Hacking away with Android pt 5 – insides of the Archos 32 and photos of LCD screens

Posted on November 18, 2010

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At the beginning of November 2010 I dropped my Archos 32. Due to the impact the power switch was dislodged. As the warranty is usually only valid for hardware failure due to construction faults I decided to take it apart.

[Update, April 2011] It seems I am not the only one with this issue. If your Archos 32 does not switch on (and you did not drop it as I did) please contact Archos for your warrenty. It seems that my issue is not an isolated incident but a factory error. I added a step by step process to take the Archos 32 apart, based on memory if you want to do it yourself. Also drop a comment below so we build up a list.

[Continued] If you are a hardware hacker, I think you will like these pictures as a starting point.

Each photo has a resolution of roughly 1024 x 600 pixels, so feel free to click on them to see them “full size”. They were made with the Canon Ixus 210.

Related posts

Taking apart the Acer Travelmatesee the insides of the Acer Travelmate and some close-ups of the screen that will be my first Do It Yourself portable Touch Screen

Hacking away with Android: A series of articles to discover the possibilities of the Android hardware and software for productivity, hardware hacking and cluster-computing

Taking the Archos 32 apart

You will void your arrenty!

Everything falls or stands with your patience and your ability to solder if you want to do a DIY repair on your Archos 32:
– First to disconnect and re-connect the flatcable of your touch screen
– Second to re-attach the power switch.

I recommend you to contact Archos. If you did not drop it or damage it, but simply used it, it falls under your warrenty.

These are the steps if you do want to do it yourself (but it will probably break your warrenty):

  1. Slide open the metal casing on the back. It is very much like the back panel of a phone, but you need a bit more care and force.
  2. Disconnect the touch panel flat cable (see photos below) by using a soldering iron (I tore it / broke it)
  3. Carefully slide out the package consisting of the screen / battery / mother board
    1. Take care – As the Archos tablet is very compact this will require some care
  4. Solder the power switch to the mother board
    1. Pointy tip – You need a soldering iron with a pointy tip for this.
  5. Test your repairs before you put the package back in
  6. Use sticky tape to position the plastic part you use to switch the Arhcos on and off (see photos below) 
  7. Slide the package (motherboard / battery / screen) back in
  8. Close the casing
  9. Test it again – It should work again

Archos 32

Archos 32 - beauty shot (by Archos)

Archos 32 specifications

From Archos:

Dimensions & weight :

  • 105 x 55 x 9 mm – 4.1” x 2.1” x 0.3”
  • 72 grams – 2.5 oz

Processor:

  • ARM Cortex A8 at 800 MHz with DSP
  • Graphic accelerator: 3D OpenGL ES 2.0

Interfaces:

  • USB 2.0 Device
  • USB 2.0 Host: Mass Storage Class (MSC) and Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP)
  • Composite output5 (via headphoe jacket)

Now: let’s take it apart.

Archos 32 insides

Archos 32 - dislodged power switch

This photo shows you the dislodged power switch. It was not properly soldered to the mother board and the little kick it got when it hit the floor was enough to disconnect it. As the drop broke it by my fault and damage from the drop was visible on trhe casing, the factory warrenty is void. So, as there was nothing to lose and curious about the insides I took it apart.

Archos 32 - bottom cover, mother board and screen, power button, top side

This photo shows the three main parts when you take the Archos 32 apart. I forgot to disconnect the flat-cable of the Touch Screen and consequently it ripped.

Bottom side of the Archos 32 - headphone jacket, microphone and micro-USB

Archos 32 - angle shot showing bottom and power and volume switches on the side

Archos 32 - Bottom view on the mother board

This is where you really can see how tiny it all is. What I hold between my thumb and fingers is the entire processing unit including WiFi unit, the 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8, 8GB internal Flash memory, Bluetooth and (highly probable) the GPU. The objects on the photo are about 2x the real size.

Side of the Archos 32 - LCD display flat-cable and connector, repaired touch screen cable (4 wires)

Side of the Archos 32 - open connector clamp, disconnected touch screen flat cable

This image is about 4x the size of the real thing. The flat-cable of the LCD screen is held by a tiny white strip that presses the cable against the connectors on the bottom side. By opening it you can easily release the flat-cable.

For some reason they did not use this for the Touch Screen and I accidentally broke the cable. The previous photo shows that cable in repaired state.

On the left hand side, the three wires are visible connecting the battery to the motherboard.

Archos 32 - battery, bottom side of the mother board, camera

Again you can see how small the processing-area is. It is the area covered by the silver block: that very likely shields the processing unit(s) from radiating and receiving electromagnetic-waves. (Due to radio-sources around and the signals moving through the CPU). Visible as well is the camera and the connectors of the camera to the mother board.

The real thing is about half-size of this photo.

Archos 32 - working again

Right after I re-attached the power switch I tested the Archos to see if I did not kill it entirely. It still worked.

I had plans with the hardware, in case I could not repair it to be returned to its original state: repackaging it. Then again: the housing given by Archos is quite efficient and compact.

When making this photo I noticed the moire-effect on my camera display, leading to a next set of photos.

Photos of LCD screens

Archos 32 - detail of screen

Archos 32 - same photo, detail

As this made me curious, I made screen shots of the Samsung Galaxy, the iPod Touch (G3) and the LG 540.

Samsung Galaxy - close up of LCD screen

The Samsung Galaxy uses the same type of display, with a higher resolution.

iPhone Touch (G3) Screen

iPhone Touch (G3) Screen

The pixels look square.

Finally I took pictures of my LG.

LG 540 - close up of screen

The “moire-effect” is actually the pattern they show on the home-page.

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