Operation! NES Edition

This was probably the first non video game review, or Amiibo, related post on my old website. Basically, I had lots of fun taking apart an old NES system and replacing its faulty 72 pin connector, thus deciding to babble about the procedure in a blog post. This is also perfect timing because I recently scored a NES Classic during the restock a couple weeks back. My original NES can now happily retire to its cozy original box.

For whatever reason, this post also attracted the most (and weirdest) spam-bot comments for my old site. The internet spam-bot swarm hasn’t found my new website yet, so I’m hoping this lures them back! Alas, they make me feel better about my view stats and are always good for the lulz. I miss them.

Anyway, here’s past me playing Video Game Console Surgeon!

The Diagnosis

I had met the patient at a flea market in the summer of 2015. At the time, he appeared to be in good health and even had his original packaging. Not only that, he also came with Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and one of those classic flashy light guns. The NES era was a generation before my time, and I know there are many classic games I missed out on from those glory days of gaming. I decided I’d give the old guy a new home, and I also picked up the original two Zelda games along with him. When I brought him home, however, his hidden illness was quickly revealed…

Operation NES 1

After carefully hooking him up to my modern day TV, and gently loading my first NES came into the slot, I happily turned the venerable console on. I was immediately concerned when the only thing on my TV was an ominous blinky blue screen. After frantically trying another game, and desperately trying the time-honored ‘blow on the cartridge’ technique, I had to accept the patient’s chronic condition. I know it’s a common affliction and a cursed disease among his kind: his aging 72 Pin Connector had failed, and he needed a transplant if I wanted to play those gems from that era.

The patient was confined back to his original box until I found a suitable replacement part online. This busy surgeon finally made enough time to perform the delicate operation a year later.

The Procedure

Disclaimer: Don’t take electronic things apart if you don’t know what you are doing! You could damage them beyond repair, or possibly even hurt yourself.  I have a background in electronics so I like to consider myself a professional, who sort of knows what she’s doing. Well, at the very least, the big capacitor didn’t shock me, and nothing blew up when I plugged it in after.

Step 1 – I flipped the old guy over and removed all of the outer casing screws with a plain Phillips screw driver.

Operation NES 2

Step 2 – Flipped the patient back over, and pulled off the top of the console. So far so good! No flat lining or cursing from the surgeon yet. I removed several screws around the big heat sink.

Operation NES 3

Step 3 – Removed the 6 screws holding the critical cartridge loader mechanism thingy. We’re getting close to the vital organs here now… After removing the screws, and NOT losing them, I slid the whole housing unit towards me to remove it.

Operation NES 4

Step 4 – Removed two more screws so that I could take out the patient’s entire nerve center. The surgeon seriously made sure to keep the screws in a safe location, to prevent confusion when it’s time to seal him back up.

Operation NES 5

Step 5 – I gently picked up the motherboard, and slid off the back heat sink. The patient’s worn out 72 pin connector slid off easily, with minor pressure. The new one slipped on with no issues. Too easy! No soldering or anything required.

Operation NES 6

Step 6 – The patient was put back together with relatively minor difficulties. I had to carefully disconnect some of the wire assemblies to get the back heat sink back on properly. It should be noted that it is much easier to slide the cartridge mechanism back on before putting the motherboard back in place…

The Prognosis

The transplant appeared to be successful. The patient was quickly carted off to my TV and carefully hooked up. I slid in a cartridge and cautiously pressed the power button. Nothing exploded so then I turned my TV on… The moment of truth!

Operation NES 7

The procedure was a resounding success! The patient has been cured of his common affliction. No more blinky blue screen, or hopeless blowing on cartridges from a sad gamer. The expert surgeon got to happily play her very first NES game for a few minutes, Super Mario Bros.

Surgeon’s Note: A small side effect was noticed in the days prior to the procedure. It appears the cheap replacement connector has a minor problem. Game Cartridges get stuck in the system since the spacing is a bit off. Not a huge deal, but I don’t like having to rip games out of a fragile old console with a lot of force, you know? Let this be a warning though! Take care and make sure you buy the right part. There are a lot of knock off products available in the shady 72 pin connector black market.

Thanks for reading!

If for some odd reason you want to read more of my posts, you can find a somewhat organized (and usually up to date) archive of my ramblings… I mean, articles here!

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Published by

"Lightning" Ellen

My name is Ellen, and I've been babbling on the interwebz about video games for over 15 years. Video games themselves have been a large part of my life since 5-year-old me first encountered a SNES in a children's hospital. Fun times... Video game escapism is still the #1 coping mechanism for adult me these days.

10 thoughts on “Operation! NES Edition”

  1. Wow that’s incredible! I can build computers but don’t have extensive electronics experience. However, the lack of soldering is a plus – now I know if mine ever fails I can repair it fairly easily 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I did not do so well in soldering class in college… haha. Surface mounting tiny electronics to a circuit board is hard. The NES connector replacement is really easy though. Good luck if you ever need to perform the delicate operation 🔨


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