Teardown: Nintendo Entertainment System

For our first project I decided to teardown a Nintendo Entertainment System, which I found at the Lower East Side Ecology Center Reuse Store in Gowanus, what a great place!

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Aside from dropping off a bag full of old cables and some broken speakers; I had the privilege of walking around with one of the workers there, Carlos Cabrera. He showed me around the prop isles and some back isles where there were some things that he thought could be interesting to teardown. It was a hard choice, but I decided to go for a Nintendo, since it was the first video game I played with as a child. This one was damaged by a spill. Fun fact: the store has a functional one in the front that visitors may test out, I got to play Mario Bros for a couple of minutes   =)

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The teardown was fairly easy, I used 2 small screwdrivers and a pair of pliers. Clic on the pictures below to see the full progression with some explanations along the way.

One thing that I noticed while tearing down the Nintendo is what caused the unit to break. A liquid of some sort must have spilled on the unit, and seeped through the top vents into important parts of the circuit board. The gravity of the damage could have easily been avoided if the vents would have been designed on the sides or back of the unit. While researching, I also came across people who complained that the way the games hooked into the machine,  it is delicate and prone to problems. Not only did dust interfere with the video game (most of us can remember having to blow on the game before inserting it!), but if any of the prongs were bent out of shape, the whole part had to be changed. In the last picture of my slide progression you can see it, it is the black plastic part right above the circuit board.

The experience of tearing down an electronic was pretty fun, researching the parts also yielded some interesting insights about this product, I am still in awe with the complexity of the circuit and I am looking forward to learning more about circuits and programing with Arduino. Thank you!

 

Gameboy Color TEARDOWN!

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The Gameboy Color in Teal!

The only tool and technique you will need to open this is a small flathead screwdriver and, well… screw driving skills.  There is some finagling with the external screws, but you can get it!  It’s pretty simple and compact in there!

On that note:  Two interesting things!  One, It’s super compact with lots of hard soldering on the inside.  I point this out because I think it’s a huge factor in what makes it feel like a simple object on the outside, molded to closely contain everything inside.  The other is what you will later see int he buttons.  They’re just silicone rubber and molded plastic!  I was hoping to find some button I could appropriate, but instead, just little nubbins!  But I suppose this was done to save on damageable parts and space, making the contact points directly in the fiberglass board.  Anyway, read on!  It’s kinda neat how simple it appears on a large scale, but how complicated it is on the board.

My guess is the casing you see is injection molded.  Flip it over and look at the back.

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You’ll have to remove these ridiculous tri-wing screws with a tiny flathead if you can’t get a tri-wing driver in a timely manner.  That’s what I did.  You have to jimmy them around until they slowly turn with the weak torque you can provide.  (P.S.  My gameboy was missing it’s battery case.  I used aluminum tape for years…  AA batteries.)

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Pop the case off!

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Then this plate from the back side that holds the game steady in the access point with four phillips head screws.  Plate appears to be stainless.  All the screws look like galvanized steel.  Three on the interior may be brass.  But it is unclear

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Now look at the fiberglass circuit board.

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It’s held into place by three phillips screws.  These are the ones that may be brass.  Pull those out and you can pull out the board and flip it!  Note: At the top of the board is the connection point for the game cartridge.

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Before you remove the board, detach the LCD screen. There are little black switches to pop out on either side of that red tape. Then just pull out the tab.

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Board removed:

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This reveals the active side of the speaker that plays MIDI tones in the bottom right hand of the board, and the underside of the buttons on the face of the gameboy. FullSizeRender 10

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Also removable is the cover of the power button and the infrared sensor cover.

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Power Switch

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Infrared on right, power indicator in red LED at top.

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Power switch and LED covers both present on the side of the object (left to right).

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The black dots on the back of the buttons appear to be magnets or something conductive to make contact with these components in the white portion of the board.

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Here too is the volume knob.

You can remove the LCD screen with a black foam padding on the back by prying it lightly with anything flat and sturdy with rounded edges (so as not to damage the thin steel casing).  I used a really old flathead screwdriver that wasn’t sharp at all.

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The LCD Screen.  That’s the last part to remove!

Other parts on the board include a lot of hard soldered stuff.

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This includes an optical inverter (right), the CPU (center), regulated power supply module (top left), SHARP chip of some identifiable kind based on number (center left), and an integrated circuit (bottom right).

And here it is all exploded and knolled!

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Thanks for looking!

-Will-

Teardown—LG Cosmos VN250—Julia

I took apart an old cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard. It was surprisingly simple—only held together by a 14 little screws and glue. Here’s the process:

I used only these three tools (and my fingernails):

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Prying device

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The back of the phone came off easily, and each subsequent layer just had a couple of screws and some adhesive to get through. As far as I could tell, everything in this phone was metal or plastic.

  1. Take off the back of the phone.
  2. Remove battery.
  3. Unscrew screws in the back.
  4. Remove the plastic covers for charging connection, micro-usb, headphones on the sides and bottom.
  5. Pry off the plate which holds this plastic to the QWERTY keyboard and reveal the logic board.
  6. Take off the buttons on the sides (volume, power).
  7. The metal piece covering the middle of the logic board can be removed to reveal the Qualcom QSC6055 processor. More on the logic board below…
  8. Unscrew two more screws to reveal the QWERTY keypad and plastic piece underneath.
  9. The LCD/Numeric Keypad Cable threads through a hole in the black plastic beneath the logic board. Unscrew two more screws and pry off this black plastic.
  10. Underneath that black plastic are the data connections to the screen and the front keypad. Carefully peel off the tape that holds the connections down and unplug them. The screen will lift out. The keypad is behind the data board.

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GROUP SHOT!

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Now, more on the logic board:

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Here’s what I learned about all that a circuit board contains:

The circuit board holding microchips and processors inside a cell phone serves as the brains of the outfit. A digital signal processor, or DSP, converts an analog signal — your voice — to digital for transmission through the provider’s network. The DSP also converts a received digital signal to analog and moves the analog to the phone’s speaker and your ear. Radio frequency transmitters and receivers handle the signal as it moves to and from the phone. A microprocessor on the circuit board controls the phone’s various other functions, such as the keyboard and display. The phone’s operating system works from a memory chip, and the power management system keeps the device operating under battery power. A baseband chip serves as the phone’s antenna, grabbing and emitting digital signals when the phone is in use.

Here are all the parts I could identify:

  • Qualcomm CPU QSC6055
  • Micro SD slot
  • 1.2 Megapixel camera
  • Speaker
  • Audio jack
  • 3.7V Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery
  • LCD screen
  • QWERTY and regular keypad
  • ZIF connectors
  • Glued down cable ribbons

I couldn’t identify all the parts, but I did marvel at how simple the complex circuitry appeared.

I think the ribbon cable connectors are so elegant. It keeps everything very organized and clean (and flat), but the connections are very strong. I like the contradiction of these paper thin connectors and the power that is supplied through them. I’m always surprised by how sturdy and functional the connections are, especially on ZIF connectors.

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Back of the screen with plastic covered connector tape

I am also intrigued by the pressure sensors that are beneath all of the buttons. They are so sturdy, and the keyboard itself can withstand a lot of damage before the sensors beneath are affected.

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The layers of the QWERTY keyboard: slider, cover, letters, sensors

Disassembling the Digimon D-Terminal

“The D-Terminal is a palmtop computer used by the DigiDestined in Digimon Adventure 02. Although it is a normal item from the Real World, it has the ability to store multiple Digi-Eggs, allowing the DigiDestined to use multiple Armor evolutions”

-Digimon Wikia

As you can see, the D-Terminal is a serious piece of equipment, and the utmost caution was used in the disassembling of the device.

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First the battery port was removed, revealing some very old, corroded batteries.

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 Then the back plate screws were removed, giving us access to the internal components.

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Upon closer inspection we could see two 10μF capacitors, two 100Ω resistors, and an unlabeled crystal oscillator, which looks similar to those that are 32KHz. There are three small glass encased cylinders that I was also unable to identify to the left of the two capacitors above the resistors.

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Underneath all the buttons there were these circuits that were completed when pressed.

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Between the circuit and injection molded plastic there was a silicon nipple with a conductive material on the bottom to help complete said circuits.

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When you flip over the board you can detach the screen. Interestingly enough there were two strips of rubbery materials sandwiched between the exposed circuits. connecting the display to the circuit board.

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The body, buttons and trim were injection molded plastic. The screen was tempered glass and PCB’s made of copper laid over a non conductive substrate. The nipples that facilitated button pressing were molded silicone.

Looking back at my childhood memories, I expected this thing to be way more complicated inside but seeing as it was designed for children the simplicity of the circuit board and all it’s components make sense.

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Something I noticed while dissembling the D-Terminal was how badly the eroding battery wrecked the circuit board. It has never been exposed to water and has been stored away safely with other electronics for years.

Teardown by Jonathan Lung