I might have to fix a water-damaged keyboard in the morning if I keep crying on it like this.
For those of you who follow me (ibjessa) on Instagram, our new YouTube channel, and the iPad Rehab Facebook page you've watched these last few days as I've finally mastered bga repair. (Those square black chips that sit on a ball grid array)
I struggled with it for a long time, and a turning point came when my good friend Louis Rossmann got tired of listening to me complain about it. He made a plan to pack up his own personal Hakko 801 hot air station--that he uses daily for his own repairs---and send it to me for a weekend just to try it. I had the supposedly better digital Hakko 802, and was finding it hard to believe that it was so out of calibration that it wouldn't do bga at all. He was so serious that I thought he might *actually* send me that thing, so I bought one on eBay. BGA was instantly within reach. Quality equipment that won't let you down is everything.
A few weeks with 100% success on my bga repairs, and I graduated from the small U2 ic chip to the bigger PMIC chip on the iPhone 4. I did an iPhone 4 data recovery job, and then while I had the iPhone 4 stuff out, I thought-----I wonder if I could get that original "toilet phone" working again. I had tried and failed many times.
The original repair story for that phone went like this:
Girls flush phone.
I sledgehammer toilet on the lawn to retrieve phone.
Rice (I was a fool!!!)
Cleaned board with alcohol, new battery and dock connector.
Board turns on, but won't charge
Head to iFixit.com and learn about the charging coil on the board (Thanks OldTurkey!)
Decide to learn microsoldering--how hard can it be---and order the AOYUE 968+ (which is not a great tool, btw)
Spent a year or so with Filip Pusca online (find talented Filip at www.iTesla.solutions)
Tried to change the charging coil on this board--it didn't go well. I didn't know enough to use a tiny nozzle, and had too low heat/flow--I roasted that board trying to get off that coil.
Replaced the coil and board was now dead---I burned the PMIC while making board s'mores
Put it aside for a few months and came back--tried to replace the PMIC.
Replaced it kinda/sorta, but now the Skyworks chip got hot and phone registered a full short.
Made some jumper from a local component by the coil---because I was too dumb to realize that you can revive a corroded pad, it doesn't mean that the pad is gone.
Put it aside.
Until tonight. Still working under the theory that motherboards are just fancy lego projects, I....
Replaced PMIC with a new one
Removed Skyworks chip and replaced with one from a donor board
Replaced charging coil again
Replaced a few local caps, including the one with the unecessary jumper.
Put back together and.....
THE TOILET PHONE WORKS! FINALLY!
It is alive, it charges, it is working!
Which just goes to show that yes, anyone can learn board repair. And at the end of the day, all phones are just legos. If you really care about a phone, you can switch out bad part for good part, all the way down to components on the motherboard. It may not always be feasible (avoid those rabbit hole repairs!) but it is possible.
This journey into board-level repair has been such a great ride. It has taught me just how connected the world really is. Information can flow around the world so easily, making repair accessible to everyone. So many of us are natural-born "fixers"
Even this news of the resurrection of my toilet phone, one small day after Easter, has already traveled to my microsoldering family--to Texas, California, Moldova, Australia and back---yet the sleeping family upstairs is yet to know. How fitting, that an hour before this repair tonight, I spoke with Kyle--iFixit founder. Now I am more excited than ever to join the iFixit team to help encourage the DIY and Pro communities to keep stretching the boundaries of what we can accomplish in repair, and sharing what we learn with the big wide world. What an adventure!
Now off to dig up that old iFixit thread and update this repair--it's fixed!