Post#2: Installing, experience (and perseverance) is bliss 10th of November 2006



On with installing the Viper chip! As I was really looking forward to running homebrew on my NGC I got everything needed to install quickly and started. My friend Juice helped me with installing, which made it even more fun to do ;).

Now I want to start by saying that with a little help (or at least someone looking over your shoulder) installing the chip isn't very hard (though understandably scary the first time). I do recommend you have an organized workspace. I had to open my cube twice (I'll get to that) and the first time round when I wasn't quite sure where everything went (I even had one screw too many =P) having a clean workspace made it a lot easier to keep track of things.


Anyway taking the NGC apart isn't very hard to do (especially when you have the guide made available by Mod-Chip.com which you can see on the left of the image). Just keep to a few simple rules (make sure you are ESD proof, etc.) and you should be fine. If you haven't done any soldering in your life though, I suggest you either read up good and try a few simple things first (though this isn't very hard mind you) or find someone who has some idea how to solder. Again this isn't very hard but you do need to solder on an IC leg so it can be somewhat tricky. Also, make sure you have proper gear, get everything ready before you begin opening your cube. A small soldering tip is also something I can really highly recommend. It can even make it possible that you won't need to remove the heat sink (I removed it, but I found I didn't have to as the second time round I was able to solder the yellow wire with the heat sink still in place).

Now I can't talk you through the whole process of disassembling the NGC and installing the mod-chip, but I can show you some images and a few side notes ;). At first you remove the four screws at the bottom of your cube with the special gamecube screwdriver/bit (you'll not need it after this except for when you are reassembling). After that you remove the top of the casing and the back panel.


Note; In this image I haven't removed the backpanel yet


Now after removing the front/gameport board, fan unit and disc/laser unit you'll get to the mainboard.


You can now already see what revision gamecube (mainboard) you have. My Gamecube mainboard is clearly a revision A or B one, so all my soldering can be done on one side of the board. This makes it a lot easier for me as I won't have to remove it from the casing.


Note; I've removed the heat sink in these images, but this wasn't needed. My soldering tip was small enough to allow for me to solder the yellow wire to the IC without taking the heat sink off.


When I had connected all the wires (which wasn't very hard) the reassembly of the gamecube started. First of all put the flat cable that came with the Viper GC Extreme through one of the openings leading to serial port 1. To get the wires from the mainboard to where the chip will be I bent a bit of the laser unit to allow for the wires of the mod-chip to pass through and then connected the cables to the mod-chip. This was quite hard to do, and as became apparent later this made the yellow wire to come loose.


Once I had pretty much everything back together I tested the cube to see if there was any short circuit. Thankfully the cube didn't die on me and it booted fine (for as far as I could see as there was no TV attached). So I finished putting it back together and went over to my computer (and TV).

Once there I connected everything up (power-, video-, usb2pc-cable, etc.). Normally when you connect the Viper USB adapter you should be asked if new drivers need to be found for it. When this didn't happen on my PC I got suspicious. My computer did detect a new device was plugged in, but was unable to find drivers for it and called it "malfunctioning". As I though this to be very strange I started looking around. I turned my attention to my gamecube. There also seemed to be a problem with it. When you have installed your Viper chip, at first boot you should get the message (when you have the chip turned on; a default setting) that you need to flash a new bios to it. This didn't happen to me no matter what I tried :'(. Now really, being really scared I broke something, I started asking around.

After having some replies and a good nights sleep I thought of something. What if one of the wires came loose! As I am no expert I wasn't sure but I could imagine that that could cause this problem. Just in case you also get this problem I will recapitulate my symptoms:
This lead me to opening the gamecube for a second time. After getting to the mainboard I saw that the yellow wire had come loose. Not feeling like taking off the heat sink again (the first time the cooling paste didn't look so good) I tried soldering the yellow wire back on without removing it. This went surprisingly easy! To make sure it wouldn't come loose again I taped the cable to the mainboard (the tape doesn't conduct so it can be safely left on as long as it doesn't get too hot).


After testing it again I reconnected it to my PC and TV. This time it got detected properly and I got the Viper Flash-Me (sorry, bad joke I know). Now came my second problem. I had already downloaded the latest Cobra bios (which is still version 16) and wanted to flash it. I started up the Viper USB flashing tool and selected "load bios" from the drop-down menu.


No matter how many times I tried I kept getting the message that a Viper USB adapter was found, but it was not able to connect to the Viper GC or Viper GC Extreme chip. With a hell of a lot persistence to keep trying and a bit of dumb luck I clicked on the big write button on the app by accident and for some reason that did work. So a note to you if you want to flash your chip;

Use the big write button instead of the drop-down menu. I believe I also had to turn of "Save mode" in the drop-down menu when flashing, else it would also not work!


In the end installing the chip wasn't very hard. Taking the cube apart isn't difficult and soldering on the mainboard also isn't tough. Just plug the cable from the wires you need to solder into the Viper GC Extreme before you start soldering and tape it down once you start the reassembly of your system and you should be fine. Flashing also isn't very hard but you do need to know the bugs in the flashing tool (or a bit of luck and persistence ;)).

After finally having the chip flashed the installation was done. Now I need to get some more info on available gamecube homebrew and how to run it exactly. So for now signing off,

-Simon "Scorpei" van de Berg



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