reboot the processor and install hwfly to run games from a memory card



Let’s start with a reball



Repair, so repair

Why did you decide to reboot the Nintendo Switch Lite processor? After the reflow, the console sometimes began to glitch – with slight deformation of the case (squeezing with hands, for example), the device froze. Actually, I expected this, which is what I wrote about in the last article – reflow, as a rule, is a temporary solution. Sometimes it lasts for several years, and sometimes the problem reappears within a day.

I was lucky, I played normally for about a month, immersing myself in the world of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Before that, I played the last two versions of Zelda, on a regular Switch. But then I decided to install one of the previous versions. Right away, Link’s Awakening seemed very childish, with simple graphics and gameplay. But, since I grew up playing these types of games, after half an hour I couldn’t put it down—I was more captivated than “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.”

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Sings well, devil!

I’m already about halfway through, after which the console just started to glitch. I suffered for a couple of days, but then decided to carry out a full-fledged repair. That’s one problem.

What did I use to reball?

The market for electronics repair tools is now full of all sorts of things for reballing. If we talk about stencils, they come in direct heating (you spread solder paste, heat it, and it forms contact balls with the board) and stencils for installing balls. In the latter case, you need a device to align the stencil and apply it to the chip, the stencil itself and the balls.

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On the left is a direct heating stencil for the ODNX02-A2 processor (the one installed in the console). On the right is a stencil for rolling balls. When assembled, it looks something like this (here I have a stencil for a laptop processor installed).

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Relatively recently, another tool appeared, which I decided to try. Here is a photo of it from Ali, where I bought the device.

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The base is a powerful magnet, apparently neodymium. Then – a form for installing the processor (withstands high temperatures). And then – a stencil that is applied to the spherkh. The stencil is very strongly magnetized by the base, so it is difficult to move it even with your hands, not to mention accidentally touching it with tweezers or something else. I looked at the video of how masters who use this tool famously reballed Nintendo processors and decided to try it too.

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Actually, everything worked out the second time (the first time I set the temperature too high and the stencil bent slightly, which was enough to damage the balls). Here’s a video of the second attempt. Everything went more than smoothly.

Here I only filmed the process of reballing and installing the processor (it is small, so I did not use the infrared station for BGA chips, although I have one). If the chip is small, then the probability of its deformation when working with the air station is small. The main thing is not to set the temperature and blowing speed too high, otherwise you can damage the processor, board and components on it. In short, you need some kind of experience to do everything right.

I set it to about 320 degrees (checked with a thermocouple) and the air flow was 40% of the maximum. It is clear that the stations differ from each other, so if you think it necessary, you can not use my data (Chinese parrots, etc.), but identify the optimal ones for your device by trial and error.

I removed the processor with the same hairdryer (the chip is small, so I didn’t use an infrared BGA soldering station), then using a soldering iron and copper braid, I cleaned the seat and the chip itself from the previous solder, after which I cleaned everything with isopropyl alcohol.

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After installing the processor, everything worked, which I was very happy about – I wanted to play Zelda again. But there was another problem.

The console does not read the game card


The reason is the absence of three components on the board that were clearly responsible for reading game cards. Here is a photo where I noted the missing components (for some reason, apparently, they were removed in the previous service).

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The device detects that a game card is inserted, but does not recognize it, reporting an error. I saw that the chip, which is not on the board, costs about 35 euros, and decided to give up on restoring the function of reading game cards. Instead, I chose to install a hardware hack that allows me to download games from the network and play from a memory card (or from the console’s memory). Why cartridges if all this can be downloaded from torrents?

If you ask how I played before the repair, I will answer – I installed the same chip for hacking. During the processor reboot, the chip had to be removed and then everything put back in place. This is done relatively simply, the main thing is at least some kind of microscope and a normal soldering iron. This is what the already installed chip looks like.

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I ordered my chip on Aliexpress, it arrived, but the dimensions slightly did not match the contact pads on the board (this is clearly visible in the video). I ordered it specifically for Lite (the chip cost about 20 euros), and the correct order arrived. I previously watched a video of those who installed approximately the same chip, let me remind you, this is hwfly, all the sizes matched exactly. But no problem, we managed to install this version too. This is what it looks like before assembly.

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After installation, it looks something like this (the photo is not mine, from the Internet, I forgot to take a photo, being carried away by the reball and console hack).

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Well, here are the intermediate moments. This is soldering on the processor itself, installing one of the cables. Here is the video of installing the hwfly chip on the Nintendo Switch Lite.

In the end, everything worked out, the console “started up” with the chip the first time. By the way, I note that one chip and a memory card are not enough to work – you need to load not only games onto it, but also special software, which will make it possible to install games downloaded from the Internet and play without problems. If this is interesting/important to you, vote in the poll, and I will post an article with a guide on setting up software for hwfly. In general, everything is simple, but there are some nuances (especially with installing games after hacking the console).

As for the reball, this is a much more reliable repair than the reflow; I use the latter most often to test the chip, whether it is in working condition or not. If it works after a reflow in obvious cases of contact failure, as in the case of this console, you can safely reball.

And no, the problem is not always that the crystal itself loses contact with the chip. This is just a rare case. More often, the processor/graphics contact has failed. This may be due to shock, permanent overheating, manufacturing defects, liquid or (which is especially dangerous, liquid metal) getting under the chip. So a reball solves the problem in 85-95%, and such a repair will last for a long time, if not forever. There are, of course, exceptions, but they are extremely rare.

Well, that’s all for today, don’t worry!

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