Introduced in 2006, the PlayStation3 its perhaps one of the best systems to own to date, the vast of PlayStation3 software to explore, Blu-Ray and 3D Blu-Ray Movies, PlayStation and PlayStation2 Backwards Compatibility, Linux and many other features, the PlayStation3 its a swiss army knife for any PlayStation veteran and newcomers alike.
While the system its well engineered, like all Sony products, quality its always present, the system did come with its flaws, one of the most famous of the issue was the YLOD or as its known by Yellow Light Of Death, its a indication of a general hardware malfunction.
Around 2007, the very first YLOD fixes surfaced the internet, known as the Oven/Baking Method or Reflow, this fix consisted in disassembling the console, and insert the Motherboard in a oven at 300ºCs, and the by applying extreme heat, the solder-joints under the CELL Boardband Engine and RSX Graphics Chip, would
align, thus fixing the YLOD, although this method worked,it wasnt a long lasting fix, the time-frame before the console failed again was between 1 day to 1 year, perhaps even more, but thats luck.
The Second method of YLOD its called Reballing, which envolves applying extreme heat to the chips, thus replacing the Lead-Free solder BGA Grid, to a more reliable Leaded Solder, which fixed the console, but again the fix wasn´t a long lasting success, usually a console would last between a week to a few years,but eventually it would fail, some reports suggest more than that,but eventually it would fail,no matter how well the reballing work was.
*TRIVIA – Why these aren´t long time fixes?
In order to understand why these fixes would fail, we need to understand why the Lead-Free Solder isn´t the issue and whats really causing the YLOD.
On 27 January 2003, the RoHS (Restriction of Use of Hazardous Substances), imposed a rule to switch the used Lead-Solder in the past PCB fabrications, to the Lead-Free Solder, in order too meet the Safety Quality Standarts, by the time the PlayStation3 started development in 2004 with the early prototype machines, Sony was already using Lead-Free Solder in they´re PCB fabrications, and any model of the PlayStation2 past the manufacture year of 2003.
Due to this change, many users assumed, that the Lead-Free Solder would crack due to heating and cooling of the machine,thus creating cracks on the BGA Grid, dissrupting the connection between the chip and the motherboard.
Reflowing and Reballing worked, but not for the reasons that was believed,which was the Lead-Free Solder causing the issue, the PlayStation3 with the Syscon fan usually has a max tolerance temperature around 75/78ºC at almost Stage 4 Fan Speed “more on the later models”, and a Thermal Protection at 90ºCs, the problem is that in order for the Lead-Free Solder to crack or dislodge from the board on average you need 217ºC to get the chip off the board, the PlayStation3 inside, its almost at 75ºC to 80ºCs at the most, which is 138ºCs less than what you need in order to damage the solder-balls, Sony used the same Lead-Free aloy in all Generations of the PlayStation3, yet only the Revisions that are known for this kind of failure its the CECHA all the way to the CECH-2000 Slim Model, and why dont any other revision from CECH-2100 and upwards get the YLOD, if the same Lead-Free aloy is used? Did Sony removed the “feature? Its because of the newer Chipset Manufacture Process “Nm”? Is because the newer consoles heat less than they´re predecessors? The answer its neither of them, the Lead-Free Solder, the Overheating or Newer Manufacture Process,but rather a few SMD Capacitors manufactured by NEC “Formerly known as “NEC/TOKIN”, which are responsible for the YLOD issue caused by the early PlayStation3 revisions.
*TRIVIA – What is the NEC/TOKIN Capacitor and why does it cause the YLOD?
The NEC/TOKIN SMD Capacitor was manufactured by NEC “Formerly known as NEC/TOKIN”, which its responsible for the current filtration and conversion, in order to stabalize and give the necessary current to the needed components.
These capacitors were used by Sony until the 65nm CELL/RSX manufacture era, due to they´re size and compact mounting space required, it could easily replace 4/6 Capacitors required to give the same uF “Micro-Farat” output, in a single package, these capacitors was used by other manufactures not just Sony, in a variety on PCB appliances such as Laptops/DVD Players between others, these Capacitors are notorious for failure due to the age/use and heat, thus loosing they´re original capacitance to a point they wont provide the necessary current anymore.
Reballing/Reflowing and the Hair-Drier only worked,because by heating the area to remove/reflow the CELL/RSX, you were not fixing the BGA with heat,but the action of heating the chips, where heating the NEC/TOKINs themselfs, thus restoring they´re original capacitive properties of the NEC/TOKINs,but depending on the amount of heat used, either it could last between a day to a few years.
The NEC/TOKIN Capacitors have the serial number 0E128 – 1200uF “Phat Models” and 0E108 “Slim Models” – 1000uF Capacitance respectively.
The problem with the use of these Capacitors on the PlayStation3 is that they are 8 “Phats” and 4 “Slim”, and they work in tandem to filtre and provide the necessary current to the RSX and CELL, and if one out of the four NEC/TOKIN fails on either of the chipsets, there is a current disruption,which means the Capacitence needed to feed either the CELL or RSX is below the required, thus YLOD.
In this tutorial, ill explain step by step,how to replace the NEC/TOKIN Capacitors and where to start, so dust off your old PlayStation3 from your closet and lets get to work!
DISCLAIMER – Do this repair at your own risk, i am not responsible if your PlayStation3 catches fire or blows in a Thermo – Nuclear fashion, proccede with the upmost extreme caution, read the instructions carefully, and good luck!
*TOOLS – What you will need?
*Soldering Iron – “Small/Thin tip recommended”
*32 Tantalum Capacitors “330/470uF – 2.5V/6.3V – Rated”
*Knife “NEC/TOKIN Removal”
*Cup of Coffee “Optional”
*Patience and steady-hands “recommended”
*Phat Models: “470uF”
*DECR-1000 – “TMU-520”
*DECHA00A – “COK-001”
*CECHA – “COK-001”
*CECHB – “COK-001”
*CECHC – “COK-002”
*CECHE – “COK-002/W”
*CECHG – “SEM-001”
*CECHH – “DIA-001”
*CECHJ – “DIA-002”
*CECHK – “DIA-002”
*CECHL – “VER-001”
*CECHM – “DIA-001”
*CECHP – “VER-001”
*CECHQ – “VER-001”
*DECR-1400 – “DEB-001”
“Due to the DEB-001 being identical to a DYN-001 Board, only the RSX needs a capacitor repalcement, you can use either 470uF, although 330uF will work just fine”
*Slim Models: “330uF” – RSX Only
*CECH-20XX – “DYN-001
*STEP 1 – DISASSEMBLE YOUR PLAYSTATION3.
This procedure its very simple, just like replacing the thermal paste, disassemble your PlayStation3, we will only need to work on the motherboard, for the time being we only will work on the RSX, on the top layer of the board, just one capacitor its needed to replace for the console to boot, if it fails, then more its needed,but the process its the same,but for now we will just focus on one NEC/TOKIN.
*STEP 2 – REMOVE THE ORIGINAL NEC/TOKIN CAPACITOR
Once you have the motherboard in your work-bench, identify the NEC/TOKIN Capacitor, then use a Knife, and carefully remove the original NEC/TOKIN Capacitors, they have a Plastic Outer-Shell so removing them should be pretty easy, i suggest using a masking tape as there are many traces around the NEC/TOKINs, you can also use the Soldering Iron to melt, the Plastic Case, as it will be even easier to remove them, remove the capacitor until you have four solder lines “2 Positive/2 Negative”, that means the capacitor its completely removed. “See the picture for reference”
*STEP 3 – SOLDER TANTALUM CAPACITORS IN THE POSITIVE/NEGATIVE POLE.
This its a very important step, there should be four solder lines once you remove the NEC/TOKIN Capacitor, the Tantalum Capacitors have a Positive Pole and a Negative Pole, the Grey Sign its your Positive Pole, the rest of black its the Negative Pole, the 2 Middle lines “almost together” are your Negative Poles, the other 2 from the start are your Positive, you need to solder 4 Tantalums in the correct order, solder them in a 65º Angle, in order to fit 2 Tantalum Capacitors in 2 lines “Positive/Negative”, its important while soldering that the legs of the Capacitor touch they´re respective rails “Positive/Negative”. “See the picture for reference”
*STEP 4 – ISOLATE THE CAPACITORS
After you done soldering all the four capacitors, grab some electical tape,and isolate the Tantalum Capacitors, this will make sure that the Solder from the Tantalums wont touch the EMI Sheild “Electro Magnetic – Sheild” thus creating a short, after that assemble the PlayStation3, and test the console.
*STEP 5 – TEST THE UNIT
If all has been done correctly, your console should boot without any problems, Congratulations you just fixed your PlayStation3, if your console refuses to boot, inspect,and make sure you solder them right, take a look carefully,and test it again, if it still refuses to boot,then more capacitors replacement its needed, replace the 2nd NEC/TOKIN with Tantalums on the RSX Area,where you replaced the NEC/TOKIN area before, the procedure its the same.
“IMPORTANT – TO MAKE SURE YOU DID IT RIGHT, AND MORE CAPACITORS NEEDS REPLACEMENT, THE YLOD MUST BE DELAYED, SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN 3/5 SEC TIME-FRAME, IF ITS IMMEDIATE/SHORTED THAN THAT, IT MEANS THAT THE CAPACITOR ITS NOT PROPERLY SOLDERED, THAT HAPPENS WHEN A NEC ITS REMOVED,BECAUSE THERE IS NO CURRENT SUPPLY TO THE CHIP”
“NOTICE – IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO REMOVE THE NEC/TOKINS, I SUGGEST TO LEAVE THE ORIGINAL NECS UNDER THE BOARD, AS THEY HAVE AN INTERNAL BRIDGE/JUMPER ON THE POSITIVE POINT, SO IT WILL CREATE A BRIDGE FOR THE TANTALUMS, BUT IF YOU DECIDE TO REMOVE ALL THE NECS, YOULL HAVE TO BRIDGE THE TANTALUMS FROM THE POSITIVE TO POSITIVE POINTS WITH A HIGH GUAGE WIRE OR ELSE THE CURRENT WONT PASS THOUGH,SINCE THERE IS NO BRIDGE BETWEEN THE TANTALUMS! BUT THE BEST WAY TO AVOID MAKING JUMPERS IS TO LEAVE AT LEAST 1 ORIGINAL NEC ON THE MOTHERBOARD “See Picture for Reference”
*Q&A – QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q-1 – How long does this repair last?
A-1 – Once you make this capacitor repalacement, your PlayStation3 not only will improve reliability,but it will last you years to come, and you dont have to worry about YLOD anymore.
Q-2 – My PlayStation3 doesn´t any NEC/TOKIN Capacitors,but my PS3 switches off,why?
A-2 – Sony remedied this issue on the 45/40nm starting with the CECH-2100, so they dont encounter this issue, regarding the shutdown on these models,thats a different topic, it can be either a Mosfet/Resistor or even a PWM Chip, that issue its known as BlackOut.
Q-3 – Does these capacitors are the cause for the YLOD?
A-3 – Statistically speaking, 90% of the YLOD its due to these capacitors, as long as the unit hasnt been touched, chances are that its the NEC/TOKIN Capacitors, due to they high failure rate,but if this fix didnt help,then chances are then its another component failure, like a Ceramic Capacitor “more frequent on the L/K Models”, or if the Chip themselfs have suffered physical damage or corrosion,which only reballing will help you remedy this,and brand new chipsets.
Q-4 – Will this fix the Gran Turismo 6 and The Last Of Us YLOD?
A-4 – Yes, if you make a full capacitor replacement,meaning you replace all the capacitors, yes thoes titles will become playable, due to the original NEC/TOKIN Capacitors aging and capacitance loss, can´t supply the necessary to the CELL/RSX, thus the YLOD.
Q-5 – I dont want to remove the NEC/TOKINs,can i solder the Tantalum in parallel/Piggy-Back?
A-5 – The good news its yes, you can solder the Tantalums with the NEC/TOKINs in parallel, or as its commonly known, the Piggy.Back technique, this will make sure they work in tandem, you will still have to solder the positive to positive, by melting the NEC/TOKIN plastic shell, but the Negative Pole, you can solder it by finding the Ground Point on the Motherboard.
Q-6 – Have you tested this fixed yourself, or any other user has made this repair,and did you/they have success?
A-6 – Yes, ive made this repair myself, preformed on a European CECHC04 – 60GB, still works till this day, already on the 8th month, one month before the thread was written, other users whom made the capacitors replacement have been successful on the repair, no failures reported so far, the rate its high.
Q-7 – Do you have plans to continue this repair on your personal consoles, or any consoles with YLOD you grab to prove this repair works?
A-7 – Yes, this repair motivates me to purchase more Phat models,since i collect PlayStation consoles,and i like my consoles in perfect working conditions, so reparing Phats should`t be a problem.
Q-8 – Will this fix my Green Light Of Death (GLOD) PlayStation3?
A-8 – Unfortunately no, GLOD its not related to the NEC/TOKIN Capacitors in anyway shape or form, summarizing GLOD its caused by a dead Graphics Chip, mostly when the Substrate has failed “little tinny solder balls under the die” due to overheating/poor maintanence or even reballing/reflowing,since extreme heat does put a strain on the GPU die, your only choice is either a RSX replacement, or using a heat-gun at 150ºC, this will restore the GPU Substrate,and your PS3 should be in working order, but if you choose the heat-gun method,be warned this isnt a long last fix, GPU replacement its advised.
Credits goes to @sandungas for helping me out, and to many other users who tested it “cant remember the names,but thank you”