News & UpdatesLaboratoryContactLinks

Basic NES Repair and You

Look familiar? (My apologies if this induces any violent flashbacks.) Yeah, I loved those days too. Good times. I'm sure nobody's yet forgotten all the keen little techniques they developed trying to get the durn games to work once the system started crapping out on them. Blowing in the games, only sliding them in half-way and forcing them down, jiggling them from side to side, pushing the reset button over and over and just plain smacking the system around so you could play some Bionic Commando. And if you actually got it working, heaven forbid you so much as think about touching the unit or even look at it the wrong way, as the screen would turn to a jumbled mess and your game would freeze, sending you right back where you started. Damn! You were having so much fun a-stompin' goombas too! Over the years as these problems worsened and the SNES/Genesis wars began, more and more of these precious machines ended up in closets around America. Neglected. Forgotten. Ghosts of the gaming world. I have good news, however. With a little TLC, you're old pal can be back up and running like new. Now you can relive the innocence you've since lost!

There's more than one way to fix a Nintendo, but since this is my BASIC guide to NES repair, I'm going to explain the easiest (and probably cheapest) way to get it back up and running. Also note that I'll be referring to a lot of parts as "that little thinggy there" or some such. Sorry if this is insulting your intelligence. I'd like to believe you're not an idiot, but I can't be 100% sure.

You'll need to get your grubby mitts on the following:
1.) Some Q-tips
2.) A phillips screwdriver
3.) A new 72-pin edge connector

There are two major problems we need to adress. First of all, CLEAN YOR GAMES! Myself, I used to think "Pfft! Those cleaning kits don't work. It's not the game, it's the system!" I was half wrong. BOTH are to blame. I remember spending a good 20 minutes one night trying to get my copy of Pac-man to work. After trying all the little tricks and nearly giving up, I decided "Ah what the hell, I'll try cleaning it." I'm glad I did. It worked damn near flawlessly after the connections were cleaned! I shouldn't have to explain how to clean the games but I'll do it anyway.

Look at the connector. It might not look dirty at fist, but trust me when I say that it is. Wet a q-tip (with alcohol, water or spit, I don't care) and rub the little metal connections, being sure to apply enough pressure. (Remember... we want to clean it, not just tickle it.) Now look at that q-tip and try to tell me that your game isn't dirty. It'll probably have a decent ammount of black shit on it. That's good! Means you're cleaning it. Continue the process until no more dirt and grime shows up on the q-tips. THEN BE SURE TO DRY IT OFF!!! Actually, it's probably a good idea to clean in sections and dry as you go. Whatever you do, be damn sure you dry it off really good. Also take care to remove any stray fibers that may be left behind by the swab. Hair and electronics don't mix.

Now that we've got one potential culprit out of the way, it's time to get crunk!

Flip the NES over and remove the six screws that hold the casing together. Probably a good idea to keep the screws somewhere safe so you don't screw up, lose the screws and yell "screw the world!" when you realize you're screwed and need the screws to screw the case back together. Then your woman won't want to screw you anymore cause you're such a screw-up. Clear?

Now flip her over and remove her top. ...You heard me. You've got more screws to remove, mister! YAY!
See that bigass metal thing? That's called the "RF shield". It's fucking useless if you're cool like me and use the AV cables to hook it up to your TV instead of the RF switch. (That little grey box with the cables and screwy thing with the pin.) But many of you still utilize this dinosaur technology, probably because your TV sucks, so we'll need it. But for right now, remove the seven screws holding it down. (See figure below.)

Mmkay, so we've got that nuclear fallout shelter removed now. Guess what's next?
That's right! MORE screws to remove! :D Keep on truckin', my friend. There's something you might want to make a note of though. Two of those screws that hold down the black cartridge-loader thing are a little longer than the others. I've marked these with a yellow arrow to make things easier for you. Remove the eight screws.

RIGHT! I just remembered something. Make sure the system is unplugged! You're about to touch some stuff. I've also got some good news for ya. You're done removing screws!
Now you'll need to reach in and stick your fingers underneath the left side of the board and lift it up a little so you can pull that big black cartridge-loader thing out. It's a lot easier to do it this way instead of pulling the whole board out, cause it can sometimes be a little tricky to put back in. So yes. Lift up the board and slide the black thing out. (See below.)

It's time to cue the victory music! See that last little black thing sitting on the back of the board now? That's culprit #2. We've finally found the bastard! REMOVE IT! Just slide if off the back of the board. It's probably on there kinda snug, so you'll have to shimmey it back and forth as you pull.

Once it's out, raise it in the air and belt out your favorite battlecry!

As I mentioned earlier, you'll need a new 72-pin Nintendo edge connector. (The thing you just pulled out.) Sometimes people sell these things on ebay for ridiculous prices. Aparently people are unaware that they're available at MCM Electronics for about $10 a pop. (part # 83-3785)
Anyway, I'm going to assume you already have it so I can continue writing this. Put the new connector on the board the same way you pulled the old one off. Now you basically just go through the tutorial backwards and put everything back together.
THERE'S ONE LAST THING I SHOULD POINT OUT! This is important. Take a look at that big black cartridge-loader thing again, underneath it specifically. See that little tab/lip thing there towards the front? That part slides UNDER the board when you're putting it back in. I didn't notice that the first time I was doing this a long time ago. I spent days trying to figure out what I was doing wrong when the problem was so simple.

Assuming you did everything correctly, your NES should now work like new. Just like it did when you got it for Christmas many many years ago. Hell, maybe even better.

Enjoy your NES! (Again).