Dingoo Mod – to the EXTREEEM!

Posted 2010.06.02 18.32 in Computers/Internet/Technology

For no really good reason, I had to mod a Dingoo A320 with a memory upgrade. The 320 has 32MB of RAM, but the A330 has 64MB of RAM. IMHO the A320 has more going for it, fewer glitches, than the 330. But the 330 has more memory…

So you can see how I’d already be vaguely thinking about it. Then over on Dingoonity, a user named flaming_goat asked if it would be possible. Well you know there’s no turning back after that…

I read up on the chips in the 330, and the chips in the 320. I checked my 320 to see how it was wired. It looked feasable. None of my tests said it would fail, so the only way to know for sure was to try it.

DigiKey had the chips I wanted and they were only about $12.50 for a pair of them. No turning back now…

Detailed instructions follow below the fold…

Please note: This is a Very Difficult process and should not be attempted unless you are experienced at soldering. You will require a steady hand and a sharp eye.

This mod can kill your Dingoo forever so this information is presented for education only, should you attempt to follow these instructions, you are on your own! I cannot help you and cannot fix your Dingoo if you kill it.

Supplies

  • two W9825G6EH-6 Winbond memory chips
  • Q-tips or similar product
  • Liquid rosin flux
  • Dingoo A320

Tools

  • Soldering iron, fine tip, temp. controlled preferred, otherwise low (10 – 15) watts.
  • Needle tipped tweezers
  • Small x-acto knife blade
  • Jewellers loupe, or other hands-free magnifier

Removal Process

  1. Have a clean tidy well lit workspace with no distractions
  2. Static grounding is important, keep yourself grounded or ground frequently
  3. Have your tools handy. Keep the new SDRAM chips in their anti-static packaging for now.
  4. I suggest you desolder the battery leads, or at least the positive (red) one. This ensures the Dingoo is completely off for the process.
  5. Pick one of the SDRAM chips on the A320 and begin at one end.
  6. You will probably have a bit of trial and error to find the most comfortable position.
  7. Using either the tweezers or the x-acto blade, position the tool under one of the chip’s pins but don’t lift yet.
  8. Touch the tip of the iron lightly to the top of the pin, and when you see the solder melt, lift or twist your tool so the pin is lifted up off the circuit board.
  9. Repeat 27 times, till you complete one side of the first chip.
  10. Set the iron in its stand and review all 27 pins, ensure they are completely free and clear of the circuit board. If you find any that are still attached or partially attached, use the soldering iron to melt it and the tool to lift it.
  11. DO NOT FORCE ANY PINS UP
  12. if you force a pin, you will almost certainly tear the trace off the board, which could be a FATAL mistake for your Dingoo
  13. When you are confident that all 27 pins are free, rotate the dingoo 180 degrees and start working on the other side of the same chip.
  14. Repeat the process, be careful and go slowly.
  15. At the very last pin, the chip may be quite loose. Do not let it pull twist or fall free. It will tear the trace from the board. Keep the chip steady and melt the solder on the last pin so the chip is properly freed.
  16. If the chip does not come free on its own, use your loupe / magnifier and tool to verify all 54 pins are fully freed. On my dingoo, the chips were not glued or otherwise attached, they were only held by solder.
  17. Once you have the first SDRAM chip removed, use your loupe / magnifier and examine the 54 pads. Use your soldering iron (but do not add any solder) to momentarily melt the solder on each pad, just enough to give it a smooth shiney surface.
  18. Be careful not to leave any solder bridges.
  19. When you are certain that the space for the first chip is clean and neat, move on to the second memory chip.
  20. Remove the second chip in the same way as the first.
  21. Be patient, do not rush.
  22. When the second memory chip is free, examine the solder pads, and use your soldering iron to momentarily melt each pad to ensure they all have a clear shiney surface.
  23. The entire removal process for me took approximately 1 hour.

Replacement Process

  1. As before, set up your working area, clean neat and free of distractions.
  2. Using a Q-tip, dip it in your liquid rosin then let most of the rosin drip away – the Q-tip should be damp, not dripping
  3. With the Q-tip, carefully ‘paint’ the liquid rosin over all 54 pads of both memory chip areas.
  4. You should be able to see where the rosin is going, don’t let it flow all over the place – you only want it over the areas of the solder pads for the two memory chips
  5. Ground yourself
  6. Remove the first new memory chip from its anti-static package
  7. Carefully use the Q-tip to coat the bottoms of its pins with rosin
  8. Again, you don’t want dripping, just damp. Just enough to get the pins damp.
  9. Be gentle and move the Q-tip in the direction of the pins, not across them. (They are fragile and you don’t want to bend or break them!)
  10. Once all 54 pins of the memory chip have been rosined, use your tweezers to place the memory chip in position on the Dingoo board
  11. Ensure the orientation is correct! There are white orientation marks on the circuit board which indicate pin-1 for the memory chips
  12. Rosin is a bit sticky and will help to hold the chip in place, but don’t depend on it
  13. Carefully position the memory chip so that all 54 pins rest exactly atop the 54 solder pads
  14. Use a finger or thumb to gently hold the memory chip still, while your other hand holds the soldering iron
  15. Gently touch the tip of the soldering iron to one pin of the memory chip, gently press down so the pin is making positive contact to the solder pad
  16. The solder will flow upwards onto the pin (thanks to the rosin)
  17. When you see the solder flowing, lift the iron up and clear, while continuing to gently hold the memory chip in place
  18. Repeat for the remaining pins on this side, while ensuring the chip has not moved — ensuring that the remaining pins are still positioned correctly
  19. When finished, rotate the Dingoo 180 degrees and repeat with the pins on the other side
  20. When all pins are finished, set the soldering iron aside and use either your tweezers or the x-acto blade, to Very Gently test every pin
  21. You must ensure the pin is soldered down. Sometimes when you make the connection with the iron, solder flows but when you lift the iron, the pin lifts up and the connection is not made
  22. If you find any pins that aren’t connected, use the soldering iron to resolder them, and then test them again
  23. Once you have confirmed that every pin is properly soldered, repeat the process with the second memory chip
  24. If you desoldered the battery, resolder it now. The dingoo might power-up on its own.
  25. The replacement process took me about 30 minutes.

Testing – #1

  1. Turn the dingoo on or press the Reset button
  2. If the dingoo is functional (i.e. it works) then the memory is properly soldered.
  3. If the dingoo lights up but does not turn on, you must re-examine all pins on both memory chips. Did you miss one? Is there a solder bridge? Did you disturb another component near the memory while you were working?
  4. This is the moment of truth / moment of terror. If it works, kudos. If not, there is nothing you can do but examine every connection very carefully.
  5. If the connections look good, try and resolder them anyways. Just reheat them, you do not need to add solder. Reheat them so the solder reflows.
  6. If it still doesn’t work, then it’s possible you have killed your Dingoo.

Testing – #2

  1. If your Dingoo still works, then it’s time to get it to use the extra RAM
  2. Install the Dingux Dualboot A330 / 64MB version, and see what happens
  3. If the dingoo worked in Testing 1 then it should work now, with 64MB.
  4. Congrats!

49 Comments

  1. MARKUS says:

    Hi, Stephanie,
    As I can see you are really a crack to mod your dingoo!!!
    I’m really impressed.

    By the way I post this comment to ask you if you know how to mod/repare the select button of the dingoo a320.

    Mine’s is almost unusable.
    I had to press it really hard to acces to my dingux & it doesn’t work all the time.
    It’s really frustrating for accessing the menu of snes9x4d, picodrive, uPCE, uNGP and also FBA/MAME.
    Fortunatly i’ve got a second dingoo, so this is not urgent, but I would like to fix this button asap.

    Can you give some advices (about material to use & how to process), please ?

    Thanks a lot for your futur help.
    PS: forgive my poor english lol

    1. Stephanie says:

      If you haven’t yet, I’d take the dingoo apart and check the button out. Make sure the plastic cap is properly seated and that it’s not broken or damaged. The plastic button caps are not very strong and can sometimes come loose from their proper position which would make it hard to use.

      If the plastic part is ok then check the physical button on the dingoo’s circuit board. These are fairly sturdy and I’d be surprised if it was damaged but if the dingoo has always had this problem, it is possible the button wasn’t installed perfectly at the factory.

      Odds are though it is probably the plastic button cap just needs to be aligned properly.

    2. Your name says:

      hey bro its easy just change the black part wen you open if no workin get and old calculator o mackdonal digital game toy an have that part just kutet off wit and exat cuter an make the sice the same an glue wit strong glue some time dont need to doo alll these think meabie its just darty cleanet prfear wit news paper because habe grafitto it like magnet after you clean yu can use the buton again normali tos parts dont brake jus dirty sorrie for my inglish bro

    3. ama_fi says:

      Hi, just fixed a similar problem with my select button, no contact was the main casuse of the problem. Fixing the contact problem was easy; it was rust. Just wiped it clean and assembled it all back.

      No wonder that dingux was so hard to get working. Anyway, I had to open that switch, which was easy, but I accidentally chipped corner so it required a small tape to hold the lid of the switch in place.

      Now I wonder have I really played all those games without select button all this time… :D
      Some thing are (almost) never needed….

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  3. You are at it again! Great job! When can I send an A320 your way! LOL.

    Cheers,
    -AW

  4. MARKUS says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for your advices.
    I open my dingoo and now everything is ok, I was a little affraid about opening it.
    Now the select buttons works fine, you were right, the button wasn’t at is right position.

    Thanks a lot.

  5. Joe says:

    seems digikey is out of those chips, and they’re listed as ‘obsolete.’

    so if I do get an a320, doesn’t look like I’ll be able to do this mod. boo.

    1. Stephanie says:

      Try Mouser.com, or any other large electronics supplier. DigiKey.ca shows about 6,000 of the memory chips in stock, and didn’t mention they were obsolete…

  6. Timothy says:

    http://i50.tinypic.com/fu52xy.jpg
    that is a picture of the obselete and 0 quantity. it is the same if you search from digikey.ca
    Mouser.com does not stock this either… can you please provide me a link of a non-china supplier.

  7. Timothy says:

    557-1223-1-ND
    this is the non-obsolete identical part number. I got this from calling customer support 1800 number. They don’t sell the part you previously listed. plz check it for me.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Wierd – when I ordered them there was over 6000 in stock. Someone must have snapped them all up. The Micron memory chip looks like it should work fine.
    http://search.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Detail&name=557-1223-1-ND

  9. Andervil says:

    Hey Stephanie, great work!!
    I’ve been looking for these chips, and am a little confused. Why are the chips 256MB? Aren’t we trying to achieve 64MB?

    ps. Sorry if this is a noobish question.

    Thanks!

    1. Andervil says:

      did some research.
      answered my own question.
      Thanks. lookin forward to trying this. Feel free to delete these comments. haha

    2. Stephanie says:

      I’ll chime in anyways incase others have the same question. Memory is usually rated in bits, not bytes. 256Mbit is the same as 32MByte, and with two chips together you get 64MByte.

      Cheers!

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  12. BobSmith says:

    Very clever. I have a bit of a problem with my dingoo, and was wondering if you might have an idea what’s up with it. My dingoo thinks the down arrow key on the d-pad is being pressed all the time, even when it’s not. I’ve taken the thing apart, and even when the rubber pads are removed, it still thinks that button is being pressed. Wondering what would cause that, and if it’s repairable. There seems to be nothing remarkable about the board underneath the rubber bit under the button, as far as I can tell.

    I foolishly bought it from chinavasion, and my options are repairing it myself or spending $20 to ship it off to chinese limbo for weeks or months.

    1. Stephanie says:

      Hi Bob,

      My first suggestion would have been to take it apart and clean the contacts under the d-pad but it sounds like you’ve already done that. Sometimes some dust or crud can get under the rubber bit and short the connection, or maybe the rubber bit got compressed somehow.

      If you’ve ensured that the contacts on the board and the inside of the rubber bit are all clean, then the only other thing I can think of is that something bad has happened to the CPU. The buttons are all directly wired to GPIO inputs, and if it’s reading a constant button press then it might be toasted… :(

      1. BobSmith says:

        Yeah, I did try cleaning the contacts, though I might try once more to be sure. I expect it is the CPU, in which case, I’m not going to bother sending it back. I dunno if I’m going to buy another dingoo after having this one die on me two weeks in. I think I might save up and get a gp2x instead. Or if I do get another dingoo, I’ll wait for the a330, and I’ll order it from someplace in the states. Never, ever order from Chinavasion. The prices are cheap, but if you have to send something back, you’re in for a hell of a hassle, and they only offer repairs or credit. In my case, the price went up, so if I send it back, I’ll end up with credit, and not enough to get a new one.

        Anyway, done rambling on, thanks for the advice.

  13. Andervil says:

    Anyone try the micron memory chips? I’ve contacted a chip vendor and they said W9825G6EH has been replaced by W9825G6JH, but I can’t find those either. Also, is there any info out there on new capabilities with the 64mb ram?

  14. mindw0rk says:

    Hmm… What about bigger memory expansions. Would the dingo hardware be able to handle 128MB, or maybe even 256MB?

  15. Andervil says:

    I’ve been reading some of stephanies posts on other forums, and she doesn’t see why it wouldn’t be possible to expand the memory to 128 or 256MB. Modifications would have to be done to the kernel, etc, which I believe stephanie said is not very difficult for her to do, she just hasn’t had the time. Also, those chips are significantly more expensive.

    On a side note, I’ve been talking with a winbond sales rep about the newer version (W9825G6JH) of the chip that is no longer available (W9825G6EH). I will probably be ordering a few of these to test em out. No idea how long it’ll take for me to receive these chips/install them, but I will report back here when i get them. They will be installed first on my HK dingoo since I don’t care much for that one. If anyone has any suggestions, please chime in.

    1. mindw0rk says:

      I tried to do some research and I couldn’t find any compatible ram chips with a higher capacity than 256Mbits. Anybody tried the same thing and found anything?

  16. Stephanie says:

    Re. more than 64MB of Ram, I believe it’s possible to get up to 128MB. I found a 512Mbit chip that appears to be compatible:
    http://search.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Detail&name=557-1078-1-ND

    I have not been able to find any 1Gbit chips that are compatible, however. The CPU in the Dingoo is capable of addressing quite a bit more RAM, but the higher-capacity chips seem to come in larger packages. Limited by the TSOP2-54 package size that’s used in the dingoo, the 512Mbit chips were the biggest I could find.

    The biggest drawback about these chips is they’re over $30 each, so you’re looking at almost doubling the price of the Dingoo to get it to 128MB of RAM.

    It’s all untested / speculation, but if the chips would work, then it is not difficult to modify the bootloader and the kernel to take advantage of it.

  17. Dom says:

    Bonjour,
    Stéphanie, you a star.
    It’s ‘mon boulot’ to build SMD mother boards at home. For 100% success, i use an antistatic foam sheet connected to ground as working area, a ground connected iron, and i take care with the temp, the less possible time on each pin.
    I WILL do this at home ! Merci.

  18. Andervil says:

    Stephanie,
    You think 143mhz chips would be noticeably slower than 167mhz?

    Thanks

    1. Stephanie says:

      I don’t think it would make any difference at all – the Dingoo underclocks the RAM to 1/3 the clock speed of the CPU. So at 336MHz it’s only running the RAM at 112MHz.

  19. Your name says:

    stephanie you are asome mi respects i live in jp i wil check in the electronic town they must have thanks sou much

  20. Noobsaibot73 says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    Ok, 64MB are possible for the Dingoo A320 (by the way I have to say I’m quite impressed with your determination.

    Do you think 128MB are possible too? (I’m not saying “Hey Stephanie why don´t you try to install 128MB this time?”. I’m just asking your opinion as a Dingoo expert).

    Thank you very much in advance. Best regards.

    1. Stephanie says:

      Hello,

      I am certain that 128MB is possible. It’s just a matter of finding the compatible chips and then to create a new SPL and kernel. It’s a bit of work but it is definitely do-able.

  21. gabrielyg says:

    hello my question is whether memories can be used sdram pc 133 128 of a normal pc to make this mod

    1. Stephanie says:

      Hello gabrielyg – you have to match the specification of the chips exactly. The physical characteristics (so the chips will fit) and the electronic specifications (so you know they will actually work). If you are salvaging ram chips from another source, you’ll have to find the data sheets for them to confirm they are a match.

  22. Tim says:

    Hi, absolutely amazing. I wonder is it possible to resolder an ARM v 8 Processor on a Nokia N900 cell phone? The thing is that N900 has a short battery life but there exist a less energy consuming processor (45nm мы 65 nm in original Nokia)

    1. Stephanie says:

      Hi Tim,

      I’m not familiar with the N900 or its processor. In general terms, if a chip is physically and electronically compatible then it can be swapped. Though some packages are very hard to hand-solder, and some are nigh-impossible. A quad flat pack might be hand-solderable; a ball grid array isn’t going to be doable without a smd rework station.

      Cheers!

  23. gabrielyg says:

    hello
    thanks for the reply
    memory is the following hynix ran 240A
    hy57v561620bt-h is a memory pc 133 sdram chip brand kynix
    I would be worth a salute
    sorry for not writing well.
    I’m Spanish.
    I google translations with

    1. gabrielyg says:

      hello and memory samsung 737 k4s641632k-uc60
      and memory samsung 804 k4s641632k-uc60

    2. Stephanie says:

      Hello Gabrielyg,

      If you can find the datasheets for those chips then just compare them to the datasheet for the Dingoo’s memory.

      I don’t know the details for the chips, I just go by comparing the datasheet specifications. It needs to match physically of course, but also needs to match electronically – how it is accessed, in rows and columns.

      Cheers!

  24. Your name says:

    Hello Gabrielyg,
    I replaced the above with you as the RAM, the A320 is now able to boot my work, I want to ask is how to use 64M of DINGUX system? I tried the A330′s dual-boot installation tool, without success. (my English is not good, use the Google)

    1. Your name says:

      Above the wrong name. Sorry.

  25. Gustavo says:

    So, how is to use 64 ram?
    Did you see any differences?
    Games that didn’t worked, work now?

    Ah! And congrat for the mod and guts!

    1. Stephanie says:

      Hello Gustavo,

      I haven’t really noticed any difference, but then I am not much of a gamer. I did it because a bunch of people had been asking if it was possible and if it would work.

      Cheers!

  26. Raine says:

    I ordered the micron chips, still waiting for the machine itself to give it a go. i hope this will help for PSX emulation.

    Ben salut!

  27. Joey says:

    i was wondering if you know if it is possible to replace the native os with dingux in the a320?

    1. Stephanie says:

      Sure that’s one of the most common ‘mods’ for the Dingoo. I’ve been out of the fold for a couple years but they have/had detailed instructions at the Dingoonity website.

      Cheers!

  28. Slaanesh says:

    Great mod.
    Are you able to mod the native firmware to make use of the extra RAM?
    If no, what about re-configuring the RAM for native so that there is more available for user processes?

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