Introduction: Restoring a Nintendo Game Boy
This instructable will go through the steps to make an original Game Boy act like it was new.
Old consoles tend to have some issues, but most commonly, these can be resolved by simply cleaning the contacts and inside of the casing. Game boys in particular have 4 specific issues that come up often, so this instructable will discuss how to all of those problems.
1) No sound, except from the headphone jack
2) Unit does not power on, or keeps turning off and on.
3) Stuck buttons
4)Vertical lines on the screen.
I will be posting restoration projects for several retro systems and accessories over the next few days, they are very similar projects because they function the same way.
Tri-wing Nintendo bit
If the speaker is blown, a replacement speaker (ebay, about $2)
If there are vertical lines on the screen, a soldering iron.
Step 1: Opening the Case and Cleaning: Front Half
Use the triwing screwdriver to remove the 6 screws on the rear of the game boy.
Note: If your game boy has ever had a repair, these screws may have been replaced with Philips screws. Many old repair shops did this.
Next, gently slide out the ribbon cable from the front of the game boy.
On the front half of the game boy, there are 10 Philips screws holding the board in place. Remove them all.
The rubber membranes under the keypad and actual buttons should be VERY gently rubbed to get the dirt off. These tear easily so be careful.
The keypad and buttons get the brunt of the dirt, and they are most easily cleaned by actually just leaving them to soak in a some rubbing alcohol. A few minutes is enough, and they will usually be sparkling after. A Qtip or toothpick can be used for detailing but is usually not necessary. This will typically solve the stuck buttons issue.
If you have no sound except for the headphone jack, you need to replace the speaker.
The old speaker is attached with 2 wires.
Remove the speaker with a soldering iron.The new speaker has 2 little contacts/soldering points, usually with green lines near them. Solder the wires onto the new speaker- it does not matter which wire goes to which contact/solder point. On this speaker, you usually do not need to add any solder, there is some already in place.
After that, clean the board, especially the spot under the keypad with alcohol. There is usually alot of dirt there, as you can see on the Q-tip.
If you have vertical lines on your screen, it can be fixed with a soldering iron. The link below has a great youtube clip that shows better than I can describe it with words.
Step 2: Opening the Case and Cleaning: Back Half
The back half of the game boy has 2 screws on the board, and 2 screws holding the 3.5mm audio jack in place.
Remove all of the screws and take out the boards.
Clean the boards themselves with the alcohol, and the audio jack with a Qtip and vinegar. You can see the zoomed in pic shows that it gets pretty dirty. Remember, this part is the most exposed part of the game boy except for the battery contacts.
When a game boy has power that keeps turning on and off, or doesn't even turn on, it is usually due to corrosion of the battery contacts. This may be due to rust, or an exploded battery, or both.It is easy to tell when this happens, as there will be blue crud caked onto the contacts.
The battery contacts can be removed by sticking a small flat screwdriver into the inside of the case, and a little pin will release the contacts.
Soak these in vinegar for a few minutes. The acid in the vinegar will cause bubbling, and most of the crud will come off on its own. The rest will be softened, and can now easily removed with the flathead screwdriver.
To clean the game slot where the cartridge goes in, you can use an old credit card with a thin microfiber cloth wrapped around it, that has some alcohol on it. Just slide it back and forth in the crevice.
At this point, the case itself can be cleaned with the compressed air, then washed with mild soap and water.
If your screen cover is all scratched up or missing, replacements on ebay are cheap, about $1-2.
You are all done! Before putting all the screws back though, test a game on it first. Believe me, screwing it all back together only to realize you forgot something is a major pain.