Since I'm going on vacation this Wednesday, I need something for long-trip entertainment. Since my GBA got stolen, I never got around to have a handheld system anymore (bad memories), except for this crappy (condition-wise) Gameboy Pocket I bought on the flea market for like 5 bucks. It came with a Tetris cart inside and it was all busted: No sound, a missing screen line, and a very worn out contrast knob. The line is unfixable without a complete display swap, luckily it's in a place where it doesn't bother much (doesn't ruin text in RPGs for example) so the missing line was there to stay, but I fixed the sound and contrast issues. I was a happy panda
The thing is, I've been very careless with it, I've dropped it countless times, and yeah, Gameboys are indestructible so it still works, but the select/start buttons and the down on the D-pad are busted. You have to push them reaaaalllyyy hard to make them work. Try playing Tetris without a down button. It'll drive you mad!
The Gameboy in question:
So I need the Gameboy for trip entertainment, but it's broken! I suspect that the screw binding posts are all broken, there's no back support for the motherboard so the whole board gets pushed down when I press a button, making them really hard to push.
I took it apart with some jeweler's screwdrivers, and lo and behold, my suspicion was true:
View full size pic here Flickr
Nearly all of the screw posts are cracked, and a few are completely missing
. In particular one below the D-pad is missing, which I suspect holds the board when I push the down button, and now it's gone.
I wonder how the Gameboy didn't fell apart!
What to do? Well, let's try to restore the cracked ones, and figure something out for the missing ones. I learned a technique from my uncle to use in case of broken plastic: With a soldering iron, slightly melt the cracked plastic while holding it in position with some pliers, so that the plastic parts 'fuse' again, and if you need more physical support, melt a little piece of wire between or around the two to give them strength. So I get my soldering iron and melt the cracked posts in a circular motion, 'restoring' them to normal appearance and hopefully normal strength (so that they can truly hold the screws and the system in one piece).
So I closed it, the upper two worked with no problems, but the lower two (the ones inside the battery holder) cracked instantly. I suppose because they hold the most stressful and heavy part of the Gameboy: the batteries and the button section (while the upper part is helped to stay in place by the inserted cartridge). In fact when opening it again, one of them came apart off the casing!!!
I have to reinforce them. I 'glued' the ripped one through more melting, reinforced the other with a small piece of wire: made a small loop around the screw post, and then tightened it with some pliers while applying heat to it with the soldering iron. This fuses the wire to the screw post so it doesn't come out, and the metal wire prevents the post from 'exploding' when the screw is inserted. Then I filled the surroundings with hot glue, so they don't have any more room to expand and crack again, also giving them more surface area to grip the gameboy casing.
But what about the missing one? Well, I had a crazy idea: make a screw post out of hot glue!
. Held the screw in its place like it was home, then filled the surroundings with lots of hot glue. When it hardened, I 'unscrewed' it from the glue blob. I didn't think it was going to work that well, but to my surprise it works perfectly!!!
The results of a hot soldering iron, a piece of wire, lots of hot glue and lots of patience
Check it full size here Flickr
Every screw fitted perfectly! so now it was time to test it. Will down and select/start come to life?
They did!!! They're even smoother than the other buttons!!!
Even Mario himself approved the repair! Wohoo!!
(Full size here if you're interested Flickr
So I can now play the hell out of Tetris during those long long road trips
! See you in a week!