(Don’t mind the featured image, it’s my first try and everything is a bit wonky 🙂 )
You may know from one of my previous post I managed to get an almost fully working Game Gear some time ago for just 20€.
I say almost fully working because the screen looks a bit faded, even though this is a common “problem” with the Game Gear since like others handhelds is not backlit so you have to choose the correct position to get the best image, but most of all because it was completely lacking sound.
I bought it anyway, trusting in my non-existent skills of restorer, becaUse I’ve seen on the internet that 90% of the Game Gears sooner or later have this kind of issue with the sound and it’s very simple to fix. Obviously is simple to watch but for one who has never done it before could be a bit more complicated.
But I always love to learn something new and I decided to try and fix this problem. This involves the capacitors of the “sound card” that after years of usage starts to leak because they’re electrolytic ones and it may happen that one day they simply die. I’ve bough online a small set of brand new capacitors (not chinese quality) and the great thing is they were already designed for the Game Gear, since it’s a complete set with all kind of capacitors that can be replaced in the handeld.
So I’ve taken my brand new soldering iron (this one yes, pure chinese quality, but it was sold at 6 during the prime day…) and before risking to kill something/someone I’ve taken one of the old TV remote controls I have to make some practice. I was a bit a dummy but in the end my results were not so bad, i soldered and desoldered some stuff in the remote and it was still working.
So it was time to open the Game Gear. Don’t mind my blue gloves, I wear them not because there’s something caustinc or dangerous, I just feel more safe and professional with them. Not so professional actually since I was half naked (the day was hot and the air conditioning not fully working). After removing all the 6 screws, the control screw for which is needed a particular screwdriver (the one with the exagonal start shape) and after having unplugged the wires connecting the two “shells”, the heart of the console was in front of me. It took me a moment to identify the “sound card” and obvioulsy is the one where there’s the AUX jack.
I took it out agfter removing the two screws and the problems was exactly the one I expected: 4 out of 5 capacitors were leaking and one was in worse conditions than the others. Even though one was still in good shape I decided to cut the bull and replace all of them.
It’s good practice to unsoled the capacitors but the leakage prevented me to do it and I simply pull them away from the board. Then I tried to clean as much as possible the connections because it’s very difficult and completely useless to solder something new on a rusty base. So I scraped the metal with the head of the screwdriver better than I could and it was time to make my first official soldering. I admit I was a bit nervous and sweaty, maybe because I had the light just over me and a super heated siron in my hand; but actually my biggest fear was that my iron could explode. You know, crappy quality, super cheap price…
So first of all I put a small amount of tin over the two contacts to ease the connection, then I placed the capacitors on them and I soldered the two legs paying attention to attach the correct leg to the correct pole: in fact the electrolytic capacitors are polarized so there’s only one correct way to put them on the board.
So I’ve replaced al the capacitors, put the board in its slot and screwed again the console. Then it was time to check if I screwed up everything or not and with my great surprise when I turned the Game Gear on finally I’ve heard it speaking for the first time! Unfortunately there was nobody with me so I have to share my joy with my cockatiel but I’m not completely sure he understood what happened. He just shouted at me.
Now I have another piece in my collection and I hope to find some good game to play on it. The hunt is open…