Robotics engineer Ken Pillonel, who recently gained fame for creating the world’s first USB-C iPhone, has shared how he managed the feat in a video on YouTube.
Pillonel converted an iPhone X’s Lightning port to a working USB-C port using his own custom-built hardware.
At the start of the video, he explains the basic idea was to miniaturize a Lightning to USB-C cable and a USB-C female to female connector.
The walkthrough includes the detailed steps that Pilonel followed to first create a proof of concept and then downscale his solution to fit in an iPhone.
A significant challenge was reverse-engineering Apple’s C94 connector to get the schematics he needed to make his own PCB.
Apple’s official C92 connector board uses underfill, making it difficult to disassemble the connector without damaging it.
Fortunately, Pillonel learned that Chinese techies had managed to recreate working C94 connectors, which he imported in bulk.
By using this solution, he was also able to get the required schematics and share them with others without infringing Apple’s intellectual property.
He disassembled the C94 connectors and performed continuity tests to determine the schematics.
He then recreated a flexible and thin PCB board design with precise measurements that could fit into a small gap in the iPhone between its battery pack and the Taptics Engine.
Finally, he had to increase the hole for the USB-C port to fit and then 3D print a custom mechanism to support it so that plugging in a cable would not damage the port.
The entire project has now been open-sourced, with the KiCad PCB schematics and 3D printing designs available on GitHub, for those who want to attempt modding an iPhone X themselves.
Pillonel is also auctioning the modified iPhone X on eBay.
At the time of publication, the largest bid was $3,850 (R59,252), and there were still 8 days left to place an offer.
Below is the full video explaining how Pillionel managed to create his USB-C iPhone X.