Introduction: Replace the Top Screen of a Nintendo DS (without Opening Up the Bottom Half)

Picture of Replace the Top Screen of a Nintendo DS (without Opening Up the Bottom Half)

Do you have a DS Lite that needs repairs? HA HA HA SUCKERS. Er, head here for NDSL specific repairs.
I'm warning you, though, any repairs to the NDSL requires a specialty (tri-wing) screwdriver, and the top screen needs a soldering iron!

If anyone tries out these instructions: could you give me a holler? (Comment, PM or email me at my user name at gmail dot com.) I want to get a sense of the success rate.

Pre-caution: This is a fairly wordy instructable. Most questions you might have, and problems you might run into are likely addressed in the body of the instructable (or within the comments). That means you need to read, and re-read carefully.

Actual intro!: Is the screen your Nintendo DS cracked? Don't throw it out, repair it. (And then sell it to help cover the cost of getting a new DS lite.) It is not expensive, nor all that difficult, to replace the screens on a Nintendo DS.
I found PowerGamingParts.com's guide to DS repair to be pretty useful, but I didn't need to disassemble the whole contraption, since I was replacing the top screen only. (Opening up the bottom half also requires a specialty screwdriver which I didn't have.)
I'm sure there's good directions for replacing the top screen without disassembling the bottom half, but I haven't found them. And since I'm feeling productive, I present to you documentation of what I did to replace the top screen.

Go poke around on the internet to find a source of replacement screens. A quick Google search turns up prices in the 40$ range, but Ebay has cheaper. Most screens will be "top/bottom" screens--they can be used to replace either, but the bottom screen does require an additional touch sensor overlay.

Tools needed:
-Basic manual dexterity (Take a look at the photos to see the scale at which you'll be manipulating things)
-Small philips head screwdriver

Useful tools:
Board (on which to place all your components)
Tape( to keep little parts from going missing)
Wood/plastic/something blocks (see steps 2 & 3 for photos of it in action)

Disclaimers/warnings:
These directions are reasonably devoid of dangerous actions, so if you break things or burn your house down, it's your own fault.

If your DS won't power on after repairs: it's probably an error related the the ribbon cables. I will repeat this litany often: go to step 2, look closely at the photos and the comments on the photos. Look at the comments on this instructable and see if anyone else had similar trouble, and what they did. Then go back and check your work! And if that still isn't solving the problem, you can message me and I'll make sympathetic noises but probably not have any additional information that isn't posted all over this instructable already. (Sorry?)

Step 1: Open the Case

Picture of Open the Case

Remove battery!

Gently remove the 4 screw covers on the front face of the top section of the DS.

Unscrew all 4 screws.
Gently pry apart the two halves of the shell. Set aside the top of the top.
Remove the screws holding down both green boards. (You don't have to remove the second board, but I found that it gives me more slack on the wires and makes removal of the ribbons (next step) easier.

Hint: get a piece of paper or something and tape/stick your various removable components to the paper. This will deter screws from getting lost. Scribble some labels on the paper next to the various components, too.

Hint: work on a sufficiently large, sturdy, mobile surface. Eventually I found a 1ft. sq. piece of plexiglass. This allowed me to pick up the mess of disassembled components and move it out of the way of other things, all without disturbing the pieces & layout.

Step 2: Detach the Ribbons

Picture of Detach the Ribbons

READ THIS:
Here's the most difficult part of the whole process. You are manipulating small, DELICATE items. Breaking these clips will pretty much render your repair attempt useless! You need to be very careful here.
If I find any way to fix a broken clip, I will post it, but so far I haven't and no one else seems to have any ideas either.

The actual steps:
Flip the green board with the ribbons over.
You need to detach all three ribbons (a really small one is under one of the others).
-Two of them are pretty simple--you flip the black bar up. Gently.
-The final (tiny) ribbon is more obnoxious--you need to pull the little clip out enough to unlock the ribbon. (Gently.)
**Apparently this step is exceedingly easy to bork. The big ribbons are unlocked by flipping the bar up, but the tiny ribbon's lock must be slid out. Out. Not up. See photo & comments.
It is possible to do this one side at a time, but this tends to tear up the plastic somewhat, and there's not much plastic there in the first place, so you need to be careful. (Very careful.)
If you have tweezers or really fine point pliers, or a fork with the proper tine spacing, you should slide the clip in one go.
If you have trouble getting things to power up at the end, this is the likely culprit! Look closely at the photos of how the ribbons are locked in & removed.

The tiny ribbon and the broader one over it are attached to the screen and will be removed, and therefore can be damaged as much as you want. The other, remaining ribbon, will connect to your new screen, so please don't damage it.

Disengage all three ribbons, and you're good to continue on!

Step 3: Remove the Broken Screen

Picture of Remove the Broken Screen

Move all the various bits and pieces of the DS out of the way.
(Hint: I used a piece of wood approximately the same thickness as the DS and placed my components there. This way the wires were given enough slack so as not to damage them. And I gently taped my pieces to the board to prevent anything from falling off/getting lost.)

Towards the hinge side of the screen is a little wedge of plastic with a notch. Pry this up. It should come up easily.

Pry up the screen. There is adhesive around the edges of the screen face, so it's going to resist a bit. Gentle even pressure should be sufficient to pry the screen off, just don't damage any of your other components. (The screen is broken already, so you probably don't care as much about it.)

Step 4: Reassemble With New Screen in Place

Take your new screen, and make sure there's a little adhesive around the edges. I used two layers of double sided tape trimmed to fit. This is just to ensure that the screen doesn't slide around.
mizW also reminds you to make sure any protective film on the screen needs to be removed! (But be careful you don't leave any giant fingerprints on your pristine screen.)

Place screen in, making sure it retains the same ribbon orientation as the original screen.

Start reversing your steps!

**Place the new ribbons in the proper slots on the green board. Lock them in (either flip the bar down, or slide the clip in).** These ribbon cables are very important! Make sure they're going in the right slots, and that they go all the way in before you lock them.

My original "ribbon 2" had a bit of adhesive holding it to the back of the screen. I imitated this with the new screen with a little bit of double sided tape.

Make sure your speakers are in place.

Replace the screws in each board.

Pop the top of the shell back on.

Flip open the DS and replace the 4 screws holding the shell together.

Stick the screw covers back on.

Replace the battery.

Power her up!
*Final Fantasy victory theme*
You're done!

Unless you're not.
If your DS does not turn on, odds are that you've done something wrong in replacing the ribbons. Go back to step 2 and look at the photos. Scoll and look at all the comments--plenty of people have reported their problems and how things turned out. Finally, go and recheck that the ribbons are inserted when the latch is unlocked, aligned properly, firmly in place, and locked in. If this doesn't fix your problem, I really don't know what will.

Comments

Rodville (author)2017-03-18

The power gaming link leads to an unsafe page according to Avast.

FabrizioT (author)2017-01-29

Hi, is it possible to replace the top screen of the phat model using a working top screen of a lite model? Maybe using a flat cable adapter?

penny_kid (author)FabrizioT2017-02-03

no, the ds lite screen is noticeably larger.

FabrizioT (author)penny_kid2017-02-04

It's larger even if I modify the case? Or the connection cables are different in pin size?

penny_kid (author)2017-02-03

ok, so I have this problem with my ds phat, and that there is this white bar on the side of the top screen, like the lcd on the inside is completely pushed up the the outer screen. i was thinking about opening up the top shell and pushing the inner screen completely against the outer screen, but ill take any suggestions.

dszackman13 (author)2011-04-04

qhT KIND OF DINASOUR DS IS THAT THING MY GRANDMA IS PROBLEY FASTER THAN THAT THING

nobody2000 (author)dszackman132016-01-04

I'm replying so that the 2016 version of you gets to see the super cool, unconstructive comment you made 5 years ago.

ryzellon (author)nobody20002016-01-10

Oh god, this nearly gave me a heart attack. I got a notification without context for your comment, so I thought I had said something horribly dickish 5 years ago. But thank you, mysterious comments avenger.

GASSYPOOTS (author)2012-01-05

its easier to remove in a dsi just use the same screwdriverr u use for the battery civer

bcoleman6 (author)2011-11-21

I have search a lot about this .......and at last i found this..yay yay yay...
i guess i had found it also about my nintendo ds in NRS

wvoigt-brueggeman (author)2011-10-09

the piece of white paper may have fallen off? You can make another the same width as the ribbon and put it UNDER the cable to hold it snugly up where it contacts.

BrazRus (author)2011-10-08

Hello. Please can you help me with my toy, the problem is that everything works until i go to play games, both screens are about to be on, but in some seconds the screen down is off, only up works, but still there is no any image, sound....what should be done, please, waiting for an advice.
Thanks in advace,

samirsky (author)2011-09-18

Thanks!
Fixed my DS.

jceason (author)2011-05-04

Can you do better?

jholley (author)jceason2011-05-04

probably. I'd at least video it

mgentry1 (author)2011-04-09

I really benefited from this, I now have a fully functional DS,
Originally
I had a DS that had a broken top screen, and another DS that I had left at my fathers for 2 years, and the touch screen would not calibrate.
The two were a match made in heaven, A broken top screen, and a broken bottom screen. Thank you so much for this! I hope to read more of your How-to's soon! I may need them!

snake67 (author)2011-03-29

hey,I need help with my ds i replaced upper screen, but when I put everything together on my ds, light don't remains on, after 2 seconds it turns off,
also the charger won't work, and I tried other battery and still do the same...

casper125 (author)2011-03-24

Excellant instructions!! Was able to follow and replace my son's top screen to his DS, part cost only $13.00 including shipping. Don't change a thing, instructions were easy to follow.

friney23 (author)2009-07-24

Uhhhhhhhhhh....... Where do you get the new screen?

Woshmistro (author)friney232009-07-28

I just so happen to have this useful website in my bookmarks: http://www.modsupplier.com/catalog/ds-service-parts-c-47_52.html , i hope to actually buy something from the site soon. I actually totally disassembled my original ds last night for the first time, when i put it back together it wouldn't turn on and i freaked out that i broke the board or something, turned out i didn't put ribbon 1 into its slot properly, so i fixed that and it all worked. The original DS uses the same screen for the top and bottom, the DS lite uses different ones.

Imperdimper (author)Woshmistro2009-08-27

Over modsupplier go with http://www.dealextreme.com/products.dx/category.604

MUCH cheaper, plus free shipping. Though shipping from China so there will be a delay before receiving.

cheap their $30-40 not cheap go on amazon you can get them for 15-20 depending on shipping

dszackman13 (author)Imperdimper2010-07-27

thank u for the link i am so happy now and those screens r cheap which i need cheap

dszackman13 (author)Woshmistro2010-07-27

dude the screens r exspensive

Ranka Lee (author)friney232009-09-21

You can find the screens quite inexpensively on ebay. Even cheaper if you take a chance and buy a parts (otherwise broken DS) that comes with what you need.

mechaninja (author)Ranka Lee2010-07-10

Inexpensive my butt! Mine cost $17.99 with shipping from New York to Michigan was $5.99!And there is no original ds screens on ebay for a reasonable amount of money. it would be better to just buy a used ds or ds lite than try to repair it.

Ranka Lee (author)mechaninja2010-09-12

Really? Kind of strange.... I ended up buying a broken light blue in color DS and replacing the parts from mine with that one. This being that when I'd taken my DS apart, my family had ended up dropping for a surprise visit. Sadly this means, they also did a surprise cleaning of my apartment and ended up throwing out a good portion of the components that were a part of the DS. :( I ended up getting the broken DS for about 15 usd total. Which included screen, speakers,etc.

As it is now, my DS looks a bit strange (blue/teal) but I do love the original look to it. :D

Ranka Lee (author)Ranka Lee2010-09-12

Oops, forgot to include this! Did a search for the top DS Screen and this came up;
http://cgi.ebay.com/LCD-Screen-Top-Nintendo-DS-Repair-Part-OEM-/120619447595?pt=Video_Games_Accessories&hash=item1c157ab52b

You can get a new screen for 6.99 + 2.99 for first class shipping. (That is a total of 10 dollars for first class shipping :) )

mechaninja (author)Ranka Lee2011-02-09

I see. the reason I got the DS Lite screen was because of faulty titling on the seller's part. It was labeled with "ds, ds lite, dsi, dsi xl, gba screen! look now!"

stacibonan (author)2011-02-25

I tried to replace my screen, and damaged som cable inside. I sent it to www.Videogame911.com and they fixed it for cheap. I don't recommend doing it yourself because thos games are sensitiv. good luck :)

ninjaimasta (author)2010-09-24

Hi all, just done this for myself less than five minutes ago and it took me well over twenty attempts to get it working right.

Just a word of advice - the dark trunk cable coming from the bottom of the DS needs to be seated fully in as hard as possible, however the trick is that the brown one from the screen isnt.

I noticed that when pulling the cable out after it was locked down, the screen was flickering and giving distorted images, so i tried putting the cable in and locking the clip without pushing hard and lo and behold, the screen came on however it was showing up in negative.

I was about to repeat it again but luckily i had a coughing fit so had to go and get a drink and when i came back there was colour in some portions - sat there watching it and the colour drained in slowly, so if you have purchased a brand new screen like i did (i.e. not from a spares or repair broken DS or from a second hand part reseller) then the screen may take a while to "warm up" and still looks white even if its connected properly.

mnyman (author)2009-02-10

My sons ds has a problem with the top screen, everything is upside down. Does any one know how to fix that?

zack247 (author)mnyman2009-07-16

you could try flipping it upside down, then everything would be rightside up, right?

mechaninja (author)zack2472010-07-10

Tee Hee Hee. NO!

mechaninja (author)2010-07-10

darn it! i just figured out that i ordered a nintendo ds LITE top screen, not for the original ds, as the seller stated.i hate ebay.

mechaninja (author)2010-07-10

when i pulled out the large ribbon, the small one came out simultaneously.

mechaninja (author)2010-07-10

The ds I got was from a friend who recently got a ds lite. His old ds ,which I am fixing w/parts from EBay ,had been squished between schoolbooks in his bookbag on the bus. The top screen was crushed, and he got mad at it and scratched the overglass with a pocketknife.

Metallica3753 (author)2009-02-28

I have a DS lite, but the top screen just displays white and sometimes a fuzzy image for a few seconds. I think it is a loose connection somewhere, but lately it stopped showing any image when I moved the screen. All I need to do is get in there to fix it, but there are specially made screws that I can't unscrew.

dandoo (author)Metallica37532009-06-04

You just need to by a tri-wing screwdriver, they are very cheap around a $1 just search the web. Also a precision screwdriver set comes in handy also.

kkkhaterz123 (author)dandoo2010-06-09

or a very small flat head will work

OctopusInc (author)2009-10-11

I purchased a DS phat with a broken top screen on eBay.  I also purchased a new top/bottom screen.

I received the DS and tested it before operating on it.  It played games, both screens had light and action, sound worked, lights came on for power, it was otherwise normal save for the cracked screen.  So I got to work.

After replacing the top screen and putting it all back together it wouldn't power on at all.  I assumed this was a cable issue so I went back and checked that all three cables were squarely and completely inserted and locked down.  I reassembled and still no juice.  I tested twice more to be sure all were secure and in place, still nothing. 

I then reinstalled the broken screen to test if my screen was faulty, but nothing.  My next hunch was that it could be a connective issue between cable 3 and the receptor.  I cut a peices of paper to match the cable and inserted it under cable 3 for maximum connectivity on port 3.  Still nothing.

Does anyone have any ideas?  I'm fairly certain I didn't damage anything during disassemble and reassemble.  No connections are broken and no tabs were broken.  My next guess would probably be that there could be a circuit connection issue on the speakers, which I will test with a thin peice of copper.

Any help would be great, thanks!

kkkhaterz123 (author)OctopusInc2010-06-09

get a new one lol jk i dont know but seriosly get a new one

PokemonUser (author)2010-04-30

I just have one question: do I go onto ebay.com or Amazon.com for a new Nintendo DS Main Screen?

I'm about to fix my sister's Nintendo DS because of the crack in the LCD screen.

Your tutorial helps.  I just opened the casing (top part), removed the screws holding the screen parts, and all I have to do is order a new screen online.

Thanks for this valuable and easy tutorial... :)

Cheers,

PokemonUser (Benjamin Wilson)

casmom2 (author)2010-04-24

I have repaired lots of ds lites and some original ds systems. I have come across something that I am not familiar with. I purchased some top screen connector cables for an original ds with a torn cable. The system worked fine, but the top screen did not show up properly because of the tear in the cable. I put the new cable on and now the system will not power up at all. I used another motherboard that I knew was good and it wouldn't work either. Now when I put the motherboards back with their original broken cables, the system will not do anything. Is it possilbe that the new ribbon shorted out the motherboards somehow? They will not even attempt to come on and when plugged in, I get the orange charge light for about a second. Thanks for any help....just hoping that a cheap fix didn't just cost me two motherboards!

jidery (author)2010-04-01

While putting it back together i get a flickery screen, after playing around with it several times i managed to break the small clip for the small ribbon. What would be the best way to replace it? ALso is the small ribon just power and the big one video?

ClickAndy (author)2010-03-05

The first time i tried this, i screwed it all in ready to go.. turned it on, and, nothing. Just a little crackle with the speakers, no light or anything.
I thought that my new screen was faulty since some it looked kinda dodgy, and also the tiny cable wouldn't go in as far as the gold wires go.
But surely enough i re-did the wires, still nothing. I went for one last hoorah and realised that the other 2 big cables REALLY need to be pushed in all the way.
Now it works. Awesome instructions, you won't find any better.

daniel25852 (author)2010-02-15

Please! I really need help. first I had the screen blinking problem,but I quickly fixed that.It will show the nintendo ds logo then on the top screen it shows a grid and on the bottom its just pure white.

willowsmomma (author)2010-01-19

the top screen in my ds went out last week. its nothing but a white screen. is there anyway i can fix it without stressing about buying a new one???

ohdutch (author)2010-01-04

Aaaaaargh torn ribbon on screen grrr now i have to buy new screen anyway sigh
i was just replacing the casing lol
darnit

doodleheim99 (author)2009-07-24

i've connected all the ribbons multiple times and secured them with adhesive and when i try to power up, the bottom screen flashes white and then turns off. could you please help???? THANKS!