Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

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Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Dr.Buck » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:32 pm UTC

Recently found my original (was given it for my 10th birthday way back in 1992!) Nintendo Game Boy stashed away in a box in the loft, thought i'd whip it out and have a play (Zelda cartridge was still in the slot!).

Took out the old (leaking - fail!) batteries, cleaned out the crystallised acid and put in some fresh Duracell batteries, replaced the battery cover, re-inserted the cartridge and - nothing. :( Tried using the power socket on the side with a suitable AC adaptor - nothing. :( :(

I'm figuring that many years in a loft hasn't done it any favours, I've ordered a special screwdriver to open it up.

Anyone have any suggestions of where to look for anything amiss? My first port of call is going to be to check the soldering around the battery connections, wouldn't be the first time I've had to repair dry-soldered joints!
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:25 pm UTC

Check any capacitors, maybe?

Hell, the power switch itself could be bad.
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Jorpho » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:46 pm UTC

I poked at mine a while ago. I should check again if it's still working. Acid problems sound like a good bet, I reckon.

An important thing to keep in mind, when you open it up: the ribbon cable leading to the LCD screen is very fragile, and there's no easy way to fix it! That is why there are so many old Game Boys out there with dead vertical lines on them.
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Jorpho » Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:25 pm UTC

Well, I tried both my old bricks with a set of four freshly-charged Rayovac hybrid batteries and there was no signs of life. I tried one of them again with my ancient official Nintendo battery pack and it did power on, although it was emitting a horrible screeching sound from the speaker – but I was amazed that battery pack worked at all.

Are you using bog-standard alkaline Duracells? I'd also be concerned about what AC adapter you're using.
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Dr.Buck » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:29 pm UTC

It lives! :mrgreen:

Cracked solder on one of the battery terminals. And now i've fixed that, one of my 7-month old daughter's toys (little stuffed bird with an eccentricaly-weighted motor and speaker, so it vibratess and plays melodies) needs fixing, speaker wire has come adrift. Good thing I already have the soldering iron out! :D

As for my AC adaptor, it's a multi-fit "universal" job that I'd been using with the Game Boy, along with other things, for years previously. It has several different jacks, a switch to control the output voltage (can select 3, 6, 9 or 12v) and another switch to adjust the polarity.

Anyway, enough of this jazz, time for some 1989 Zelda!
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby chritra » Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:50 pm UTC

Dr.Buck wrote:It lives! :mrgreen:


Congrats on that! :D
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Felstaff » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:06 pm UTC

Threadjackery, but last year I found my old GameBoy 1.0* too. Worked perfectly when I last played it, around 1995-96, and was kept in a zip-locked bag (sans batteries) until its triumphant release in 2011.

Only, it doesn't work... I switch it on, the red light comes on. The "Nintendo" logo drops, only now it's just a few scrambled pixels and you can't make out 'Nintendo' at all. Also the sound, instead of the pleasant b'DING, is a static pr-thbbbbb, and then the screen goes blank.

I've tried with each cartridge, and no cartridge at all. Before I crack it open and fish out my soldering iron (and a store that sells solder wire), does anyone have any knowledge of what parts are wrong? Scrambled picture + scrambled audio are the two primary borkened things.

*I have a sticker on the battery faceplate saying "DON'T PANIC", which I think is really cute.
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Jorpho » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:26 pm UTC

Felstaff wrote:Only, it doesn't work... I switch it on, the red light comes on. The "Nintendo" logo drops, only now it's just a few scrambled pixels and you can't make out 'Nintendo' at all.
Well, the "Nintendo" logo is actually stored in the cartridge itself – normally, when the Game Boy is switched on without a cartridge inside, you only get a black solid rectangle. (I think this entitled Nintendo to go after producers of unlicensed hardware at the time.)

So, do you get a solid rectangle if you switch the unit on when there's no cartridge inside? If so, maybe the contacts are dirty.

Also, as Mr. Dr. Buck said, you'll need an uncommon tri-wing security screwdriver bit (or the will to strip the screws completely) in order to crack the unit open.

BTW, once I charged my battery pack for a while the buzzing noise in my unit went away. (Truly, I'm astonished that thing isn't a useless mass of melted battery chemicals inside at this point.)
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Felstaff » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:15 pm UTC

I should note that, during it's lifetime, my GameBoy fell into a swimming pool whilst switched on, sinking to the bottom, and roughly a year later had battery acid from four AAs damn near melt the thing into oblivion.

Yet, being a.) made by Nintendo and b.) in the 1980s, it survived both these ordeals and lived a long and happy life for many years afterwards.
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Dr.Buck » Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:09 pm UTC

I'd take a wild guess at light corrosion on the cartridge slot terminals. As above, the Nintendo logo is stored in the game cartridge, not the GB itself. Cotton-bud soaked in IPA (Isopropyl alcohol, NOT India Pale Ale! :D) should help to clean up the affected area without the need to disassemble. Give the contacts on the game carts themselves a quick tickle, too.

Other than that, grab one of the tri-wing screwie's off eBay (99p each), have it open and check condition of the ribbon cable, etc. Also, when you open it up, you will notice that the whole thing is in fact two seperate circuit boards connected by spring-contact thingies, which I assume act as a common ground (not too hot on electronics and circuitry, tbh), so perhaps clean those up too.

On a side note - I've managed to get to the same point in Zelda (Link's Awakening) as I always used to when I was younger. Nearly twenty years on and I still can't figure it out! *facepalm*
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby Jorpho » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:56 am UTC

Dr.Buck wrote:have it open and check condition of the ribbon cable
If the ribbon cable was going, there'd be blank lines running down the screen – not an uncommon sight, back in the day. (Like I said, the ribbon cable is one thing you definitely do not want to tamper with!)
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Re: Dead Nintendo Game Boy - any suggestions?

Postby tireboy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:24 am UTC

buy psp is the best suggestion :D
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