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February 28, 2009 11:13 AM   Subscribe

My DS Lite is acting funky - Can I fix this?

Okay, before I get into what it's doing - I bought the system at launch and it's way way out of warrantee by now, also, I plan on getting a DSi when it comes out so I consider my Lite totally fair game to crack open and destroy further (if that is indeed what I end up doing), but I would like to get it working if at all possible, because god knows I'll miss my gba slot.

On to the symptoms:

The battery charges fine, but when I turn the system on, it only stays on for a short amount of time before it decides to turn itself off. The time changes - sometimes it's 15 minutes, sometimes it's fifteen seconds, but it never just stays on through a normal play session. Further, when I get frustrated with it and close the lid, it will turn itself on and off by its own volition (as far as I can tell) until the battery runs out.

I have no idea what's causing it, and after some extensive google-fuing the closest thing I can come up with is maybe a blown fuse, but people who report having had blown fuses say it turns on and then off immediately, and nothing about it turning itself back on when the lid's closed. There was one report of somebody with the same problem but it was a fairly useless "Somebody took it apart and put it back together and it worked".

I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to fiddling with electronics, but I do have some friends that eat this stuff up, so if anybody can point me in the right direction, it'd be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by bookwo3107 to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe the battery isn't charging fully to its old capacity?

Similar issue on Fixya
posted by IndigoRain at 12:04 PM on February 28, 2009

It sounds like your battery isn't holding a charge, or perhaps a wire or switch is loose.

L-ion batteries have a lifetime, and we're approaching the end of them. The charger on the DS feeds charge until the voltage stablizes, and as the battery ages, that voltage gets lower and lower. While the battery is in use and giving power, output voltage drops with capacity. At some point that voltage is too low for digital electronics and it cuts before a full discharge (which can kill the battery). So as the battery ages, the time of usable charge drops. Things like voltage regulators can fiddle with V=IR, but they tend to produce heat so I doubt they extend the operating voltage very far in a hand held unit.

Taking a DS apart requires custom screw bits, but the battery compartment is a tiny Phillips I think. First, if there's any acid or corrosion on the contacts, that's a likely culprit. Then what you want to do is fully charge the battery and test the voltage output with a multimeter. If a full charge is way way lower than the markings on the battery, then it's probably time to find a replacement. If it holds the right charge, put it back together and test; perhaps a reseating will have fixed the problem.

The rest requires a custom bit if you want to open up the case and look for damage and wear. Even if you can test components, it's unlikely you can repair this stuff as it's all surface mounted and tiny. Even removing shit will be hard. What you can do is have some fun opening up the DS, taking pictures and looking up part numbers and reading their engineering papers. Its amazing how much documentation computer chips have in contrast with software.
posted by pwnguin at 12:05 PM on February 28, 2009

Does it happen when it's plugged in? I strongly believe that it's not battery decay (at least, not that alone) if your DS will not stay on when plugged in, since most electronics charge faster than they drain their batteries.

I've heard Nintendo's customer support staff can be legendary in their willingness to help console owners, even when the system is out of warranty and/or obviously abused... I even once read on a forum on modchips/homebrew, complete with pics, that Nintendo repaired a Wii that had a modchip installed. And I've heard anecdotes from friends about dropped Gamecubes and that sort of thing getting fixed, as well.

Anyway, give their support line a call, and see what you get. Have the serial number handy, and be really polite (should go without saying). It's free and easy, and I'd suggest that before going to town inside and making it harder to get a repair/replacement.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:48 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: I did give them a call, and they said it would be a flat 85 dollar repair fee, which, considering I'm planning on getting a DSi, feels tremendously wasteful.

Also, I just popped the battery out and played with it a bit, and switched in a battery from a friend's (new) DS, and had the same problems.

Is it pretty much a brick now?
posted by bookwo3107 at 1:07 PM on February 28, 2009

Response by poster: Also-also, yeah, it does not stay on when plugged in - I'd probably not care if that were the case, lol.
posted by bookwo3107 at 1:11 PM on February 28, 2009

Try your friend's charger next. If that doesn't solve the problem then there's something wrong with the DS itself.
posted by 6550 at 1:29 PM on February 28, 2009

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