Over the last number of months I have disassembled a large number of Nintendo DS Lite consoles. As a result, I’ve learned a great deal about troubleshooting various issues with this console.
So, I am starting this new How to Fix It series of posts to share with you what I have / am learning as I take apart old games consoles to repair them.
If I am missing anything or if there are any items you think I should add to this guide, please feel free to let me know in the comments below.
Issue: My Nintendo DS Lite wont turn on
- If your Nintendo DS lite does not turn on, ensure the battery is present. You never know, this may be the issue. Sometimes if you buy consoles such as this online, it can be quite common for the battery to not be included!
- Next, try plugging a power adapter into your console and allowing it to charge for 15-20 minutes. It is possible the battery has become completely flat. If this does not work, consider replacing the battery to see if that will work. Batteries for these types of consoles should be pretty cheap to buy online.
- If you are still here and have not resolved the issue, it is time to open up your console. Please do this with caution, I would recommend watching at least 1 YouTube video of disassembly before attempting this yourself. My first time doing it was a disaster!
- If plugging in the power adapter does not cause the power light to display, it is possible the power switch on the DS needs to be examined and / or replaced. I came across a useful article on this on the IFIXIT Website that is worth a read.
- Strip the console down to the motherboard so it can be examined. Have a quick glance over the board and see if any components look to be damaged or missing. There is no harm going over the board with some Isopropyl alcohol and a cue tip to remove any dust or corrosion that may be present.
- In most cases, if there is a power issue with the DS, the fault lies with one of the fuses on the board (most commonly F2). See the screenshot below for the fuse locations. To see if the fuses are functional, using a multi-meter check them for continuity. If you don’t get continuity with one or both of the fuses they will need to be replaced. These fuses are super tiny and can be difficult to replace with very novice soldering skills so I would recommend practicing your soldering of very small components before trying this if you can.
- If the fuses are not at fault, it is possible the inductors are at fault. There are 2 inductors (L2 and L4) on the board (see screenshots below for location). Again, test for continuity of these components using your multi-meter and if there is no continuity one or both of these will need to be replaced. These components are also very small so good luck!.
Issue: My Nintendo DS Lite turns on, the screen flashes, then it turns off
- If you turn on your Nintendo DS lite and the bottom screen flashes then turns off, this is usually an indication that the top screen is loose or broken and vice versa.
- Take your console apart and reattach the ribbon cable to ensure it is properly attached. Even if the ribbon cable is slightly loose, the screen will not work so ensure it is attached properly. Reassemble and see if this fixes the issue.
- If the ribbon cable is slightly damaged in any way the screen will likely need to be replaced. Screens can most commonly be sourced on eBay or similar sites. Otherwise, if you happen to have a spare DS around that you can salvage the screen from, this is a simple swap.
- If you do not want to buy a new top screen / can’t afford one, there is another option available to you. With some simple soldering knowledge, you could turn your Nintendo DS Lite into a Gameboy Macro (or whatever its called these days). Modders have been busy making these super cool devices (have a Google search) over the last number of years to great effect. You will loose out on some DS functionality but if you are a fan of GBA games then this is definitely a viable option. I am hoping to try my hand at this project myself in the coming months so more to follow hopefully.
Issue: My Nintendo DS Lite is not reading game cartridges
- Turn off your console, insert a game cartridge, then turn on the console. If the game is not reading try using a game cartridge that you know works.
- If both game cartridges do not work, clean the internal pins on the console with some Isopropyl alcohol and a cue tip.
- Should another game cartridge work, then you will know the game is at fault. Cleaning the contacts of the game with some Isopropyl alcohol and a cue tip can often resolve this issue.
- If this does not work, then you will need to take apart the cartridge to resolve.
- Should the game still not load, it is worth taking apart the DS to examine the cartridge slot. If this is damaged it will need to be replaced. This will require some tedious soldering to replace the component but it is possible.
Issue: Some of the buttons do not work
- If some / all buttons do not work on your console, the best solution is to take the console apart. With the individual button components taken apart, give them a clean with Isopropyl alcohol and a cue tip. It is also a good idea to inspect each of the buttons to make sure they are not broken. Reassemble the console and check that the issue is corrected.
Hopefully you were able to solve your issue based on the solutions above. I’ll continue adding to this list as I discover more new and wonderful problems so stay tuned!
Oh and by the way, don’t forget that if you’re going to be tearing down a console that you’ll need a gaming toolkit to work effectively. Why not check out an article I wrote about my gaming toolkit for teardowns and repairs.
If you have any hints or insight to share on this excellent console I would love to hear from you.