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DIY - How to bring back an original NES from the dead

Just about everyone between the age of 25 and 40 has fond childhood memories of the [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NES-Console-Set.png]Nintendo Entertainment System[/url]. It's by far and away the gaming console with the greatest nostalgia factor. For the last few years, Nintendo has even started reselling original NES games on the Wii via the virtual console.

About fifteen years ago, after I'd outgrown the Nintendo (replaced with a Sega Genesis, then an N64, etc) we gave it to my grandmother, so that when I visited her house I'd have something to do. After she died last year, I flew home for the funeral. On the way back from the airport, my father mentioned that he'd cleaned out her house the day before, and thrown away a bunch of stuff - including my Nintendo. I was horrified! I made him detour to the house, where (thankfully) the NES was still outside in the trash. I retrieved it and all the games, and brought them home over Christmas.

Now, anyone at all familiar with the original NES knows about the dreaded blinking power light problem. And there were a million supposed solutions to it. Blow on the cartride! Jiggle it around in the game tray. Press the power and reset buttons simultaneously. My NES was experiencing these problems by the mid-90s. Nearly twenty years later, I was worried about how bad it was going to be. Well, it turns out that mine was in about the worst state possible: the console had gone bad. The cartridges had gone bad. The controllers had gone bad. Yesterday, I restored it to fully functional condition in about two hours.

What you'll need:
* A new 72 pin connector
* A phillips head screw driver
* A small (5 mm) phillips head screw driver
* Q-tips (about five to ten per cartridge)
* Windex
* Fine grit sandpaper
* Access to the Internet

The NES console was made with a serious design flaw. Normal use would torque the 72 pin connector which allowed the NES to communicate with the cartridge, possibly causing the connector to become bent. And the metal used in the contacts (both in the NES and in the controller) was highly susceptible to corrosion. The exposed contacts on the cartridges could become dusty, exacerbating the corrosion problem.

Step 1 - Fixing the NES: Though I suppose it's possible the original NES adapter could be fixed - mine didn't look bent - I went with the expedient solution and simply replaced the old 72 pin connector with a newly-manufactured one. Here is the video of how to do it.

Step 2 - Fixing the cartridges - Dust on the contacts can exacerbate the connector problem. (This is why blowing on the cartridges was so popular. It actually did help a bit) A better approach is to use Q-tips with a small amount of cleaning solution to scrub the contacts. (There are specialty formulas out there, but windex worked just fine for me). Watch the video here to see how it's done.

Step 3 - Fixing the controllers. After doing steps 1 and 2, I inserted a game cartridge (Baseball Stars) and booted the Nintendo. The game started fine, with no blinking power light, but the game didn't respond no matter what buttons I pressed on the controller. So, either the controllers had gone bad or the controllers ports on the NES had. Fortunately, there was a simple way to test this. I had an NES Advantage handy, so I tried it and it worked perfectly. The game responded to the press of every button. The problem was clearly with the controllers. After some googling, I found this set of instructions for cleaning the controllers. So I opened them up and surely enough, their printed circuit boards were extremely corroded, both of them covered in a layer of greenish rust. The metal contact pads against which the button press were completely fouled, as were the tracks. Using very fine sandpaper (220 grit IIRC) I sanded the pads and track until they had a nice copper color. Then I screwed them back together, plugged them in, and they worked perfectly.

The Nintendo is still a bit persnickety about how I seat the cartridges. It usually takes two or three pull-it-out-and-reinsert-it attempts to get them to start correctly, but otherwise everything is back in perfect working order. I was *SHOCKED* when I fired up Dragon Warrior and found Sal, my level 29 has-every-item-in-the-game character. Twenty years after I bought it, and fifteen-plus after I last played it, all the save data is still there.

Viewed: 20 times
Added: 7 years ago
7 years ago
Mine still works. I just need a power brick for it.
7 years ago
I'll just leave this here for you.
7 years ago
Now my SNES is a different story. The plastic bit for the power connecter half broke so the power doesn't connect.
7 years ago
I wish I still had my NES. >.<

At least I got emulators, and the fact that anything less than RGB video looks bad on an HDTV means even if I did, I can't have the same feel I used to get. (Ideally, you should not only have a real NES, but a CRT-TV since those can adapt to the resolution of the NES better than an HDTV can. At least in my experience this is the case.)
7 years ago
Wow...!! You Lucky Bastard =3

From my old NES, I only got the SM2 cartridge... The console was lost in time (or my mom throw it away, who knows)

I got the game, but nowhere to put it... =(
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