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TEK Nemesis

128mb Ram Upgrade

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I have to start by saying thank you in particular to Floydzabarber as I must have watched his video about the RAM upgrade a dozen times. 

Well, I ordered some chips a couple weeks ago and I gave the RAM upgrade a try tonight.  I performed the "surgery" on a rev 1.1 board and all the pads were nicely tinned, which was a bonus.

Here are my tools of the trade which made this upgrade a breeze: 

  • Hakko FX888D-29BY Digital Soldering Station
  • T18-D16 Soldering Iron Tip (bevelled, which originally came with my Hakko soldering station)
  • Kester 24-6337-8806 245 No-Clean Flux Core Solder, 63/37 .015"
  • MG Chemicals 836-P No Clean Flux Pen
  • JARLINK 30X 60X Illuminated Jewelers Eye Loupe Magnifier
  • 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol Liquid Cleaner (used with cotton swabs)

To start, I highly recommend that you stay FAR, FAR away from a hot air / rework station for this project unless you have wicked, magical skills with soldering.  Even then, I'm sure it would be way slower to use a hot air / rework station as compared to a proper soldering iron. 

Prior to jumping into the soldering phase, I installed a modchip with the 256kb crcwell.bin BIOS.  That is the XBlast OS which will boot and test the RAM.  You definitely need to test that your Xbox is booting into this BIOS before commencing the RAM upgrade. 

The tip of the soldering iron, for me, is a multipurpose tool.  The tip that I identified above was the perfect size (for me) and it had a small bevel that I used as a gauge for how much solder to apply.  I would apply a little less solder for the short sides as compared to the longer sides and that same tip was the perfect tool for removing solder from bridged pins.  (Do yourself a favour and at least go get a small bevelled tip for whatever soldering iron you are using.)

To prep the board, I cleaned the tinned pads with a cotton swab and the Isopropyl Alcohol.  (I think if I were doing the mod on a board that didn't have tinned pads, I'd probably tin them first.)  I then used a flux pen to wet the pads liberally.  I placed the chip in the proper orientation (as the chip next to it) and then I verified that it was nicely aligned by using my eye loupe while keeping it from moving with a soft press of my finger.  (Okay, I'm getting old and my sight isn't what it used to be.  LOL!)  As I held the chip in place, my other hand prepped the soldering iron (set on 750 deg f) to ensure that it looked nice and shiny.  (If your tip isn't prepared correctly you will have a problem.)  I then put a tiny amount of solder on the tip of the soldering iron and dragged it fairly quickly across the pins on one side.  (It is important to note that I only ever added solder to the tip once per side.)  I cleaned the soldering iron tip and repeated the process for the other sides.  (As soon as you touch a pad with the tip of the iron you can see the solder shoot up the pin to the top.  Never hold the iron tip on a pad, not even for a second.  There is no reason to ever do that with this RAM upgrade.)

After I did all four sides, I noticed that a couple of pins were bridged.  (This totally happens and you need to handle the removal of extra solder correctly.)  First, I added lots of flux to the bridged area and then I cleaned my soldering iron tip so that no solder was on it.  (I used a wet but dry sponge.)  Instead of dragging the tip across all pins, I rotated the iron by 90 degrees so that I could "pet" or stroke the chip's legs/feet.  It only took a split second for the solder to quickly wick onto the surface area of the tip of my iron.  After each attempt, I cleaned the tip and if I noticed that there wasn't enough flux on the pins, I added it before the next attempt.  The solder wicks away typically in under three attempts at cleaning the bridge because I don't use much solder at all in this process.

When I was happy with what I could see with my naked eyes, it was time to look at the work with the loupe (lighted magnifying glass).  I'll start by saying that a jewelers loupe is a very inexpensive item that will easily fit in your toolbox and I believe it to be an essential tool for soldering chips (unless you have a microscope).  A lighted jeweler's loupe (for me) is much better than a standard magnifying glass.  With the loupe, I checked from the top to see nice separation between the pins and then I changed the viewing angle and looked between each pin on the chip and the pad on the board. 

Once I completed the verification with the loupe, I cleaned the soldered areas with the Isopropyl Alcohol, hooked up the board to the case and booted it up.  It immediately went into the XBlast OS and I saw the 128MB at the top of the screen.  From there, I then went into the tools and ran the RAM test and all was good. 

Anyway, I thought I'd share my experience in an attempt to inspire some of you to try this out.  If any of the more experienced members would like to provide me with some good criticism, I welcome that too.  Cheers!

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Nice one, when I have a bit of time I will give this a try, I will get a couple of practice chip boards before I try it though.

Do you mind me asking where you got the chips from?

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>Never hold the iron tip on a pad, not even for a second.

I did. It didn't kill anything. It was necessary for the flux to do its thing. But maybe more expensive flux works faster...I dunno. All I have is a $6 walmart iron and weird generic flux with lead in it.

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2 hours ago, fox said:

>Never hold the iron tip on a pad, not even for a second.

I did. It didn't kill anything.

Sometimes you can steal candy from the store and not get caught either.  LOL!

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>Sometimes you can steal candy from the store and not get caught either. LOL!

It's not luck. As far as I know, boards and components are designed to withstand a little sustained temperature like that. I've never had an electronic part get fried by soldering.

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How would I go about checking a ram upgrade on a v1.1 TSOPed xbox? Can you run the XBlastOS .xbe and check the ram that way or does it need to be flashed to the TSOP?

Edited by Shadow07

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18 minutes ago, Shadow07 said:

How would I got about checking a ram upgrade on a v1.1 TSOPed xbox? Can you run the XBlastOS .xbe and check the ram that way or does it need to be flashed to the TSOP?

Yes, you can run the .xbe to check the ram.  

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Sorry for the double post, it won't let me edit my last post. 

Words of advice for anyone else doing this for the first time, be sparing with your heat if you doing the "drag" technique at 750F. I bent a few pins and lifted a few pads by dragging across the pins a few too many times too quickly. I had to do some wire repairs. I'm two chips in an no frags so far. 

Edited by Shadow07
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10 minutes ago, Shadow07 said:

Sorry for the double post, it won't let me edit my last post. 

Words of advice for anyone else doing this for the first time, be sparing with your heat if you doing the "drag" technique at 750F. I bent a few pins and lifted a few pads by dragging across the pins a few too many times too quickly. I had to do some wire repairs. I'm two chips in an no frags so far. 

Light drag.  No pressure really.  If you need to apply pressure, do it only in the same direction as the pins, one or two pins at a time.  I've done this memory upgrade at 650 deg F and at 750 deg F.  750 deg F seemed flawless.  650 deg F seemed to need more work.  Safer for people to start off at lower temps though.

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1 hour ago, TEK Nemesis said:

Light drag.  No pressure really.  If you need to apply pressure, do it only in the same direction as the pins, one or two pins at a time.  I've done this memory upgrade at 650 deg F and at 750 deg F.  750 deg F seemed flawless.  650 deg F seemed to need more work.  Safer for people to start off at lower temps though.

Thanks for the tip. I messed up and ordered 2 ram chips initially instead of 4. When the next two get here I'll post how the installation goes. 

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1 minute ago, Shadow07 said:

When the next two get here I'll post how the installation goes. 

I look forward to hearing your success story!

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Board Life Status


Board startup date: April 23, 2017 12:45:48
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