The challenge of fixing a Nintendo DS Lite

A few months ago my 10 year old came to me crying out loud. He had slipped while dashing around the house and his DS Lite game console had gone flying out of his little hands. The pain of the fall was bad but the pain of a damaged DS Lite seemed even worse!

Nintendo DS Lite

We turned it on and off a few times and it faithfully went on and off, so that was a relief. Despite the crash, the DS Lite was still working. Rs 9K saved I thought!  

With the fall, the plastic near one of the hinges had got cracked. A bit of tape would fix that. On close examination of the screens we found that the LCD top screen had an elaborate design of cracks on it. It was getting powered, coming on and displaying pictures but it did not need a trained eye to note that the liquid crystal had gently oozed out. “The LCD is broken but it works fine mamma. I can still play, so it’s ok.” Rs 9K really saved! Anyway, a new DS Lite was not on the cards. We thought of getting it fixed but could not find a proper service centre in India so we let it be.

About a month ago, my son came to me holding out his DS Lite for me to see. The top screen now had big dark patches inside. With time, the liquid crystal had kept leaking and spread over most of the screen. The cracked hinge had also given way so the DS Lite was relying on the support of only one hinge. “I think I need another DS Lite. Maybe we can get something on eBay.”

Not a bad idea, I thought. Let’s check the rates. eBay India had nothing to offer. So we checked out eBay UK and eBay Singapore. We found lots of DS Lites on sale but the auction rates were beyond the budget we had fixed. During our searches, we realised that the spare parts for both the hinge and the screen were available. So if we got the parts, we could fix the DS Lite.

How difficult would it be to fix the DS Lite? We found an excellent video tutorial to change the top screen by Supermodchips on the internet and after watching it I had the confidence that we could repair it ourselves.

The tutorial is in 3 parts and with it one can get familiar with the anatomy of a DS Lite and learn how to do minor part replacements.

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3

We bought the parts on eBay, had them shipped to our friends abroad (many of the sellers do not ship to India) and got them delivered to us when they visited India this winter. The LCD top screen cost about Rs 500/- and the front top screen which had the broken hinge about Rs 150/-.

The process of fixing the DS Lite looks really simple in Supermodchips’ tutorial. Believe me, it takes some patience, perseverance, technical skill and common sense. After spending a few hours of unscrewing, disassembling, de-soldering, re-soldering, fixing connectors, taping, aligning, re-screwing… testing… (did some of these 3-5 times) everything worked! Yeah! We had a newly working, undamaged DS Lite!

So satisfying that we did “repair” instead of “throw”. Sincere thanks to Supermodchips.

Some information and tips (may not be in the video tutorial) for those who think of attempting a similar repair:

  • The DS Lite needs a tri-wing screw driver for some of the screws. This is not easily available in hardware stores but the Jackly JK-6039 (with different screw bits) has it.
  • There are lots of screws. So keep a piece of cardboard and tape them on as you proceed, with a note of the source. Of course, you can always replay the video, but this makes sure you don’t lose any of the screws.
  • The ribbon connector is very delicate. It needs to be rolled up and pushed through narrow spaces a few times. Handle with care.
  • After you remove the ribbon connector of the broken screen, insert your new screen to check that it comes on. The ribbon needs to be pushed into the connector properly and the latch closed. This is before you de-solder the speakers.
  • The bottom screen has two screens, one LCD and one touch screen, placed on top of each other. Between the two screens are the pads that enable the touch to get conveyed. The movement of disassembling could disturb the positioning. Ensure that the screens are pressed together well and that the touch screen works after you have done the replacement of the top screen.

Good luck and happy fixing!

2 thoughts on “The challenge of fixing a Nintendo DS Lite

  1. Austin January 12, 2013 / 10:42 pm

    Your engg degree would have come in handy 🙂


  2. arathimy January 13, 2013 / 9:11 am

    Technical knowledge comes in handy everywhere Austin!
    I can’t remember if we actually used the soldering iron in college practicals. It was usually crocodile clips to complete circuits. But having done a few home projects, I managed the soldering part (which is where technical skill is required).


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