How I hacked the HP Mini Mobile drive port to be a normal USB port

So I got my hands on an HP mini 1000 last week. Not bad for $250 at Best Buy, although it has needed some help, namely:

- External USB hard drive - I got the Mini 1000 that comes with a 16 Gb SSD, and want this to be my primary computer (I'm not a gamer, just web surfing and *occasional* video editing). I bought a 320Gb Buffalo Mini Station, for about $60 at Microcenter.

- 2 Gb RAM - already had a stick, free for me (otherwise $20), easy to pop in.

- USB to VGA adapter - HP has a nice proprietary VGA port, to which they didn't have an adapter for a long time (6 months or so)....now, the adapters exist, but they're out of stock. I bought a USB to VGA adaptor at Microcenter for about $70.

- External DVD/CD Burner - Got a nice one, about $50 at MicroCenter.

With all these toys, though, I wanted more USB ports. And there of course is the silly HP Mobile Drive port, which I found by searching online is just a USB port, recessed in. There are reports online that the drive is the same as a Transcend Jetflash T3. Well, that's all well and good, but I wanted the USB port itself, not the drive.....(remember, I bought a 320Gb external drive already!).

I want to be able to, say, charge/sync my iPhone while burning a DVD and having my disk connected.

So I set out to see if I could mod it. Turns out, I could! Here's the finished product:

For reference, here's the section of the computer that we'll be working with:

I took off the battery, unscrewed the 2 screws that hold the keyboard in, and popped the keyboard off. Here's what it looks like -- the bottom part of the picture is the keyboard, upside-down and resting. The first step after this is to unstick the white tape that is circled in this picture:

Now, with that off, unscrew the two screws circled. Lift the black bars for the SSD hard drive connector, also circled, so that the cable is freed:

Now take the disk drive out. There is a tricky corner (or maybe it was tricky for me because at first I didn't actually do the previous step, separating the cable from the drive to the motherboard). Tricky corner is circled:
OK, here's what it looks like. The usb port is recessed, and in fact as we'll see later, all that black plastic is just dead space, presumably so you won't be able to use the port normally and have to buy a special drive:

The black plastic contraption is stuck on with an adhesive film. This picture shows how I lifted it, with a small screwdriver pulling up on one of the corners:

Here's what it looks like upside-down. You can kind of see the adhesive film in the lighter parts of this picture. Unscrew the 2 screws (circled) that hold the USB port to the black plastic holder:

Now push up on the bottom, so the USB port is separate from the black plastic holder, as below:

What I did next was to bend in the side tabs where the screw holes are, so I could get it out of the black plastic holder. But then I realized that I wanted to just get rid of the extra black plastic, so I split the holder in half (I used heavy-duty scissors). I used the circled piece, you can throw away the other one.

If you want you can bend the side tabs in, and then bend them back, but I found that to be a pain to do. If I were going to do it again, I'd *carefully* cut the holder apart, cutting from the center outwards so I didn't accidentally cut a cable:

Now put the half of the holder together with the USB port, and put the screws back in place. It should look like this:

Now put the half of the holder together with the USB port, and put the screws back in place. It should look like this:

Now comes the annoying part -- somehow getting rid of all the little bumps and indentations in your way. First, get rid of the "track" circled on the left, and lift the piece of tape that's circled on the right:

I used a screwdriver as a chisel. It worked very well:

You really want to chisel out a lot of the stuff -- including some of the stuff that you can see from the outside.

This is what took me the longest, like 45 min to an hour -- I kept finding more that I had to get rid of.
Note how much of the outside I had to get rid of to be able to position the holder properly:

Don't forget these 2 corners circled here:

Cut the black plastic holder to accomodate the raised circle:

Fit it into place, and you're done! You can use extra glue or adhesive, I didn't bother and haven't had a problem.Now put it back together...the hardest part is putting the cable back that leads from the SDD to the motherboard.
That's it! You now have a third USB port. I double-checked and loaded up all three USB ports with removable drives:

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