be performed every time the tank is filled with fresh circuit board cleaning solution.

How to Disassemble, Clean and Reassemble your iPhone 3G/3GS

Step 1: Disassembling your iPhone 3G/3GS

The first step in dismantling your iPhone 3G/3GS is to remove the SIM Tray. You may use the SIM removal tool provided in the phone kit or a paper a clip to poke through the small hole found on the upper part of your device. Now,take the cover off of your iPhone by removing two screws at the bottom. Use a small screw driver for easier removal. Next, use a case opening tool to loosen the covers starting from the area where you took out the first screws.

Once opened, there are three cables holding the circuit board in place. Note that all cables are numbered from one to three to help you remove them in the same order. The third one may be a little tricky since it is pushed in and not merely pushed down on the connector. You also have to lift up a small white tab at the back of the connector to about a 45 degree angle for the ribbon to slide out. Set the top cover aside and focus on the other half of your iPhone which contains the circuit board.

Next, remove the remaining cables numbered 4, 5 and 6 in the same order to release the circuit board. These cables are just pressed on the surface and can be easily removed. Carefully pulling each up will loosen their connection to the circuit board. Next remove seven screws using a small screw driver. Take note that one of the screws is under a label that you’ll have to pull up for access.

With a case opening tool, gently lift the circuit board from the bottom assembly. Note that utmost care should be given when lifting the mother board since the camera is still attached to its bottom part. Carefully lift the connector near the camera to release the mother board. Once this is done, your iPhone 3/3G circuit board is now free.

You now hold in your hand, your iPhone 3G/3GS circuit board.

Congratulations! You have successfully removed your circuit board from your iPhone 3G/3GS! You may now proceed with the next step.

Step 2: Cleaning the Printed Circuit Board

Set the PCB ultrasonic cleaner’s thermostat to 50°C and activate the Sweep mode. While the solution is heating, place your PCB in the basket. If you are cleaning more than one at a time take care that they do not touch each other. Once the operating temperature is reached lower the basket into the cleaning solution and set the timer for 10 minutes. Cleaning time depends on the condition of the PCBs and may have to be adjusted.

At the end of the cycle remove the components from the ultrasonic bath. If they are not clean replace them in the bath until the cleaning is complete. Then rinse them in distilled or deionized water to remove all traces of the cleaning solution and avoid water spotting. Dry them with an air blower or warm air dryer.

Safety note: DO NOT reach into an operating ultrasonic bath. Instead remove the basket if you want to inspect or rearrange the parts.

Step 3: Reassembling your iPhone 3g/3GS

Once your circuit board is clean, you are now ready to put it back in place. The first thing that you should do is reattach your iPhone’s camera on the bottom part of the board. When you put the board back into the lower cover of your device, make sure that cable number 4 is positioned at the bottom while cable 5 and 6 are on top to let it slide in easily. Starting with cable number 6, reconnect the three cables in reverse order. Make sure that the clip which holds the camera is properly placed on the mainboard before screwing it back in. You may start replacing the seven screws once the mother board is fitted perfectly on the back cover to hold it in place.

Next, connect cables 3, 2 and 1 in this order before snapping the LCD assembly or the other half of your iPhone 3G/3GS. You may now put the two screws at the bottom of your device back in place. Lastly, reinsert and lock the SIM tray back.

Admire the piece of work you just put back together.

Voila! Start your device and your iPhone 3G/3GS should be good to go.

More Operating Tips

Any contaminants that rise to the surface of the bath should be skimmed off and disposed of properly. When the circuit board cleaning solution becomes discolored or cleaning takes longer it is time to replace it. Drain the tank and dispose of the spent solution according to local regulations. Take the time to remove any material that settled to the bottom of your ultrasonic cleaning machine. Clean the tank using a cleaning process recommended by the manufacturer.

Questions: Contact the iUltrasonic ultrasonic cleaning experts at 973 821-4400

Disclaimer: This advice is not provided by a licensed technician. Follow at your own risk. We assume no liability for any damages caused by following the advice in this article.


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