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Thread: Dead cartridge

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    Pear (Level 6) gbpxl's Avatar
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    Default Dead cartridge

    Im sure its been discussed ten million times but has anyone run into dead cartridges and were able to fix them? I have two games that wont play properly.

    Pac-Man 2 (Genesis.) Initially a white screen. Cleaned contacts, eventually could get a garbled screen but i dont think i could play it.

    Shinobi 3 (Genesis.) Black screen or white screen. Cleaned the contacts, didnt help.

    I opened up Shinobi. All the soldering joints and capacitor look fine. I was thinking maybe the sole capacitor needs to be replaced. I dont have a capacitor tester to see if theres anything wrong with it
    Bernie 2020

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    Pear (Level 6) gbpxl's Avatar
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    Also, other games work fine. And i tried on both a Gen 2 and Gen 1
    Bernie 2020

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    Alex (Level 15) Custom rank graphic
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    Check the traces on the boards for continuity. The boards could be damaged but still look fine. You would need a multimeter for this, or to know someone else who has one.

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    Came across a couple in all my years, just tossed them.
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    I've only had a few I've never been able to get working. One was a Pokemon Stadium 2 for N64 where the contacts looked bizarrely thin. I could get everything else to work on the N64 just fine, but I think its contacts were worn down or something and couldn't make proper contact with the system's connector. I returned it to the store and picked up something else. I can only get garbled graphics out of my Strider on NES. No amount of fussing with it has worsened or improved its output. I've got a PC Engine Hucard that seems completely dead.

    I've had others that I thought were lost causes that I was able to get working eventually, either by trying on a better functioning system or trying alternate cleaning methods. My NES Battletoads wouldn't work no matter how much I went at it with q-tips and rubbing alcohol, but when I learned about some people using school erasers to clean games, I tried that and now it works fine.

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    Pear (Level 6) gbpxl's Avatar
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    I tried to upload a file of the photo of the pcb directly to this message but it said upload failed. Whatever

    Anyways there is some spooge or something right underneath where the capacitor was laying. Im guessing that means the cap leaked? It looks like it mayve run all the way under the ROM
    Bernie 2020

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    Could be a bad trace.
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    Pear (Level 6) gbpxl's Avatar
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    I replaced the cap with a known good different one with same Microfarads and voltage rating. Only thing is, this one said "SP" the other was a "SME" whatever that means. I dont know if theyre interchangeable or not, I just took it out of my Pitfall cart.

    That didnt work. I took the ROM and cleaned the PCB with Brasso. No trace damage at all. It looked immaculate.

    Cleaning the PCB did nothing though I did manage to get an all gray screen this time.

    Im guessing the ROM is bad?

    The only other component is a ceramic resistor but I dont think those go bad.
    Bernie 2020

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    Pear (Level 6) gbpxl's Avatar
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    I think my only option left is to reflash the EEPROM.
    Bernie 2020

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    Great Puma (Level 12) jb143's Avatar
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    Unless it's a proto it's not going to use an eprom. There is a chance the rom is fried, especially if you exhausted all other options. Rare, but it can happen. Are there any traces that run under the rom?
    "Game programmers are generally lazy individuals. That's right. It's true. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Since the dawn of computer games, game programmers have looked for shortcuts to coolness." Kurt Arnlund - Game programmer for Activision, Accolade...

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    Pear (Level 6) gbpxl's Avatar
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    Yeah there are, but they all look fine.

    I guess what I am calling an EEPROM may not be the correct technical term. It is a hard black rectangular object with (42?) Pins or so right dead center on the board.

    I tried uploading a photo but to no avail. And yeah the PCB just looks immaculate. There was so some whitish substance below the capacitor so Im guessing that was leakage but I tried a different capacitor and it didnt work. I cleaned up the board. Initially thought it was rubbing alcohol residue but a Youtuber made it sound like it is corrosion. Either way I cleaned it and the board and pins look fine.

    The cap I replaced was slightly different. Different color and different brand. Does that make a difference? Figured only farad and voltage needed to match (along with making sure polarity is correct of course)
    Bernie 2020

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    if the ratings match then it shouldnt be a problem, did you put it in the right way though?
    most caps i come across in the gaming world are polarized and if they are in backwards then its not going to work

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    ServBot (Level 11) Slate's Avatar
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    Has anyone here seen save batteries leak on the board? I have 3 dead carts now. One definitely has a battery, I'm not sure of the other two:

    Landstalker (Genesis)
    Mick & Mack as the Global Gladiators (Genesis)
    Paper Mario (N64)

    I cleaned all of them a lot, even using metal polish which worked on a few other stubborn games.

    I've seen some goofed carts too, they did boot up but didn't play:

    Kool Aid Man (2600) - Screen came up but nothing worked.
    Star Wars: Jedi Arena (2600) - Maybe I didn't know how to play this but the lightsaber only seemed to go in one direction; northwest-ish.

    - Austin

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slate View Post
    Has anyone here seen save batteries leak on the board?
    Nope. I don't doubt it's possible, but a dead game battery usually does no harm. I seem to recall someone on this board saying a long time ago that they had a bunch of carts with severe water damage, as in totally submerged in flood waters or such, and they said the batteries in those had leaked. So I would guess that it would take some particularly unusual circumstances or bad luck to encounter a leaked battery.

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    Great Puma (Level 12) jb143's Avatar
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    Coin cells are sealed pretty good, but they can still leak. Though it's more likely if they get too hot. So storing them in the attic is a bad idea. I've personally seen one "leak" sitting under a desk lamp. Never while in a game though.
    "Game programmers are generally lazy individuals. That's right. It's true. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Since the dawn of computer games, game programmers have looked for shortcuts to coolness." Kurt Arnlund - Game programmer for Activision, Accolade...

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    Strawberry (Level 2) fluid_matrix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    No trace damage at all. It looked immaculate.
    Did you test with a multimeter or just eyeball it? Some traces can have a break and still look fine to the naked eye.

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    Pear (Level 6) gbpxl's Avatar
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    Do I just set it to continuity check and stick both probes randomly along the traces until I find a spot where I dont here the buzzing? Ive never done this before.
    Bernie 2020

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    Strawberry (Level 2) fluid_matrix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    Do I just set it to continuity check and stick both probes randomly along the traces until I find a spot where I dont here the buzzing? Ive never done this before.
    Check out Retro Repairs on YT. He does a good job of showing step-by-step the proper way testing with a multimeter.

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    Pear (Level 6) gbpxl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluid_matrix View Post
    Check out Retro Repairs on YT. He does a good job of showing step-by-step the proper way testing with a multimeter.
    On the ROM, pins 11, 13, 22-38, and 42 didn't connect to anything. I can see where 11 and 13 connect, and the rest run underneath the ROM so I'm not sure where they connect to until I desolder the ROM.

    Pin 11 goes to B17, Pin 13 goes to B16. Pin 1 goes to B7, Pin 21 goes to A30. Ive been trying to find a layout of this board but I cant find it.
    Bernie 2020

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    ServBot (Level 11) Slate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluid_matrix View Post
    Check out Retro Repairs on YT. He does a good job of showing step-by-step the proper way testing with a multimeter.
    Thanks, I watched his Another Conker's BFD vid as shown below. I opened my copy of Paper Mario and by using the conductivity tester, I found that pins 36 and 40 are missing traces on the board in easily accessed points much like this Conker cartridge was and it was also for the same reason. I'll see what I can do about that.

    I tried checking out my copy of Landstalker on Genesis by this same method and I'm not yet sure why it's not working. Its battery still holds a charge.



    - Austin
    Last edited by Slate; 10-08-2019 at 12:44 AM.

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