Saturday, October 04, 2008

DS Lite Restoration Project 2008

Did you ever wonder what the inside of a Nintendo DS looks like?

If you said no, then I'm sorry. If you said yes, then HERE YOU GO!

DS Restoration Project

A few weeks ago, we were laying in bed and Martijn let out a mournful groan. DISASTER HAD STRUCK! His DS hinge had given up the ghost.

DS Restoration Project
Apparently, this is a known weak spot on the DS and if you Google "cracked hinge" all of the search results on the first page (minus one) are about the hinge problem!

Martijn bought his DS lite right when they came out in 2006, so it was very very much out of warranty. Sending it to Nintendo for a hefty (almost 90€) fee was really not looking like a nice plan, and getting a new one for €149 was sortof out of the question and silly, since otherwise the device was still in good shape. We hemmed and hawed about it and decided the most economical solution was going to be to replace the housing.

Now the tricky part was deciding what color he wanted his new DS to be. You can get new housings in a bunch of different (and non-factory) colors. After much deliberation I ordered the blue and black "full replacement housing" from for him. Since it was a shiny metallic paint and we were worried about scratches, we also ordered a clear snap on case to go over it (more on that later). A set of new button pads and a triwing screwdriver so we could get into the thing finished out our order.

When I've ordered from in the past, I usually have forgotten what was in my order by the time it gets to me because the shipping from China is SO SLOW. Since we were worried about the opposite hinge on his DS, I loaned him MY snap-on clear case. Luckily, the order only took a week and a half, which is really breakneck speed compared to how slow some of my previous orders were.

Now some words of wisdom:
  • This is a very fiddly project.
  • There will likely be swearing involved.
  • If you do this you will probably want to know how to use a soldering iron in case you break one of your shoulder buttons off.
  • If you forget to install the power and volume buttons, you will have to take things completely apart again to put them back in.
  • Same with if you forget to take the little metal nut that the battery cover screws into out of your old housing.
  • The awesome transparent case you bought to snap on your DS so it won't get scratched might not actually fit an aftermarket housing.
  • The replacement buttons that come with many of the replacement housings aren't as good as the originals so you might just decide to reuse the old ones.
  • And the old screen covers.
  • I really recommend reading the reviews of the housings (or replacement shells) at Here's a link.

DS Restoration ProjectDS Restoration Project

Martijn said (very diplomatically I might add) "It was a lengthy, and at times, stressful project. In the end I'm glad to say the result was more than satisfactory."

To see more of the carnage process, you can check out the flickr set here.


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