Questions re Clip+ with frayed battery wire

After my Sansa Clip+ accidently went into the washing machine, I left it on a sunny window sill for a couple of days and then left it in a bag with silica gel dessicant packets for about a week. At first it seemed to be working fine, but it began to power-off at random when I listened to it while moving around. After reading posts in these forums, I tried resetting, reformatting and updating the firmware. The problem persisted, so I opened the case and discovered that one of the battery wires (the black one) has a small section where the insulation is gone and all but one of the wire strands are broken. I was careful opening the case, so I think this happened when my Clip+ was knocked around in the wash. I may or may  not be able to find someone with the skills and tools to fix the battery wire (that would not be me).  In the meantime, I have a Clip+ that does work when it is plugged into an AC charger, so I hope to continue using it that way.

Here are my questions:

  1.  If I use the Clip+ in this condition with an AC charger is there any risk it will overheat and catch fire or explode?  

  2. Is there a way to update the firmware on a Clip+ that only works when plugged into an AC charger?

  3. Is there a way to install RockBox on a Clip+ that only works when plugged into an AC charger?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.

You’d probably need to use a phone USB charger to update the firmware or install rockbox. I don’t think the sandisk firmware will let you run off of USB without going into USB mode. Fixing that would actually be pretty easy though. Just solder in some replacement wire and heat shrink over it.

Perhaps my brain is a bit hazy today, but can’t you still plug the player into your computer via USB, thereby getting both power as well as a data connection, so that you then can update the firmware and add Rockbox?  It seems to me that the only thing you’re losing, without a repair, is the battery for power.  (And even there, you always could plug in to the player’s USB port an external battery pack for power on the go.)

Of course, with the price of these critters, you also could find a replacement at times for $20-$25.  And, as noted above, you could resolder the battery connection or even use conductive glue to glue what is left of the cable to the battery.

Thanks for the reply, saratoga. I would have considered replacing the wire an easy fix when I was younger, owned a soldering iron, did not have arthritis in my hands, etc. These days, not so much.

I do have a USB AC charger that allows me to power the Clip+ and play MP3 files without connecting to a computer, However, the instructions for updating firmware seem to require (1) connecting the Clip+ to a computer (to get new firmware file) and then (2) disconnecting the Clip+ from the computer without powering down (to install firmware). I was lucky enough to be able to do this once, but the frayed wire makes the connection to the battery unreliable, so I can’t count on the Clip+ staying on when I disconnect it from the computer. Usually it does not stay on. So I’m wondering if there is another method for updating firmware that does not require disconnecting from the computer without powering down.

Ditto for installing Rockbox.

Perhaps I am the one with a hazy brain, but I have not been able to install Rockbox and I’ve been assuming this is because I’ve not been able to keep the Clip+ powered on after disconnecting from the computer.

I might be able to manage conductive glue. Thanks for the suggestion!

Hmmm, an interesting quagmire.  How about, if your computer permits, attaching the player to a computer power-always-on USB port (if your computer has that), transfering the firmware, and then shutting the computer down?  The data connection will be broken so the firmware then can install, but power still will be getting to the player.  Likewise, you could try leaving the computer on but breaking the data connection internally within Windows (by right-clicking on the Clip drive and ejecting it or using the System Tray’s Safely Remove Hardware command, or using the Device Manager)–I’m assuming that the power still will flow.  Or you could attach the Clip to an AC-powered USB hub attached to your computer and then disconnect the hub from the computer after the firmware has been put on the player. 

As odd as these suggestions sound, they might have a chance of success–I especially like the middle options (ejecting the Clip via the computer’s software). 

I suggested the AC adapter because you should be able to use that to boot the player without going into USB mode or using a battery. That would allow you to update the firmware (which is actually how rockbox is installed). Haven’t tried it on the clip, but it does work on some older Sandisk players.

I appreciate the creative suggestions. After considering them, I have not yet escaped from the quagmire, but I think I have learned some things.

First let me explain that I have a Motorolla AC charger that I can use to power on a Clip+ (and also recharge it). When I connect my Clip+ to that, it comes on in the normal way so that I can play mp3 files, change settings, etc. However, I can’t use this to update the firmware or install Rockbox because after transferring the necessary update files to the Clip+ via a computer connection, I have to break the computer connection – which causes the Clip+ to turn off – before I can connect it to the AC charger. And it seems the Clip+ must be disconnected from the computer without being turned off in order for the update to install.

I also have the cable that came with the Clip+ that can be used to connect it to a computer. When I use this cable it seems to keep the Clip+ in a “connected” state no matter what I do.  I’ve tried connecting the Clip+ to the computer with this cable and then breaking the connection in a way that keeps power flowing to the Clip+,using everymethod suggested, but the Clip remains in the “connected” state and thus will not move on to installing the update.

Interestingly, the Clip+ also goes into the “connected” state when I use the Sansa-provided cable to connect it to a powered USB hub that’s not connected to any computer. I’ve tried two different powered USB hubs and gotten this result both with my defective Clip+ and with a brand new Clip+ I just purchased. However, when I use this same cable but plug the USB connector into a simple AC adapter, it starts up in the normal playing mode just as it does when I use the Motorolla AC charger.

The one thing I haven’t tried is using a non-Sansa cable to connect the Clip+ to a powered USB hub – but I doubt that would give a different result.  I’m thinking the only way to update the firmware (or install Rockbox) on a Sansa that’s unable to run from the battery would be to run the USB connection to the computer through a switch that could be used to disable the connection for the two data pins while leaving the connection for the two power pins working. I’m not going to be the one to build such a switch :neutral_face:

So I guess my next step will be to get some connective glue.

I have figured out how to do it.

It turns out that on the USB plug of the Sansa-supplied cable, the pins for power are slightly longer than the pins for data. So after copying the firmware file, I backed out the USB connector a little at a time until I got it to the point where only the power pins were engaged. This triggered installation of the firmware.

I was then able to use the same technique to complete the install for Rockbox. So now I have Rockbox on my Clip+ and I can play it using the AC adapter. Hoorah!

Congratulations!!!    :)  :)  :slight_smile:

I was going to suggest your method in my litany above, but didn’t recall that the data pins are slightly shorter.  Also, when thinking it through, I just didn’t think that the cable could be backed out just enough so that the data connection was broken but power still flowed.  Kind of like microsurgery–you’ve found a new vocation (assuming that you’re not a surgeon already)!

Enjoy having the player back, working!