USB port problems on older HW-150s
Recently I had the misfortune of the USB port going bad on my oldest HW-150. Since it was long out of warranty I decided to take it apart and see what the problem was.
Turns out these old HW-150s have a small PC board with nothing but a USB port on it. The port is held in the front panel with hot glue. There's a rectangular hole in the PC board which matches a plastic "catch" projecting back from the front panel. This catch prevents the USB port from being pushed into the box with too much force. Once the box is opened, though, it's rather easy to remove and reinstall the board containing the port.
The problem with this design is, the USB port rests one or two millimeters above the PC board, and it's easy to flex the port just enough to break some of the foil traces on the PC board when inserting or removing a USB device. If this happens, the USB port will start failing (perhaps intermittently). You may need a good magnifying glass even to see the breaks!
(Note: newer HW-150s have changed the USB port design to reduce the risk of this kind of failure. On HW-150s that came with V14 (dated Nov. 15, 2012) or later, the USB port is attached to the main front panel PC board at right angles, instead of being on its own PC board. This change may explain why Homeworx owners have reported fewer USB port problems than, say, iView owners. I don't have an iView but I suspect their USB port design is similar to the Homeworx's "original" design. OTOH, the original design does allow for much easier "homebrew" modifications; see below.)
For those with broken USB ports like this, a "quick fix" can be made by carefully scraping some of the green insulation off of the broken foil traces with a tiny screwdriver, then bridging the gap with a small amount of solder. Use a "pencil-tip" soldering iron for the easiest repair. However, the problem remains, and each time the traces are broken, it becomes harder to repair this way.
A more permanent fix would be to remove the possibility of damage entirely, by finding a way to remove the troublesome port from the front panel completely, and connecting it to "something" within the box instead. That "something" could be as simple as a USB extension cable, a "built-in" storage device like a USB stick, or even a USB hub. For a hub, you'd need to find an alternate location for its USB ports. If you have some metal-working tools, I might suggest cutting a slot on the right side of the HW-150's cover and mounting the hub so a couple of its ports can be accessed through that slot. Then you'll have an HW-150 with two USB ports!
If you wanted to get really fancy, you could connect the port to a hub, then connect a compatible USB memory stick and/or small cooling fan to the hub! There's actually quite a bit of room inside the HW-150 box for such things, which I suppose could be secured with hot glue.
If anyone owns one of these older HW-150s and has lost use of its USB port, hopefully these observations and suggestions will help.