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Thread: GBA SP light flickering from red to green?

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    Default GBA SP light flickering from red to green?

    I was giving my GBA SP a whirl just now; I purchased it used, but never used it much.

    I notice that the battery light seemed to flicker considerably: sometimes it would be red, sometimes it would be green, and there seemed to be no consistent pattern. This is after leaving it charging for a good long time; the light stays green if I play it while the adapter is plugged in.

    Does this mean the battery is going bad or something? Is this typical of on older GBA SP?
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Pac-Man (Level 10) Blitzwing256's Avatar
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    sounds like your battery is losing its charge, might try replacing it, I THINK you can still order em from nintendo's website.

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    But if it was losing its charge, wouldn't it just stay red?
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Pear (Level 6) retroman's Avatar
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    Default

    could just mean wiring in the lights is going bad...as long as it holds a charge who cares.

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    Key (Level 9) Satoshi_Matrix's Avatar
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    I've experienced this myself with high drain games and especially with my flashcart. I don't think it means anything at all.
    check out my classic gaming review site: http://satoshimatrix.wordpress.com/

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    I've experienced this myself with high drain games and especially with my flashcart. I don't think it means anything at all.
    I am indeed using an EZ-Flash IV. (I'm also using a headphone adapter on the charge port.)

    Perhaps this is some sort of less-publicized feature of the EZ-Flash?
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) Shellshock!'s Avatar
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    Nah, it happens to mine too. It usually happens when the battery charge is in the middle of switching from good (green) to low (orange). It's like its status is borderline. Try turning the back light off or down and the sound off to see if it remains green, then turn it all the way up together with the back light to see if it switches to orange.

    Also, flash carts use more power than regular carts.

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    Banana (Level 7) Zing's Avatar
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    Flashcarts are known for causing high battery drain. They could even just be drawing a lot of voltage, causing the red light indicator to come on even though the battery still has decent amount of power remaining.

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    Key (Level 9) Satoshi_Matrix's Avatar
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    Yes. I have the superior M3 Perfect SD and that does the same thing you mention. Flashcarts are hard on the Li-ion battery and cause the power light to flicker. Try playing a standard GBA game. You probably won't have this issue, but it also might appear in some of the featured GBA games like Bokai or Drill Dozer.
    check out my classic gaming review site: http://satoshimatrix.wordpress.com/

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    I had no idea flash carts were unusually high-drain.

    Unfortunately, not only did I experience the GBA abruptly switching off while I was using the flash cart, it did it a couple of times with Aria of Sorrow, too. Maybe the battery really isn't holding much of a charge anymore.

    Maybe I'll just get one of those Y-adapters that let you charge the GBA and use headphones at the same time. Those work well enough, right?
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    Ahhh, f*ck.

    So I was messing around with my GBA SP again (having found a copy of Super Mario Advance for $2 at a yard sale on the weekend woohoo!). Merrily playing along with my nice little Y adapter, playing with headphones and running off the wall outlet... and the power light started flickering, and the unit started powering off by itself and resetting. Just like it always used to. (I did notice the flickering seemed to coincide with pressing on the back of the unit.)

    I finally decided to plug in the replacement battery I bought ages ago when this whole mess started and the problem seems to be completely cured. The game did reset once when I was using my EZ Flash IV, but I think that was because the cart wasn't in all the way.

    After all this time and all this dicking around with Y-adapters it was the battery all along. Ugh.
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    ...Nope, that was wishful thinking.

    I think I've just got a bum unit here. I think the only thing that might be feasible is to take it apart and look for loose connections.
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Kirby (Level 13) Leo_A's Avatar
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    Did you try cleaning your power switch? It's problematic on SP's and could be the culprit of your intermittent power.

    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Nintend...lacement/12889

    http://forum.digitpress.com/forum/sh...=1#post1993217

    My backlit SP has symptoms just like yours with one addition. Oftentimes when sliding the power switch to the on position, the system will start for a split second and immediately turn off, forcing me to slide the switch down and try again. Otherwise, my issues are identical.

    Frustrating for what is a very lightly used system that I bought new. Need to tackle the problem one of these days.
    Last edited by Leo_A; 07-26-2014 at 11:34 PM.

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    You're right, I shouldn't give up so easily.

    The problem seems to be that the switch either becomes logged with dirt/dust/debris, or suffers from a little corrosion, care if its rather open design. This is what I/we do and it seems to solve the problem about 95% of the time. You'll really want a syringe with a needle attached. If you don't have a diabetic aunt or a serious drug problem, then you'll have to find another method by which to deliver the fluid. 91% or greater isopropyl injected right into the switch itself. Saturate it really well, then quickly flick the switch back and forth a few dozen times (a tweezers is really helpful here). Then blast the switch with canned air until you're certain that it's nice and dry, then give it a go. Like I said, this solves the problem almost every time. A large percentage of the GBAs that I purchase have this issue and this is the solution which has proven both very successful and quite simple.
    I gave this a whirl. (I got a needle and syringe from the pharmacist for only 80 cents, but I only have 70% isopropyl on hand, so I let it dry further overnight after blasting it with air.) It seems to be stable so far.
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Nope, definitely not fixed. Flickering light and shut-down. I definitely get the impression that the flickering has something to do with the way I hold and squeeze the unit, but it could just be my imagination or some other sort of spurious correlation.

    What if I do open it up? Is there something I can do to the internals?
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    Well it could be a loose ribbon cable wire, or solder point somewhere that could be buttoned up a bit properly. I doubt it's like some partial crack that kind of closes/opens depending how you squeeze the thing but you won't known until you crack it open.

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    The thing is, I don't seem to be the only person who has ever had this problem, so it seems like it ought to be some sort of common failure mode. But I guess no one here knows. (Any suggestions on where else I could ask..?)

    It seems to be a little more prone to failure if I take the battery cover off and start pressing on the battery, but there's nothing definitive that suggests it will reset only if I press it in a particular spot. The battery contacts themselves look perfectly fine.
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Cherry (Level 1)
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    For the record, I definitely have seen reboots when playing my GBA SP AGS-001 on batteries, and it's clearly related to flexing or squeezing the unit in some way. If you find a fix, let me know, as it's irritating as hell when it happens! I normally keep it plugged in when playing at home, but obviously that's not always possible when using it on the road.

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    Bell (Level 8)
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    I have two, and even when playing them while plugged in they still reset (and I know I replaced the battery on at least one of them with a battery ordered straight from Nintendo).

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    Kirby (Level 13) Leo_A's Avatar
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    You guys should start a thread over at AtariAge or somewhere similar where there's a lot of experts fully at home tinkering with the internals of their game systems. I don't think we have much in the way of that sort of knowledge and skills around here these days with our small crowd.

    If we're going to figure out what's ailing these things, we need to hopefully attract someone with the skills to be able to figure out the issue and identify a fix.

    Does Nintendo still repair these things? I wouldn't waste my money because I don't want someone else's system back in return (even though my lightly used backlit SP that I bought new isn't doing me much good anymore due to its finicky nature) or risk wasting ~$100 without the problem even getting resolved.

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they don't repair these anymore.
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Cherry (Level 1) Casati's Avatar
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    Default

    My GBA does this.

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    ServeBot (Lɘvel 11) RP2A03's Avatar
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    I wouldn't rule out a bad battery just yet. That replacement you popped in has been sitting around for three years. Li ion batteries will lose charge just sitting on the self and once a cell's voltage drops below a certain threshold it will become irrecoverably dead. If a recently manufactured replacement cannot be found, you may be able to rebuild the battery pack if it doesn't use custom made cells.
    Mario says "... if you do drugs, you go to hell before you die."

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    Except the same thing happens when I'm running it off an outlet.

    Admittedly, one thing I haven't tested is whether the unit will still reset on its own, flickering light and all, if I just leave it sitting on a table without touching it.
    Last edited by Jorpho; 09-03-2014 at 08:03 AM.
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Except that the battery is integral to the power circuit and if not functioning properly may cause problems; even if connected to the mains. Of course you could also have a suboptimal connection at the battery contacts or within the battery. The power switch could still be faulty, although this is unlikely at this point. This can be eliminated with all certainty by jumping the switch.
    Mario says "... if you do drugs, you go to hell before you die."

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