NES Upgrade: Replace your 72 Pin connector
This was another article that I wrote for Pineconeattack back on 02.10.2013. While replacing the 72 pin connector is pretty drastic, I never had any issues with the aftermarket parts being too tight. I guess you miles may vary. One of these days I'll get around to doing a walk-through for the Blinking Light Win apparatus. I hope this article will still be useful to those in need of repairing your NES. I will keep it up here for archival purpose.
The Nintendo Entertainment System, easily one of the most iconic and leading gaming console from the 80’s selling into the millions across America, capturing the imaginations of children while firmly grasping at the wallets of parents. For every coin collected, every duck shot, and for every Princess saved, the Nintendo Entertainment System has filled me with great memories including strange gaming rituals like blowing into the cartridges, clicking up and down and hitting power and reset. Wonky rituals that I do just so I can play the damn thing. As popular as the NES was, Nintendo really cheaped out on the one main component that actually have the console work: the 72-pin connector.
So what is the 72-pin connector?
The 72-pin connector is what makes contact to the game cart and the main motherboard. The pins over time will begin to separate and the cartridge doesn’t make a tight connection and that’s when the video will glitch out or you just get that blue screen. Lucky for you, it’s really an easy cheap fix to make your NES work better than before. Just replace the 72-pin connector.
And here is how to do just that, but before that he's the standard warning:
Attempt at your own risk!
DO NOT ATTEMPT unless you have some technical skills and can follow instructions. This walkthrough is as simplified as I can make it so if none of my instructions makes any sense then please DO NOT ATTEMPT.
This project will void your warranty.
Pineconeattack (Outdated References) will not take any responsibility if you kill your NES.]
This project is quite simple because all you need are three things.
- NES console
- Brand new 72-Pin Connector
- One long thing screwdriver, preferably a Phillips. (Though I’m using a flat head tweaker screwdriver)
It’s very important to not mix up the screws between steps as certain screws will have to be place back in the original position. Keep some Dixie cups and mark them down for each step so the screws will not get mixed up.
Flip the console over and remove the six (6) screws, then separate the top half from the base.
There is an RF shield covering the main motherboard. Remove the total of eight (8) screws and set them aside in your container.
There may be a discrepancy in the amount of screws at this stage. One or even two of these screws maybe underneath the shielding, depending on your console revision. They will still need to be removed.
This is just a rear view of the two screws holding the RF shielding for reference.
Remember, place your screws in another separate container. Lift straight up to remove the RF shielding. Set aside.
Spin the console around so the back in facing you. Locate the four (4) screws near the 72-Pin connector and unscrew. Be mindful the size of these screws. One is longer than the other. Place the screws in a separate container.
Locate the two screws near the front of the tray near the spring. Remove the screws and set aside.
At this point, there is only two (2) screws near the audio/video board that is keeping the motherboard attached to the bottom casing. Unscrew and set the screws aside.
You should now be able to remove the motherboard from the bottom casing. You will need to have the motherboard loose so you can separate the tray mechanism from the 72-Pin connector.
The cartridge mechanism tray should just separate away from the 72-pin connector with a tug. Pull the tray mechanism away from the connector and set aside.
Pull the old 72-Pin connector off the motherboard*.
*With the connector off, you can use some rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to clean the edge connector.
Slide on the new 72-Pin connector onto the motherboard.
Slide the cartridge mechanism tray back onto the motherboard. Make very sure the lip is clipped in place onto the motherboard. Place the motherboard with the loading tray back into the console’s bottom casing.
If the tray isn’t properly installed to the motherboard, the tray will not lock into position when a game is inserted.
Using the same screws from step 6-A, screw down the motherboard.
Using the correct screws from Step 4 to screw down the 4 screws, at the end of the tray, making sure the correct screw is holding the tray in place.
Don’t forget to screw down the front using the screws from Step 5 to secure the front of the tray.
At this point to can either throw away the RF shielding and bolt down the motherboard or properly place the shielding and secure using the eight (8) screws from Step 2.
You should have six (6) screws left over. Place the top onto the bottom casing then flip over. Screw down the six (6) screws.
Final step. Slide in your game and press down. If the game isn’t locking in place, you may need to verfiy step 10 to make sure the tray was installed correctly. If the game is locked into position, hook up your video and power adapter. The moment of truth: the smoke test…
Congratulations, your Nintendo Entertainment System is better than new.
You will notice that the pins are really tight and they will eventually loosen up in time naturally when you switch between games. The aftermarket pins are way tighter than the factory stock pin connector. The best part of the upgrade is that the game will most likely boot up on the first try.
Now hug your NES, blow kisses into your cart and go play some great games!