Introduction: Replace Your Nintendo DS Lite Shell

I recently purchased a crystal clear DS lite replacement shell from dealextreme.com for a little over $16.00. You can buy replacement shells from many different places, such as ebay, but dealextreme had the best price and free shipping.

I didn't see an Instructable about how to replace the DS shell so I decided I'd write one up. It's a pretty complicated process and took me about 3 hours to complete, so I figured that a lot of pictures and descriptions of the process would help others. I labeled each section to make it easier to find a specific part of the process.

You WILL need a tri-wing screwdriver for the replacement so either get one off of ebay or if you place an order with dealextreme.com, add one to your order. You will also need a small phillip's head screwdriver, a flathead screwdriver, an exacto knife, a soldering iron, some de-soldering braid or solder sucker, and possibly some needle nose pliers.

When taking your DS apart, pay attention to how everything fits. Don't just rip it apart, take notes if you need to. It really helps in the end. When you put the DS back together, the hole will probably not be threaded so it may take some force to get them in there.

Step 1: Disassembly: Part 1

Taking the Back Cover Off
The first step is to unscrew the battery cover and remove the rechargeable battery. Also, make sure to take out your GBA cartridge, stylus, and DS cartridge if they are in the DS.

Next, you will use your tri-wing screwdriver and a small phillip's head screwdriver to remove all of the screws. on the back. The blue squares are screws that are covered by little square rubber feet. You can use a small flathead screwdriver or an exacto knife to remove the covers so you can get to the screws. Also, don't forget the little black screw in the DS cartridge slot.

After all of the screws are out, you can SLOWLY pull off the back cover. You want to be careful to hold the shoulder buttons when you take this cover off because they are spring loaded and will go flying if you're not careful. My replacement shell came with some extra hardware such as screws and pins but it did not come with the springs for the shoulder buttons. Pay attention to how the shoulder buttons are placed!!!

Step 2: Disassembly: Part 2

Taking Apart the Top
Now that we have the bottom cover off, we can start to disassemble the top. The screws for the top are hidden under these little covers. I would highly recommend using an exacto knife to get these off. I tried using a small flathead screwdriver and it's pretty tough.

Once you have all of the screws out, hold the top portion of the DS with your thumbs in front and fingers in the back. Push down with your thumbs and up with your fingers to slide the back cover of the top up. I had to use a small flathead screwdriver to pop it off once the cover was up.

Disconnecting Wires from the Top
Now that the back cover is off, the first connection to the main circuit board can be disconnected. This part is tricky and will require a soldering iron, some de-soldering braid or solder sucker, and some patience. To make things easier and secure, I flip the wifi board and stick it right back onto the pegs that it comes off of, exposing the wire that needs de-soldered. Using de-soldering braid or a solder sucker, de-solder the wifi antenna wire. After the wire is disconnected, pull it through the hinge and place the board somewhere safe!

Now, the microphone will need to come out. First, unhook it from the main circuit board. Then, carefully pull it through the hinge and pull the actual microphone out of the plastic case.

Once you have the back of the top portion off, the wifi board de-soldered, and the microphone disconnected, I like to tape down the speakers and the screen. We need to go back to the bottom portion to unhook all of the connections from the top and if you don't secure the speakers and screen, they may fall out and get in the way.

Step 3: Disassembly: Part 3

Disconnecting the LCD
Now that most of the connections in the top portion of the DS, the main circuit board can be unscrewed and the top screen can be disconnected. after taking out the one screw in the main circuit board, carefully flip the board up to expose the top LCD screen connector. All of the plastic pieces to the buttons as well as the rubber pads will be loose so make sure not to misplace them. Using a small flathead screwdriver or a exacto knife, lift up the black part of the connector, it should flip up and the ribbon cable should slide out easily. Once the ribbon cable is disconnected, the main circuit board is free and can be placed off to the side.

Disassembling the Hinges
To disassemble the hinge, the indicator light will need to be unscrewed. There are two screws that keep this piece in place. Once the indicator light is removed, make sure to pop out the translucent piece inside of it. My replacement kit did not come with this and I didn't realize I was missing it until I had finished assembling the whole DS back together....

Once the indicator light is unscrewed, the top portion of the DS can be disconnected from the bottom portion. Slide the top of the screen to the right. Once the top portion is disconnected, the LCD cable can be fed through the hinge. I rolled mine up and stuck it through.

There are two parts to the hinge mechanism. The bigger part is the thing that clicks and locks the screen in position. The other piece is just a metal coupling. The larger part may need to be pulled out with some needle nose pliers. Make sure to remove both. The only thing left to do is pop out the screen. The screen is stuck in there pretty well so take your time, you don't want to crack your screen and have to wait two weeks for a replacement. Apply slow, even pressure to the different sides. My replacement shell also came with a replacement screen protector for the top screen. If you want to replace yours, use an exacto knife to slowly pry it up.

Step 4: Assembly: Part 1

Fitting the New Screen Protector
I started off the assembly process with fitting a new screen protector on my top screen. If you decided not to replace yours, you can skip this step. To get the fit right, I first put the screen in the top portion. I then placed the screen protector through the front to make sure the placement was correct. You can also replace the plastic boarder around the touch screen but since mine was the same color as the new one, I left it.

Placing the Speaker in
After the screen protector is in the correct position, you can place the speaker gaskets and speakers back in. I used some scotch tap when putting these back in as well. Make sure to tuck the wires in the groove below the screen. If the wires are sticking out, you will have difficulty putting the back of the top portion on.

Threading the LCD Ribbon Cable and Connecting the Hinge
Next, put the metal hinge coupling in place, roll up the LCD ribbon cable, and push it through. Now take the top of the bottom portion of your DS, the one that the buttons stick up through, and fit the cable through the slit and slide it into the top portion.

After the two pieces are together, the clicking hinge is placed in the top portion and the indicator light is screwed in place. Since I forgot to put the translucent piece in the indicator light, it is not shown in the picture. I placed the button pads in next, and connected the LCD ribbon cable to the main circuit board.

Connecting the Wifi and Microphone
Next, you can feed the microphone cable and the wifi antenna back through the hinge. In my picture, I placed the mic antenna over the DS game slot but it should be fed underneath the main circuit board. Make sure to tuck the microphone and speaker wires down in the groove. I taped this as well because I found that the wires liked to pop out.

Now, the wifi wire can be soldered back in place. I taped it down to the back of the screen to keep it steady. Make sure you solder the tip of the wire and the base and do not make a connection between the two. If there's a connection, it will not make the correct connection with the antenna. Place the wifi back in the correct orientation and tape it down.

Placing the Back of the Top Portion On
Once all of the wires are fed through the hinge and everything is in place, you can place the back cover of the top portion. Place the back of the top portion in the up position and put your top screen bumpers in place. A flathead is helpful to position the bumpers. Also, I used the old bumpers since they were the same color and had their adhesive still on them. The new ones did not have any adhesive but could be used with some double sided tape. Next, put the DS in the closed position and take off all the taped parts. Slide the back of the top portion into place, making sure all of the hooks catch on the top and sides and the screen bumpers are still in position. Also make sure no wires are being pinched. Screw the back into place and stick the square screw covers on. My screw covers didn't have any adhesive so I needed to use some double sided tape.

Buttons
After the wires are all in place and the back is secured, the A, B, X, Y,Start, Select, and D-pad buttons can be placed in the housing and the main circuit board can be screwed down.

Shoulder Buttons
Next, the shoulder buttons have to be put in place. The metal pins and those small spring levers are used. The picture came out a bit blurry but you can kind of see how they are placed. The spring goes in the middle of the shoulder button, with the metal pin feeding through it. That is placed in the hole in the DS housing. The button is perpendicular to the the housing. The one edge of the spring is stopped by the shoulder button itself and the other end is stopped by the housing. Pushing the button towards it's regular position will compress it. Make sure the pin is pressed all the way down. The shoulder button should catch on the case and stay in place. It's hard to explain the exact process but hopefully you paid attention when you were taking the DS apart.

Placing the Back of the Bottom Portion
The only thing left is to place the bottom of the DS on. You will need to place the plastic power switch and the volume switch into the housing before placing the back cover on. Be very careful with the shoulder buttons, they come loose easily since they are spring loaded. Make sure your volume switch and the plastic volume switch are in the same relative position. The power switch is in the down position so make sure the plastic power switch is also in the bottom position. Screw it in place, and you're in business!

Step 5: Finishing Touches

After screwing the bottom cover on, place your rubber feet over the two screw holes, peel off the cellophane from the top screen, place your battery in, fire up some Mario Kart, and enjoy your new, beautiful Nintendo DS lite housing!

I hope this instructable helps everyone trying to replace their housing! If you go through the process and find anything I missed, let me know and I can add it in! Take your time and good luck!

Comments

author
musicman551 (author)2010-03-06

first off, great tutorial. ive been looking all over the web for a legit explanation for ones purchased from dealxtreme.

the only thing im having trouble understanding is why you need to solder/de-solder. all the other tutorials/videos ive seen have/show no mention of this.

could you please explain? thank you

author
SimonRoyal (author)musicman5512017-07-19

yes i was wondering this too. i just bought a transparent case and am about to attempt it. i did a case swap (from pink to silver) a few years back and never needed to solder either.

author
Dandeman321 (author)musicman5512010-03-07

Thank you! Well I had to do it to fully take it apart. I haven't done this is awhile so I can't remember exactly why, but at the time I knew I had to do it to get everything taken apart. It had to do with the wifi antenna I believe.

author
zack247 (author)Dandeman3212010-04-05

maybe because you didn't want to fight with it to get it under the ds cart slot?

author
the_kingfish (author)zack2472010-11-28

Great Instructable! It was the best help I found for my repair job. I didn't want to bother with desoldering, so I tied a piece of thread to the wifi wire. I cut the thread and left it in place for disassembly. For reassembly, I retied it and pulled the wire through with little effort.

author
Dandeman321 (author)the_kingfish2010-11-29

Thanks! Yeah, I've heard of methods being used so you don't have to desolder. Being an electrical engineering major I had all the stuff laying around to do that and that was just quick for me!

author
NakitaW (author)2017-02-10

hey, I have a ds lite, and the slot where you put the stylus broke, the stylus can't fit into it, if I buy a shell does it have the stylus holder?

author
Dandeman321 (author)NakitaW2017-02-11

I'm not sure, it's been quite a while since I've worked on these. A new shell should have the stylus holder intact but it's quite a bit of work to replace it.

author
rallekralle (author)2015-04-19

i'm getting a DS Lite soon, and i might do this.

it looks really nice, and i could probably put some LEDs in it... hmm....

author
Sheutk (author)2015-04-04

what do i do if the loop henge things are to big for the replacement shell? do they come in smaller sizes?

author
Dandeman321 (author)Sheutk2015-04-04

I'm not sure. It's been years since I've done this. I don't believe they come in different sizes, they sell these add whole kits, not piece by piece.

author
XCoreRainbow (author)2013-05-26

Just wanna say thank you, very useful guide!

author
Dandeman321 (author)XCoreRainbow2013-05-27

No Problem!

author
jimmbobdave (author)2012-12-26

amazing instructable, the first real useful guide I've found for the replacement

author
Dandeman321 (author)jimmbobdave2012-12-26

Glad I helped!

author
marcelnavarro (author)2010-12-28

I finished, but when i turn on the unit, the screen just flashes once. Did I fry the unit? Is there anything I can do?

author

More than likely the LCD isn't plugged in the whole way. Try pushing the ribbon cable in further. Let me know if that fixes it. You could fry the unit if you shocked it with static but that sounds like a loose cable.

author
cobra254 (author)2010-06-06

Just to clarify, you do not need to use a soldering iron. For probably the best video tuorial on the web, try http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-replace-nintendo-ds-lite-case-338519/ it doesn't finish, but it shows how to do it without soldering.

author
poshle (author)2010-03-23

Wow! Fantastic tut, by far the best one I've found, great job! I can't wait to try this out :D

But I do have a question; if I'm only replacing the top panel of the DSL (the portion with the little ds emblem) woudl I still have to unscrew the bottom parts too? 

TIA, and again thanks for the amazing tutorial!

author
zack247 (author)poshle2010-04-05

no, you shouldn't. its a separate piece from all the rest, so the bottom doesn't need to be taken apart

author
ryanlashway (author)2010-02-26
For those of you not comfortable with soldering if you angel the Wi-Fi and Mic connectors properly you can slide them out under the game cartridge housing.

It make take some jiggling but I have successfully done this every time I have replaced a case.
author
erikals (author)2009-12-23

It's a pity Nintendo doesn't sell clearcase DSes for the geeks like myself
I would like one.

Great instructable.

author
Arbitror (author)2009-09-16

... Darn. I was going to do this exact same 'ible... Good job though, this is 5 star material! This is way better than all those videos on youtube!

author
Dandeman321 (author)Arbitror2009-09-17

Thanks!

author
Arbitror (author)Dandeman3212009-09-17

Your welcome! =) I looked all over the net trying to find a good, easy to follow DS lite shell mod tutorial. All I could find was crappy low quality youtube videos where the "teacher's" hands were in the way all the time...

So then I thought I should make an easy to follow Instructable, which would probably be the first tut on DS case modding with full size clear pics. So then I searched to see if anyone had beaten me to it, and what did I find...

I have another idea though...

author
JakeTobak (author)2009-05-08

I don't know why they don't sell clear versions to begin with.

author
NYPA (author)JakeTobak2009-09-02

Tha'd be AWESOME!

author
mitzie (author)2009-08-02

thanks I'm a 62 yr old grandmother and with your help I have just replaced my granddaughters case lost one of my springs improvised with a spring from my plant peg she is over the moon

author
Dandeman321 (author)mitzie2009-08-02

No problem! Glad I could help.

author
masterofinsanity (author)2009-05-13

Excellent guide, would be lost without it, couple of tips, check the button springs as they are handed, left and right otherwise you will struggle forever to keep the buttons on, also when putting the covers back on don't do what i did and try and force it otherwise you will break something like the on/off switch and make the DS completely useless.Thankyou for this guide!

author

Thanks! You're welcome. Yeah, the buttons are hard to describe. I was having trouble. My Dad would always tell me, don't force anything, you'll break it. I had to break quite a few things to agree with him ha.

author
AndyGadget (author)2009-05-09

Nice work! Does the clear shell feel as solid as the original?

author
Dandeman321 (author)AndyGadget2009-05-10

Thanks! Yes it does! It has all the Nintendo printing on it as well.

author
Joe Martin (author)2009-05-08

Very cool! Nice pictures and clear instructions, Well done.

author
Dandeman321 (author)Joe Martin2009-05-08

Thank you! And the clear instructions are what I was trying to go for. I found other partial guides on different sites that were hard to understand :/