How Those NES DIP Chips Were Reduced To QFNs

The world of console modding leads us to some extremely impressive projects, and a recent one we featured of note was a portable NES produced by [Redherring32]. It was special because the original NES custom DIP chips had been sanded down to something like a surface-mount QFN package. Back when our colleague [Arya] wrote up the project there wasn’t much information, but since then the full details have been put up in a GitHub repository. Perhaps of most interest, it includes a full tutorial for the chip-sanding process.

To take irreplaceable classic chips and sand them down must take some guts, but the premise is a sound enough one. Inside a DIP package is a chip carrier and a web of contact strips that go to the pins, this process simply sands away the epoxy to expose those strips for new contacts. The result can then be reflowed as would happen with any QFN, and used in a new, smaller NES.

Along the way this provides a fascinating insight into DIP construction that most of us never see. If any of you have ever managed to fatigue a pin off a DIP, you’ll also no doubt be thinking how the technique could be used to reattach a conductor.

You can read our original coverage of the project here.