Question I broke off the plastic protector and shielding from my USB 3.0 connection (on both mobo and case I/O cable) but still works. Fix it or no?

Feb 24, 2020
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Hello, I am new, apologies in advance if I get things wrong (feel free to correct terminology etc), Sorry I am bit anxious, this is my first time ever building a brand new computer on my own (my previous computers were prebuilt from the store or from family help), so I'm looking for help/advice on how to proceed with my particular situation. Note, I do have pictures to hopefully help illustrate my situation more clearly. I apologize in advance to moderators if I posted in the wrong section/please feel free to move my thread if needed.

Main issue: I accidentally broke off the plastic protector on my motherboard's 3.0 USB header pins AND also broke off the plastic shielding around the female cable end of my PC case's front panel USB 3.0 I/O ports. However, after carefully plugging them all back in, I was able to test and confirm that the front USB 3.0 ports were still functional and working. None of the pins looked bent on my motherboard (the prongs underneath on the now exposed female cable end for my PC case looked slightly bent on one side, see pictures below). I am however, concerned about whether this will have hazards in the long term. Should I be concerned and try to fix things? Or leave it as is?

Please excuse this crude MS paint drawing that I made, but I'm using it to hopefully illustrate how many "parts" I broke the USB 3.0 connection into.



Picture details (how this occurred):
  • I was trying to unplug the USB 3.0 female cable from my board because I wanted to change where the cable would be routed. I couldn't get it off initially so I tried to wiggle it left and right (I used probably too much force, unplugged it, but also took the plastic pin protector off my board).
  • I panicked a bit and tried to get the motherboard's plastic pin protector for the USB 3.0 pins, off of the female end of the cable. And that's when I broke the shielding off of the female end of the USB 3.0 cable, exposing the prongs underneath. But I carefully placed the (still connected) plastic pin protector and the female shielding back on to my motherboard's header pins and plugged the cable back in. Surprisingly, it still worked, as I was able to plug in a mouse and keyboard and install windows 10. The picture below is mine/my build
Other notes:
  • Motherboard is Asus Strix x470-F
  • PC Case is Corsair Obsidian Series 750D Performance Full Tower.
  • Again, the USB 3.0 connection between my front panel case to mobo still works, despite all the damage I accidentally did to it.
My main questions:
  • Should I leave the USB 3.0 connection alone, or try to fix it/replace it?
  • What possible hazards might I encounter if I leave it alone in its current state?
  • I have never RMA anything before (as weird as that sounds), but am I even able to RMA the parts in question? Or am I just screwed and I would have to buy new parts completely?
 
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My main questions:
  • Should I leave the USB 3.0 connection alone, or try to fix it/replace it?
  • What possible hazards might I encounter if I leave it alone in its current state?
  • I have never RMA anything before (as weird as that sounds), but am I even able to RMA the parts in question? Or am I just screwed and I would have to buy new parts completely?
I'm not sure you can RMA for a problem like this. You can try, but I'd be worried they may charge for a repair to get it back if they felt it was owner-induced. If you're OK paying that charge, that's your call since you CAN get along without those USB ports at all in a worse case since the ones on the I/O panel should still work. You can also get a (probably cheaper) USB 3 AIC to plug in an open slot.

If it works, just use it. Arrange the cable so there is no side-loading or pulling stress on it, close the case and leave it alone. Always remember it could come loose when you go inside to dust or replace anything. With proper precautions it should last as long as ever before. You might even be able to apply an appropriate epoxy or urethane adhesive to hold the parts in place so it can't come loose again. Done neatly it would look like it belongs that way.
 
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Reactions: pvtherman
Feb 24, 2020
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I'm not sure you can RMA for a problem like this. You can try, but I'd be worried they may charge for a repair to get it back if they felt it was owner-induced. If you're OK paying that charge, that's your call since you CAN get along without those USB ports at all in a worse case since the ones on the I/O panel should still work. You can also get a (probably cheaper) USB 3 AIC to plug in an open slot.
Ah thank you for the reply, I appreciate it. I'll admit, I'm a newbie when it comes to hardware and so I appreciate any advice/help that I can get.

Ah right that makes sense, I guess I'm at fault for breaking it so I should expect charges if I ask for a repair from shipping back to manufacturer. I can confirm that the computer did turn on so and I was able to install windows, so at the moment, I don't think anything else is broken on the board, which feels re-assuring. Sorry, I've never dealt with RMA process, so I wasn't entirely familiar with it.

If it works, just use it. Arrange the cable so there is no side-loading or pulling stress on it, close the case and leave it alone. Always remember it could come loose when you go inside to dust or replace anything. With proper precautions it should last as long as ever before. You might even be able to apply an appropriate epoxy or urethane adhesive to hold the parts in place so it can't come loose again. Done neatly it would look like it belongs that way.
Ah yes, I can confirm that the front USB 3.0 still work, despite my accidental damage.

May I please ask:
  • Are there are specific brands/products of epoxy or urethane adhesive that I should try?
  • I know this might sound silly/naive of a question, but when applying the adhesive on to the broken plastic, I assume I should try to avoid contacting any adhesive on the header pins or the exposed prongs on the cable? If a "worst case scenario" occurred and I accidentally got adhesive stuck on any pin or prong, would it cause the entire USB 3.0 to break/short circuit?
  • Alternatively, could I potentially use tape instead to patch over the connection? Any specific type of tape?
Thank you again for the re-assuring advice/help, I will try to be extra cautious about this connector. I've never encountered a connector that felt this difficult in removing before.
 
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  • Are there are specific brands/products of epoxy or urethane adhesive that I should try?
  • I know this might sound silly/naive of a question, but when applying the adhesive on to the broken plastic, I assume I should try to avoid contacting any adhesive on the header pins or the exposed prongs on the cable? If a "worst case scenario" occurred and I accidentally got adhesive stuck on any pin or prong, would it cause the entire USB 3.0 to break/short circuit?
  • Alternatively, could I potentially use tape instead to patch over the connection? Any specific type of tape?
....
The best adhesive I think you could use would be 3M Scotchweld 2216 b/a, gray. It's widely used in aerospace on electronics assemblies. It is somewhat costly, kits on amazon about $50 US, but the tube sizes are pretty big and unmixed it lasts a good long time, for many projects. Even longer if you store it in zip-lock bags and in a freezer.

First thing is to wipe the surfaces clean with isopropyl alcohol, so that all surface contaminants and finger oils are removed. No reason to worry about it contacting exposed metal contacts as it is safe but I'd try to just run a few small beads across the seam between the plastic parts to hold them together like stitching. You'll have to use your own judgement about where to apply and how much. If you don't like how it went on you can it wipe it off clean with more isopropyl alcohol before it cures; using a cue tip helps in small areas.

Follow instructions for an air cure.
 
Reactions: pvtherman
Feb 24, 2020
3
0
10
0
The best adhesive I think you could use would be 3M Scotchweld 2216 b/a, gray. It's widely used in aerospace on electronics assemblies. It is somewhat costly, kits on amazon about $50 US, but the tube sizes are pretty big and unmixed it lasts a good long time, for many projects. Even longer if you store it in zip-lock bags and in a freezer.

First thing is to wipe the surfaces clean with isopropyl alcohol, so that all surface contaminants and finger oils are removed. No reason to worry about it contacting exposed metal contacts as it is safe but I'd try to just run a few small beads across the seam between the plastic parts to hold them together like stitching. You'll have to use your own judgement about where to apply and how much. If you don't like how it went on you can it wipe it off clean with more isopropyl alcohol before it cures; using a cue tip helps in small areas.

Follow instructions for an air cure.
Ah thank you for the instructions, I greatly appreciate them!
Just a couple of extra questions:
  • I understand that the 3M Scotchweld 2216 b/a seems to be a top of the line epoxy and is a bit costlier as a result, but I'm just wondering if there are maybe more affordable acceptable options available? Is it realistic that I could find appropriate substitutes in say around the $20 to $25 range?
  • I forgot to ask previously, but is it okay if the epoxy or urethane adhesive were to touch the PCB? Not going to harm it? Could I also use it connect the pin protector back to the board? (if I manage to somehow get the pin protector and the female shielding separated)
Again, thank you drea for the guide/help.
 

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