Category Archives: Hardware

Neo Geo CD Controller Replacement Switches

Hey there! So I recently receive a pretty busted up NGCD and a couple of games, the power port seems wobbly and RGB doesnt pipe out.

I also received two NGCD controllers, both of which had directional input issues. I learned online that you can take the pads out of working switches and pop them into broken ones. I ordered a second controller from eBay and conveniently missed that it was untested and also had one busted switch.

Nevertheless I had enough to get two working controllers, but gutting old ones really bothers me, at some point in the future there wont be any left right?

Well I started reading up about them and learned that whatever switches they use have stopped being made or were never available for the public. During my repairs I noticed that its the tension from the spring that actually presses the button. So I looked up the nearest microswitch I could find, the RACON8, I bought a few on the off chance they’d just work but nope.

The RACON8 switch actually fits perfectly where the old NGCD switches fit, which is great, but the main problem is the surface area of the actual button, and the tension required press it, the old NGCD spring is not enough to press it by itself…

So I got to thinking, there’s a little white bit of plastic that the stick presses against, which in turn pushes on the spring, which then exerts enough pressure on the switch.

Well I though, if I could extend that bit which holds the spring in place on the white piece of plastic to physically press the button, while still giving enough leeway to the stick, we’d have a viable alternative to fixing the NGCD controller which doesn’t involve gutting them.

So behold!

It feels great, I’m a big Windjammers fan and can play just as well using this compared to my “og switch” controllers. The only bad thing about it is that it no longer gives that ultra satisfying click, but other than that, have had zero issue throwing curves etc.

You can buy RACON8 switches pretty readily from anywhere that does stuff like that.

You can grab the plastic gate bit(?) from my thingiverse here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3007837

 

Replace Screen Lens + Buttons on Game Boy Color

I recently purchased a Pokemon themed Game Boy Color, the one with Pikachu and Pichu on the screen. It is a bit beat up, some scratches on the screen and the Dpad and buttons were a bit squishy and soft, nothing we can’t fix though and we can give it a little bit of a clean too.

First things first, you need:

  • A tri point screwdriver (for opening Nintendo consoles)
  • A small philips head screwdriver
  • Isopropyl alcohol + cotton buds (ask in your local pharmacy)
  • Isopropyl alcohol wipes (ask in a hardware store)
  • New screen lens
  • New button silicone contacts

I got my Screen Lens and Button bits from Deadpan Robot they arrived super quick and they look and feel great.

 

First up is to take any game you might have out of the Game Boy Color, then remove the battery cover and any batteries. The six screws you see on the back require the Nintendo tri point screwdriver, remove them and set aside.

Gently lift the back plate up, the left battery contact is attached to the main PCB and slots out of the plate as you lift it up.

With the back of the Game Boy Color PCB exposed, it’s a good opportunity to clean the seam around the Game Boy, get really into the crease all around it, it’s got some gunk there, guaranteed.

Other gunk magnets are the link cable port, the volume dial, the headphone port and the power switch. Gently rub away any dirt, use a cotton bud + isopropyl alcohol to clean the audio jack and link cable port.

We need to get under this PCB to get at the screen and buttons, using the philips head screwdriver, unscrew the three screws holding it in.

Gently lift the PCB out, being aware that the screen is held in place with a light adhesive and is attached to the PCB by a ribbon cable.

Underneath the PCB you will find three silicone button pads, you should remove these and, if you are replacing them, throw them out, or, if you are cleaning them, rub the little black contacts with some isopropyl alcohol, but be sure to flip them over for a clean as I guarantee they are covered in gunk!

While you’re at it, clear any other dust, it tends to gather around the bottom where the audio jack and speaker holes are, also check the speaker itself, the plastic film should also be pretty dusty.

Take the buttons out and get an alcohol wipe in there and give it a good scrub, things tend to get especially gross in there!

Removing the screen is very simple, you just have to be careful, ideally you’d use a plastic “spudger” to gently lift it away from the adhesive, but I used a sharp pokey tool on the four corners and very gently lifted, it sounds bad, but its just the screen coming away from the adhesive edges.

Once the screen is loose, gently lift it out and place it somewhere flat, and that you will not be able to accidentally scratch or otherwise damage it.

We need to remove the old lens, it’s held on by some pretty strong adhesive, so if you care about keeping it, use your fingers and gently apply force along the top two corners. Again you will hear a pretty “plastic getting mangled” sound, but it’s just the sound of the screen lens coming away from the adhesive. If you don’t care about the old lens, get a screwdriver or something pokey and push the screen lens from the LED light hole, it requires much less pressure to get it to budge.

 

Time for some more cleaning! Flip the Game Boy Color over, and start cleaning gunk out from the edges of where that screen lens sat. Prepare the new screen lens, to save yourself a headache, do not take off the back screen lens protector until you absolutely have to, if you get a finger print on the back, you’ll be staring at it forever. Pull the adhesive strip off the screen lens and sit it into the recess where the old one used to sit. Gently apply pressure all around the edges using your thumbs.

The only important part now, is gently reinserting the LCD screen, but before you apply pressure to it, while it’s seated back in it’s place, turn the Game Boy Color over and make sure you line it up in a nice way, as it’s not a 100% perfect fit.

Make sure you put the silicone buttons contacts back on, lay the PCB board in place, at take note of the non screw holes in the PCB, there are plastic pegs, sticking up from the faceplate that sit back into these, they are a little tricky to realign if you are not paying attention to them and it’ll make the DPAD feel weird if not lined up right!

Screw everything back in, remember that battery contact! It slips through the backplate, so don’t force it. Pop in a game and enjoy the perfect screen and those super satisfying unused buttons!

Famicom Disk System + FDS Stick

Quick History Lesson

Famicom + Famicom Disk System

The Famicom Disk System was an addon for the Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) released back in 1986. It used an entirely new system of loading games for the Famicom, in the format of Game Disks, which were essentially a proprietary sized floppy disk. The FDS unit itself comprised of two parts, the Disk Reader (large red unit) and the RAM Cartridge. The RAM Cart slotted into the Famicom’s cartridge slot, with a cable coming out of it that hooked into the Disk Reader, you then inserted your Game Disk, powered on the console and loaded your game into the RAM Cart’s memory!

Disk Reader (Red) RAM Cart (Black)

The Problem

Game Disks, like their floppy counter parts are subject to wear and tear. They contain a floppy magnetic disk inside, which has the game data written to it. This can become an issue with age as the disk might begin to fail through sheer use, data on the disk can become corrupt due to rogue magnetic fields and magnets can straight up destroy all data on a disk if it gets too close!

 

 

The FDS Stick

FDS Stick

The FDS Stick is a USB stick with 256 megabits of flash storage, however, it also has a port that connects directly to the Ram Cartridge and allows the FDS Stick to act as a Disk Reader Emulator! The special thing about this is that instead of emulating a game running on the console, you are emulating the hardware supplying the game data TO the console.

This means that the gameplay you experience is the 100% console accurate version of the game, no input lag, no miscalculated emulator code, just raw game, assuming of course that the copy of the game you are playing is unaltered!

I used to play a lot of emulated games before I started collecting, so I have no real qualms if people did want to use the FDS for that, but personally I’m just going to keep copies of the games I own, adding more as I collect more and play them from it to help preserve the actual Disks.

 

A Wild Glitch Appears

Glitched out Mario ;_;

I recently purchased an FDS Stick as when I booted up my copy of Super Mario Bros. 2, the japanese version of which, was only released on Famicom Disk, was glitchy! I naturally just assumed this was caused by my particular copy of Super Mario Bros. 2, I bought it used in Japan and it’s at most, 32 years old… So instead of risking buying a second copy, only to have it also be glitchy and given the fact that none of my other FDS games exhibit any odd glitches like this, I decided to buy an FDS Stick and I’d try a pristine copy sourced from the internet. Since I own the original, I don’t have any issue with doing it this way.

 

Well, when I got the FDS Stick, I went straight to an emulation site, had my antivirus pop a warning and immediately found a safer one. There I downloaded a copy of Super Mario Bros. 2, thenĀ  I struggled to figure out how to copy the game to the FDS Stick, I assumed it would pop a folder open and just drag and drop, but nope. After struggling to find anything on the internet to help, I just figured it out by myself.

THE EXACT SAME GLITCH

Well, what happened next was totally unexpected. I hooked it up to my Famicom, it loaded into a menu where I could pick the ROM I wished to play, selected Super Mario Bros. 2 and the screen went black, text scrolled up and the game started, and I swear, it looks clearer than the Disk version, which I don’t think it actually is but it definitely looked it. Anyways, I start the game and log and behold THE EXACT SAME GLITCH!

 

This really bamboozled me, the only two explanations I can think of are:

  1. My copy of SMB 2 is the EXACT COPY this scene group ripped and put on the internet 20 years ago.
  2. Something is up with my FDS RAM Cart.

synt4x’s Glitch

I googled it and found 1 blog by synt4x who had experienced the same thing, the glitch in their picture even looks the same. Mine doesn’t seem as bad as that, however it seems the issue is not with copy of the game or the FDS Stick, but with the RAM cart itself.

 

So with the information I gained from synt4x’s blog, I ordered some resistor arrays and will attempt the fix myself when they arrive. In the mean time I’m going to disassemble the RAM cart and give everything a really good clean just to make sure it isn’t something as simple as that.

If/when the time comes to modify the cart, I’ll do my best to document the procedure and write it up, though it doesn’t look majorly complex.

 

You can get yourself a FDS Stick from the source over here: http://3dscapture.com/fdsstick/ (I’m not in any way affiliated with them)

I’ll write up a short guide on how to use the FDS as I couldn’t find any material on it myself and just brute forced it into working. I’ll replace this line with a link when it’s done.