When your games go on the fritz - Suteneko's repair & mod thread.

Thanks, ordered!

I’d much rather buy from a seller that I know ships good procuct, as it can sometimes be a little bit of a crapshoot when ordering this stuff.

A while back I ordered a bunch of items at once from different sellers to fill out a BOM on a project I was working on, and only about 2/3rds of the items ever got here after about 8 months wait.

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Yeah I know that feeling well.

I currently have a 27c4096 order of 5 pieces from a Chinese seller I have never used before.

The price worked out around 70pence a piece so thought was worth a punt and in no rush for them to arrive, but already been over 2 months.

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Bubble Symphony - Taito F3 Game PCB Repair:

I recently treated myself to one of my most sought after Taito F3 titles when I saw one cheaply listed on ebay.

I was originally concerned the game was a bootleg conversion as the seller had taken a photograph of the bottom of the cart which had a serial number of: M20J0122A which would be Puzzle Bobble 3.

So I contacted the seller who sent back a photograph with the correct M20J0104A serial for Bubble Symphony and even opened up the F3 cartridge on request to confirm it was legitimate.

With that I purchased the game and a couple of days later I had it in my hands:

However, due to my hectic work schedule I wasn’t able to test it until today and I was not very pleased to find the game has graphical glitches in the background tiles:

I felt a little deceived by the seller after having a fairly good conversation with him and this issue was never mentioned. Even the listing photographs of the game running appears to be cherry picked for times when these glitches were either very hard to spot or not visible.

But since the price I paid was extremely fair and cheap. I decided I would look into seeing if a repair was viable because well I am a open cart surgeon right?

Let’s look inside!

Nothing looks out of order. No cracked solder joints and no obvious signs of anything bad.

Since the graphical issues were only on the background layers I could immediately narrow my focus down to the three Mask ROM that hold that data:

Using my TTL Logic Probe I tested each of these Mask ROM pins for correct activity using a schematic for the equivalent M27C160 EPROM:

image

However, everything appeared to be functioning normally.

I knew these were likely the only possible issue, so I then programmed three M27C160 EPROM with the data from the bublbob2.zip that you can find in a MAME ROM set appropriate for these three Mask ROM (d90-08, d90-07 & d90-06).

I then started to carefully piggyback each of these Mask ROM one at a time while the game was powered on to see which Mask ROM would either glitch the affected regions (due to not being able to make proper contact on all pins during the piggy back) or correct the problem.

I quickly found that IC47 (d90-08) was the problematic Mask ROM and so I removed it:

I soldered in a socket and replaced the Mask ROM with the appropriately programmed M27C160 EPROM:

Voila!

The game is now fixed:

Does worry me that some Mask ROM are now starting to die such as this 27 year old one:

6 Likes

Super interesting! I finally got the gear that I need to read/write roms so I’ll be able to start doing some of this myself.

When you piggyback a rom is that what it sounds like? Set the legs of a good rom on top of the legs of a bad one while powered on and see if it fixes the issue?

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Yeah, but the problem is getting full contact on all pins is difficult, so more likely to cause more glitching especially when an I/O pin is already giving garbage output on the IC below it.

For any IC with a dead pin especially for stuff like the 74LSxxx IC a piggy back can solve an issue without glitching if you make sure the contacts of the piggy backed IC are tight enough.

But really this method is only good enough for testing purposes and to narrow down your search.
Also got to be super careful not to short pins so a steady hand is required.

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Official 360 to XBOX Component Cable Mod:

Last year I ended up being given a couple of Xbox consoles for free that had issues and I’ve spent quite some time figuring out how to mod, refurbish and repair them.

For quite some time I was using a cheap and nasty component cable sourced from China:

These have no shielding in them at all and pick up interference easily and internally the grounds are not even connected…

Unfortunately the Official Xbox Component Cable is hard to come across.

There is another option with the Microsoft Xbox One High Definition AV Pack:

image

These have become rather expensive to buy and you still have to ensure you purchase high quality shielded component and RCA Audio cables to connect your display to.

However, I discovered that the official 360 Component Cables are very cheap, very high quality and relatively easy to modify to work with an Xbox.

There does however appear to be two variations of this cable one with a ferrite bead and one without:

image image

I fortunately got given one of each type for free by an acquaintance who had no use for them.
Just as a note I found the one without the ferrite bead is a LOT easier to work with.

Let’s start!

First we need an XBOX connector which we can take from a cheap Chinese Component Cable like the one previously pictured (which I used), but you can also take one from an Official XBOX Composite Cable.

To start we cut off the connector from the cable and then throw the cable away, leaving us with:

Using a flat metal pry tool we can pry up the black plastic housing:

We can then wiggle the housing off backwards:

Then using some pliers we can open up the housing that is tightly gripped around the cable:

The two metal pieces then will easily separate and you can pull out the connector:

On these cheap Chinese cables the solder connections have hot glue covering them and I used some needle nose tweezers to carefully remove all of it:

Now we can de-solder the wires from the connector apart from the 2 red wires that loop back onto the connector as they control the cables mode select for the XBOX:

On the larger piece of metal housing you now want to rough up the surface with a file slightly:

and then attach a blob of solder to it, while being very careful not to let the solder go up against the side of the connector as it will not close back up correctly, so make sure to leave a few mm of gap:

Our initial preparation is now complete.

We now need to break open the connectors on the official 360 Component cable, de-solder/remove the small PCB that is used to output digital audio and then de-solder all the wires from the connector.

This will leave you with a bare cable end.

The cable without the ferrite core:

The cable with the ferrite core:

As you can see the shielding is a lot nicer and needs less tidying up on the cable without the ferrite bead and even has slightly thinner ground wires which are easier to solder to the connector, however overall the cable with the ferrite bead has the better shielding but is much more of a pain to work with.

Now going back to the black plastic housing, you will most likely find that the hole is slightly too small to fit over the 360 cable. So using a round file lightly file the cable strain relief:

Until you can easily slide it over the cable:

If you are using the cable with a ferrite bead which you wish to keep and not cut off the cable shorter you will need to cut the cable strain relief off shorter at the first notch as such:

Clean it up either with a file or linishing paper and push it all the way back to the ferrite bead. This will just barely give you enough room to work with:

On both cables you will want to slightly trim the cables back to all the same length and so no wire is exposed and clean up the shielding if it is messy:

The yellow wire is not going to be used so cut this off as far back as you can but make sure to keep its attached ground wire in tact.

With a wire stripper you should strip a couple of mm off the cleaned up wire ends (I found the 18AWG setting to be suitable) and tin these ready to hook them up to the salvaged XBOX connector.

We now need to know the XBOX connector Pin out which I have taken from gamesx:

image

We only care about the ones below:

01: Audio Right
02: Audio Right Ground
09: Pb (Blue)
10: Pb (Blue) Ground
11: Y (Green)
12: Y (Green) Ground
14: Audio Left
15: Audio Left Ground
21: PR (Red) Ground
22: PR (Red)

If you are using a different type of connector you will need to set the correct mode select pins by wiring:

Pin 6 to Pin 18 and Pin 7 to Pin 19

Thankfully the 360 cables wiring is nicely and appropriately colour coded for us:

White = Audio Left
Red = Audio Right
Pink = Red
Green = Green
Blue = Blue
Black = Ground
Yellow = Composite Video

So now we simply solder all these wires to the appropriate position on the connector:

We will have one single ground wire left over:

Slide the connector partially back into the metal housing and solder this ground to the point you filed earlier:

You can now fully push in the connector into the metal housing and put back on the second part of the metal housing and using your pliers close back together the prongs tightly over the cable.

This is where you will struggle the most on the cable that has a ferrite bead on it as you have virtually no space to work with even after cutting the cable relief shorter:

You can now slide the black plastic housing back over the metal housing to complete your cable:

OPTIONAL:

We are not quite finished yet though!

The 360 cable has a Composite Video RCA connected to it:

Since this can no longer be used, we want to cut it off as close to where the audio RCA wires come off the cable. Using a file clean up around the hole and we can use some epoxy putty to nicely finish this off:

The results:

It is hard to show the improved clarity from a photograph of a CRT but it is much better.

I have a lot more XBOX modding/refurbishment posts to come in the near future!

8 Likes

I did this mod as well, it was relatively simple but I found some good sources for OEM cables for around $30 so I would probably go for those rather than spend the time… and I used an expensive PS2 component cable (they were cheap at the time!) to do the mod soooo oops.

3 Likes

Planning on trying to use a 360 cable to build a better PS2 Component cable for myself as well at some point. I have a load of offiical Sony RF cables lying around with zero use that I could re-purpose the connector from, so hopefully the cable won’t have a too large diameter for it.

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Very cool. I’ve only made a couple of cables so far but it’s super satisfying when you hook it up and everything works right.

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XBOX S Controller Repair:

When I was doing some repairs for someone local, they said they had a XBOX S Controller that was not working that I could have for free as an extra bonus if I wanted it. So I accepted it!

It is of course dead. On closer inspection we can see the cord is badly damaged close to the strain relief and it looks like the ground connections have become broken:

So first job is to open up the controller. don’t forget that there is a screw hidden under a barcode sticker:

For a quick and easy test, I bent the cable over the controller, pulled out the ground from the damaged part of the cable and soldered that directly to the appropriate connection on the controllers PCB:

The controller now works. So we know this is the only problem!

Now I needed to take note of how the controller is wired up so I flip it back over:

I decided I was going to try to re-use the original cable, strain relief and original connector so I de-soldered the connector from the controller PCB:

Since I did not have enough usable original cable I had to cut it above the ferrite bead and then I also cut it below it to make it easier for me to work on the original connector:

I then pulled off the original cable relief which appears to be bonded to the cable but with some force you can remove it though some of the cables plastic sleeving will end up still stuck inside of the relief and by using some small tweezers and files I managed to clean up after way too much effort:

Now using tweezers again I pulled out all the crimp terminals from the connector and then opened up the crimp around the wire and cut off the wire as close to the crimp as possible:

I then stripped and cleaned up the end of the remaining cable that I was going to re-use, slid the old cable relief back onto it and added heat shrink to finish it up:

Now I simply soldered each of the wires to the original crimp terminals (as it would not be possible to crimp a new contact), re-closed the crimp around the end of the wires and re-inserted them into the connector:

I then soldered this connector back onto the PCB:

I also replaced the analog thumb sticks (360 controllers use the same type):

Then finally I cleaned and re-assembled the controller:

Using the Xbox Controller Tool I double checked everything was working perfectly which it was:

It is a shame I lost the ferrite bead (these help to absorb electronic noise) on the controller end but this will not hinder its ability to function.

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Cool, nice work!

Is that Xbox Controller Tool software running natively on an Xbox or something else? I haven’t seen that before.

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Yeah, it is a native Xbox application.

But for the life of me I can not seem to find where I got it from originally.
I had intended to link to it in my repair log when I was writing it up.

If you are interested I have uploaded it to my webspace here: Xbox Controller Tool.

Just unzip the archive and ftp it over to you App folder on your Xbox!

It has lots of options and rather useful.

2 Likes

Amazing how quickly something can go from “trash” to brand new!

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Reminds me what I used to do with N64 Controllers.
I used to find the cables are totally trash, and I ened up replacing the cable with a USB cable with the ends snipped off, one end wired to the N64 PCB the other attached to the controller plug.

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Sony BVM 9045D Bad Colour (G2) Repair:

This is a fairly old repair from before when I started making repair logs but had already started taking photographs/video for reference. In the process of this write up I have had to open this BVM back up to get a few extra photographs and while it was opened up I decided to re-do the repair.

Back in 2017 I bought a 9" Sony BVM very cheaply on ebay, but unfortunately the state of the package when it arrived was horrendous.

Thankfully it powered on but the colours were all messed up:

If you tapped the casing, occasionally the correct colours would return but within moments they would revert back to being messed up.

I then found by opening up the monitor and pushing the neck board PCB ever so slightly back toward the rear I could get the colours to stabilize:

With how compact these smaller monitors are inside, they are rather fiddly to open:

To get access to the neck PCB I would first need to open up both sides:

Then unscrew and disconnect the rear panel:

On inspection of the rear of this PCB you can see that the G2 connection is damaged:

So I removed neck board from the CRT after disconnecting the flyback and a few connectors:

Taking a closer look at G2 (which is a connection from the flyback transformer) I could see that the pcb contact is damaged so I used solder wick to suck up the old solder to be able to evaluate the damage better:

The remains of the damaged trace contact:

Since it would not be viable to solder to the remains of the PCB trace contact I used a Fibreglass abrasive cleaning pencil to rub away the solder mask over the trace coming from G2:

Then soldered a large blob of solder onto this to secure the G2 wire to it:

I then re-assembled the BVM and everything now works correctly as it should:

5 Likes

Super cool! Working on my CRTs is the next part of this hobby that I need to explore.

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Really cool breakdown and it’s awesome you repaired it! skillz

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Dreamcast 120v to 240v PSU Conversion Mod:

This is another old mod that is probably not so well known.

I bought a Japanese Va0 Dreamcast which of course is 120v so it needed a step down converter to run in the UK on our 240v mains electric supply:

I already had a step down converter, however it was problematic as even at over 1m away from my CRT it was still causing interference in a “wobble effect” for lack of better terms in the picture being displayed.

While I was searching for another solution I discovered there was a 120v PSU mod that had been posted on the darius-saturn forum in French.

So I decided to give it a try.

Here is the original 120v PSU:

But we are only concerned with this area of the PSU:

Here I removed the 200v 100µF capacitor at location C3 and the jumper with at position JP1:

Then on the rear of this area on the PCB there is a surface mounted resistor marked 124 (R13):

This also needs to be removed:

The removed components:

Now I needed to buy a single 400v 68µF capacitor and two 62Kohm 1/2W resistors:

We then solder in the 400v 68µF capacitor at location C3 and replace the jumper wire at location JP1 with one of the 62Kohm 1/2W resistors:

Then we need to solder in the other 62Kohm 1/2W resistor at location R13:

Now simply re-installed the PSU and powered up the Dreamcast:

I’ve been running my Dreamcast with this modded PSU for several years now on direct 240v mains, however the PSU does appear to run warmer than stock.

4 Likes

Super cool. I love reading about obscure mods like this. Great resource.

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Panasonic DMR-EZ48V DVD/VCR Combo Repair:

This is a little off topic for these forums but I hope some of you will find this interesting and potentially helpful for trouble shooting problems in other older electronic devices.

I bought this really lovely Panasonic VCR/DVD recorder combo unit about 7 years ago:

It has been powered on 24/7 for the entirety of that time, with it being used as my main method of watching VHS and DVD as I can output VHS and DVD content over component using it.

However recently I started to slowly notice I was getting some noise in the video which over the next few days got rather bad and was manifesting as horizontal noise lines in the video that sometimes would go bright orange along with a nasty hum in the audio.

I attempted to get at least one photograph of the issue but sadly this was the best I was able to manage as I really didn’t want to keep it powered up much longer:

I originally picked this up for £5 but now days they are apparently quite sort after (especially I suppose as they can record digital broadcast TV direct to VHS and output it easily to any CRT) and they are now selling for some serious money online.

I really wanted to save my unit so I decided to dismantle it to see if a repair would be possible.

Let’s start!

Taking the top off was rather simple, just remove a few screws and pull it off towards the rear:

Then you have to remove a single screw and unclip 5 clips to remove the front of the unit:

After removing 3 more screws you can flip the DVD drive over to the side:

Carefully pull out the 4 ribbon cables from the PCB underneath to allow you to remove the optical drive:

One more ribbon cable needs to be disconnected (the one that goes to the HDMI output) and after a few more screws are removed this PCB can also be pulled upwards to be removed:

This reveals the whole of the right hand side PCB, which the majority of which (upper right) is a switched mode power supply. Looking closer we can see some capacitors along the power rails are leaking:

I suspect this is the main culprit for the issues!

But first we need to remove this PCB and to do this we need to remove some screws from the rear of the unit that secure the input/outputs of the the machine:

Then very carefully I had to pry up these strange clips (one out of picture) that connect both main PCB:

After removing a few more screws and disconnecting the fan I could then remove the right PCB:

Since I had opened it up this far already I decided I would also check out the PCB to see if it also needed some refurbishment as this PCB controls the VCR and the main video/audio circuits.

The VCR unit was held in place by 5 screws which needed to be removed and the two ribbon cables for the video and audio heads needed to be disconnected at the motherboard before you can pull the whole thing upwards and off the motherboard:

Even more screws removed later and we are fully disassembled:

Sorry Johnny Five:

After removing the HDMI unit from the PSU/DVD motherboard PCB it is now ready for testing:

Using my ESR meter I started to test and compile a spread sheet of all the capacitors on this board while they are in circuit to give me a better idea of the situation.

Note:
Testing in circuit while in most cases will always give you the ESR reading for the capacitor.
However if the capacitors are in series with each other then you can end up with a combined ESR/Capacitance reading and it is common for you to not be able to get and capacitance reading due to nearby components.

Using some coloured ZEBRA marker pens I then marked the top of every capacitor to give me an easy visualization of where work needed to be done.

LEGEND:

  • RED = BAD
  • GREEN = GOOD
  • PURPLE = Can not fully check In-Circuit

From this it was easy to tell that the majority of the HOT and COLD sections of the PSU part of this PCB needed to be replaced. All the capacitors that could not be tested properly in circuit were removed and tested out of circuit and the results were conclusive that only the capacitors on the power rails needed replacing.

In total 15 capacitors were replaced:

Moving over to the left side VCR/AV PCB the same was repeated after un-slotting the small PCB on its left that does the decoding of video/audio streams.

Quite a few capacitors here were measuring with high but still just within acceptable tolerance ESR so I marked these with an ORANGE marker pen, but after checking some of them out of circuit I decided that the majority of them were fine and ended up only replacing 10 problematic reading capacitors:

These two PCB were then placed back into the housing:

Before dropping the VCR unit back onto the PCB we have to ensure that this cog is aligned correctly with the marking on the PCB:

We can then slowly start to re-assemble everything back together:

However, we are not quite finished yet.

I still have the slot in encoding board to check:

SHIT:

DSC07375e

All the SMD electrolytic capacitors on this are measuring with VERY BAD ESR…

I had never been able to get digital freeview TV broadcast to sync up with this so I could try to perform a firmware update, but I didn’t really ever care as I don’t watch TV and just assumed some incompatibility with the current broadcast system. But this leads me to believe that this was why!

So I needed to carefully use hot air to remove these SMD capacitors…

and replace them with new ones:

This was then slotted back into the unit so we are ready to test it and we appear to be working:

Here is all the removed and replaced capacitors:

I then tried to hook it up to an aerial and I was now able to do a firmware update check successfully:

All the noise is gone from the video and audio now:

For those interested here is the spreadsheet I created for this Panasonic DMR-EZ48V Recap Project.

Doing a full recap of this would have been cost prohibitive and wouldn’t have let me discover what exactly was problematic.

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