Replacing motherboard chips

project oxcart

While most users aren’t going to attempt to replace a single failed chip on a motherboard, [joeboy] felt that it’s definitely something the Hack-A-Day audience would try. Project Oxcart details the process he and his coworkers went through to replace the Firewire chip in a laptop. It had failed during a power surge and Dell wanted $1100 for a replacement motherboard. They opted to buy the $5 chip from Digikey and install it. The write up details the many steps involved in the replacement of the chip, which took the entire day.

Comments

  1. greybeard says:

    Damn brutal to desolder an SMD one pin at a time… I’d try it with chipquick, but this way? No.

  2. Jared says:

    No way would I have a steady enough hand to do that… I had enough trouble working on my Xbox…

  3. alan sailer says:

    Yes, good job, but if you ever do it again use ChipQuick. A unique indium alloy solder that when melted with ordinary solder, forms a new alloy that melts at about 100C, much easier to remove the dead chip. Just be sure to clean up the old solder before replacing the chip.

  4. Mrblarg says:

    “Damn brutal to desolder an SMD one pin at a time”

    Agreed. I worked on a project that was about 95% surface mount, and most of that was done by hand. We had 4 100+ pin ICs (not to mention the 100 or so other smds) and being n00bs, we messed up from time to time. We also found that with patience, coordination and timing, you could use desoldering braid to get these guys off. But you have to be carefull if you want to salvage the chip, if you yank off the braid, it will bend the hell out of those pins. Just clean up the pins and mount sites with a fine tip on your iron and you should be OK.

    Also, I would be concerned about using the pick and especially the toothbrush for causing ESD damage to the other chips connected to those traces.

  5. hb says:

    Just cut all pins using exacto knife, remove the chip, and clean up broken pins with soldering iron. Easier than lifting pins one by one.

  6. Solar says:

    “You may as well smoke your warranty after doing this”

    Lovin’ it. As I have enough trouble soldering regular DIP chips then I might just splash out on getting the new mobo :-p

  7. Rossitron says:

    When shipping my computer back home from college, I forgot to take off the big copper heatsink I put on my video card (gf ti4200). When the box showed up at home, I could hear that the heatsink had broken free (I had used nylon screws, yeah I know, save it) and was loose inside the case.
    When the heatsink had broken free, it slammed into the nearest ramsink (on the video card) ripping the chip free from the board, and pulling up/out some pads/traces with it.

    To make a long story a little shorter: after 4 hours using: a microscope, a very steady hand, and a superfine soldering iron tip, I was able to resolder the chip back in place (using the pads that had not been ripped off) and soldering to what was left to the traces where a pad had been ripped off the board.
    To this day, the board still works fine.
    The memory doesn’t overclock like it used to, but hey….

    Oh and a side note, you wont be able to do this to modern video cards as they use BGA style ram.
    Well if it did rip clean off you might be able to reflow it back on with a hotplate and hotair tool.

  8. Mark says:

    the easiest way to desolder SMT is to make one big solder blob that covers all the pins. Melt that blob and life with tweezers. Clean the pads up with desoldering braid. also clean the pins of the chip up, if you want to re-use it.

  9. John Bokma says:

    “$1100 for a replacement motherboard. They opted to buy the $5 chip from Digikey and install it. The write up details the many steps involved in the replacement of the chip, which took the entire”

    He and his co-workers took an entire day. Even if they are badly paid, it costs the company well over the 1100 USD.

  10. ladyada says:

    you can also use a hot air tool to heat up just the chip and its pins and then lift with tweezers…a good way if you dont expect to reuse the chip.

  11. kevinin says:

    wow! that is freaky! but i would be too scared of hurting the mb more than it already is…

  12. snoopy says:

    my proper hot air equipment, the job could have been done in one hour instead of 7. hot air is THE tool of choice for most kinds of smd.

  13. paul h says:

    waste a whole day or buy a generic pcmcia firewire card for $12 at newegg. definately got soldering skilz, tho.

  14. Fist Of Konshu says:

    How good your paid doesn’t matter when you are on salary.

  15. hakko says:

    Hot air tools and improvised heat shields to protect surrounding SMD components. You’d have been done in about 45 minutes and it’d be indistinguishable from Factory. And sure the cost of the tool is off-putting to some, but after you’ve removed ONE admittadely large TSSOP 48pin with it you will never ever EVER go back to the heat-and-lift method.

    There are other techniques such as smothering all the pins with solder, and I’ve used these with good success (and even for installation with the help of a good desoldering station), but you do run the risk of burning out a chip or lifting traces if you’re not familiar with the techniques.

  16. weirdguy0101 says:

    speaking of hot air tools, here’s how to make one
    http://www.gideontech.com/content/articles/297/1

  17. quadrantsix says:

    This was rather weak like one of those stick a PC in a toaster. Only justifiable with a rebuttal like “the reward was in the effort”. Because 8 hours to do a 2hour tops job with proper tools or even just get a pcmcia card would have been a lot smarter I must say. I mean my grandma could solder that if you gave her 8hours (she is good with a pin and thread!). I thought hackaday was about progression? This was not well planned, I’m going to submit a idea I have to mow your lawn with nose hair clippers!

  18. Cliff Miller says:

    This is the hackaday site. I didn’t expect an article on “the most efficient way to deal with a fried firewire chip.” This was an excellent hack! I join those who recommend chipquick, though – quick, sure, little chance of damage…

  19. Andrew says:

    If the mobo was working fine and its just the firewire chip that burnt out was it really worth it.
    Awsome idea for when something really integral gets fried.

  20. craash420 says:

    I’d like to see that quadrantsix! Be sure to document it well and include plenty of photos. Oh, and if you can do it while being paid you get bonus points.

  21. Andre says:

    Chipquik is faster and if you are careful the removed chip can be re-used. Also this does less damage to the pads.

    However, cutting the pins off one at a time is a time honoured technique.
    -A

  22. quadrantsix says:

    You would like to see that? Well you’re just as bad as the 3 stooges at project oxcart and also they got finished at 10:30pm do you think I would give a f##k about sitting at my office that late for something so rediculous!? I would go home to my wife and kids. This is the problem with Techs they’re too stupid they are willing to do all this work for nothing! I cant even get a plumber to do something common for less then $300 a hour! Yet this guy ‘wayne the brain’ took on something at his work which most likely had nothing to do with what he was hired for and spent awhole day+ slaving over it. I got to find some help like this seriously! I’m sure this is the companys laptop too so why would I even care let the company deal with it and get me a new one for my work. Anyway brownie points for this one! If this was my co-worker I’d slap him or better yet have him wash my car with a bottle of spring water and some napkins. E for Effort!!!!!!!

  23. jona says:

    quickway of doing SMD chips, mount the chip in the right place with a little glue, next drown the pins on solder (quickly, dont bake it) then use that de-soldering breaded coppermesh to suckup the access solder again.. and you’re left with a very clean mount.. practice first with some old chips before doing the real thing tho..

  24. jona says:

    quickway of doing SMD chips, mount the chip in the right place with a little glue, next drown the pins on solder (quickly, dont bake it) then use that de-soldering breaded coppermesh to suckup the access solder again.. and you’re left with a very clean mount.. practice first with some old chips before doing the real thing tho..

  25. joel says:

    BTW 23,24 How the hell can you double post! It’s frigging impossible considering you have to check your comments through email!!

  26. ex micromedics tech says:

    We used to do this on a professional level at a laptop warranty repair shop.. using a heat gun, soldering iron, loads of flux, and old dead motherboards with differing issues.. anything we couldn’t fix, or that we screwed up, we bought a new one.

    The best part was our diagnostic procedure.. press your thumb on the chips while the machine has power.. if any of them gets hotter than the processor, replace it.

    Aside from that.. you’d be amazed how many motherboard issues are simple cold solder joints. Put your mobo under the scope, apply some flux and heat to any components that look iffy, and maybe save yourself a couple grand.

  27. Euan says:

    Good Grief! Just cut the pins, remove the chip, heat pads to remove pins, solder braid to remove excess, Isopropanol alcohol to remove flux, solder new chip and Bob’s your mother’s brother! Talk about a long-winded way of doing things. Of course, this only applies if you don’t wish to re-use the IC :-)

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