I started a new hobby, repairing and modding retro consoles. What are retro consoles you ask? Any console that’s no longer being produced by the manufacturer. This includes things like the PlayStation and Xbox, but also the way older stuff like a Sega MegaDrive, Game Gear, Nintendo Entertainment System and the likes.
I currently own various of these consoles myself, and they all still work. However, because I like tinkering with things, I purchase faulty consoles from Ebay, repair them and then try to sell them for a small fee to recover the costs of the used components and earn a little bit of money on the side.
Last week I got 2 Game Gear systems from Ebay. Both being sold as “defect” because the screens were very dark, and the sound was not working on either system. I made a rash decision and ordered 2 sound board, but in the end it turned out I didn’t had to do this…..
Problem 1 : No sound
The most common problem with Game Gear consoles is either no sound, or no display. Does this mean the console is a loss? Not at all. The cause here is bad capacitors. During the 90’s, when these consoles were produced, there was a bad batch of capacitors going around in the market. Sega unfortunatly used these in the production of the Game Gear.
The result? They start leaking and become useless. In the case of this Game Gear, it was so bad that several of the pads where they are connected on, had corrosion on them, making it really hard to replace them, as you cannot solder anything to a corroded pad. Here’s a picture of the pad after removing the bad capacitors from the sound board:
The lighting on the picture ain’t that good, sorry for that, but the pads on this board were a complete disaster. After spending about 2 hours on the soundboard alone, I managed to clean the corrosion of the pads. Because I like to keep things as they originally were, I replaced the caps with the same type:
As you can see, the board looks spiffy clean now and has the same type of capacitors you’d find in any Game Gear Soundboard. After testing the board, the sound quality was superb and the first problem solved.
Problem 2 : No Display
The second problem in reparing the console, was the lack of a display. You could vaguely see the game when looking at an angle, but overall the screen looked really dark.
Game Gears have this contrast scroll wheel on the side to increase or decrease the contrast based on the environment you’re playing in. Even turning this one all the way up kept the screen really dark. Again, the cause of the problem here is the same as with the soundboard: Bad Capacitors.
Fortunatly for me, none of them leaked soo much that the pads became useless or corroded. It still took quite a bit of time to replace every single capacitor on the board, but the end result is definitly worth it:
So now I have a fully repaired Game Gear. The only downside is that the display is not in 100% condition. If you look at the left side of the screen, you’ll see a darker band across the display. It’s not always there, and it doesn’t really affect game play, but it shows that this display has been through alot. Unfortunatly, this is not something I can repair.
Hope this was an interesting article, and I will post a new article soon where I will address the repairs of the second Game Gear as well as my Sega Saturn and Sega DreamCast.