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Building your own JTAG, ISP, & Chip Off Lab

     Have you ever wanted to get started with JTAG, ISP, & Chip Off extractions but never knew what you needed to get started? In this post I’ll share with you the items I have purchased to create my own working JTAG, ISP, and Chip Off lab!

Needed For: JTAG, ISP, and sometimes Chip Off

The JTAG Box is an important piece of hardware that allows an examiner to interface with the phone directly through a connection via JTAG or ISP, and with special adapters, even memory chips.

I currently own both the Medusa Pro and the Riff Box 2, which are both very good products, however I lean more towards the Medusa Pro for its relative ease of use over the Riff Box. There’s also other boxes to choose from as well, such as the Easy JTAG Plus, Octoplus Pro, Z3X, and more.

Medusa Pro

Price: 159.99

Get it on Amazon

Medusa Homepage

Riff Box 2

Price: $115 – $160

Get it on Amazon

Riff Box Homepage

Needed For: JTAG, ISP, & Chip Off

You definitely need a microscope for ISP extractions, as it’s incredibly difficult to effectively solder to the pins without a decent microscope. Some JTAG ports are big enough to do free hand, but some are not. Using a microscope for inspecting chips is also useful in the cleaning phase.

Microscopes can be extremely expensive which is why I opted for a cheaper one, the Andonstar ADSM301, that actually works great. However, for more money there’s the HAYEAR digital microscope which I used interning at Sony which works great as well.

Andonstar ADSM301

Price: $150.00 – $179.00

Get it on Amazon

HAYEAR HDMI Microscope

Price: $339.99

Get it on Amazon

Needed For: JTAG, ISP, & Chip Off

The soldering iron will be your best friend when doing these extractions. It’s important to get a good soldering iron so that the temperatures are always accurate, and for quickness of heating up. I own and extremely recommend Hakko soldering irons. 

With the soldering iron, you’re also going to need a precision tip for dealing with smaller pins on devices. I use a simple Hakko curved tip for about $9, however there’s much smaller and more precise tips that can be upwards of $100

For cleaning off chips once you removed them, you’re also going to want a chisel tip as well.

Hakko FX888D-23BY Soldering Station

Price: $100.00

Get it on Amazon

Hakko Homepage

Curved Soldering Iron Tip

Price: $9.00

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Chisel Tip (Set)

Price: $10.95

Get it on Amazon

Needed For: JTAG, ISP, & Chip Off

Solder and flux are absolutely needed to create the bond between the JTAG and ISP connections, as well as using flux to remove and clean off chips during chip offs. Solder can also be used to reball chips on the board.

I use a combination of a flux pen and normal “squeeze out” flux from a bottle.


Price: $25.94

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Flux Pen

Price: $10.95

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Traditional Bottled Flux

Price: $12.11

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Needed For: JTAG & ISP

There’s two types of wires you need, one is for JTAG, which are larger, more traditional electrical wires, and then a smaller copper magnet wire for ISP.


Price: $12.99

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ISP Wire

Price: $7.95

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Needed For: Chip Off

The rework station is essentially just a heater that heats up a ceramic plate to heat the bottom of the cell phone board, and then on top is a heat gun which heats the top of the board (the memory chip specifically).

The one I purchased was a YIHUA 853AA, the cheapest station I could find on Ali Express. It came with a very questionable power cable that was not American, but thankfully they included an equally sketchy power adapter for it… I made sure to swap the cable, and it works good so far, no giant fires yet. My professor uses an X-Tronic rework station, and it appears good as well, but more expensive.

YIHUA 853AA 220V Rework Station

Price: $179.93

Get it on AliExpress

X-Tronic 5040-XR3

Price: $269.80

Get it on Amazon

Needed For: Chip Off

These devices are used to interface with the chips once they are removed and cleaned off the board. There’s many different kinds of chips found on phones so it’s important to be prepared with a variety of different sockets. I found the MOORC E-MATE 13 in 1 to be very useful, supporting many different BGA types, multiple different boxes, and even came with an SD Card adapter that was not shown in the description, (and also very cheap!)

MOORC E-MATE 13 in 1

Price: $103.80

Get it on AliExpress

Theses are miscellaneous tools that an examiner will need. I recommend a good toolkit, and nothing is better than iFixits.

A good high heat resistant mat is also a good idea since we’re going to be dealing with some very high temperatures.

Pliers can be used to take off heat shielding on boards (or use a heat gun for a less potential damaging method).

High heat tape allows for you to tape down the device you’re working on while performing JTAGs or ISPs so your board doesn’t move all around the place.

An Xacto knife set is good for gently prying and loosening chips when a lot of epoxy is preventing removal.

A multimeter is an extremely important tool to check and make sure that your connections via JTAG or ISP are correct. These can also be used to create your own ISP pinouts if you do a chip off.

iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit

Price: $59.99

Get it on Amazon

Soldering Mat Pad

Price: $11.99

Get it on Amazon


Price: $9.75

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High Heat Tape

Price: $6.59

Get it on Amazon

Xacto Knife Set

Price: $20.10

Get it on Amazon


Price: $10.88

Get it on Amazon

Needed For: JTAG, ISP, & Chip Off

Cleaning the board is always important, especially when using flux which can gunk up the board after time. It’s especially needed for cleaning chips off so that they are nice and clean before going into the reader.

Cleaning excess solder can also be accomplished by using a desoldering wick.

Isopropyl Alcohol and a non static brush are your best friends for getting flux gunk and generally cleaning boards. However, if you find there’s a ton of cured epoxy or other junk, you can use something more powerful like a (dangerous and cancer causing) chemical!

Isopropyl Alcohol

Price: $11.31

Get it on Amazon

Anti-Static Brush

Price: $3.79

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Attack Glue Dissolving Compund

Price: $16.10

Get it on Amazon

Desoldering Wick

Price: $5.99

Get it on Amazon

If you feel like there’s something that should be added to this list, drop a comment or send me an email!


Thanks W.E.

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