Operation! NES Edition

I had met the patient at a flea market last summer. 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…


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 for almost a year, until I found a suitable replacement part online. The busy surgeon finally made enough time to perform the delicate operation today.

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 they are doing. Well, at the very least, the big capacitor didn’t shock me, and nothing blew up when I plugged it in after.

  1. I flipped the old guy over and removed all of the outer casing screws with a plain Phillips screw driver.
  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.
  3. Removed the 6 screws holding the critical cartridge loader mechanism. We’re getting close to the vital organs here now… After removing the screws, I slid the whole housing towards me to remove it.
  4. Removed two more screws so that I could take out the patient’s entire nerve center. The surgeon made sure to keep the screws in a safe location, to prevent confusion when it’s time to seal him back up.
  5. I gently picked up the motherboard, and slid off the back heat sink. The patient’s worn out 72 pin connector organ slid off easily, with minor pressure. The new one slipped on with no issues. Too easy! No soldering or anything required.
  6. The patient was put back together with relatively minor difficulties.I had to disconnect some of the wire assemblies to get the back heat sink back on properly. I also learned 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 carted off to my TV, and carefully hooked up. I slid in the cartridge, and pressed the power button. Then I turned my TV on… The moment of truth:


The procedure was a resounding success, and the patient has been cured of his common affliction. No more blinky blue screen, or hopeless blowing on cartridges from a sad gamer. I got to happily play my very first NES game for a few minutes, Super Mario Bros. I know it’s 2016, but these classic games are all new to me so I’m excited I can finally start playing them.

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