With an increasingly busy and fast paced lifestyle, many people have less time and money to devote to easily preventable problems. A broken DC jack, whether it be the one on your laptop, tablet or any other portable device, can be a pain to replace and leave us without a means to get work done or relieve stress. Luckily, there are many ways to avoid this costly problem. Before we explore the preventative measures we can take to ensure that DC jack breakage doesn’t ruin our day, let’s explore what a DC jack is and how it is designed.
A DC jack is the part of an electronic device that accepts a direct current that is then used to power and charge the device or its battery. Generally, it consists of an outer jacket that is connected to ground points and an inner tip that accepts a positive electrical current. These points are then soldered onto the main circuit board of the device. They allow the current to flow from the positive connection, through the device and then back to the ground connection, thereby completing the circuit and powering the device. When a jack breaks, the positive, ground, or both connections have detached from the main circuit board and are now preventing the completion of the circuit.
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There are several reasons a DC jack is susceptible to breakage. By design, a DC jack creates a lever when plugged in. Any slight force applied to the far end of the adapter plug is magnified inside the jack and can cause a break. Due to RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) standards, the solder that attaches the jack to the circuit board is now made without lead. Lead made the connection that was formed more flexible whereas new lead-free solder is more brittle and easier to crack. This, coupled with the physical design of the jack, makes it incredibly easy to damage the connections inside the device.
Understanding how a DC jack is designed and what contributes to breakage can assist in creating habits that limit damage to the component. Removing the adapter plug gently can avert an accidental break. When resting a laptop on your thighs, avoid putting constant pressure on the adapter. Investing in a lap desk can not only limit this risk but also aid in cooling through proper airflow. These are only a few examples of many best practices when handling the components that power your livelihood and leisure.