Sep 18

Black Screen of SNES

I have a load of old consoles lying around, including a SNES with a pile of games I picked up cheaply after the N64 released. While all the games worked perfectly 15 years ago, trying them again now, some would do nothing other than display a black screen when the console was powered up. Figuring that the ROM chips were probably fine I guessed it was most likely the interface between the SNES and the cartridge that was at fault.

Taking apart one of the games I was presented with this:

PCB from Super Bomberman 2 cartridge, non-working

As you can see there’s quite a lot of dirt/corrosion on the contacts of the PCB. I tried removing the dirt with some cotton buds + IPA but it was fairly stubborn so I ended up giving the contacts (just the contacts leave the rest of the PCB alone) a very light sanding with some 1000 grit sandpaper (probably wet and dry, I just found a small piece of it in the top of my toolbox). I wouldn’t recommend using anything coarser as you may damage the tracks.

As an aside, grit is the measurement of “roughness” of sandpaper and polishing compounds. It refers to the maximum number of holes per inch in a mesh that will still allow the compound/grit through. So the larger the number, the finer the grit.

So after a little sanding I got this:

Shiny Bomberman 2 PCB

Putting it back into its case and putting it into the SNES, success! Super Bomberman 2 lives again! Opening the cartridges isn’t really necessary but I thought I’d do it to get some better pictures of the board.

Sympathetic Dreamcast

As a show of support for its black screening older friend, my Dreamcast decided to start rebooting itself a few seconds after starting up, or whilst loading games. This, again, was down to corrosion of contacts. The power supply in the Dreamcast is internal and uses a pin header plus sprung contacts to transfer the power to the console’s main board.

Removing the power supply and again lightly sanding the pins fixed the problem. Hooray! Although that does mean I now have to finish the Nomad Soul…

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