Replacing Raspberry Pi's SD card slot and building a custom SD to MicroSD adapter

Like any good geek, I have a Raspberry Pi. A few months ago, its SD card slot broke and the SD card couldn’t be held in place, leaving my Raspberry Pi useless (since the operating system lives inside said SD card). This isn’t something new to Raspberry Pi owners.

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I looked for a replacement part, and ordered one on Ebay (from UK, of course). Here’s a good tutorial on how to desolder your old SD slot and solder the new one.

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But being pragmatic as I am, I decided to tackle the disease, and not only palliate the symptoms.

The SD card slot on the Raspberry PI isn’t ideal. It leaves most of the SD card outside of the PCB, prompt to being bend or forced. The SD slot being made of plasic does not help either.

I understand the free space on the PCB is limited, but an alternative part, with the same footprint, but made of steel like the one below would have been a wiser choice.

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Creating a custom, smaller SD to MicroSD adapter for Raspberry Pi isn’t new. Hell, there was even a Kickstarter project for that. But I wanted to build my own.

Before opening Eagle (The “Photoshop” of PCB creation software), I Googled to see if anyone had done it before. Bingo.

I downloaded the Eagle project, generated the gerbers using this unofficial OSHPark Gerber Cam Job and sent them for manufacturing at OSHPark.com. 3 PCBs costed the astounding figure of 3$ (One dollar each, but you can only order multiples of 3 for each PCB on OSHPark).

Gerber files are like the compiled bytecode of electronic boards. It’s what the PCB creation machine needs in order to build your PCB.

OSHPark.com is a very useful service, where you upload your gerber files, pay depending on the size of your board, and receive professionally manufactured boards a few weeks later. This is a big deal for makers since having your boards built in very small quantities has historically been very expensive.

There was only one component left to purchase, the microSD holder. It had to be one that matched the footprint of the PCB. There aren’t too many of these things so I easily found one that fitted on Ebay.

After a couple of weeks you should have received everything. It’s only left to carefully solder the MicroSD slot to the PCB, and try it. This should be the final result:

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P.S.: I have a couple of spare adapters. If you live in Madrid and want one, the price is a coffee :).

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