Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blow and Jiggle? Time for NESurgery.

My NES leaves a lot to be desired
both functionally and aesthetically.

Some blow until they're blue in the face. Others jiggle it in the slot until they get it just right. And many do both in a complicated voodoo ritual wrought with profanity and inevitable disappointment.

Whatever your preferred method, the blinking power light of peril is a fact of life for many retro gamers. Sitting down for a quick game of Bad Dudes on your front-loading (toaster) NES is rarely the seamless experience it was back when your were just a wee Bad Dude-ling.
The reason for this is a sad one: just like yourself, these things are getting old and crusty. And while there's not a great deal you can do for your games besides a good cleaning (swabbing the connectors with a little rubbing alcohol does the trick), there's hope for your trusty 8-bit Nintendo.   

Buried deep inside that gray box (or in my case, grayish box), you'll find a 72-pin connector attached to the motherboard. It looks like this:
The 72-pin connector inside every front-loading NES
connects your games to the motherboard

Digging deeper.

And as you'd expect, after seeing thousands of cartridges, all those nasty rental games, and the odd peanut butter sandwich, that thing's pretty worn out. So why not replace it?
It's suprisingly easy! You just need a new connector from Amazon and a smallish Phillips head screwdriver from your garage.

Next, start removing screws. Seriously. It's pretty clear that back in 1985 Nintendo wasn't counting on kids like you and me taking their new NES's apart, because it couldn't be easier. For directions, check out this writeup. He does a great job walking you through the process.

Here's a mega closeup of the old and new connectors:  

As you can see, the pins on the old connector are pretty well shot. The new connector's pins, however, appear to be made of gold...and that can't hurt, right?

At this point, you can slide off the old connector
and replace it with the new one.

The process is easy enough where you shouldn't think twice about giving it a shot if your NES is giving you a bunch of back sass. It took me no more than 30 minutes, and I stopped for frequent photo opportunities.   
The funny thing is, once I got everything back together, I discovered that my A/C adapter was toast (luckily I had another). Even worse; the first game I plugged in didn't work right away--and sonofabitch--the stupid thing fired right up as soon as I blew into it.  

Looks like I have a date with a box of Q-tips and some rubbing alcohol.

I'm bad!

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