Leapster Explorer: How To Make a NAND Cartridge

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Summary

This tutorial documents the steps to follow in order to replace a Leapster Explorer cartridge's One-Time-Programmable memory chip with a rewritable NAND memory chip, create a UBIFS partition/volume on the NAND, and mount the volume in Linux.

Hardware Requirements

Leapster Explorer game cartridge.

NAND chip - a 512MB chip was used for this tutorial (2 GB max)

Soldering equipment (incl. solder paste and wick)

Strongly recommended: A microscope or similar high-powered magnifier.

Hardware Instructions

  • Open the cartridge's plastic casing, remove the PCB, and Desolder the OTP part from the PCB

LeapFrog Cartridge Stock.jpg

  • Clean the OTP pads on the PCB using solder wick

LeapFrog Cartridge Desoldered.jpg

  • Apply solder paste to the nand pads, and apply soldering iron on pads to melt solder; the surface tension will draw the solder onto the pads. Clean up excess.
  • Place nand onto board on the soldered pads and align the dot with the upper left. (A dot of 'fun-tack' putty underneath the NAND is useful to help keep the part in place)
  • Solder one corner pin on each side to tack the NAND down by melting the solder on the pad
  • Melt the solder on the other pins to fully solder the nand in place

LeapFrog Cartridge NAND Replaced.jpg

  • Use a continuity checker DMM to verify good contact between the pads and NAND pins. (repair joints as necessary)
  • Desolder R4 and R5 and resolder them as pullups on the alternate pads.


Software Instructions

Make sure CartManager is running

CartManager &

Insert the cart and format the Nand with ubi

ubiformat /dev/mtd10 -s 512

Attach the ubifs partition

ubiattach /dev/ubi_ctrl -m 10 -O 2048 -d 2

Create a ubifs volume

ubimkvol /dev/ubi2 -N Cartridge -s 490MiB

Mount the drive

mount -t ubifs ubi2:Cartridge /LF/Cart