Tutorial  Updated

How to install iQue firmware on a non-iQue DS lite

This guide was built for this this blog entry. Check it out!

How to install iQue firmware on a non-iQue DS lite
This guide also works for installing korean firmware. Please note that there isn't much use to installing korean or iQue firmware, besides being able to brag about having done this mod...
THIS GUIDE WAS WRITTEN FOR DS LITE ONLY!
(this can be done with phat models but the WiFi boards are harder to remove and impossible to find replacement parts for, making this risky if you brick. I can provide assistance below for phats, but please don't ask for a proper guide...)

1678853987003.png

This guide will walk you through turning your america/japan/europe region DS lite into an iQue DS. You will do this by writing to and replacing a flash chip inside the WiFi board. The WiFi board can be removed and replaced with a non-iQue one at any time, restoring your console to “normal” firmware.

Prerequisites:​

- a soldering iron and flux
- a DS lite WiFi board
- a DS cartridge with a 512kb flash save (see this list for compatible donor carts)
- a DS flashcart
- experience working with small electronics

======================================================================

Step 1 - Fixing wireless:​

Each firmware copy contains WiFi board specific data that lets it connect wirelessly. This data cannot be moved from one WiFi board to another, or you will be unable to connect. To solve this, we will back up the original data and copy it over to the new firmware we’ll be flashing.

1. Dump your DS firmware with DSBF_dump.nds. (use a flashcart for this)
2. Open the dumped firmware in a hex editor. It will be called something like "FWD7F1EE.BIN", and is found on the root of your flashcart SD card.
3. Select offset 0x2A to 0x1FF and copy it.
1678852151289.png

4. Open an iQue firmware dump in the hex editor.
5. Select offset 0x2A to 0x1FF on the iQue firmware and paste the data from before.
6. Save the edited iQue firmware to your SD as "ique.sav"

Step 2 - Removing the WiFi board shell:​

Your WiFi board different from the one below? That's okay! See the spoiler below:
There are two main types of DS lite WiFi boards. You may find you have the less common one shown below. If so, skip this section. You'll need to remove all sides of the shell and you'll have to figure out how on your own. I don't own enough of that type to destroy and write up a good way of opening...
1678851094893.png
1678851112027.png
1714200208323.png
1714200219815.png

2. While the solder is molten, gently pry up that corner of the shield until it is no longer making contact with the PCB.
1714200238397.png

3. Work your way around the rest of the corners. Be sure not to lift the shield up too far, otherwise you could pull apart the WiFi board.
4. The shield should just slide off.
1714200254169.png

Step 3 - Removing the WiFi board flash chip:​

Now we will remove the flash chip with the original firmware. This is a delicate process, as there are multiple small capacitors near the chip, so take care not to burn/melt/tear them off.

1. Apply a small amount of flux to the pins of the chip.
2. Insert a small flat tool between the chip and the board, then melt one side of the chip's pins.
1714200498574.png

3. While the solder is molten, lift up the one side of the chip with your tool until it is no longer making contact with the PCB. Do NOT lift it so far that you bend off the pins on the other side.
4. Melt the solder on the other pins and slide the chip off the board.
1714200514205.png

Step 4 - Flashing the iQue firmware:​

We will now flash the iQue firmware to the DS cartridge flash chip. This is done by restoring it as a save file.

1. Open gm9i on your flashcart.
2. Navigate to “ique.sav” and press A. (ique.sav was created in the first section)
3. Select “Restore save (Slot-1)” and press A.
4. gm9i will ask you to eject your flashcart and insert the DS game. Do so now.
5. Press A and wait for the firmware to be loaded.
If you get an error, your DS cart is not 512kb and this guide will not work. Refer to this list for compatible donor carts. If your cart was one of the ones on the list and still did not work, email me at “[email protected]
4. After you’ve successfully flashed the firmware, eject your cartridge.

Step 5 - Removing the DS cartridge flash chip:​

This is done in the exact same way as removing the WiFi board’s save chip. Note that you will have to be more careful depending on your donor cart, as many of the boards are more populated and you’ve got a higher chance of melting something off.

1. Apply a small amount of flux to the pins of the chip.
2. Insert a small flat tool between the chip and the board, then melt one side of the chip's pins.
3. While the solder is molten, lift up the one side of the chip with your tool until it is no longer making contact with the PCB. Do NOT lift it so far that you bend off the pins on the other side.
4. Melt the solder on the other pins and slide the chip off the board.

Step 6 - Attaching the new flash chip to the WiFi board:​

We will now take the 512kb save chip we flashed with iQue firmware and put it in the WiFi board.

1. Start by placing your chip on the WiFi board. It needs the the right way around or it will not work. Most chips will have a small dimple located on the top. This must be facing the top left of the board (see image below for reference)
If your chip does not have this marking, notice how the text is lined up below and try to replicate that.
1714200885968.png

If your board is the different one mentioned before, the dimple will be facing the bottom right, as is shown below:
2x_dimple.png
2. Once your chip is aligned, firmly hold it on the board and solder any one pin.
1714201171963.png

3. Check that all other pins are properly lined up. If they are not, desolder the one pin and try again
4. Solder the remaining pins onto the board

Step 7 - Testing the “iQue” WiFi board​

Before closing the WiFi board, we must check to make sure there are no errors.

1. Plug the WiFi board into the DS lite
2. Boot the console and test the following:
  1. Does it turn on?
  2. Can it run games (DS and GBA)?
  3. Do multiplayer games connect?
  4. Does the touchscreen work? (note: you will need to calibrate the touchscreen the first time you use the firmware)
3. If any of the above tests failed, stop following the guide and please reply to this thread with your issue or contact me at [email protected]
4. If all tests passed, please continue.

Step 8 - Reassembling the WiFi board (optional)​

We will finish off by placing the metal shield back of the WiFi board. While optional, this is recommended to keep your WiFi board safe.

1. Line up the metal shield on the WiFi board and solder one pin down.
2. Check that everything is lined up, and adjust if needed.
3. Solder the remaining pins.
4. Celebrate, ‘cause you’re done! Welcome to your new iQue DS lite.

Notes for using the iQue firmware:​

- The touch screen will need to be calibrated after flashing, so don’t worry if the touch screen isn’t working properly at the start
- Some tools like fwManager will fail when flashing iQue firmware. Do not edit the firmware afterwards unless you are willing to risk bricking the WiFi board!

Thanks to…​

- xp, for showing me how to fix wireless
- ufo, for this silly idea
- Scarlett Haze, for finding a list of donor carts
- this random blog, for showing that WiFi board flash chips are compatible with cartridge saves
 
Last edited by rvtr,

rvtr

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Thanks! Thankfully it's not too much hard work to get it running. The guide looks a bit scary because of how much detail it needs, but you just restore a save and swap two chips. It's relatively simple.
 

KleinesSinchen

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Awesome work.

Did you intentionally not include the "Tutorial" tag in the thread title? It would have made this thread stay on front page box.

Thanks! Thankfully it's not too much hard work to get it running.
Don't forget that a picture of a soldering iron is enough to scare some people away. If it can't be done with software only, many people aren't interested. I can't blame them looking at my movement disorders. So many ideas and so little skill to even try.

In any case an interesting proof of concept. What the little mad scientist inside me wants to know is…
[Mad scientist]
…if we could use the save chip from… let's say Art Academy. It is able to store some pictures and as such has to be quite large. What I mean is: Could – in theory – a CFW exist that lives in a big flash chip and offers stand-alone functionality as if it was a mini-NAND? An integrated NesDS with access to Super Mario Bros, Tetris, Zelda 1 and such.
[/Mad scientist]
 

SylverReZ

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Don't forget that a picture of a soldering iron is enough to scare some people away.
Yeah. Judging by that slighty rusty tip, it must need a clean.

…if we could use the save chip from… let's say Art Academy. It is able to store some pictures and as such has to be quite large. What I mean is: Could – in theory – a CFW exist that lives in a big flash chip and offers stand-alone functionality as if it was a mini-NAND? An integrated NesDS with access to Super Mario Bros, Tetris, Zelda 1 and such.
That sounds like a challenge. Wonder if that can be done. 🤔
 

rvtr

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Did you intentionally not include the "Tutorial" tag in the thread title? It would have made this thread stay on front page box
I did not think about tags. Do you know how to add them?
Don't forget that a picture of a soldering iron is enough to scare some people away. If it can't be done with software only, many people aren't interested.
Very true, though if someone is scared of doing this because there's soldering, they probably shouldn't be doing this soldering anyways... at some point I'll try to set up my website for people to order one of these, so that'll be good for those who don't have the experience. Still a bit far off though.
Could – in theory – a CFW exist that lives in a big flash chip and offers stand-alone functionality as if it was a mini-NAND? An integrated NesDS with access to Super Mario Bros, Tetris, Zelda 1 and such.
I don't see why not. I'm sure there's a limit at some point, but you can load firmware onto plenty of chips that are too big. I might experiment with that later. But it'd be nicer if someone actually had a firmware (even if only a test one) for bigger chips lmao
Yeah. Judging by that slighty rusty tip, it must need a
It was an old tip. I was lazy and didn't get out my new ones 'cause I could see my iron was about to die anyways. No point in changing when your iron only has a couple uses left.
 

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It was an old tip. I was lazy and didn't get out my new ones 'cause I could see my iron was about to die anyways. No point in changing when your iron only has a couple uses left.
I would consider using a brass or wet sponge to clean it as a last resort.
 

KleinesSinchen

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I did not think about tags. Do you know how to add them?
You don't. Accessing thread title after creation requires moderation rights. Just report your own topic and ask for the tag being added.

I don't see why not. I'm sure there's a limit at some point, but you can load firmware onto plenty of chips that are too big. I might experiment with that later. But it'd be nicer if someone actually had a firmware (even if only a test one) for bigger chips lmao
It would be really "nerdy" to build something like this.
 

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I would consider using a brass or wet sponge to clean it as a last resort.
This one is far too gone for that lol. Again, it was on a dying iron anyways. It'll go in the trash along with my dead equipment.
Post automatically merged:

It would be really "nerdy" to build something like this.
That's it, now I'm gonna do it.
 

RocketRobz

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[Mad scientist]
…if we could use the save chip from… let's say Art Academy. It is able to store some pictures and as such has to be quite large. What I mean is: Could – in theory – a CFW exist that lives in a big flash chip and offers stand-alone functionality as if it was a mini-NAND? An integrated NesDS with access to Super Mario Bros, Tetris, Zelda 1 and such.
[/Mad scientist]
I don't see why not. I'm sure there's a limit at some point, but you can load firmware onto plenty of chips that are too big. I might experiment with that later. But it'd be nicer if someone actually had a firmware (even if only a test one) for bigger chips lmao
afaik, WarioWare DIY has a 128MB NAND chip (at least considering the ROM dump size), and nearly the same size as the main partition in the DSi NAND chip.
With nds-bootstrap supporting DSiWare on DS (lite), DSiWare could be stored there as well.
 

rvtr

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afaik, WarioWare DIY has a 128MB NAND chip (at least considering the ROM dump size), and nearly the same size as the main partition in the DSi NAND chip.
Woah, impressive. Just gotta wonder how quickly those die considering nintendo's track record with NANDs. Though I feel like NAND carts aren't gonna be compatible in WiFi boards lol.

I just took apart a couple 3DS carts and it appears that their save chips are the more compact design and won't fit... bummer. I'll have to order chips off of mouser I guess. Oh well, at least there I don't have to dig through buckets of shovelware like in the game store.
 

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…if we could use the save chip from… let's say Art Academy. It is able to store some pictures and as such has to be quite large. What I mean is: Could – in theory – a CFW exist that lives in a big flash chip and offers stand-alone functionality as if it was a mini-NAND? An integrated NesDS with access to Super Mario Bros, Tetris, Zelda 1 and such.
A modified DSi FW on a DSLite/Phat would be a pretty sweet... actually, would it be possible to have a 'switchable' FW? ie, stock/iQue/DSi/Twilight++ all on the same flash chip and selectable via different button combos at power on? Probably not, but spitballing doesn't hurt ;)
 
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rvtr

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I have 3 spare boards and all of them has big shield cover.
My friend and I have a combined 150+ WiFi boards and got a total of 12 of the hard to open ones. It's not impossible to have a bunch of those ones, but from my experience (although limited) they are less common.
 
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I feel it's worth noting that you can get WiFi boards for $0.29 USD each on aliexpress. If something does go wrong, these are pretty good replacement boards. Slow shipping, but they're OEM, come in good condition, and beat ebay's ridiculous price of $10 per one board.

There are other listings on the site, but this is the one I use.
https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256804848455087.html

Though just because they're so cheap to replace doesn't mean you should be sloppy. Still take care not to damage the boards too much.
 
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rvtr

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Is there any reason FlashMe can’t be used to install the firmware just like the guide for flashing prototype firmware?
You may be able to, though I have not tested that. I've been nervous about bricking my custom board and have just stuck with the ways I know work, however sloppy they may be. With fwManager improperly flashing iQue firmware, I need to desolder the chip, reflash with different hardware, then solder the chip back on if I ever brick. A bit more work than I want to do...

I have created a couple new iQue boards though, so I will sacrifice those for testing FlashMe in the morning. Thanks for the suggestion!

Also sometime this month I should be getting some PCBs my friend made for me that essentially hook up a WiFi board to a cartridge and connect the flash chip to where the save chip would normally be. That allows for writing to a board with any save manager. Pop the board in the cartridge extension and you're good. Should let me test things without worry about silly little bricks and botched flashing.
Post automatically merged:

Er... maybe I've been an idiot all along. Someone said you could use FlashMe to add brick protection when flashing... I thought they meant you'd flash the firmware you want and it'd add some special recovery thing. It has it's own firmware it uses.

A big reminder to myself to check things I add before adding them. Thankfully everything else has been tested on the proto guide. I am very sorry about that, I'll update my guide accordingly.
 
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M25PE40 has a different pin configuration.
Is there a different pcb version of the wifi board?
Or is it simply written wrong?
There are different PCB revisions with a different footprint for the save chip, but the pinout remains the same.

image.png

photo197-1.png
 
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