Reballing the Playstation 3

The most important thing about reballing the PlayStation 3 is getting an infrared nozzle big enough for the PS3’s 43mm square integrated chips. I considered building my own IR rework station, but in the end, I decided to buy one. I bought the $1k kit, and it was worth it me, even though I actually saved up for it for several months.

There are really only 2 options for purchasing a ball grid array rework station under a thousand dollars, the Puhui T-870A, or the Achi IR 6000. The PUHUI T-870A can handle up to 50mm chips and the Achi IR 6000 can handle up to 65mm chips. Anything smaller than those simply will not work.

For the same reason that you wouldn’t use a tool for taking up linoleum on a PS3, I cannot advise a home made IR rework station. BGA rework is a very delicate endeavor and temperatures and times need to be spot on, or the chip and/or the board will get fried.

Now, I bought the PUHUI T-870A. I bought it on eBay from browndragonchina. I bought the kit, but you may not want everything in it, so take a look and jot down the most important things you need. Everything in that listing can be purchased separately, just ask Cao, or any other Dragon Group China representative. The kit I bought is eBay #: 180606924018.

The main reason I bought the kit was for the PCB supports. However, they are sold separately upon request. Also, if you chose to go with the Achi IR 6000, there are sellers who offer PS3 PCB supports for that too, though I’m sure they are interchangeable regardless of which BGA rework station you go with. The PCB supports hold the PCB so it doesn’t rest directly on the preheat surface, while preventing the PCB from warping during the reball process. If you have a machinist friend, just use the PS3 motherboard as a template utilizing all the mounting holes.

The kit also came with a BGA reballing station. As far as those go, I cannot recommend the one that came in the kit. I have had issues with the top portion teetering on the IC and allowing the spheres to fall though causing a mess and requiring me to start over. I had also bought a small BGA kit a year earlier that came with a reballing station that works great, no teetering. That tool was also bought on eBay but from seller e-best_trade. The tool is a Dragon Group China brand, and is colored blue, that’s the one I recommend.

There is also the choice of direct heat stencils. The difference is that the stencil remains on the IC while the spheres are heated. With the reballing station, the stencil is removed prior to melting the spheres. Although I do intent to purchase a direct heat kit in the near future, I would be hesitant to use it on the IC’s found in the PS3 given the delicate nature of the contact pads of both the motherboard as well as the chips.

Another fundamental tool is the hot air wand. I own the YIHUA 898D that I bought from an eBay seller in Texas. This combo unit has proved invaluable for the solder removal and the melting of the spheres to the IC. The main reason for buying it was parts salvage, who knew it would be so important in PS3 BGA rework? You can take a look at the eBay item here: 160534018372. Having knife style solder tips is critical for solder wick use.

Speaking of solder wick, I learned the hard way that American brands are not desirable. Unless you are already proficient with them stay away from them. The 2.0mm Goot Wick I received with the Puhui T-870a is like the luxury car of solder wick, I highly recommend it for any project required solder removal, especially on the delicate PS3 board and ICs.

Likewise, I discovered that the Amtech NC-599-ASM-TPF(UV) that I received as part of the Puhui T-870a kit is the BEST possible gel flux! There are plenty of sellers on eBay offering the NC-599, but they are all foreign. Amtech is an American company in Bradford, Connecticut. Their website is http://www.amtechinc.com/. Look up the distributor or representative for your area and see if you can buy some direct. They claim on their website that they sell standard size jars, but I have been unsuccessful in reaching the representative for my area. If you get through, let me know. Otherwise, buy from Dragon Group China on eBay (like browndragonchina), just be aware that since it is a chemical, it has to go through regular mail and take a month to do so.

Another important tool to have is a tweezer or tweezers set. I got a tweezer at my local grocery store in the make-up section for about $5 that looks just like an Aven 5SA. I also bought a 6 piece set of Aven tweezers from CML Supply that I never touch (eBay item #: 350426680340). Although, I received a complimentary ballpoint pen with my order that I use all the time. 😀

The last tool to mention that has been a real time saver is a solder pump. Again, I bought mine on eBay, listing number 200547427755.

I have found that IC poppers are ineffective (too thick to get under the chip). For IC removal I gently use the tweezer and the scraper that came with the reballing station.

When you do finally have everything, be prepared to completely ruin the first PS3 motherboard and GPU. You may not actually do so, but be prepared to. BGA rework is very delicate and sensitive. It’s way too easy to fry these chips. That’s why I’m stocking up on GPU’s. ;-D

There is no data on the net as of yet that details the exact temperatures and times for reballing the PS3. Here’s what I’ve learned through trial and lots of error.

To reball the PS3 GPU using the Puhui T-870A, with the board about 4 cm above the preheat plate, and the lamp nozzle about 1.5 to 2 cm above the chip, set the plate to 170 degrees Celsius and turn on. Then wait for the topside sensor (placed at the base of the chip against the motherboard), to top out at around 145 degrees Celsius (about 33 minutes for me at a room temperature of about 23 degrees Celsius). Set the lamp to 250 degrees Celsius and turn on. The chip should come off in about 1 minute. Turn lamp off immediately. Turn off preheat plate. Clean off all solder using, the gel flux, the Goot Wick, and a knife style solder iron tip (you may want to start with just the solder iron and a desolder pump). I also use the hot air wand to help prevent cooling which would allow the wick to become soldered to the board or chip. If the wick gets soldered, melt the solder with the hot air wand to avoid pulling off the contact pads.

Once the board and chip are cleaned and the chip is reballed, repeat removal procedure, without removing the chip. Don’t forget you’re attaching it this time round, not removing it. 😀

2 Replies to “Reballing the Playstation 3”

  1. Hi, would you be interested in selling your reballing machine? I'm getting the impression you're not happy with it.

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