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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:58 pm 
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Location: normandy beach, nj
Hello Everyone

I have gone through different folks experiences with Dale Mediema / Superior Reball and Rework mentioned in several posts on this site throughout the years (including the one post here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=72974 - which comes up third in a google result for their business name). This is not to be confused with the person in the UK offering graphic reflowing on this website with the above advertisement or otherwise.

If this is old news to you then it certainly wasn't big enough or relevant enough news because people are still sending this guy stuff - myself included!

After the absolutely HELLISH ordeal I was put through with this company I saw no other option but to register for an account here, tell my tale, and make sure this does not happen to anyone else. It seems that with the others scorned in the past they have just been happy to enough getting away with their original merchandise back, whether working or not, but after what these guys put me through there is no way I am letting it end there and see it happen again.

I think I originally found "Superior Reball and Rework" on ebay when I first started having intermittent video issues with my t40p. The laptop is my workhouse still after all these years and the temporary remedy for the GPU issue I was having was just to keep it plugged in. It went on like this for months until October of '08 (the 27th, specifically) when I realized I need to have it taken care of.

Superior Reball was no longer on ebay so I searched around for, basically, "the company on ebay reballing macs and thinkpads" and found them. I called up, my call was picked up on the first try, spoke to a guy named Dale, and we were good to go. I packed up my laptop the next day and had it out to Gilberts, IL. Dale assured me of a quick fix and that they handle many many of these thinkpad GPU issues.

Within a few weeks I had my laptop back. However, I didn't have it going for more than 3 weeks and the same issue returned. By the first of December it was totally back to where we started. It happens. I left a few messages on the telephone and sent an email on the 8th of December. Dale quickly told me "Please send the laptop back to us. We will again repair it at no additional cost to you"

Now here's where it all begins. I ask for a return shipping form, since, after all, the agreement is you pay to get it out to them and then pay them for the service which includes return shipping. Why would I pay twice to get it out there? So I send another email. No response. Two weeks go by and still no response. Three weeks. We are now into january, Dale returns my call, and I tell him on the 13th that I end up needing the laptop for work even in its current condition (so I'm using an automotive clamp to hold the thing together so the screen is just somewhat usable) and I will send it out as soon as this project is over. I at this point had found some of the excellent "fan mail" on Dale involving him holding peoples equipment for months with no return calls, lieing about UPS tracking #'s, the list goes on. I figured he already had my money and shipped it back once, so February 6th, I rush UPS this to him on my expense.

By March 1st I have the laptop back again for the second time. In one hour of being on, and heated up, the GPU goes bonkers again. Totally apparent at this point that they didn't even test the thing. Don't they realize that the reflow also involves heat and expansion/contraction? why didn't they leave the machine on or run a test program for a few hours because that's all I did to see it WASNT fixed. I call immediately and miraculously get Dale on the phone (basically now assured it's impossible to get them on the phone if there is a problem).

Dale now suggests its my whole motherboard that is faulty and, because of now two failed attempts he would replace the motherboard "as a favor" once he receives a shipment of faulty t40 boards he's going to refurbish. I just had to wait for him to take delivery of these bad motherboards and fix them. We are now going on 2-3 months of sending things back or forth and I of course ask how long. At this point I am desperate...it doesn't seem worth the several hundred dollars to get a brand new motherboard for this old laptop (I just love it, that's all) and I've already been without the machine this long, was borrowing another machine, and he still has my 50 bucks...whats another two weeks or so?

Well, this turned into another 4 months of him constantly lieing, giving promises they came in, and never, ever, EVER having the courtesy to answer a phone call directly, respond to an email, nothing.

One time during this period he called me on a random SUNDAY afternoon when I was out with my family, I of course miss the call, and then he uses that as an excuse that "hey I called you to get your address and you didnt pick up." Like, basically here I am the whole time NOT wanting to get my motherboard. GET MY ADDRESS?? I sent a laptop to him twice, he sent it to me twice, and he has countless emails, a paypal transaction, and voicemails with my address. It's almost insane the lies this guy comes up with!

Like I just said, the ability to get even in touch with him became truly impossible and I had to send a threatening FAX saying I would contact the better business beurea of northern illinois if he did not get me the motherboard promised. Almost immediately he sends me an email:

"Hello Frank,

Our normal policy is to just refund your money if we are unsuccessful
with the first repair attempt as stated in our add. We don't owe you
another board. I am trying to do you a favor and get you a new board.
.....I will just refund your money via paypal and follow our normal company policy.
You have your original IBM back with your original motherboard. I will
also refund your money via paypal."

This is after about, maybe 20+ phone calls and emails throughout the previous months SUGGESTING THIS as well.

Finally I got that reply. That was April 24th of 2009.

Well, this morning I finally got my money back, June 8th, 2009.

It took another many dozen phone calls, emails (he actually replied one other time with the same BS story like the "address" one above...called another weekend saying he didnt have my paypal address. Then responded to one of the many emails I sent "Got it thanks. We will refund your money today." on April 29th.

But no no no that's not what did it. This Saturday when I called his local police department to file a report and let him know that today I would send all the paperwork. Guess what? Immediately a paypal email.

They were already well aware of "the computer guy on industrial drive" in Gilberts, IL. Apparently I'm not the first, second, or what have you person to call up. The detective said I was lucky and at least I still have my laptop. He had people waiting over 6 months with their equipment that have called to pressure him to send their stuff out. I got the name of a detective and was told to go to my local station, file a report, and have it forwarded to him in Gilberts, IL and they would try and put a stop to this nonsense.

Bottom line is - THIS GUY SHOULD BE OUT OF BUSINESS. Check these reviews peppered all over the place (I just posted one here: http://chicago.kudzu.com/merchant/3626167.html )

I just don't get how this is still a functioning entity. When I first contacted them to get the work done the response was super quick. First phone call was picked up. As things progressed it became more and more impossible to get them to pick up a phone or answer an email. Only when threatened. It is by far the ugliest company I have ever dealt with in all my years buying anything on the internet. Dales mentality is...once he has your money...why actually do the work?

So, along with an apology for making everyone read this (and including Bill reading a near identical email this morning who suggested I post this to sticky it) thinkpads.com is the #3 result on google when you pull up their name...along with some other "questioning" about their company in the thinkpad community. 95% of his work is on macs and thinkpads.

In the end it was not so much about 50 bucks. It was being repeatedly lied to by a guy that's still in business and taking more money from people. FYI, in april when he told me the first time he would just refund the money so nonchalantly, I went on ebay that day and bought a whole new motherboard with processor and non DOA garuntee for like 60 bucks. Laptop was finally running sweet like 4 days later. Too bad I didn't do that in the first place.

So, please, whatever you do, DO NOT SEND MONEY OR EQUIPMENT TO DALE MIEDEMA / SUPERIOR REBALL AND REWORK OF GILBERTS, IL. It's borderline fraudulent!

Thanks for your time and please don't hesitate to ask if you need any more info.
f


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:37 pm 
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RBS10000
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Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:17 am
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Location: Mt. Cobb, PA USA
I think this report should be in the T4x forum, or at least it should have a clear link from there to this post.
After the good first impression (when we had a special project going by Harryc), I have followed the reballing, and reading between the lines, several people here must have other negative experiences with this guy/company.
Perhaps they were too shy to report? :roll:

Glad you got your T4x sorted.
SHAME on Superior Reball(s up).

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:49 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:00 am
Posts: 3
Location: Gilberts, IL
underclocker wrote:
Perhaps Superior Reball is very busy. I really have to say that their work is amazing. IBM/Lenovo should set up this type of operation.

Summary;
1st time -> four for five successfully reballed, not bad.
2nd time -> five for five successfully reballed, great.


Tend to agree about them being busy - that's my impression too.

Second the idea about IBM /Lenovo setting something up, especially because they've spec'd the chips in the first place. Maybe ATI should be involved too as the chip manufacturers.

In fact who else can we involve....there's the worldwide G20 conference next week. Maybe there could be a fringe meeting called the GPU695.......one for each solder ball on the chip


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:21 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:33 am 
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Their 'F' from the BBB doesn't look good either!

http://www.bbb.org/chicago/business-rev ... l-88257338

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 3:02 pm 
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I am finally getting my T41 back, which I sent in at the begining of march. I was talking on the phone to Dale a couple of days ago, and I found out that, in my case there were 2 reasons that I did not get it back sooner. the big reason was that he could not get my motherboard to work again, so at the begining of may I told him to just replace it. When his source for motherboards with the GPU issue finally got one, he put it in, tested it, paid for shipping and never actually got around to shipping it. I called him on thursday and asked, friday morning we get an e-mail stating that it has been shipped.

When I was talking to him, he said that I was the last person who would get a replacement motherboard, from now on if your motherboard is dead you find a replacement with the GPU issue and send it to him and he will fix it, and swap it out, but he will not be finding replacements.

My advice is that if you have a backup machine, and your system has not been abused too much send it to him. I think that it is too the point where the buisness has gotten bigger than he thought, and he only has one person working with him, because of the wages that technicians want.

I certainly think that his communication with his costumers needs to be improved, but I think that is his biggest problem.


Jack

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:10 am 
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Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 7:48 am
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Location: Virginia
I need to add my recent positive experience with Dale Mediema / Superior Reball and Rework to this thread. Before leaving on an extended trip out of the US, my Thinkpad started acting up with the GPU problem. I called Dale and explained my situation and he said he would give me quick turnaround. I shipped it to him on Thursday using priority mail. Sent him an email on Tuesday and didn't get a reply so faxed him a note on Wednesday. He called me back that morning and said he had looked around and that they had not yet received it but he would get it fixed as soon as he received it. In a few minutes he called me back and said the reason he didn't see it was that a tech person was working on it; that it was fixed, and that they would get it in the mail that day.

The Thinkpad arrived at my house on Friday, a week and one day after I shipped it to Dale and it has been working fine ever since. Obviously, I had a great experience and am a very happy customer.

Harold

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:42 pm 
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First of all, I think it is very good to hear both sides of the story here. Most of the posts are very positive. It is good (and relieving) to hear about a negative experience.

Here's my take on it.

1) Your T4X is basically broken due to the GPU problem.

2) There's three paths you can take with this:
2a) Replace the main board with a "new" or "used" one
2b) Trash the laptop
2c) Utilize the Superior Reball service. For those of us in the USA, I believe that Superior Reball is the only outfit that offers this service.

3) Option 2B is probably the least desirable. Option 2A is expensive and eventually you'll run into the GPU situation again. Option 2C is relatively "cheap" and "fixes" the issue.

So, you gamble and tried 2C. You're just out the shipping charges (trivial in the overall scheme of things). At least you got a refund and your laptop back. Although, the run-around is a major THUMBS DOWN.

Granted, I have yet (knock on wood) to be faced with the GPU situation. Perhaps, that's why I'm shunting T42 into a secondary role and utilizing my S10 as my primary.

However, when my GPU bites the dust, will I try the Superior Reball repair? ABSOLUTELY. The laptop is dead. It ain't going to get anymore dead. Worst case it's still dead afterwards and I request a refund. Best case, it gets fixed.

I mean seriously, we're fighting with one arm tied behind our backs on this GPU issue. What other repair options (short of replacement with a "new" or "used" main board (also prone to the GPU issue)) do we have?

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:43 pm 
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That was my take on it. I fixed it 2 times successfully with a heat gun, taking the risk of frying the board because it did not work anyway, so I would not loose anything, and realistically I did not loose anything the third time, because as I said, it was not working and I could not do anything with it anyway. It is a matter of your situation. I can borrow as school laptop during the day, and use a desktop at home, but I prefer having Microsoft office and all my stuff on my computer, so I have had a laptop for the last couple of years (actually 4 - there is an acer that I sold that is not in my sig). Because of this, 75 dollars is a small price to pay to get a dependable computer with an excellent keyboard that can withstand a hard life (acer's keyboard wore out in 4 months of copying notes), it leaves everyone happier all around.

Jack

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:52 am 
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warreng24 wrote:
2) There's three paths you can take with this:
2a) Replace the main board with a "new" or "used" one
2b) Trash the laptop
2c) Utilize the Superior Reball service. For those of us in the USA, I believe that Superior Reball is the only outfit that offers this service.


You forgot to mention
2d) Reflow method. I've had great success with this. My mother has been using a T42 reflowed with a heatgun for almost a year now without any problems.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:06 pm 
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I had 6 motherboards that are all having power on no video or move them and crash symptoms I sent over today. I'll let you know the outcome.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:30 pm 
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Location: Loves Park, IL
I had a good experience with Dale at Superior. I live about 30 miles from his shop, so I wanted to drop my T42 off instead of shipping it. I called Dale and asked him if I could drop it off to be fixed. I have read all the posts about Dale and I was hoping if I dropped it off I would have a better chance. Well I dropped it off on a Thursday and he said that he should know something by the next day. Friday came and went and no call. Now I thought I would call him on Monday and see what was up. I called on Monday and I got a recording "the number you have reached is no longer in service" I really thought that I was SOL. I tried again on Tuesday and Wednesday and still the same, number is out of service. Again I thought I was screwed. I thought I would drive out to the shop and see if he was there and maybe there was something wrong with his phone (like maybe he didn't pay his bill). Well on Thursday Dale called me!! I was shocked, he said that he had good news and bad news. The bad news was that my GPU was toast, but the good news was that he had a spare motherboard and he installed it and it was working great!! I stopped by the next day and picked it up. He powered it on for me when I got there and it has been working great ever since, that was mid July. He just charged me the $75 that it would have been for the rework, and he installed it for me.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 6:53 am 
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RBS10000
RBS10000

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Location: Mt. Cobb, PA USA
Superior Reball are now advertising on eBay under the name GPU Medics.
http://cgi.ebay.com/IBM-THINKPAD-MOTHER ... 0477080790
See also this post: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=79465

I have a T43 which needs reballing of the Southbridge.
I've sent this in to GPU Medics to test them out.
See my post here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=79901 where I will follow up with the test-results.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:21 am 
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Got my 6 motherboards back, these are the garden variety pentium mobile with ATI 7500 chips. SO far I have tested 4 of them and they are all functional. I got two more left to throw back into the cases to see. Frankly I was surprised when I was told all were recovered since I had not been too careful with the boards (observing ESD requirements). I went to the shop to pick them up. It's in a small town outside of Chicago. It's a nice size shop probably over 500quare feet. He looks real busy. There were many motherboards there. I'll be using them again.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 8:44 am 
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I spent a couple hours at his shop today to pick up some more mobos. Seems like a pretty nice guy. Did a few BIOS chip replacements to eliminate PWs on a T43 and R51 mobo for me and a of another R51 mobo reball.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:58 pm 
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Very quick response from Robert, sent Fri, replied to me on Monday. Bad news was board could not be fixed as the factory had epoxied the ATI chip to the board.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:27 pm 
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RBS10000
RBS10000

Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:17 am
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Location: Mt. Cobb, PA USA
I just found another reflowing/reballing outfit in the USA who may be able to work on Thinkpads:

http://www.firstphasetech.com/index.html
First Phase Technologies
2640 W. Medtronic Way
Tempe, Arizona 85281
Phone: (480) 967-1100

Anybody ever used them?

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Check out The Board Room for:
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- SATA-mods for any T43/R52 with ATI GPU
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:50 am 
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Guys, I've been involved in the rework / reball / repair (whatever you want to call it) of BGA packages for the last 15 years. You have to take these places with a grain of salt really.

It's interesting that Superior Reball's website is quite vague with photos and "mentions" what type of equipment they have and don't show you actual shop photos. That's sketchy #1, second, BGA issues often times are not limited to simply... "reballing" and heading down the highway clear and problem free...

One post mentioned that there was "Epoxy" on the BGA and due to that... it wasn't repairable? ummm...Okay (thats clue #1 to run the other way)

When you have a BGA package "lifting" from the board, you also will almost always encounter motherboard pad lift or damage. (did you ever wonder why they claim that some are not repairable?)

I'll tell you why, because these shops are VERY limited in their ability to actually RESOLVE the underline issues. The end result is a lifting BGA (my 18 year old nephew can reball a chip) BUT can you deal with and implement a solid repair for ALL the damage that's present? Apparently NOT.

One post mentioned "they're apparently the only outfit that's out there doing this kind of work) They're one of the only outfits doing this kind of work IN THIS FASHION!

Also, what measures are these "Shops" taking to eliminate this problem later down the road? Oh my, that requires thinking outside the box don't it.. LOL

The second shop mentioned was "firstphasetech".... at $49.99 they can repair all of your BGA problems.. LOL okay! DO they give free bath towel set with each order?

Cmon folks, BGA repair runs about $129 - $149 each chip in reality, that's to "reball" then "repair the damaged PADs, then implement a POST repair solution to eliminate this from happening again.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:49 am 
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ThinkPadder
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Hi Roger and welcome to the forums.

You make some very good and interesting points. I run what I'd call a "proper" a Reflowing company in the UK, with what I'd like to think is customer focused and engineering-based rather than "quick buck".

Quote:
....second, BGA issues often times are not limited to simply... "reballing" and heading down the highway clear and problem free...

I totally agree Roger. It's essential first of all to do a proper diagnosis which can take time, even it it's to simply fire up the Windows Test disc and run through the functions. Sometimes there appears to be nothing wrong until you leave it for 15 minutes.
Having diagnosed and done the appropriate repair, it sometimes happens that another chip then needs doing because it was on the edge of failing anyway. This is where test-test-test comes into the repair process.

For instance the other day we had a rare HP laptop which did not have the dreaded Nvidia GPU but used an ATI chipset. Symptoms no internal display but there was a consistent output from the external VGA socket.
it would have been easy to jump into "reball mode", but it turned out not to be an unsoldered chip but a corroded PCB video connector. A quick replace later (and how many other reflow / repair companies could do that?) and one happy customer. But not a reball in sight!

And sometimes only reflowing is all that's needed. I've seen endoscope pictures of BGA's which have not been properly soldered to the board during manufacturer because the line was being run slightly too fast (apparently) for the BGA to fully "take" properly, and a reflow is all that's needed.

Quote:
One post mentioned that there was "Epoxy" on the BGA and due to that... it wasn't repairable? ummm...Okay (thats clue #1 to run the other way)

This is a good one; first of all many reflowing companies don't appreciate that any dots or strips of epoxy need to be removed first or else how is the chip going to settle as the solder balls melt?
Epoxy dots are very quick and easy to remove with no damage to the chip or board, but what's impossible (for me at any rate!) are the strips of clear epoxy which you see under GPU's on T43 and T6x boards. We found a commercial solvent which would dissolve it but did take some hours to do this. This is fine if it doesn't extend into the outside BGA rows, but unfortunately it does and it's impossible (so far) for me to find a way of getting in there.
So we've resorted to grinding the chip off and fitting a new one in its place. Totally destructive with potential health and safety issues etc, but it does work and can be done without a mark on the motherboard too (BTW would a "fast buck" company go to these lengths?).

Quote:
When you have a BGA package "lifting" from the board, you also will almost always encounter motherboard pad lift or damage. (did you ever wonder why they claim that some are not repairable?)

Exactly. We're using Infrared Reflowing equipment made by the German company Ersa and they lift the chips off so cleanly that we haven't had a damaged board or chip for months now.
We did have another Infrared system made by a UK company where this happened and was due to uneven heat being applied over the chip / board area causing the some of the pads to occasionally lift.
Bottom line here is that you need to get top quality equipment and know how to use it.

Quote:
...... these shops are VERY limited in their ability to actually RESOLVE the underline issues. The end result is a lifting BGA (my 18 year old nephew can reball a chip) BUT can you deal with and implement a solid repair for ALL the damage that's present? Apparently NOT.

I don't know if you have the same Roger, but I have people contacting me here who want to set up and to know how to do it etc. What they will never be able to grasp is that every part of the reflowing and reballing process is extremely complicated until you've worked out how to do it for yourself,when it becomes relatively straight forward.
The YouTube videos of these processes make me laugh because they miss out the complicated bits and are plain misleading on others.
It's been a fantastic and frustrating time for me personally with endless setbacks but real successes too (and at one time I used to go round muttering "if it's easy everyone would be doing it...").
We even designed some of our own equipment because what was out there didn't fit our brief - our PC controlled closed loop Infrared oven for chip reballing for instance, to say nothing of our own macro camera system which lets us look at the solder balls in real time so we know when the BGA has melted. My 5 year old grandson (if I had one!) could reflow with one of those!

Quote:
One post mentioned "they're apparently the only outfit that's out there doing this kind of work) They're one of the only outfits doing this kind of work IN THIS FASHION!

Also, what measures are these "Shops" taking to eliminate this problem later down the road? Oh my, that requires thinking outside the box don't it.. LOL

Yup and companies like that are here today and gone tomorrow as well - the only ones doing THAT too!

What we don't want to see are any returns due to failure etc, and we make it our business to to check every laptop (and PC's now) after they've been reflowed / reballed before it leaves us to make sure they are running within the manufacturer's parameters and as efficiently as possible.
An example:
Background info - Our research into the underlying issues with failing Nvidia GPU's fitted to lenovo, HP, Samsung, Sony, etc laptops shows that the problem isn't due to unsoldered solder balls, but fundamental design issues with the chip - see this post for more information - so the repair has to be treated in a different fashion. What has also got to be understood is that the chip is flawed from the day it left the factory, so having repaired it, ways have to be found to try and make sure it doesn't happen again.
Manufacturers parameters - Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for BIOS updates and recommended Operating Systems. There's no point installing Windows 7 on a laptop which was never designed for it (laptops run hotter with Win 7) because the GPU will simply fail again.
Operational Efficiency - Cleaning out fan assemblies and removing and renewing the old heatsink compound is essential to allow the laptop to run cooler.
How many of these other companies do this or know about the in's and out's of the Nvidia chip issue?

Quote:
Cmon folks, BGA repair runs about $129 - $149 each chip in reality, that's to "reball" then "repair the damaged PADs, then implement a POST repair solution to eliminate this from happening again.

I've had people from as far afield as US, Australia and Singapore emailing us in the UK because they can't find anyone in their own country who can do a decent job. Some are even prepared to pay the horrendous carriage charges to get their stuff to us.
For you guys in US, I'm pleased to say that I'm in the final stages of setting up a US-based board depot with another Thinkpad Forums member, so that we can offer decently priced fully reconditioned motherboards.
The reason? Because it seems there's not a single reflowing / reballing company in the US who are able to fulfill the needs of their customers.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:15 am 
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"I totally agree Roger. It's essential first of all to do a proper diagnosis which can take time, even it it's to simply fire up the Windows Test disc and run through the functions. Sometimes there appears to be nothing wrong until you leave it for 15 minutes.
Having diagnosed and done the appropriate repair, it sometimes happens that another chip then needs doing because it was on the edge of failing anyway. This is where test-test-test comes into the repair process."

-----> You'll find that ICE or In Circuit Testing or PCT "processor controlled tests" can pickup on many evasive or discrete faults on a what seems to be "normally" functioning board. Flying Probe testers are also quite handy to detect variance in resistance measurement. Unfortunately these devices are not cheap.


"Epoxy dots are very quick and easy to remove with no damage to the chip or board, but what's impossible (for me at any rate!) are the strips of clear epoxy which you see under GPU's on T43 and T6x boards. We found a commercial solvent which would dissolve it but did take some hours to do this. This is fine if it doesn't extend into the outside BGA rows, but unfortunately it does and it's impossible (so far) for me to find a way of getting in there.
So we've resorted to grinding the chip off and fitting a new one in its place. Totally destructive with potential health and safety issues etc, but it does work and can be done without a mark on the motherboard too (BTW would a "fast buck" company go to these lengths?)."

---------> There are two different reasons for epoxy to be dispensed onto the board. The main reason is to "hold" components during placement on the board before the reflow process. The second as you described (strips running under the chip) is called a package "underlayment".. this is primarily to bond the package to the board to avoid flex "pull away" of the chip during normal operating temperatures. Theoretically speaking, you should not be seeing any BGA contact issues with BGA packages that have underlayment applied.

Almost all epoxies are designed to become pliable at around 140c so it can be "re-worked" with.


"Exactly. We're using Infrared Reflowing equipment made by the German company Ersa and they lift the chips off so cleanly that we haven't had a damaged board or chip for months now.
We did have another Infrared system made by a UK company where this happened and was due to uneven heat being applied over the chip / board area causing the some of the pads to occasionally lift.
Bottom line here is that you need to get top quality equipment and know how to use it."

--------> During the period of the loss of contact while the board is in service is when pad damage occurs. Yes, you're right that it does also occur at the time of package lifting during the removal process, but what I'm mainly concerned with is the fact that some of these shops may consider a board "not repairable" when they never even removed the chip off the board to expose the damaged pads. Or if they did lift the chip and found damaged pads and rendered it "not-repairable" when if they knew what they were doing, it could be repaired at the "right facility".

I developed a micro welding technique a few years ago that gives rework facilities the ability to re-weld the damaged BGA pads, yes there are some "epoxy backed BGA repair pads out there, but they are highly unreliable as reflow temps during reworking would not only breakdown the epoxy and cause movement, but also "re-melt" the trace to pad junction point and pull it away.

The pad / circuit welding unit runs about 10k

You bring up a good point, good equipment is good to have but until the operator learns the equipment temperaments and unique process behaviors, it's just as good as a cheap unit. It took me about 4 years to understand the in's and out's of my AirVac and Metcal BGA rework stations.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:24 pm 
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@ poshgeordie, am interested in hearing more about your plans for a US based 'board depot'. I'm assuming it would work something like this; You keep a stock of every T4X board at the partners depot, ready to go. When a client sends his/her board in to the depot (bare or still in the machine?) you send out the equivalent board and/or repair the machine with an equivalent board. Once the depot partner collects enough boards he mass ships them to the UK to save on shipping (carriage) . You fix them in your shop and then ship them back, and the cycle repeats. The thing I'm most interested in is pricing. Would a reworked board from the depot cost the same as you reworking one in your shop? If you could offer them cheaply enough and once word got out that they were reliable, they'd sell like hotcakes. Then again shipping is not free and the 'partner' would have to make some money, so I'd guess the pricing structure would be higher than mail in shop repairs.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 3:24 am 
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@ Harry

I'm not sure if my partner wants his name made public yet (I haven't asked) but I can say he's a well know and knowledgable Thinkpad Forum member.

Yes the way you describe is exactly how it would work.

Price has been a Overused word to work out because of the shipping but we've now got that sorted.

Regarding the end price of a refurbished board I can't say exactly what that will be, but they will be very competitive.
Our No.1 aim is to fulfill the need US members have for decent boards and this need has become increasingly apparent from recent posts.

We're at the stage of building the initial stock of refurbished boards, and what would help us a lot is if there are members out there who have broken T4x boards they don't want, that they could send them to us.
If they could donate them that would be superb, but we'd be prepared to pay for them too.

Would it be OK to put in a WTB in the market place, or to somehow publicise it? It would be a one off ask to get it off the ground.

Roger - I'll answer you later and appreciate your insights etc. I need to digest it and will get back tomorrow.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 3:31 am 
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The Marketplace post asking for dead boards is fine with me. You may even want to consider having a chat with Bill M. to get another banner and or putting up a permanent Marketplace Ad for the depot. Once you get the depot established, it might be nice if you kicked in a buck for every sale attributed to this forum too ;). Good luck with the depot.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 5:02 am 
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Time to let the cat out of the bag...
I'm happy to announce, that I am the partner in poshgeordie's US end of his enterprise.
And -by coincidence- the funny part is: we are Nick and Dominic.
The US depot will be in: Jefferson Township, PA 18436.
More details will follow in due time (not long now).

Anybody already having dead T4x (or R5x) boards to ship, please PM me for the address.
I/we look forward to serving you.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:08 am 
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Sounds like a good partnership. Good luck with the venture ... I hope it is a great success. :D

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:56 am 
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You know, when I saw the (then) secret partner was well-known here,
I guessed instantly it was probably the man I think of as "RBS".

Good luck with this! With a T42 in my sig I'm of course rooting for you. :D

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 2:43 pm 
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poshgeordie wrote:
Our No.1 aim is to fulfill the need US members have for decent boards and this need has become increasingly apparent from recent posts.


What sort of warranty (if any) would be offered?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:05 am 
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@Goofy... We're sorting out these details but there will be a decent warranty with each one.

Thanks too Harry - good ideas which RBS & I will discuss.

Apologies for all the vagueness. We appreciate your comments and encouragement - it's also great to be able to partner with Dominic (RBS) who I've always respected for his friendliness, honesty, and as a font of knowledge on Thinkpads and laptops generally.

We'll keep you updated with progress and please continue to send in suggestions etc, and especially those broken boards which are gathering dust!


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:53 am 
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Hi Roger
Quote:
You'll find that ICE or In Circuit Testing or PCT "processor controlled tests" can pickup on many evasive or discrete faults on a what seems to be "normally" functioning board. Flying Probe testers are also quite handy to detect variance in resistance measurement. Unfortunately these devices are not cheap.

I've used these in the past on production lines but as you say they're not cheap. Also in my day a lot of programming was needed to pick up and correctly apply the right tests to the board nodes etc.

Quote:
The second as you described (strips running under the chip) is called a package "underlayment".. this is primarily to bond the package to the board to avoid flex "pull away" of the chip during normal operating temperatures. Theoretically speaking, you should not be seeing any BGA contact issues with BGA packages that have underlayment applied.
Almost all epoxies are designed to become pliable at around 140c so it can be "re-worked" with.

Try telling that to whoever applied the stuff! When present it always penetrates into the first 2 or 3 rows of the BGA and must have been applied post-manufacture.
Also we experimented with heating this up to quite high temperatures and it just doesn't soften. It does make me wonder if it's some kind of cyanoacrylate (super glue) rather than epoxy because it's characteristics are so different to epoxy.
It may also be the kind of epoxy which takes at least 24 hours to set but will set in 20 minutes if it's heated; it does become liquidy just before it sets which would explain the creep into the BGA but not the hard (ie clean) edge along the outside of the chip. I'll do some more experimenting with some of this epoxy.

Quote:
During the period of the loss of contact while the board is in service is when pad damage occurs. Yes, you're right that it does also occur at the time of package lifting during the removal process, but what I'm mainly concerned with is the fact that some of these shops may consider a board "not repairable" when they never even removed the chip off the board to expose the damaged pads. Or if they did lift the chip and found damaged pads and rendered it "not-repairable" when if they knew what they were doing, it could be repaired at the "right facility".

I've never thought about pad damage occuring whilst the board is in service. it makes sense because the solder ball will have been "torn" away from the pad with the possibility of pad damage.
I've not spotted any such damage after the chip has been lifted and the pads cleaned up, and would be very interested in more information as to what to look for - for instance is there a slight bulge on the pad or are you talking about there being no pad there after cleanup?

Quote:
I developed a micro welding technique a few years ago that gives rework facilities the ability to re-weld the damaged BGA pads, yes there are some "epoxy backed BGA repair pads out there, but they are highly unreliable as reflow temps during reworking would not only breakdown the epoxy and cause movement, but also "re-melt" the trace to pad junction point and pull it away.

The pad / circuit welding unit runs about 10k

Very interested in this Is this a service you can offer on a per pad basis and if so what do you charge and what are your contact details?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 8:38 pm 
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poshgeordie wrote:
... and especially those broken boards which are gathering dust!


I saw one of those people in the mirror this morning! Look forward to this service; I assume we'll see a prominent announcement on this board.


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