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Buying old nintendo games: original system or virtual console?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Originally, I was dead set on shelling out extra $ to pick up some of the old SNES and N64 games that I loved.  However, I recently learned that many of those games had save batteries in them and once they go out, you can no longer save your games.  should I allow this to be a deterring factor from me buying the originals?

post #2 of 9

I don't think it's that much of a deterring factor, but I'm not averse to opening up my cartridges and replacing the SRAM batteries, either. Also, aren't there devices these days that can back up the SRAM from old game cartridges before the batteries fail?

 

If anything, the main incentive for me to go with the original hardware is that, well, it's the original experience. No emulation errors, the original controller, etc. This goes double for things like 3DS VC Game Boy games that are forced to run in monochrome, with no option for Super Game Boy or Game Boy Color enhanced palettes. (It's especially insulting with SGB-enhanced games like Donkey Kong '94 and Mole Mania already up for sale.)

 

The only thing I tend not to like compared to emulation is that some consoles can be a pain to get RGB video out of, especially the N64. Later US models have a revised video DAC that you can't just tap pinouts for the RGB signals for, so you have to basically add another video DAC made of a CPLD and a bunch of resistors twisted together into ladders.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

I havent done much research, but you have to solder the new cartage batteries in right?

 

this might sound dumb, but i have no idea how any of this stuff works.  can you replace the snes battery multiple times?  or will over time you can wear out the area where the battery connects to the circuit? like if you were to replace the battery 5 times (i know they last like 20 years but I'm just wondering). 

 

also, is there any risk involved in replacing it as far as causing damage to the game or motherboard (assuming you don't do something really stupid)

post #4 of 9

The batteries usually have tabs that are then soldered onto the PCB, yes. You'll want to unsolder it properly before removal, or else you risk ripping the electrical contact pads off the PCB along with the battery and really complicating your repair job.

 

However, the CR2032s I get usually don't have the tabs attached, so what I do is rip the tabs off the dead battery after it's removed, electrical-tape them to the new battery securely, and solder the tabs back in place. I haven't lost save data on any cart I've done that to yet, but I do tape the battery and tabs down together tightly. (NEVER attempt to solder the tabs directly to the battery; heat kills batteries.)

 

If it's a concern, you could install a CR2032 battery holder like you'd find on a PC motherboard for the CMOS battery backup. The guy who built my Star Fox 2 cart actually did that to facilitate easy replacements later on. (At least, easy for anyone who has the required gamebit to remove the screws, but doesn't have a soldering iron.)

 

If you know what you're doing with the soldering iron, you won't damage anything. However, I won't say it's 100% risk-free because you're prodding an electronic board with a very hot object in the process, and you'll need a steady hand to make sure the iron isn't touching anything other than the solder joints you're aiming for. Otherwise, you might accidentally unsolder a nearby joint, bridge two solder joints that shouldn't be bridged from melted solder following your iron tip, etc. It takes practice, and I've done soldering work for years.

 

Still, if you're willing to learn, it's a VERY useful skill for electronics work of any sort. You wouldn't believe how many faulty electronics could be fixed with a little soldering work.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

thanks for your input.   

 I really appreciate it

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

However, the CR2032s I get usually don't have the tabs attached, so what I do is rip the tabs off the dead battery after it's removed, electrical-tape them to the new battery securely, and solder the tabs back in place. I haven't lost save data on any cart I've done that to yet, but I do tape the battery and tabs down together tightly. (NEVER attempt to solder the tabs directly to the battery; heat kills batteries.)

 

If it's a concern, you could install a CR2032 battery holder like you'd find on a PC motherboard for the CMOS battery backup. The guy who built my Star Fox 2 cart actually did that to facilitate easy replacements later on. (At least, easy for anyone who has the required gamebit to remove the screws, but doesn't have a soldering iron.)

 

Killing the batteries isn't the reason you shouldn't solder directly to these batteries.  It's for the same reason you shouldn't dispose of them by fire, it just isn't safe.

 

You can buy tab batteries from sellers on eBay and else where.  Only buy from North American trusted sellers with a high positive feedback ratings.  I cannot recommend electrical tape as a smart solution.  I would advise learning to solder, it is a useful skill.  Tabbed batteries, or battery holders are both great solutions.  If you are thinking about learning how to do this yourself, you are going to want a decent soldering iron (never use a soldering gun or a cold heat gun you run the risk of damaging your games), some 63/37 solder (60/40 is crap.  63/37 has a melting point, not a melting range, and is a bit easier to work with and harder to screw up), soldering wick (or a solder sucker which ever you prefer), the proper tools to open the cartridges (gamebits (there is two sizes) and Y-wing depending on what you get into)), and a decent meter.  Also some PCB cleaner or high grade 98%+ isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is good way to clean any left over rosin and dirt before you solder the battery holder or new battery on is a wise idea, and a clip on heat sync if soldering tabbed batteries to ensure you don't overheat the battery during the soldering process (is a must for newbies).

 

Electrical tape is only meant for marking wires, it has no electrical insulating properties, it is glorified hockey tape.  It should never be used to connect wires to anything and is extremely amateurish and unsafe.

 

I've done hundreds of save game battery replacements, I prefer to use tabbed batteries myself.  I've done GB, GBC, GBA, N64 (Game and memory cards), SFC, SNES, and Genesis battery replacements. Also there might be professionals in your area that will do this for a small fee.

 

My policy on replacing batteries in these cartridges is when the game is in excess of 10-15years (batteries don't last forever) you should replace them.  I've just got in the habit of replacing them before I start playing them (when I buy them).  You never know for sure when it's going going to crap out on you, or suicide and ruin the game board.  I also check the batteries after installing them as you cannot know if a battery is good or not unless it's under load.  Once the battery is in, for me personally a good battery reads 3.200V to 3.500V and I like to replace batteries reading with any lower voltage then that range.  2.8V-3V should be dead, 3.068V-3.111V typically is what the Super Famicom games (CR2032) now days read (these are 90s games), which is time for the batteries to be replace in my books.  These batteries have 3V printed on them but that's just a nominal voltage (looks nicer on the packaging).  CR1616, and CR2025, batteries found in Game Boy games have similar characteristics but I've yet to see them at a under load voltage of 3.5V.  3.115V + is good for them (closer to 3.2V+ the better).  The only thing you can test on an open battery (no load attached) is to see if it's even worth using;  Under load the voltage output of a battery only goes down so if voltage reads less than 3.2V on CR2032s (my lower limit) then I just throw them in my dud pile.  It's a good time to mention to please properly dispose of your batteries, never throw them in the trash or burn them.  There are places and also stores that will be glad to take your spent batteries and dispose of them properly.

 

 

I'm an electrician in training, with some electrical engineering knowledge, with years of tinkering & soldering experience under my belt and am an avid retrogamer.

Safe tinkering, and I will echo the other guy, Soldering is a useful skill.

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheKisho View Post
*clipped*

 

Thanks for the tips. Any attempts to correct misinformation are much appreciated.

 

Seriously, it's hard to filter out useful from useless advice from the Internet at times, and a lot of people treat electrical tape as perfectly-insulating stuff, among other things. And yes, personal safety is always a higher priority than the safety of one's equipment. It's all too easy to forget that hot batteries could emit toxic fumes and even explode. (The fact that poor-condition batteries tend to bulge is a warning sign.)

 

In terms of connecting wires, I'd generally solder the wires together to ensure a solid connection, and then add heatshrink over the exposed wire to insulate it...unless you're going to tell me that heatshrink tubing also isn't a viable insulator. What do you advise for insulation, exactly?

post #8 of 9

Quote:

Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post
In terms of connecting wires, I'd generally solder the wires together to ensure a solid connection, and then add heatshrink over the exposed wire to insulate it...unless you're going to tell me that heatshrink tubing also isn't a viable insulator. What do you advise for insulation, exactly?

 

Personally I like to starting by tinning my wires (specially for strained wire) and when possible use a western union joint to join them, then solder them good and strong.  (There are other easier joints that work just as well once soldered, western unions are just habit for me).  Heatshrink is highly recommend, it's designed for that use (in electronics), there are a few other use cases.  Just choose the right one for your task and you should be golden (heatshrink tubing too big with the wrong shrink ratio for the job is frustrating and will not shrink enough).  Heatshrink is very professional, but one tip I learned from one of my mentors is to off set joints if you have multiple joints.  If you strap them together too tight in that area or use bigger heatshrink tubing to keep them bundle together after you made the joints in the individual cables if you have sharp points on your solder join job then put the heatshrink on tight enough so it ends up poking out (how ever minor (might not notice it)) and did the same on the one right beside it you may end up with a short circuit.  Not saying that happens all the time but time to time it might happen and it might slip by, offsetting in that case ensures no matter what you are going to be safe.

 

In short I think heatshrink is wonderful, it says to me that this guy is professional, he knows what he's doing and there should be no safety issue.  Also if done right (so it pulls tight with no gaps or holes it should keep the moisture out (for the most part) and allow you to have a very reliable joint.  Things to watch out for and check after you're done is that there are no sharp points of wire or solder poking through and that it is tight and secure.  Only thing I can see that would compromise the integrity of the insulation would be if you burn it, or have pieces of metal poking through.   If you have a habit of doing that all you need is a bit more practice.  How good of an insulator is it I'm not sure, but it is good enough [safe] for low and ultra-low voltage uses [electronics].  Heatshrink has many advantages over tape, it is more reliable and will not fall off with bit of age or wear & tear, if you ever have to remove it and redo anything you aren't going to have adhesive residue, and most of all it's meant to be used for this use case.

 

 

 

There is many ways to connect wires it all depends on your use case, and what the wisest course of action is for what you want and safety.  Easier with higher voltage stuff as there is really clear cut rules on how to do things safely.  But lower voltage you are more likely to damage hardware then you are yourself (still best to play things safe as things like batteries and transformers still can present a risk).


Edited by TheKisho - 12/25/12 at 10:49pm
post #9 of 9

Duplicate post.


Edited by TheKisho - 12/25/12 at 10:48pm
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