Nokia USB fireworks!

13 July 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in diary | No Comments »

Last week in Wrocław, Poland, I purchased a replacement charger for my Nokia 6120 Classic mobile phone, made by Global Technology. I had stepped on the wee little phone-side connector on the original charger some months ago, bending and breaking it slightly. It still worked, but was increasingly unstable since the mechanical aspect of the connection was very weak. After finding a cheap, new charger that worked, I offered the old one to a few people in the hostel where I was staying. Nobody wanted it, so it went in the bin.

Just a little while ago, I had the phone on the charger and went to connect the USB cable to my PC in order to do some high-speed file transfers, backup and synchronization.

USB cable connected to PC, I moved to connect the other end to the phone. As soon as metal touched metal — POW! A nice blue spark just a few inches from my eyes, an audible POP, and my PC shut down.



Investigated why the PC was down. Turned out my entire apartment had gone dark. So I called the administrator for the building and he helped me find the circuit breaker for my whole unit, since resetting the one tripped breaker by my front door did nothing. The lights came back on.

The phone still works, but it seems that the backlight on the display is permanently fried. The PC and peripherals seem OK.

Cracking open the new charger, I find the entire power supply section of the thing (visible to the left of Michael Jackson’s sainted chin) is fried. Nice smell of burnt electronics, charring and soot on the circuit board. The magic smoke has been released. I could probably fix this myself, but just getting yet another charger will be a lot less bother and expense, since neat tools like soldering irons got left behind in the US when I moved to Slovakia.


  • Connecting mobile phone charger to one mains power circuit, charger to mobile, PC to a different mains circuit, phone to PC via USB = potential fireworks.
  • Ask more questions when buying electronics in Poland.
  • Don’t trash your old charger straight away.
  • Get a UPS, you dummy.

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