Thursday, December 20, 2012

TeardownTube - episode 14 - Nintendo DS

Here's the 14th episode of TeardownTube. Subscribe, comment, and like if you want to see a different device dismantled every week. The videos are not detailed instructions for repair but rather just for entertainment. Enjoy.

In this episode I explore inside a vintage 2004 Nintendo DS, the first in the line of the current gen dual screen portable game consoles. How did Nintendo manage to squeeze two 3" LCDs into your pocket? Find out in the video above.

Link: TeardownTube - episode 14 - Nintendo DS

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TeardownTube - episode 13 - PSP Go

Here's the 13th episode of TeardownTube. Subscribe, comment, and like if you want to see a different device dismantled every week. The videos are not detailed instructions for repair but rather just for entertainment. Enjoy.

In this episode I tear into a sexy PSP Go I managed to score "broken" on Ebay for only $30. A stupidly easy fix. How did Sony manage to fit all of the goodness (well except for the UMD drive) of the psp down into the miniscule PSP Go? Find out as I explore and delve headfirst and have a "Go" at the PSP Go ... see what I did there?!!

Link: TeardownTube - episode 13 - PSP Go

Wanna read my repair experience for this device? Read the writeup HERE!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Broken PSP Go repair

I was crawling around Ebay about two weeks ago looking for good deals on broken but repairable electronics like I normally do. I've bought up countless iPods in the past to repair and resell. In fact just over Thanksgiving break I found a Nintendo DS that works perfectly but has a broken hinge for $5, but that is a story for another day. So begins a tale of an adventure on my most recent excursion.

This time I found a PSP Go (the full sized PSP's little digital media only cousin) that was listed by the seller, who was a reseller likely with no specialized knowledge about hardware, as "not turning on" and "unable to test without a charger". The description and the price ($30) piqued my interest. The photos posted showed that the unit was in good physical condition (with the exception of some scratches on the lcd). I wagered on the unit not having any water or electrical damage. It takes some experience and intuition to be able to tell what is repairable and what is too far gone. I just felt it in my gut that this would all work out in the end. So I took a gamble and quickly bought the device. I just hoped I hadn't thrown $30 away on a expensive paper weight. After all that has happened in the past.

It just arrived today and I excitedly returned with the small package to my dorm room to begin operation. I was so excited that I slammed my knee into my desk twice and winced in pain as I attempted to diagnose the device. Just as the seller said the device did absolutely squat when the power switch was pressed. No surprises there!

So I opened her up. Thanks Sony for using standard Phillips screws! If only they wouldn't use proprietary hardware ... but I digress. I was inside in under a minute. The only thing that was keeping me from the battery was an annoying warranty void sticker. Hah like I care. RIPPPPP! Well there goes the likely long gone warranty. I measured the voltage on the lithium ion battery and unsurprisingly it was completely dead. Oh well. Like the seller I didn't have the charging cable ... cough cough .. proprietary hardware ... so I was seemingly out of luck.

But I'm an engineer and engineers are stubborn but more importantly they are resourceful. I had a familiar max1555 (lithium ion/polymer battery charge controller) wired up on a breadboard. Of course another problem popped up, the battery used an annoying tiny connector but all was not lost. I'm up at college so all I had was some twisty ties so I cut off the insulation and just poked the wires into the connector, dirty and ugly but it'll work. Now I just needed 5-8V preferably without sacrificing a USB cable or power cord. I had a USB to USART bridge module on hand and luckily it has a 5V output so I just tapped into that. I plugged it into a USB wallwart and waited for the battery to charge a bit. I hooked up a meter to keep an eye on the battery's voltage.

Well after the battery sat there for a while I grew impatient so I measured the battery to make sure it had some charge and threw it back into the device. I waited with bated breath as I flipped the power switch ... big fat NOTHING!!! Of course it wouldn't be that simple. Oh well ... save me Google! A few minutes of research netted me with the hint that holding left on the D-pad while pressing power may yet resurrect my unit. I had nothing to lose so tried it ...

... and the PSP rose from its slumber to greet me with the XMB. Yeah. Now we are cooking. I thoroughly tested the unit and everything works. I ended up getting a device which used goes for around $80-100 online for only $30. All I needed was some patience, perseverence, and a huge pair of ... engineering skills!

Every device I fix or take apart gives me experience and knowledge. I highly recommend going to thrift stores or surfing Ebay and picking up cheap old electronics to mess around with. There is no guarantee that everything will work out as well this experience, but the skills I have gained from not just my successes but also my failures work to further my capabilities as well as my confidence. Every little lesson is invaluable.

Sorry I rambled on for a bit, but I just felt like trying to inspire other fellow engineers just starting out to take the plunge and mess around with some otherwise "broken" electronics and possibly save them from ending up in a landfill. Engineering and life are about being fearless and resourceful when conditions are not optimal. In the end I will be happy if my writeup was marginally entertaining and inspired others to do something similar.

As always comment below if you have any questions or are in need of advice. I always try my best to help. See you at my next electronics hacking or repair escapade!