(Topic ID: 295193)

Think I botched an NVRAM install.

By hool10

4 months ago


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  • 18 posts
  • 11 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by PinballManiac40
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#1 4 months ago

I have a BSD and I decided to buy an NVRAM chip and install it on my own. I followed this video almost exactly and apparently it wasn't the best guide at all and I should have followed Vid1900 guide.

So I don't have a powered solder sucker and tried to do the best job I could sucking out the solder. I got the chip out with a tad bit of difficulty and noticed one of the traces lifted from the board. I did the best job I could putting the trace back onto the pad and put in my new NVRAM. If you notice in the video they don't mention a polarity whatsoever. Luckily I took pictures and noticed a notch on one side and put the chip in correctly. That being said I didn't get a socket and unfortunately soldered the NVRAM directly to the board. It shouldn't cause an issue but 30-40 years from now someone is going to ask why I didn't install a socket first. Soldered the NVRAM chip in without too much heat and it was fairly fast and booted the game up. All the LED's on the boards lit up red and there were dots scattered across my Color-DMD display.

1) Is the trace that came off from the board the culprit?
2) Did I fry anything by booting the game up (I don't believe so)?
3) Did I fry the NVRAM chip itself soldering it (I don't believe so)?
4) None of the contact points are bridged.

#2 4 months ago

Can you post some pictures of the NVRAM installed and the suspect traces?

#3 4 months ago
Quoted from hool10:

) Is the trace that came off from the board the culprit

Get the schematic and a DMM. Trace out the continuity.

#4 4 months ago

Are you 100% sure you installed a compatible NVRAM chip ? What part number is it ?

1) Yes , most likely
2) No
3) Unless you applied a crazy amount of heat for a long time, doubtful.
4) That's a must.

You may not be aware of this , but holes in PCB have what is called a "via", which connects both sides of the board together. It is common for people to rip off the vias when desoldering and not being careful enough (or unaware of those vias). Take your multimeter and set it to continuity. Make sure every pin on the NVRAM (U8) has continuity to the pins of U6. Follow the picture below, for which pins connect to each other. For example signal A0 is pin 10 on the NVRAM U8 , make sure there is continuity to pin 12 of U6 , which is also A0. Repeat this for every pin on U8. Pin 14 of U8 should be connected to Pin 16 of U6. Pin 28 of U8 should be connected to one side of the R93 resistor. Pin 22 of U8 should be connected to one side of the R12 resistor. The last 2 signals are connected to U9 and will be a bit more annoying to measure because of the socket of the ASIC. You could use a needle to touch that pin while it's in the socket or probe from the solder side of the board.

PIN3.png
#5 4 months ago
Quoted from Roamin:

Are you 100% sure you installed a compatible NVRAM chip ? What part number is it ?
1) Yes , most likely
2) No
3) Unless you applied a crazy amount of heat for a long time, doubtful.
4) That's a must.
You may not be aware of this , but holes in PCB have what is called a "via", which connects both sides of the board together. It is common for people to rip off the vias when desoldering and not being careful enough (or unaware of those vias). Take your multimeter and set it to continuity. Make sure every pin on the NVRAM (U8) has continuity to the pins of U6. Follow the picture below, for which pins connect to each other. For example signal A0 is pin 10 on the NVRAM U8 , make sure there is continuity to pin 12 of U6 , which is also A0. Repeat this for every pin on U8. Pin 14 of U8 should be connected to Pin 16 of U6. Pin 28 of U8 should be connected to one side of the R93 resistor. Pin 22 of U8 should be connected to one side of the R12 resistor. The last 2 signals are connected to U9 and will be a bit more annoying to measure because of the socket of the ASIC. You could use a needle to touch that pin while it's in the socket or probe from the solder side of the board.
[quoted image]

Thank you. I will try this out on Sunday and get a REAL de-soldering pump. One that is powered. If it really is the trace can this be repaired?

#6 4 months ago
Quoted from hool10:

Thank you. I will try this out on Sunday and get a REAL de-soldering pump. One that is powered. If it really is the trace can this be repaired?

A trace can sometimes be repaired. Depends on the damage

#7 4 months ago

I would put the money you are about to spend on the soldering vacuum toward sending it to a professional.

They will properly repair any damage traces with jumper wire. They will have a very high end temperature controlled soldering station, proper sockets, etc.

I own a $300 Hakko desoldering tool and even with this, it is nearly impossible to desolder ic chips to where they just come out easy.

I did an NVRAM install but I cut the chip off the board before desoldering. Much easier to remove each leg instead of the whole chip. And the traces take less heat and don’t get pried on. You sacrifice a $7 chip, but don’t damage a $400 board that is obsolete and nearly irreplaceable.

That video is unfortunate because he makes this seem like an easy job, but the risk of damaging these irreplaceable boards is very high. And he doesn’t mention having temperature controlled solder/desoldering tools, the right size tips, type of solder used,etc.

#8 4 months ago

Good choice on NVRAM - this is the way to go! NO MORE BATTERIES!

The WPC boards are probably the most difficult to install an NVRAM in. I have done three of them and was lucky enough to only lift a trace on one board which I was able to repair. I used the "cut the chip" method before putting a socket in. As you already recognize - it is best to never solder a chip directly into a board. Good practice is to use a socket and if you don't have a socket order one and wait for one to ship out to you. This ensures you will never have to solder a board a second time.

I recommend you send it to Chris Hibler here on pinside. Let him repair the trace and put the socket in for you. Don't risk damaging the board further and making a repair more difficult or more expensive.

If you want to continue to mess with it - use your DMM to trace each pin to the next spot and see where you are missing continuity.

Last comment I will make - I once installed a socket and NVRAM in a Rottendog board and the game didn't boot. I was convinced I messed something up and I couldn't see what my error was. Using the schematic the traces didn't match and I got even more concerned I really messed something up. I sent it to Chris who ultimately discovered I had an early Rottendog board which was not compatible with the NVRAM I was trying to use. The early board didn't match the schematics Rottendog made available either. Lesson learned: sometimes you assume you did something wrong but in reality the mistake is something obvious but easy to fix if you take a step back.

#9 4 months ago

So I did watch the video ... he had a problem with his technique "not fully desoldering all the holes" I actually said "no shit" out loud. But having to resolder the pins that don't clear on the first attempt is known and expected, this is where you really need to use flux for the solder to flow. The worst part of the video is he skipped over the critical part of actually removing the IC and even worse he didn't bother to mention that you should never ever use any force to pry a stuck pin out; if you do you can expect board damage. since he cut the entire part of his video out all the way to the point that he resumed with a socket installed I assumed he damaged his board and cut all of that out so I stopped watching the video at this point.

#10 4 months ago
Quoted from Elicash:

I own a $300 Hakko desoldering tool and even with this, it is nearly impossible to desolder ic chips to where they just come out easy.

Its definitely doable, it just takes years of experience to develop your own techniques and decide what temperatures are best for your style. Unfortunately this is almost a lost skill these days.

#11 4 months ago
Quoted from Pin_Guy:

Its definitely doable, it just takes years of experience to develop your own techniques and decide what temperatures are best for your style. Unfortunately this is almost a lost skill these days.

I used solder wick for years before pulling the trigger on a Hakko. With patience and practice it's an easy job but you have to build up both.

Even then some boards just suck. Early Bally solid state will lift traces if you so much as look sideways at them.

#12 4 months ago

Yeah I just bought a HAKKO FR301. I could have went with the bulb/iron type but you really can't control the heat and it doesn't get the all the solder out. Big difference between $245 and $15 but the question is "do you want to F things up and start doing wire jumpers"? On top of this I will more than likely do a few more installs because I'm part of a pinball coop so I can get my money back potentially. Do it right the first time with the right tool for the job!

#13 4 months ago
Quoted from hool10:

Yeah I just bought a HAKKO FR301. I could have went with the bulb/iron type but you really can't control the heat and it doesn't get the all the solder out. Big difference between $245 and $15 but the question is "do you want to F things up and start doing wire jumpers"? On top of this I will more than likely do a few more installs because I'm part of a pinball coop so I can get my money back potentially. Do it right the first time with the right tool for the job!

I have found that I'm willing to be far more ambitious on projects now that the Hakko is in my arsenal of tools.

#14 4 months ago

<disclaimer>

None of what I have written following is directed at any particular person. It's general commentary. Its purpose is to try to help the reader.

</disclaimer>

Quoted from Elicash:

I own a $300 Hakko desoldering tool and even with this, it is nearly impossible to desolder ic chips to where they just come out easy.

I have a Hakko FR-300 manufactured late 2014. It worked great when I first got it. Then I started getting holes that weren't completely clean and getting pulled pads and traces. I've had to do a few repairs and learned how to do it without jumper wires (if possible) and without eyelet repair (too expensive for me). I regularly cleaned the nozzle.

One day I went further and cleaned the diaphragm and the pump area. It involved taking the tool apart. What I found was flux in the plastic piping and in the diaphragm area. I cleaned it all out. After putting it all back together it sucked. No ... really. It sucked (better). So I would give the tool a thorough cleaning (pump area) every now and then.

After multiple cleanings I eventually found the valve flap had been worn away. Presumably from the hot flux hitting it and just chipping away at it. I tried flipping it around or just hobbling along. I even thought I would need to buy a whole new $300+ tool. Then I went browsing on the Hakko website and found the plastic part. A couple of bucks. After another couple of cleanings I decided I had had enough of struggling with the tool. I finally replaced that plastic part. When I got it all back together it was like a brand new tool. It was 6 years since the tool was brand new so I forgot what a brand new tool felt like. Now the tool really sucked. Holes so clean that the IC does pretty much fall out.

Quoted from Elicash:

I did an NVRAM install but I cut the chip off the board before desoldering. Much easier to remove each leg instead of the whole chip. And the traces take less heat and don’t get pried on. You sacrifice a $7 chip, but don’t damage a $400 board that is obsolete and nearly irreplaceable.

I recommend this to people who aren't experienced or confident that the IC will come out cleanly. I 100% agree that sacrificing an IC that is a couple of bucks is definitely the better way to go. I will however respectfully disagree that the boards commonly worked on by people (WPC CPU and System 11 CPU) are "nearly irreplaceable". I make reproductions of both of those boards.

Quoted from Elicash:

That video is unfortunate because he makes this seem like an easy job, but the risk of damaging these irreplaceable boards is very high.

Quoted from Pin_Guy:

since he cut the entire part of his video out all the way to the point that he resumed with a socket installed I assumed he damaged his board and cut all of that out so I stopped watching the video at this point.

I also 100% agree with these two statements. That video is misleading. I had the same reaction as Pin_Guy with the editing. You can see the holes aren't clean and then suddenly everything is good. That's not realistic.

The following are things that I do. There is no correct or incorrect. Technique is an art form gained with experience.

  • I always add fresh solder. It's for both the fresh solder but more importantly the flow induced by the fresh flux. Plus it preheats the pads and solder.
  • I always lift the board so that it is upright. You can use a Panavise if you want but I just rest it against the bench. The way the video shows the board horizontally. The vacuum de-soldering is fighting gravity. You don't want to fight gravity. If the board is vertical gravity has much less of an effect.
  • When applying the nozzle to the pad (in the vertical position) I always wiggle (move) the nozzle around the pin in both the X and Y axis. This allows the pin to move freely, spread the heat to melt all the solder and provides the best chance to vacuum out all of it. I keep wiggling the nozzle while vacuuming to get as much of the solder out with the highest probability.
  • The holes don't always clean completely. When that happens I add fresh solder and repeat the above. The second application is usually enough to get a clean hole.
  • Once I have the clean holes I then grab each leg with needle nose pliers and move them to make sure they are moving freely. If they aren't then I would consider and another addition/vacuum cycle.
  • If all the legs are moving freely and the IC doesn't come out with ease then it's likely there's a tiny around of solder still holding the legs in place. A gentle pry (and I mean GENTLE) is usually enough to break the small solder bridge free. This is an art form to know how much pressure to apply before saying enough and doing another addition/vacuum cycle. This art form is much like knowing how much Magic Eraser to use before stopping.

The single most important thing to take away from all of this is to KEEP YOUR TOOL CLEAN. Nothing beats a clean tool.

1 week later
#15 3 months ago

So I got some free time and spent literally 7 hours that ended in failure (the person I joked to hold the fire extinguisher isn't me but a friend of mine).

So what I did was use my new Hakko de-soldering tool in the first photo in an attempt to salvage the $15 NVRAM. I put a generous amount of Rosin flux on the PCB. Unfortunately the NVRAM had solder that wicked though the hole and up its leg's. I spent 3 hours trying to remove the solder before I gave up and unfortunately lost a few contact pads. Next photo I cut the trace, gently scraped away the PCB to reveal the copper trace, recreated a copper trace as best I could, and soldered it to the 2 points. Third photo I cut out very tiny copper square and used a razor blade to make a hole to fit over the pin to replace lost landing pads. Fourth, satisfied with my repairs I put in my 28-pin IC socket like I should have done. Pictures 5/6 just show the completed process with NVRAM socketed with polarities matching the silkscreen on the PCB.

So I fired it up with fire extinguisher in-hand and the GI lights up for a split second, fuse blows, and that is that. So now what I'm doing is having a guy I know locally professionally repair the board. I think the board is toast but my firefighter friend thinks the tech can because he can fix literally anything. Had I followed Vid1900 instead of that video, had the proper tools, I know this whole ordeal wouldn't have happened. Good news I know what CAN happen and what not to do.

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#16 3 months ago

That board is far from being totalled. A few traces to repair is nothing for anyone used to this kind of thing. You are doing the right thing asking someone who has more experience. I suggest you grab old electronics people throw out so you can get more experience desoldering parts without damaging boards.

#17 3 months ago
Quoted from hool10:

So I fired it up with fire extinguisher in-hand and the GI lights up for a split second, fuse blows, and that is that.

I think your problem may be elsewhere if you are blowing a fuse. From experience, I know that if you plug in the ribbon cable one row up on the fliptronix board, flashers will be nice and bright for a second and then blow out the secondary solenoid fuse.

So check over everything that you had unplugged to be sure everything is plugged up correctly.

Damage to the board at the RAM location should only keep your game from booting up, not blowing fuses.

#18 3 months ago
Quoted from PinballManiac40:

I think your problem may be elsewhere if you are blowing a fuse. From experience, I know that if you plug in the ribbon cable one row up on the fliptronix board, flashers will be nice and bright for a second and then blow out the secondary solenoid fuse.
So check over everything that you had unplugged to be sure everything is plugged up correctly.
Damage to the board at the RAM location should only keep your game from booting up, not blow fuses.

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