Open-DIP Surgery Cuts Retro Chips Down to Size

At least by today’s standards, some of the early chips were really, really big. They may have been revolutionary and they certainly did shrink the size of electronic devices, but integrating a 40-pin DIP into a modern design can be problematic. The solution: cut off all the extra plastic and just work with the die within.

Open-DIP Surgery Cuts Retro Chips Down to SizeWhen [Redherring32] alerted us to this innovation, he didn’t include much information — just a couple of photos of the mod and a few brief words about the target chip, an RP2A03 from the glorious NES 8-bit days. Living as it does within the relatively enormous DIP-40 package, it stood to take up far too much space in compact, more modern designs. So the hapless chip fell under the knife, or rather the Dremel tool diamond cutoff wheel. [Redherring32] left a generous boundary around the die. Cutting through the package left the lead frame of the die exposed enough to solder 34AWG (0.02 mm²) magnet wire to bring the leads out for connection. We’d have worried that vibration from the cutting process would have damaged the silicon, but the video in the tweet tells otherwise.

For now, the liberated die is connected to a piece of perfboard, which ironically enough actually makes it larger than the original chip. But this is a proof-of-concept, and given that the operation shrunk the footprint of the chip by about 93%, it should enable some interesting applications. Perhaps a smaller, better version of [Redherring32]’s OpenTendo is in the works.

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