I took the stock Motorola Xoom dock (the cheaper one, not the speaker dock) and modded it to provide a USB link to the PC. The mod does not destroy the dock, but it does render the audio-out jack unusable until the mod is reverted. I don’t care about audio-out on my dock, but I do care about being able to drop the Xoom in the dock and have it connected to my PC so I can transfer files easily. Here are the steps and photos.
- Pull off rubber bottom gently (save it)
- Remove plastic liner covering screw holes (too sticky to re-use and not necessary)
- 6 x Torx T6 gets the bottom off
- Couple more screws get the USB holder off the inside (remove the metal bracket and pop the USB connector out from the other side):
- Using a utility knife, remove the plastic sheeting around the microUSB side of your least-favorite cable (the one you’re OK destroying to make this work). This was the hardest part, since mine had hot glue around where the wires are soldered to the microUSB port. But you need the wires to bend at a 90-degree angle right where the solder points are so you can fit the dock back together. Make sure it fits into the slot on the dock and goes in as far as the original. Leave the old wire and bracket inside for future use. I taped the 2 bracket screws together and left them inside as well so I don’t lose them. There is room inside the dock for all this stuff if you put it together carefully.I should note at this point that I did not use the existing (or fashion a new) bracket to hold the plug and wires in place. The cable I used had a long enough jack assembly that when the wires were bent at 90 degrees to fit them back into the inside of the dock, they hit the bottom of the dock perfectly when it is screwed in. This prevents the Xoom from pushing the cable down when docked.
- Drill a hole in the back of the dock (I routed it out of the top edge so I could slip the USB cable through as it was going together and didn’t have to cut the cable and re-splice later).
- Dremel the metal prongs on the microUSB male connector so it slides in and out of the Xoom easily (both sides).
- This is how the new cable fits in the dock with the wires coming out at 90 degrees. Doesn’t look pretty, but you don’t see it from the outside and it works.
- Put the dock back together carefully (test the cable first, then test again with only one T6 screw so you know everything works).
- Carefully re-stick the rubber bottom.
You can undo this mod easily (with the exception of the small hole routed in the back of the dock) to restore the original functionality of the dock and the audio port. Also, you can use a USB OTG host cable if you want to make the dock into a keyboard dock, since the Xoom supports wired USB keyboards out of the box.
As far as mods go this one was pretty easy; the hardest part was cutting the rubber coating off an old microUSB cable without damaging any of the wires or solder points. The whole thing took perhaps an hour and that’s because I worked very slowly (and stopped to take photos along the way).
If you can’t find a cable end connector that fits into the dock and you don’t mind splicing some wires, you could just cut the USB cable inside the dock and splice in your own cable. You would need to carefully observe the wires (not sure if it’s safe to rely on color) to be certain you are hooking things up correctly, and undoing the mod would be more difficult, but it is another option.
(also published on AndroidCentral on May 5, 2011)