Step 7: REBALL

Picture of REBALL
Ok, this is the last step I know of to repair an Xbox with RROD. It's also the most difficult and costly. Be aware of this before you begin!

Recall back to the beginning of this tuturiol when I described how chips now are using little balls of solder in place of contact pins (BGA afterall stands for Ball Grid Array). If you've ever soldered, you know that generally, there is a limit to how often and how much heat you can put solder through before it gets 'gunky' and doesn't flow, and no longer has that beautiful silver glint, but rather a pale, greyish coating. In these events, you generally replace the bad solder with new/good solder. Reballing is exactly that.

The process, in a nutshell, involves actually removing the chip from the board (gotta get it back up to 220+ degrees celsius again, and this time pull the chip off while solder is liquid). Once removed, you can use a combination of flux (to distribute heat more effectively), solder braid (absorbs melted solder in a ribbon of braided copper wires), and your soldering iron/pen to completely clean both surfaces (processor and board). Once clean, you apply a stencil with a bunch of holes to the chip (usually with bracket or rig of some sort), and then you can scoop almost microscopic beads of solder (might I suggest going with the LEADED solder this time, since the problems are most likely fault of lead-free solder?) into the holes in the stencil, heat the solder back to melting temp (around 220 again), and once set, remove the stencil leaving the balls melted in correct position to the processor. THEN you have to replace the chip on the board, and YET AGAIN bring it up to temp to melt the new solder to board (like reflow, this would just be a 'flow' I guess lol). Oh, yeah, you usually do this to the gpu AND cpu to cover your bases at minimum. You might do the ram too. Count on the reball kit running about $150 (includes stencils, balled solder, flux, and other tools). With this purchase, you could probably reball multiple processors (and that's about the only way to make this worth your while cost wise!). Video showing process is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97nxZwHG5bA guy does it from start to finish (chip only) in about 10 min, but an amateur will probably take much longer.
oh yah. And with your 0102 error. Did you re-heat? That worked? Did you use the the reheat station or "bake" the machine?

Sorry to comment so much. It's just the is the first place I have gotten such worth while information. :)
ludionis (author)  Dirtie Hippie5 years ago
I used the oven method, outlined here: http://forums.llamma.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=27431url  I am glad that my 5 weeks recovering from hernia surgery and browsing/collecting these tidbits are benefiting someone other than myself lol.  The thought started out as, "Hey, I could get a game system for next to nothing!", then became, "I could use these as gifts!", later morphing into "People will buy these and I'm making a profit!" and sadly has now evolved into "Wow, it's harder to move these things than I thought it would be and almost not worth the hassle".  For all intents and purposes, I've called it quits, never investing the money in a reflow station or reball kit (either costing around $150).  My first unit was in pristine condition, had never been opened, and Microsoft fixed with no issue.  My last looked like a beaver tried to chew it's way into the back, and even after replacing the board that had missing parts, the x clamps that were gone and the security sticker, Microsoft still didn't fix it, so I'm stopping while I'm ahead.
Wow, I didn't think you literally baked it in an oven. Wow. I have fixed the E74 on two seperate machines with a less scary method. I simply disconnectd the fan and turned it on for about half an hour. I know you suggest not doing that, but it worked. Then just after I shut the power off I pressed firmly down on the scalar chip, I believe that's what it is, the chip by the GPU under the heat shroud, and affixed a home made heatsink of pennies wrapped in electrical tape. I have tried baking it without pressing down on the chip and it works, but only for a short while. And with the heatsink it seems to keep the E74 from happening again. Right now I am scavenging old PCs for heatsinks. With some modifications I think they will make more professional looking and working heatsinks then the pennies. Oh, and I also forgot that I also secured the motherboards to the case with longer screws and washers under the motherboard, to ensure that the motherboard doesn't change shape again.

I have a third machine that has the vram overheating. Thank you for the codes, that's how I know for sure it is the vram chips overheating. The motherboard is secured to the case in the same method. But that wasn't enough. It overheats immediately. The vram chips in front of the GPU have these nifty heatsinks on them, the machine was bought refurbished so I assume that's something the seller did, but it's not enough. So I put thermal paste on the vram chips that fit under the Gpu heatsink and placed washers on them, then more thermal paste so they have a connection with the heatsink. Now the machine starts all green lights, but overheats like thirty seconds later, So I think I'm on the right track. This machine has the old heatsink that's just aluminum without a heat pipe. I am under the impression that the newer heatsink with the heatpipe and the smaller exchanger by the Cpu heatsink, I think its called the falcon heatsink, would exchange enough heat that the washer trick will work.

I have to agree with you that the reball and reheat stations are probably a bit too pricey to be worth it. It would seem that there are reasonable work arounds.
ludionis (author)  Dirtie Hippie5 years ago
Oh yeah, 1 more thing about that reflow in the oven...in addition to the blue button warning I posted elsewhere, I would say that all the materials they use are *not* necessary.  I used a combination of old baby blankets, tea towels and other all cotton cloths (I didn't want any plastic melting, so no rayon/polyester etc).  Also, if you use ONLY masking tape, it might discolor some (and leave adhesive residue on cloth) but won't burn/smoke/stink.  I never filled my house with the smells and smoke they discuss.  I'm not sure how important the aluminum foil is to the process, as most ovens don't have IR heat to worry about, but I used it regardless.  Let me know if it works!
Are you sure about the lead free solder temps? I know in normal soldering the lead free solder is better. The lead free stuff has more silver instead of lead, so it has a higher melting temp then the leaded version. And the melting temps are in the 400 to 600 degree range. 200 isn't going to do much.

Of course that is with soldering boards with an iron. I have to admit I don't know much about the ball version.
ludionis (author)  Dirtie Hippie5 years ago
Yes, please note that the temp is in Celcius (all my resources are apparantly from overseas lol), and this correlates to approx 450 degrees Farenheight, which is important to note if you are going to try the oven trick.
My mistake I see that now.

What kind of success have people had with this process? I have tried everything short of the re-heat and reball. If this process is a sure thing?If so, I might look into it. I know enough people with broken machines that getting my money back on investment is not out of the question.
ludionis (author)  Dirtie Hippie5 years ago
From most of my research, the likelihood of success is directly related to the secondary error code the board gives.  Once the red lights start flashing, hold the white Sync Button, and press the eject button.  1, 2, 3, or 4 lights will begin rapidly flashing (4 lights = 0 for this code).  Note the number, and press eject again, lights may change, note the number, do this 4 times, then go to http://forums.xbox-scene.com/index.php?showtopic=484726 to find possible cause for that code.  The one I fixed had a secondary code of 0102, which is apparantly pretty common.  There was a guy on Ebay who would fix your box for $40 ($10 of that was shipping), but wanted to know the secondary error code first to know if he could repair it.  He wouldn't share his list with me.  LOL.  But I know he used a hot air reflow work station, and some of his pics showed STACKS of 360s, so must have been doing well for himself.
Those codes are an invaluable resource. This really is a comprehensive guide.

The diagnostic process should be one of the steps in your instructable.

Amazing job gathering this information. Thumbs up.