Repair DSi Left & Right Shoulder Buttons



Introduction: Repair DSi Left & Right Shoulder Buttons

Hello all, this is my first Instructable.

If you're here your Nintendo DSi (or perhaps a different model) shoulder buttons have stopped working over time. I recently rediscovered one I used to own and bought it a new battery only to find that the L&R buttons would only respond if you pressed them really, really hard. Not ideal for a bit of competitive Mario Kart local play.

This triggered memories of how I used to solve the problem: Blow hard into the buttons and they'll work for another few minutes or so! Any of the existing tutorials online will tell you the same (normally in an annoyingly high-pitched voice).

Unfortunately I needed a more permanent solution. I write this in case anyone else needs one too.

Let me just state that I am in no way qualified even to unscrew the back plate on my DSi, let alone "fix" the buttons, and the materials used to "repair" them were just those lying around in my room, so don't go complaining that my solution isn't robust as it could be. At least it works.

On the other hand, any feedback for improvements would be welcome.

With that said and done, welcome to the idiot's guide to replacing your shoulder buttons, wherein I, the idiot, will show you how to fix those pesky pieces of plastic. (Do you like my alliteration?)

What you will need:

  1. Suitable screwdrivers
  2. Superglue (Hot glue?)
  3. Some form of small, point object. For me this was pin headers with the plastic stripped off.

Step 1: Disassembling That Which Is Assembled

I'm not going to talk through what a google search (or a little common sense) will tell you how to do.

Unscrew the back plate of the DS, ensuring you disconnect the tape connecting it to the motherboard safely (the tape attaches near the pivot).

Obviously keep the screws handy or you're gonna have a bad time later.

Now that you have the back plate, the only bits you need to unscrew are the little black plastic guards just in front of the shoulder buttons.

Once they're gone you should be able to remove the shoulder buttons. Make sure you keep track of the metal bars and the springs that will come out with them.

You should be able to see that in each of the tiny push buttons on the circuitboards is inserted a little rubber plug. I have no idea who decided to use this to spread impact force (or whatever purpose it had) but it seems that, over time, those plugs get harder or softer or something and stop transmitting presses to the button. Eh, who knows. Let's get rid of them with a small flathead screwdriver.

Pressing in the now-vacant crevasses of the buttons should now yield a satisfying clicky sound. That's what we're looking for! But how do we press these down with the buttons? Those little stumps on the shoulder buttons which used to press the grey plugs are way too short!

Go to the next step to find out!

(This is when I saw some pin headers lying around and had a terrible idea)

Step 2: Step 1. Superglue, Step 2. ???, Step 3. Success

In order to press those buttons, you'll need to glue a pointy thing in the right place on the button. I'm not going to say that my method was the best one, but I'll present it anyway.

Get a pin header and strip off the plastic bit. Lay it in the button at an angle, and trim it so that the point sticks out right above the original contact point. Now smother that pin in superglue until it won't ever see the light of day again, let alone move around in it.

Once the glue has dried, make sure that there's a little bit on the tip. We don't want it to be too pointy, as this modification is already probably going to give the button a bit more of a beating than it's used to. We don't want to stabit every time we press the shoulder buttons; that would just be mean.

If you're sure things are in order, take a button and put it back in place with the metal bar. Then wedge the spring back in place.

Make sure that the button is being triggered when you move the shoulder down. Now, make sure that it is being triggered when the shoulder is moved down and pushed against the back of the plastic plate. It's going to be pushed back when you put everything back together, so if it's only clicking when popping out a little (as one did for me at first) it's not gonna keep clicking later.

If you're sure everything's in order, put the black plastic guard back in place and screw it in. Check the button again.

Once this is done for both sides, congrats! You've given life back to your buttons. Reattach your back plate, put the power back in, and make sure everything's in working order.

Those buttons should be clicking like they did the day they were made in some chinese factory!

If they're not, welp, bad luck. At least you tried.

That's all from me, please comment with any constructive criticism or questions.

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    Question 1 year ago

    Where can I find the replacement housing for the left/right shoulder?

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    It is always good to be able to repair stuff like this. I have kept so many electrical devices working with just some simple maintenance and the occasional minor repair.