Turning my Nintendo DS into an iQue DS

Article Published 2023-02-05

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Recently I've been obsessed with the iQue DSes. It all started during a discussion with my friend @ufo. He was wanting to install iQue firmware on a non-iQue unit, but it wouldn't work. I took a look and noticed that the iQue firmware was 512kb as opposed to the regular 256kb size for other firmwares.
@ufo said, "it would be cool to get ique to work on the 256 ones", and that got me thinking...

The 256kb chip on the DS WiFi card that holds the firmware is the exact same as the 256kb save chip on most DS games. You can swap a firmware and save chip around and everything works perfectly- assuming you correctly flashed the firmware to the now-firmware chip.
The same likely goes for the iQue, but instead it would just be a 512kb chip that's commonly found in DS games.
The iQue also shares all the same hardware with a normal DS, so what if the WiFi boards were the exact same minus the chip capacities?

I decided to start ripping apart a couple shovelware games with 512kb save files in order to identify the chips. This was all so that me and another guy could try making iQue WiFi cards without the guilt of destroying good cartridges. Sadly the chips were privately made and none of us could find the actual part. I figured I'd just go with the cartridges I already disassembled and moved on.

Quickly though I realized I made a huge mistake. I had misread the save chips, and all that shovelware was 512 bytes! My only carts with 512kb save chips were my beloved Pokemon games... I couldn't pop one open, could I?

Eh, what the hell. I can put it back together later. I flashed the iQue firmware with gm9i and gently opened the cartridge. I made sure I was real careful to cleanly remove the chip so I could put it back later. I was afraid I'd remove a pad on the cartridge but a bit of flux got it off nicely.

Next was the WiFi card. The WiFi card gave me a bit of trouble with a small capacitor right beside the chip. I was afraid to break that and ended up marking up the board pretty good. At least it and the chip were intact!

Now it was time to put Pokemon's save chip into the WiFi board. Boy, was that hard. My shaky hands kept moving the chip, and in the end it was slightly offset. Thankfully there wasn't any bridging. I decided to put it in the DS lite.

I eagerly put it in, turned on the power, and... nothing. Black screens. This meant it couldn't read the firmware. I figured maybe I put the chip on backwards. I moved it around and somehow made it look worse. It was no longer offset, but it was very... crusty. As long as it works I'm happy though.

This time I stuck it in and hit the power. It felt like more than a few seconds before the screens lit up. iQue DS, my console said. I had done it. I had just turned my north american console into an iQue one!

I'm happy to have done this. I've never been first in anything, so to be the first one to (publicly) make an iQue console from a normal one, I felt proud. I did it.

Hopefully this was mildly interesting. I might make proper guide along with the necessary info on chips/games with good chips to create your own iQue WiFi card. Let me know down below if that's of any interest to you. See y'all later!

(also I promise I'll put the chip back in my Pokemon game)