My time doing gaming retro repairs – I’ve learned a lot

My background in gaming retro repairs

Gaming retro repairs or the act of taking apart and repairing games consoles (mainly older consoles) is an interesting and for me very fulfilling past time that I have been doing for the last number of months.

To give you all some background here, I had a pretty non-existent collection of games and games consoles but wanted to add more to the collection as I am sure all gaming collectors understand. I mainly wanted to get back the games I played as a kid to relive that sense of nostalgia. My main challenge was that I was not really in a position to go around dropping lots of money to build on my collection and I didn’t just want to throw a lot of money at it either.

I wanted to be thrifty about things, so this meant scouring the local charity shops and pawn shops in my town. Unfortunately though, if you have read my older blog post Places to buy games in Waterford you will know there is not a lot going on in the way of retro gaming stores that charge a fair price where I live. The only charity shop that has old electronics definitely know what they have and charge crazy prices for consoles that I am just not prepared to pay.

Xbox 360 Controller Board

Xbox 360 Controller Board

Starting to lose hope, I turned to online stores like Amazon and Ebay to see if I could get anywhere with this approach. I quickly became intimidated by the amount of stuff out there so I started watching some YouTube videos on tips for buying online. This was actually how I started to learn about retro repairing. I found a lot of excellent videos of people buying older untested items from eBay and repairing them. The idea of doing this myself really appealed to me. Being able to repair something myself would give me a lot more satisfaction than simply paying a lot of money for a new console.

So I continued to watch videos of repairing consoles and decided eventually to try simply cleaning up my own consoles and controllers to see how things work. I assembled a repairs toolkit with some parts from my boyfriend’s toolboxes and the other bits and pieces from pound shops and the pharmacy and I started into it.

Repairing a playstation 2 controller

Repairing a playstation 2 controller

My attempts at retro gaming repair

First up was my slim PS2 in black, and it all went well, until I decided to use some sticker cleaner on the top case to remove some sticker residue. Bad Idea. The case is now slightly faded and discoloured where I was over excited with the sticker remover. Not a total success here but lesson learned!

I continued on with the rest of my consoles and they all, eventually, became like new. Feeling pretty happy with myself I finally decided to take a gamble and buy a Gameboy Color on Ebay. These looked like generally easy things to repair, barring some screen burn issues. I ended up buying 3 from winning 3 auctions and after 1 month of waiting they arrived. I took each console apart, cleaned all the components and with that I had 3 like new handhelds in my collection.

Gameboy Colours

Gameboy Colours

Ok, so nothing too exciting other than cleaning. For my next purchase I decided to be a bit more brave and I bought a Gameboy Advance that was advertised as broken for parts. Grand I thought, I should surely be able to get this working. Unfortunately though, when it arrived that was not meant to be. The screen was just broken, there was a ton of corrosion on the ribbon cable, not salvageable. With that said though all other components seem to work, minus the sound so I can at least use the console for parts going forward. I was also able to test out my non-existent soldering skills by de-soldering the speaker and re-tinning the power switch. So not a wasted venture. I also practiced testing out continuity on the various components on the board.

My most recent purchase is a metallic rose Nintendo DS lite. It is powering on and the screen flashes on briefly but then immediately turns off. So you would think it would be as simple as taking the unit apart and seeing what’s going on inside. But alas it was not meant to be, at least for now. I do not yet own the correct size tri-wing screwdriver bit needed to open the console.. great. It would seem Nintendo decided to change up the size of the screws.. brilliant for me. Not to worry though as I have ordered a replacement case which comes with the necessary screwdrivers needed to make the case swap. So now I am just playing the waiting game!

Metallic Rose Nintendo DS Lite

Metallic Rose Nintendo DS Lite

While I am waiting for this to arrive I decided to write this blog post as I believe over the last couple of months that I have learned a lot and I have really enjoyed performing some retro repairs!

Not only has my soldering ability come on a great deal but I am also pretty well able to troubleshoot most issues with the consoles I have looked at. Simple things that I wouldn’t have dared to try before are now things I can do without difficulty (mostly) and I am enjoying it a lot. I would definitely recommend that video game collectors and enthusiasts learn more about maintaining their collections and all that goes with it. Not only is it fascinating to see how the insides of the consoles are put together but you really do get a sense of pride and ownership being able to repair your consoles.

Frankenstein DS Lite Made from the souls of other DS consoles... Spooky

Frankenstein DS Lite Made from the souls of other DS consoles… Spooky

Signing Off

There you have it. This has been my take on retro repairs and my wins and losses over the last while. I hope you find some inspiration here to try this out for yourself and have fun!

If you enjoyed hearing about my retro repairs and the struggles and successes that I have had with it then check out these blog posts:

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