Introduction: How to Fix a PS3 by Reflowing the Motherboard

When a Playstation 3 breaks, it is common to see a yellow light followed by a flashing red light.  This is commonly known as the yellow light of death.  For many, this signals the time to replace or send it in to get it fixed.  Despite its name however, the YLoD doesn't have to be the death of your console.  A common reason for a PS3 malfunctioning is  the development of cracks in the ball grid array solder joints.  IMPORTANT:  If your console is still under warranty, simply have it fixed by Sony.  Using this method will absolutely void your warranty.  This Instructable shows how to repair the problem simply by placing the motherboard into any regular kitchen oven.

This repair can take up to two hours and it's important to do it all at once to avoid losing parts.

Step 1: Materials

-Broken Playstation 3
-3.0X40 Phillips Head Screwdriver
-#1 bit Phillips Head Screwdriver
-T8 Torx Screwdriver (Can also use a similarly sized flat head)
-A Tube of Thermal Paste (Can be found online or at many electronics Stores)
-Cookie Sheet
-Kitchen Oven

Step 2: Remove the Hard Drive

1. On the bottom of the console, locate a plastic cover that states it holds the hard drive.
2. Remove the cover.  It should snap right off.
3. This will reveal a blue screw.  Remove this screw with the smaller Phillips screwdriver.
4. There is a metal tab connected to the hard drive.  Pull on this until the hard drive comes out.

Step 3: Remove the Outside Casing (This Will Void Your Warranty)

5. Next to the hard drive slot, locate a sticker that states that it will void your warranty if removed.
6.  WARNING:  Removing this sticker will indeed void your warranty on your Playstation 3.  If your warranty is still active, STOP NOW, replace the hard drive and contact Sony to have your console fixed free of charge.
7. If your warranty is already up, then remove the sticker revealing a rubber stopper.
8. Pull the rubber stopper out.
9. Behind the stopper, deep in the console is a screw.  Using your Torx or flat head screwdriver, remove this screw.
10.  The outer casing should simply slide off once the screw is removed.

Step 4: Removing the Internal Cover

11. You will now see the internal cover of the Playstation 3.
12.  Locate the seven screws that hold the cover onto the console.  (circled in red)
13.  Remove these screws.  (be careful to keep track of them and keep them separate from the other screws removed so far)
14.  Note one screw is far shorter than the others.  This is the one in the upper left of the picture.  Keep this in mind for re-assembly.
15. Remove the internal cover.  This can be difficult so do not be afraid to apply some force but being careful not to break anything.

Step 5: Removing the Power Supply and Blue Ray Drive

16. Take note of the grey blue ray drive and the black internal power supply.
17. There are three wires connected to the power supply.  Disconnect these.
18. Remove the four screws in the corners of the power supply.  (again keep track of these)
19. Remove the power supply.  There is a plug from the motherboard that connects to the power supply so don't be concerned if it feels a little "stuck."
20. Disconnect the wire plug from the blue ray drive. 
21. Lift up the drive and note the ribbon underneath.
22. Flip the black plastic switch at the end of the ribbon to release it.  (See the second attached picture for the location.)
23. Remove the Blue Ray Drive.

Step 6: Removing Miscellaneous Parts

24. Locate and disconnect the wire connected to the green battery pack.
25. Remove the two screws holding the metal mesh down and set it aside.
26. Next to where the mesh part was is a second metal plate.  Remove the screws holding it in place and set it aside as well.
27. There is a very small circuit board next to a capacitor at the back of the PS3.  Remove the screw holding it down.
28. Connected to this board is a black wire.  At the other end of the wire is a plug that connects to a mid-sized circuit board.  Disconnect this wire from the mid-sized board.
29. Disconnect the silver ribbon that connects the mid-sized circuit board to the large metal plate covering the motherboard.
30. There are two slanted metal parts connected with two large screws.  Use the larger Phillips screwdriver to remove these.

Step 7: Detaching the Large Metal Plate

31. There are eight screws holding the plate down covering the motherboard.  Six are identical, the two at the top of the picture are smaller.
32. Remove these screws.
33. Remove the large metal plate.  The motherboard should now be exposed.  Your Playstation should look similar to the second picture.

Step 8: Disconnecting the Motherboard

34. The Motherboard and heat sink can now be removed from the casing.  The thermal paste connecting the CPU/GPU will not come up easily but do not be concerned if you hear it crack. 
35. Rub off the thermal compound on the CPU/GPU on the motherboard and the square heat sinks still in the case.  Try to avoid scraping, but remove it as thoroughly as possible.
36. There is one final screw connecting the motherboard to the primary heat sink (metal part).  Remove this and separate the two parts.

Step 9: Reflowing the Motherboard

37. Preheat your oven to 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is hot enough to melt the solder, but not harm the other components.
38. Place the motherboard on the cookie sheet.  (Make sure the board is straight horizontal.  The easiest way to do this is to place the board on a raised edge of the sheet with the plug in contact with the smooth flat metal surface)
39. Carefully place the cookie sheet with the motherboard on it into the oven for ten minutes.
40. After the ten minutes are up, turn off the oven and open the door.  (DO NOT TOUCH THE SHEET OR MOTHERBOARD)
41. Wait at least 30 minutes for the solder to harden.  It's very important that the board is not disturbed during this process as it could ruin the structure of the ball grid array of the solder.

Step 10: Apply Thermal Paste and Reassemble

42. Once everything is cooled down, get your thermal paste.
43. Apply the thermal paste to the square heat sinks in the base of the console where the motherboard was removed.  (There are many methods for applying the paste.  I suggest searching the internet to find one you prefer.)
44. Reconnect the motherboard to the heat sink.
45. Carefully return the motherboard/heat sink combination to its location in the base with the now prepared thermal paste.
46. Re-assemble the Playstation 3 going backwards from the dis-assembly directions.
47. Once fully re-assembled, connect the console to your television and turn it on.  Hopefully you will be met with the console screen rather than the devastating blinking red light.
48. Allow the console to run and cool a few times before attempting to play games.  Simply leaving the system idle or even watching blue ray movies will allow thermal cycles that will be less harsh on your system.