GB Boy Colour Repair

GB Boy Colour-10-Title.png

Last year’s Christmas present to my oldest boy (2017), started to misbehave in such a way that made playing it no longer enjoyable. This GB Boy Colour, a Game Boy Color clone, likely not made with the highest quality components started to have switch problems. It either wouldn’t turn on or turn on and immediately off, have continual reboots (is that what a Game Boy does, reboot?) or some other odd screen dimming, random lines flickering across and other peculiar behavior. This malfunctioning device was causing my boy serious frustration.

Old Tech Is Better Tech

GB Boy Colour-12.pngThese older Nintendo Game Boy games are great because they don’t require internet connection so there is no way I am being spied on and there isn’t any advertising. On top of it, these old games games are still fun many years later.

If you want to know more about the device itself just search “GB Boy Colour” and there are numerous reviews. What is particularly fantastic about this device is that it is a color screen with backlight and it not only has a bunch of built in games but it has the cartridge slot so that you can pop in those 25 + year old games and play them with an even better experience than you had in the early 90s. I wasn’t into the Game Boy when it came out but this particular unit is pretty great.

Disassembly

I turned this broken device into an education opportunity for my kids. They not only get to see the inside of this portable fun-box, they can also observe the process of soldering and the importance of taking care around tools, like the soldering iron. I consider it a huge win that I burn myself or my kids.

Easy OutTaking apart this device was a bigger headache than it should have been. The Nintendo specific screw heads could not be removed with the tool I purchased to remove it. I could have customized the tool to make it fit in the counterbore but since I don’t have a metal lathe (yet), I was not able to do so. I suppose I could have chucked it up in my drill and used a metal file or die grinder to grind it down but that seemed like far too much work. Instead, I decided to use an “easy-out” to remove the screws and replace the screws with standard cross-recess drive style.

GB Boy Colour-03-Screw Heads

Six screws is all that holds this case together. Pretty typical plastic screws you would see in devices of this type. Two of the screws are in the battery compartment which I didn’t immediately see.

GB Boy Colour-07-Back

Once the case is apart, there are three more screws that hold the main board to the front case.

GB Boy Colour-08-Separated.jpg

Once separated, you have to be careful not to let the screen dangle around and get beat up. That reveled the power switch soldered joints.

Repair

My inexperienced observation of the device reveled that the soldering of the switch was likely done too cold so there wasn’t a good bond between the board and the switch. The fix was rather easy, I was able to use my soldering iron to heat up and add a bit more solder. When I completed soldering the switch I also noticed that the switch itself was ever so slightly cracked. The metal contact was pulling away from the sliding action. I fixed this by applying a little glob of hot glue to properly support the bits to keep it from pulling apart.

GB Boy Colour-04-Switch

After reassembling this Game Boy Color Clone, I gave it a test run (read: played games instead of get work done), lost track of time for a bit until my boy insisted that he try it out himself.

GB Boy Colour-13-Super Mario Land.png

Final Thoughts

I was pretty fortunate that I was able to just re-flow the solder on this switch and beef up the walls with hot glue to hold it together. Using this as an educational opportunity with my kids made for some good family time. It brought about many questions about what the components do, how a soldering iron works and why it melts the solder. I not only helped them to understand electronics a little bit, it also created respect for the tools and the need for increased caution. From their perspective, the most important part was being able to play Super Mario Land and Ms Pacman again without the thing getting stuck in reboot cycles.

Further Reading

Nintendo Life Review of GB Boy Colour

NES SNES Security Bit Screw Driver on Amazon.com

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Ceiling Fan Failure | Repair Instead of Replace

ICanFixIt

Not long ago, I had a ceiling fan stop spinning and start making an ever so slight buzzing noise. I thought maybe it was as a result of switching the rotation direction of the fan. Switching it back didn’t change anything either. I just shut off the fan motor to end the buzzing and pondered about how much I dread changing ceiling fans especially since the fan in the living room match this failed dining room fan. I really wanted to repair this Hampton Bay Ceiling fan rather than replace it.

Ceiling Fan Not Spinning-02

After doing a little Internet research, searching “repair ceiling fan”, I got a lot of cruft and useless information. Next I tried to narrow it down to “ceiling fan not spinning” and “replace ceiling fan motor” to only find more non-solutions. Then I stumbled upon this site that identified the capacitor as a possible cause of failure.

Then I did nothing about it until I was gifted a broken fan.

Donor Fan

I had no idea if this donor fan had a compatible capacitor not but it was worth a try. I started out by pulling apart the ceiling fan.

Ceiling Fan Dismantle.jpg

I removed the bulbs, shades then the three screws that hold the light kit in place. Upon removing the capacitor and it was very obvious that the capacitor had failed as it had very prominent bulging on two sides of it.

Bulging Capacitor.jpg

I took note that this is a 280V 4.5µF x 6µF x 5µF capacitor and decided to do some searching on the web for prices, because, I wasn’t sure how much such a thing would cost. I’m sure you can imagine my happy surprise when I discovered that the donor fan had the exact same capacitor my ceiling fan.

Donor Fan Capacitor

This was enough for me to commit fully the project. I removed the old capacitor, marked the switch side gray wire striped the wire ends to ready it for the donor capacitor. The rest of the wires were in the exact same configuration as the original so wiring this in was trivial.

Removing Dead Capacitor.jpg

I used 16-14 AWG Vinyl Insulated Butt Splice and prepared the capacitor to be installed in the ceiling fan. I tagged the gray leg that went to the switch on the donor and checked to see it was the same leg on the crippled unit.

Donor Capacitor Prepared.jpg

I realized that I wasn’t sure if the motor was damaged or not by the failed capacitor but there was no appreciable risk in trying. After crimping the capacitor into the fan, I flipped the switch and pulled the chain to have the desired result of spinning blades.

Ceiling Fan Spinning-01.jpg

I stopped, looked at my success and had a moment of smiling from ear to ear. As much as I liked this look of the light kit hanging down from the fan. I didn’t have any interest in bumping my head into it.

Ceiling Fan Spinning-02

Since the shades were off, I took this as an opportunity to hand wash the light shades, dust the blades and body to shine the thing up before completing its reassembly.

Final Thoughts

I get a lot of satisfaction out of fixing things. I call this project a great success. No money out of pocket and only just over an hour of time invested. How much money did I save? A 52-Inch, 5-blade fan of similar design is about $80 but to have matching fans, I would have had to buy two fans and spend the time removing and installing the new fans. Now, I get to keep my 6 year old fans going just a bit longer and I saved quite a bit of time too. Now, I just have to dispose of the remains of the donor fan in an ecologically sound manner.

Further Reading

Ceiling Fan Capacitors

Replace a Ceiling Fan Motor

Ceiling Fan Capacitor on Amazon

16-14 AWG Vinyl Insulated Butt Splice

Dell Latitude 15 3000, Laptop Screen Replacement

ICanFixIt

Recently, a coworker asked if I could repair their brand new laptop. I get a bit uncomfortable with repairing other people’s things because I worry that I am going to make things worse. All too often when I repair something for myself, it turns into a mess and takes longer to fix and more money than originally estimated. I help my coworker searched Ebay for a suitable replacement. She said she would order the part so long as I would fix it.

I agreed.

Fast forward a week and she, had the screen and asked me if I could install the new screen. In my lack of preparedness, I didn’t read up or search YouTube ahead of time on how to fix it. Luckily, I found this video which was very short and I could skip through to understand the steps.

This laptop is quite possibly the easiest screen repair I have ever done. The bezel removes just by puling it away.

Inspiron 15 3000-02.jpg

This will reveal the four screws needed to unfasten the screen from the lid. I placed the screen against the keyboard and disconnected the the tiny LVDS cable from the panel.

Inspiron 15 3000-04.jpgTo install, reverse the steps… 4 screws, not hard.

After turning it on, I found that I didn’t connect the cable firmly enough. It started out just fine but as it started to boot up, there appeared a vertical line then just this blank gray screen (yeah, not hard).

Inspiron 15 3000-06.jpg

Initially, I had that cold sweat where I was afraid I did something terribly wrong. Without panicking, I took the screen back apart and re-seated the connector, ensuring that it was firmly in place. This time tested that it was indeed functioning before installing the bezel.

Mission accomplished

Inspiron 15 3000-05.png

Lessons Learned

Be prepared before staring a fix-it project, especially for someone else. Have the proper tools and do the research ahead of time. Sure, this on-the-fly fix turned out fine but I have had laptop screen replacements be a giant pain and this could very well have become one. Also, pay close attention to the connector and ensure that it is seated properly and route any cables in the proper pathways in the screen assembly. That will make reassembly much easier

Final Thoughts

This computer is fairly nicely equipped for a basic machine. It has 4 GiB of RAM which is plenty for most users. I did observe that this thing is dreadfully slow in just about every measurable sense. Although brand new, it ran horribly slow. I know that Dell doesn’t just pump out garbage so my guess is it that this is a Windows problem. I will try to convince this coworker they need openSUSE installed. I am quite certain it would run much better.

Reference Links

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Screen Repair video on YouTube

Dell Latitude 15 3000

Windows 7 Registry Cleanup

ICanFixIt

I don’t often do any tech support on Windows computers. In fact, I do my best to avoid it as much as possible but there are these seemingly unavoidable moments when I have to work on a Windows machine. In many ways, I think it’s good for me as it keeps me appreciative of the Linux technology of which I have become accustomed. It also helps me realize that those little nitnoid annoyances in Linux are nowhere near the annoyances of using Windows.

In my opinion, since its inception, the registry on a Windows computer has seemingly been the Achilles Heel or weak point, often prone to corruption. Since my days on Windows 98, I would have issues with the registry and I became a pro with using Norton tools to maintain my Windows system. It would also get me increasingly annoyed with the system which eventually brought me to using Linux.

Back to my Windows problem… When trying to install some software for testing on a particular Windows machine, it would just refuse to install. Not only would it refuse to install but it would also delete the installer file, so I wasn’t able to try it again until I transferred this rather large file back to the computer. I found this very bizarre. The “expert” I consulted was no help, there was no error report, at least, nothing that would be helpful. I could not find a way to get some sort of verbose output on the failed installation. My lack of expert help and impatience to do research coupled with my “fond memories” about my past experiences with Norton lead me to first try a registry cleanup.

Boy-howdy is there a lot of shady looking “fix-your-computer” free software out there. It seems like you are out swinging in the breeze, navigating through a sea of unknown to find something good and not make things worse from the myriad of utterly dangerous-to-install software. After some searching, I found a piece of software that didn’t look shady but rather really quite legit, called CCleaner

https://www.ccleaner.com/

ccleaner-logo.pngIt was like a bastion of hope in a sea of dodgy, advertisement-riddled promises of making your computer 500% faster. CCleaner was very clear about what it did and how they made money. I didn’t need their premium product, just something to patch this system well enough to conduct the software tests.

Not a very big download, thankfully, and it installed without any issue and no enticement for anything other than its own offerings. Upon launching CCleaner, the controls are very straight forward, I just had to “Scan for Issues” than “Fix selected Issues…” It even gave me the option to save a backup registry, in case the whole thing blew up, but the reality was, this was my last ditch effort before wiping the whole system.

CCleaner-00-Registry

The cleaning process was MUCH quicker than I expected and once it was done, I thought I would give the machine a quick reboot, of which was successful. I once again transferred this software that I still needed to test and tried the installation once again.

Success!

I was able to test the software, take my notes and make the recommendations. Unfortunately, not long after the test, the Windows machine started acting up again and I had to wipe it and have Windows reinstalled anyway but CCleaner gave me the few extra days necessary to complete this necessary task.

Final Thoughts

Wow, am I glad I don’t pay for Windows! I am truly amazed people are okay with using it. I guess if you are okay with shelling out cash for software to maintain the machine or “experts” to administer it, it is fine but that is not acceptable arrangement for me. This experience reinforces why I really believe in owning your technology and your technology not keeping secrets and telling you what it is doing. This further bolsters my reasons for using Linux. I appreciate how it tells you what it is doing and makes it easy to get into the nuts and bolts of it when necessary.

After this experience, I am even more grateful for openSUSE Linux. If I could only install openSUSE on that rather beefy hardware… one can dream.

Resources

ccleaner.com

openSUSE.org