Chameleon Repair


Last year (2003) I ordered three Chameleon 1.3 modchips from and when I got them I found out that two of the modchips where damaged, either in the mail transit (Fedex International Priority Envelope) or by the packaging Easybuy2000 packed them in (Bubble plastic), or just a good combination of both.

Note: This problem can exists on all versions of the Chameleon chip.

Chameleon 1.3 - Bottom Chameleon 1.3 - Top

The problem I occurred was that I couldn't flash them with a new bios, I tried every available method; Cromwell disc flash, hotswapping and the Matrix programmer. In EvoX all I got was a "Flash Not Writable" error message and I just assumed they were dead-on-arrival. Shipping them back to the states wasn't really worth the cost or the effort.

Note: If you are using Evox and you are getting the "Manufacturers id 09, Device id 00 !! FLASH NOT WRITABLE !!" error you should add the required flashrom entries in the evox.ini configuration file:

Flash = 0x015b,"AMD - Am29LV800B",0x100000
Flash = 0x01da,"AMD - Am29LV800B",0x100000


A year and a half later I began to wonder why the chips didn't work in the first place and I decided to take a closer look at them. I cleaned them with a flux cleaning fluid and didn't see any obvious faults. But then I saw this special connection bridge just above the external wire connections. It looked like two pads with a very very tiny tracer connecting between them. After following the tracers I found that the meaning of this point was to enable an external write enable switch when the tracer between the pads is broken. But by default this bridge connection has to be joined so that the chip is write enabled else the Cromwell flash disc method and all the others would fail.

That fitted my problem nicely since I got a "Not Writable" message earlier in EvoX. I confirmed it by doing a continuity check and the connection was in fact broken. Visual inspection of the connection is hard since it's coated with black paint and the fact the it's sillily tiny.

This clearly shows how tiny the bridge connection is and how easy it can be broken.


The solution is to reconnect the write enable tracers with a short wire and some solder. There are a few spots you can use, but I prefer to reconnect the pads where the connection initially was broken (Spot 1).

You can see the short wire reconnecting the pads (Spot 1). Just below the wire is another spot you can use to reconnect the tracers (Spot 2). The two points labeled "WE" is yet another spot you can reconnect (Spot 3). Repaired Chameleon chip.

Now you should be able to flash the chip using your favorite method. I successfully hotswapped and flashed Evox M8 to both of my now fixed Chameleon modchips. :)
I have not idea how widespread this problem is but I bet there are at least a dozen that are experiencing the same problem I've had. For those who still had their non-working Chameleon around I hope this fixed the problem they had.