Soldering a socket on your board

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Mainboards where the BIOS chip is soldered onto the board (i.e., not in a socket) are usually problematic for coreboot developers and especially coreboot users, as one incorrectly flashed image will render the board unusable.

Here's a simple procedure how you can desolder/remove the chip from such a board, and solder on a PLCC socket instead (so that you can swap chips as often as you like later on).

Important: This will definately void the warranty of your board! Also, we take no responsibility for any damage you inflict on your board or other stuff. Use at your own risk!

That said, we believe this procedure requires only relatively low-cost equipment which is widely available, and can also be performed by people without much soldering experience. You do not have be a hardware/soldering guru to do any of this, with a little practice everyone can learn to perform the procedure.

Requirements

  • A board with soldered-on PLCC chip (a similar procedure will likely work for DIP32 or DIP8 chips).
  • A soldering iron, soldering wick, and soldering wire.
  • A PLCC socket (SMD type).
  • A desoldering station / heat gun (or a sharp knife).
  • Tweezers.
  • Pliers.
  • Optional: No Clean Flux ("Flussmitteldispenser" in German) for easier soldering.

The desoldering station used here is an Aoyue 852 SMD Rework Station, which is available relatively cheaply (ca. 70.- Euros). There are even cheapers ones available, e.g. on eBay.

Preparation

  • Take a picture of the board and ROM chip. You might need that later in order to add the socket in the correct orientation. The ROM chips all have a marking where the top is (and the same is true for most boards), but on some boards there is no such marking. So write down the orientation of the chip (or take a picture).
  • Prepare the PLCC socket, by cutting away the plastic middle part using the pliers (for easier soldering later):

Desolder or cut away the ROM chip

Clean the pads on the board

Solder the socket onto the board

Results

  • Congratulations. You have now successfully replaced a soldered-on PLCC ROM chip on your board with a PLCC socket. You can now swap out the ROM chip as often as you want to or need to.
  • In almost all cases, the board and the ROM chip will survive this procedure, if you are careful.

Resources


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