eBay facilitating and protecting sellers who list counterfeits through the “eBay Refurbished” program

Here’s a counterfeit Playstation 4 controller being sold through the so-called “eBay Refurbished” program.

Counterfeits have always been a problem on eBay. But recently eBay launched a new program called “eBay Refurbished” through which select sellers can list “refurbished” items and get benefits like promoted listings and a shiny new badge that shows up in their listings. Here’s what eBay has to say about the program:

“Quality-vetted sellers”? “Refurbished by experts”? “Reconditioned to 100% functionality by vetted sellers or the manufacturer”? “Multi-point inspections”? Wow, this sure sounds like eBay have some stringent standards for the program. Surely, they’ll only grant the prestigious “eBay Refurbished” badge to the cream of the crop. They’d never use all that flowery language and then grant the badge to any ol’ Tom, Dick, or Harry who just wants to sell crap he ordered on Alibaba, would they?

Ah, well that explains it. This guy’s a top-rated seller without so much as a single negative feedback. That’s what they must mean by “vetted sellers”.

Let’s place an order. I wonder what we should buy

Wow, 112 crystal clear controllers sold? 232 red camo controllers sold? 432 purple controllers sold? This seller obviously has a ton of experience refurbishing Playstation 4 controllers. I have no qualms now that I see he’s sold thousands of them. Let’s buy a titanium blue one.

Now we just have to wait for it to arrive.

Okay it’s here.

At least they didn’t send it Media Mail.

Hmm…. “China Electronics Recycling Inc”? Canoga Park, CA? Where have I seen this before?

Oh, now I remember. It’s that seller who repeatedly listed lots of counterfeit PS4 controllers on B-stock supply, calling them “refurbished” instead. Don’t believe me that they were counterfeit? Here’s what just a few of that seller’s customers had to say:

In any case, let’s open the package.

CUH-ZCT2E? Why a European model? It seems odd that a U.S. seller would have hundreds of European model PS4 controllers.

This serial number sticker is clearly a reproduction. So is the housing. But let’s not be hasty. We can’t conclude the whole thing is counterfeit. The seller did state, after all, that the entire housing may have been replaced as part of the refurbishment process. As long as the motherboard inside is genuine, we can’t say it’s a total scam. But first, there’s an important thing we mustn’t forget.

Never forget to RTFM.

That’s odd. Why would the manual for a European model controller refer to “SCEA” (Sony Computer Entertainment America)? You’d think it would instead refer to SIEE (Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe) or just “SIE”, wouldn’t you? Additionally, it seems strange that a North American 1-800 phone number is listed as the support number for what’s ostensibly a product intended for the European market. I think at this point we have no choice but to open it and look inside.

The battery being installed upside down is the least of our problems.

Oh dear. This is a puzzlement. It looks like a genuine battery, but the rest is fake.

As usual with fake controllers, there’s not even any solder on the anchor pads for the joysticks.

S2PG001A is actually the correct part number for the PMIC on JDM-055 controllers. But this doesn’t appear to be a genuine one. Neither does the MediaTek MT3610N. They both have the wrong numbers of pins. But on this topic I’m no expert. So I could be wrong about that. I suppose it may be possible the MT3610N could come in more than one package size. All I can say for sure is that genuine PS4 controllers don’t use chips that look like these. Also, unrelated to the questionable chips, get a load of the stray bits of solder smeared on the board near the lower left of the photo. That’s sloppy work.

These appear to be genuine Alps joysticks. When tested using DS4Windows they worked just as well as the ones installed inside genuine controllers.
Although I didn’t measure them to check, these appear to be the newer 2.3k ohm variety of joystick potentiometers used in the last JDM-055 PS4 controllers as well as PS5 controllers.
The battery looks genuine. Visually, at least. I didn’t test it though.
The board layout and markings are all very similar to a genuine JDM-055 motherboard.
Even the part number “1-982-707-32” is copied from a genuine board.
The charge port lacks the usual piece of black tape you find on genuine controllers as well as many counterfeits.

Well that was interesting. Now that we’ve had our fun, let’s return the controller for a refund. The listing stated all returns are accepted for 30 days, even remorse returns. So we’ve got no reason to feel bad about returning it. I’ll just open that return, print a shipping label, and drop it in the mail.

Just gotta wait for it to arrive to receive our refund.

Great it was delivered. Now let’s check for that refund.

The only remaining task is to warn others about this scam through appropriate feedback. Let’s be sure not to mention the return request or anything else in our feedback comment that violates eBay feedback policies and could cause our comment to be deleted.

There. That’s straight to the point. There’s no way this comment could violate any of eBay’s feedback policies.
Wow. This guy’s a top-rated seller without so much as a single negative feedback. That’s what they must mean by “vetted sellers”

I don’t think you need a tinfoil hat to see that eBay simply doesn’t care that their so-called “experts” are just hawking fakes. The stock images this particular seller uses are nice and clean. They claim the items are “refurbished” and the fact they’ve been graced with the “eBay Refurbished” badge with its “One- or two-year warranty” and all its BS wankery about “vetted sellers” and “Multi-point inspections” means buyers have little reason to be suspicious. Plus the account is registered in the U.S. Buyers may be skeptical of similar listings that ship from China, but both the ship-from location and the seller’s account are U.S.-based. So there are few red flags for buyers to be wary of, other than the stilted English used in the listing text.

For the record, I have no problems whatsoever with generic controllers or other products made by third-parties. 8BitDo, for example, make some great controllers and sell and market them both legally and ethically. Companies like them are to be commended. What I have a problem with are scumbag sellers who deliberately scam consumers by intentionally describing a product as genuine and then sending a counterfeit instead. Of course, that’s been going on forever. But the twist here is that now eBay are actually assisting these people more blatantly than ever before.

I didn’t think to get screenshots before they were removed, but as I was waiting for the controller to arrive I witnessed several more buyers leave negative feedback for the seller, saying they received fake controllers. By the time I received my order though those negative comments had all been removed by eBay. So there’s no doubt eBay is complicit in this and are doing everything they can to protect their anointed sellers in the “eBay Refurbished” program, international intellectual property laws be damned.

SNES chip failures


It’s all so tiresome.

I do truly enjoy repairing game consoles. The SNES was the first console I owned myself so it has a special place in my heart. I love repairing them, cleaning them, and getting them ready to be used again. Sometimes I think there’s nothing more rewarding than that. But other than the common broken power jack issue, chip failures are the main problems with Super Nintendos. Every so often I’ll get one that needs a recap, but chip failures are by far the most common problem besides broken power jacks. But no matter how rewarding it may to fix these things, it eventually becomes depressing endlessly removing one dead chip after another.

Failed SNES CPUs.

Bad PPUs aren’t as common as bad CPUs, but they’re by no means rare, either.

There are 4 revisions of PPU2. S-PPU2, S-PPU2 A, and S-PPU2 B are the three most likely to fail, at least from my small sample size. S-PPU2 C and CPU-B seem to be hardier than the earlier revisions.

The main chip failure on 1-CHIP and SNES Mini consoles is the S-APU.

I often hear people say bad CPUs on Super Nintendos are a rare issue. But it sure doesn’t seem that way to me. Maybe a quarter of SHVC consoles I get have a bad PPU or CPU. Of course, I’m getting consoles that have already been identified as broken, but still. People say it’s not an epidemic on the same level as, say, bad capacitors on PC Engine Duos or Game Gears, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that all the old revision PPUs and CPUs in these Super Nintendos will go bad in the not-too-distant future.

No more ALPS joysticks on recent JDM-055 Playstation 4 controllers?

This JDM-055 motherboard came from a broken PS4 controller I bought on eBay.

A few weeks ago I bought a box of broken PS4 controller parts on eBay. There were a few motherboards and some miscellaneous housing bits in the box. It was a good deal. But what surprised me the most was this board inside that had black joysticks with orange potentiometers.

The right stick on the board was cracked, but that wasn’t the interesting part. What was more interesting is that there were no signs whatsoever that anybody had worked on the board before. The controller had been opened up and there was some dust and dirt on the board, but no signs that anyone had touched anything at all with a soldering iron.

No signs that these were soldered in by hand.

These orange joysticks are readily available all over Aliexpress, eBay, Amazon, etc… so it’s not uncommon to find them inside boards that have been worked on before. From the “F” logo on the sticks I believe they’re made by Polyshine/Favor Union, which is the same company that makes the flexible conductive film for the buttons. You can even see the “F” logo on the conductive film in the photo at the top of the page, albeit upside-down.

This board didn’t look like it had been worked on before by anyone. All the solder joints for the joysticks looked original. Nobody had removed the original ALPS sticks, installed these black and orange ones, and then subsequently broken the right stick. This board had simply never had ALPS sticks in the first place. These orange ones were factory original.

I was so curious about this that I actually asked the seller if he knew anything about it. He confirmed for me that he hadn’t replaced any of the sticks himself and had purchased the lot from a wholesale seller. He said the board was like this when he received it.

I was mystified. I was dying of curiosity, but had no answers. The seller had said he believed the wholesale vendor he bought it from was selling Walmart customer returns. I wondered if maybe, like Gamestop does with some products, Walmart had refurbished the controller and used aftermarket parts. Still, it didn’t look like it had been hand-soldered, so it seemed unlikely to me.

Just today I received another ZCT2U controller with a JDM-055 board in it that I bought on eBay. Interestingly, it too has orange and black Polyshine/Favor Union joysticks in it. It also has no signs at all of any rework.

And the serial number, for those who want to try to find one in the wild.

I think at this point I can be reasonably confident that I’ve got my answer. These controllers were not refurbished. Neither Walmart nor any other retailer had anything to do with it. Sony has simply stopped using ALPS joysticks in their controllers and switched to using Polyshine/Favor Union joysticks. Or at least, that’s the case for some of the newest ZCT2U controllers. Maybe it’s just the ones with 1-982-707-21 as the part number?

I’ve worked on plenty of JDM-055 boards that have the usual red, green, and white ALPS joysticks in them, so it’s not the case that all JDM-055 boards are like this. But it looks like maybe the most recent revision uses these new joysticks. They’re almost identical to the similar-looking ones you can find on Aliexpress, but the center button (i.e. L3 or R3) makes the same kind of clicking noise the ALPS ones make. This is in contrast to all the orange and black ones I’ve bought on Aliexpress in the past, most of which have made a noticeably louder clicking sound than the ALPS ones.

Sadly, the controller I received today doesn’t seem to power on. The seller said it was connected to a faulty charger which caused the battery to burn up. That seems to be a common issue, but I’ve seen it most often on JDM-011 and 020 boards. I’ve had plenty of those with burnt up charge ports and melted plastic from the BD9200 chip on the board failing and overheating, presumably due to the controller getting plugged into the wrong kind of charger. But usually those at least power on. They overheat almost immediately, but they do at least come on briefly, whereas this one isn’t even detected by my computer at all. Maybe if I get some time one day I might mess around with it and see if I can figure out how to fix it.

Regardless of whether I fix this thing or not, I think it’s incredible that from the looks of it Sony has dumped ALPS. If I’m not mistaken, Sony controllers have had ALPS joysticks in them since the original DualShock controllers for the Playstation, which means they’ve been together for 25+ years. If Sony and ALPS have parted ways, then this is like some kind of huge celebrity breakup. It’s tragic, in a way. But exciting, too, particularly for modders and tinkerers, since Favor Union joysticks are usually easier to find and not faked anywhere near as much as ALPS sticks are.

A few more tips about black screen SNES consoles

I’ve been getting some SNES Mini and 1-chip consoles to repair lately. The most common issues are:

  • Black screen on all games
  • Black screen on some games. Other games, such as Mario Kart, freeze at the publisher splash screen

The latter issue is exactly the same problem as what happens when you simply remove the sound module from an SHVC console. It’s seems to be caused when the CPU can’t communicate with the sound hardware for any reason. In some cases, it’s due to some broken traces on the board somewhere. But as I’ve mentioned before, it’s often due to a failed APU. On GPM-01/02 and RGB-01/02 revisions it can also be due to a failed S-SMP.

    With a bad APU or sound module, the console freezes here on Mario Kart.

With a bad APU or sound module, the console freezes here on Mario Kart.

Or here on many Koei games, like my test game, Super Mahjong Taikai

Or here on many Koei games, like my test game, Super Mahjong Taikai

The first problem, however, is something that I can’t normally fix. Unless there’s some obvious problem, such as rust or corrosion in the cartridge slot or some broken traces, then I just give up on those boards and set them aside.

Something I discovered quite by accident, however, is that a bad APU can actually cause the first problem as well as the second.

Recently I grabbed one of those black screen SNES mini boards to steal its APU for a 1-chip board I was repairing that had a known bad APU (it would freeze at the “KOEI” screen). Once I installed the APU from the black screen SNES mini into the 1-chip board, the 1-chip board also began displaying only a black screen, even on games that were previously loading to the publisher screen and then freezing. At first I thought I must have accidentally left a solder bridge connecting some legs of the chip or screwed up in some other way with bad soldering, but after checking and rechecking, that wasn’t the issue. I then removed the APU and the board started loading games and then freezing again at the publisher screen, just as it had been doing originally.

To test my theory that the APU itself was causing the black screen issue, I went over to the SNES mini board from which I had salvaged the APU. I powered it on without any APU installed at all and, sure enough, it would load games up to the publisher’s logo and then freeze.

To be certain, I took one more known good 1-chip board that was only missing an APU and installed the APU from the Mini board into it. It started showing just a black screen when I installed it. Once removed, it again loaded games and froze at the publisher logo.

Finally, I went over to my stack and found two 1-chip boards that I had labelled “black screen”. I removed the APUs from both of them. One of them started loading games and freezing at the publisher screen, showing that it had the same problem as the Mini board (i.e. just a bad APU). The other board, unfortunately, still just showed a black screen. It must have had some other issue.

But the major point here is that when troubleshooting boards that show only a black screen, it’s possible the APU is actually causing the issue. I used to think the only issue caused by a bad APU was the loading and then freezing at the publisher splash screen issue, but this experience taught me that I was wrong.

Another IC that apparently can fail in Super Nintendo consoles

Is the S-APU in SNS-CPU-APU-01 and all 1-chips boards

Is the S-APU in SNS-CPU-APU-01 and all 1-chip boards

I mostly repair the older SNES revisions with 2 PPUs, but sometimes I do get 1-chip and Mini consoles. But basically my repair knowledge about those is nothing much beyond “clean the cartridge slot with alcohol, look for broken traces and if it still doesn’t work, toss in the parts box”.  Since they don’t have a CPU or PPU that’s prone to failure (to my knowledge, at least), it’s not like there’s much of anything I can replace on them.

Eventually I accumulated a small pile of 1-chip boards that all would freeze at the publisher splash screen. This is a common issue on all boards and is caused when the system fails to communicate with the sound hardware for whatever reason. You can easily cause this problem in SHVC consoles by simply removing the sound module. On other boards it’s usually due to broken traces somewhere.

When I find this issue on consoles without a removable cartridge slot and I can’t find broken traces anywhere else, I don’t waste my time and just toss them atop the heap. Among those boards are about a half dozen 1-chips, most of which I found inside housing that was full of roaches and had lots of liquid damage and broken traces. Though I had fixed all the broken traces I could find on the boards, they would all still hang on the publisher splash screen, so I made the assumptionwhich seemed reasonable at the time considering the condition in which I acquired themthat there were more broken traces that I simply hadn’t found, probably under the cartridge slot, and gave up on them.

Years ago when I first started repairing SNES consoles I had, in fact, tried replacing the DSP and S-SMP chips on some GPM consoles with this problem. Of course, it didn’t fix the problem and I later found the broken traces on them that were really causing the issue. Ever since then I’ve always assumed the audio chips are pretty much okay and don’t just die for no good reason like the CPU and PPUs.

But I was digging through my parts boards pile today and found those 1-chip boards I had tossed aside. Earlier in the day I had fixed a Mini when I removed the VRAM and found broken traces beneath. Inspired by that success I decided I should check underneath the APU on a few of them that had rust in that area to see if the traces that ran beneath it had breaks in them. So I removed the APU from a few boards and walked away while they cooled.

When I came back I looked for broken traces, didn’t find any, and then soldered the APUs back onto the boards. But just for the heck of it I decided I would replace the APU in one of them with an APU I had salvaged from a trashed board. To my great surprise the problem was solved when I tested the board.


The donor board on the right was totally beyond repair.

The donor board on the right was totally beyond repair.

To be sure this wasn’t a fluke, I grabbed another board that would freeze at the splash screen and removed the APU from it. I then soldered in the APU from a console that had a totally unrelated video problem. Once again, the problem was totally fixed.

This is both good and bad news to me. The good part is that now I can fix an issue with the later SNES revisions that few people probably realize is so easily fixable. The bad news though is that it may mean all of our 1-chips are probably prone to the APU failing and may be ticking time bombs, just like the older revisions. Heck, maybe even the Mini could be prone to this.


My SNES troubleshooting workflow for “black screen of death” systems

SPOILER ALERT: They ALL have dead CPUs.

SPOILER ALERT: They ALL have dead CPUs.

I have dozens of these black screen systems. I have a basic flowchart for troubleshooting all SNESes in my head. It’s simple and progresses from the easiest fixes to the most difficult. But I’ll spoil it and reveal ahead of time that they almost all have dead CPUs that need to be replaced. It’s never the easy stuff.

The first steps are disassembly and cleaning the housing. Of course, the latter doesn’t fix anything, but time is money, and by cleaning the housing first I can leave it to dry while I work on the motherboard itself.

Step one is to clean the cartridge slot with a toothbrush and 91% alcohol. 99% is better but it’s more expensive and harder to find. 91% is good enough. Most folks recommend wrapping a credit card in a cloth, dipping it in alcohol, and then inserting and removing it repeatedly to clean the cartridge slot, but I’ve never understood this method at all. I don’t understand how that could possibly be very effective. A toothbrush seems like the obvious answer to me. For one thing, with the credit card and cloth method you’re only cleaning the removable top part of the connector, which is completely pointless if you don’t also clean the pins beneath it that are soldered directly to the board. For RGB, APU, and 1CHIP models I suppose the credit card method may be all right, since you can’t just lift the connector off on those. But a toothbrush just seems like a far better method to me. You need to use serious elbow grease when cleaning these things, and there’s no way to put the kind of force necessary behind your scrubbing if you’re just using a credit card wrapped in cloth.

Of course, rather than clean it, it’s faster to just grab a known working cartridge slot connector to test the system quickly. Keeping one handy saves time.

It's pointless only cleaning the removable top part of the cartridge connector if you don't also clean beneath. How would you possibly clean a system like this with the credit card method?

It’s pointless only cleaning the removable top part of the cartridge connector if you don’t also clean beneath. How on earth could you possibly clean a system like this with just the credit card method?

Cleaning beneath the connector is very important. If someone spilled something on the console long ago, you have to consider where gravity would have taken it. Soda spilled on top of the console wouldn’t have just sat on the top removable piece of the connector for all those years, so it’s rare to find much corrosion on the removable part. Any liquid spilled on top of the system would have run down through the connector and settled on the pins beneath. That’s why you tend to find rust and corrosion on these pins. Sometimes they look all green, like the Statue of Liberty. I scrub these with a brass brush to remove any corrosion, then clean them off with a different toothbrush and some cotton swabs. Deoxit is also good to use here.

Knowing how gravity works allows you to predict this before you even fully disassemble the console.

Knowing how gravity works means this kind of result is predictable.

At this point you can test the system. If it works, great. You’re done. But the premise here is that these simple things usually don’t work. Most consoles don’t have so much corrosion, so, while cleaning is always a good idea for sanitary reasons, it rarely actually fixes anything. Ordinary dust and dirt won’t stop the console from reading games. So let’s move on to the next step in my flowchart.

If you hold the reset button on a working console while powering it on with a game inserted, you get a black screen until you release the button. The idea here is that if the reset button is very dirty (again, think spilled soda) then it can be stuck in the activated position, causing the same symptoms as if it were actually being held down. I’ve never actually seen this personally, but it’s an explanation that makes a lot of sense to me, so it has a place in my flowchart and I always first try cleaning the reset button with a toothbrush and a bit of alcohol. If it seems sticky I temporarily desolder and remove it just for testing. It never turns out to be the culprit, but it’s pretty quick to remove so it’s not much of a waste of time.

C62 and the reset button.

C62 and the reset button.

C62 is a small 2.2µF capacitor right above the CIC chip, near the reset button. I’m told that if this is bad it has basically the same effect as holding the reset button down, resulting in a black screen on all games. Again, I’ve never actually come across a system where this had happened, but it’s an easy thing to replace, so I sometimes try replacing it if it looks funny. It has never fixed anything for me though.

I’ve seen this next thing once and only once. Since it happened once though, it does have a place in my flowchart, since I suppose I could come across it again.

I flip the board upside down and do a visual and tactile check of the solder joints on the bottom of the cartridge slot. When I say “tactile” what I really mean is that I press on them one at a time with my fingers to see if they’re cracked. It doesn’t hurt to quickly reflow them all. It almost never fixes anything, but it can help you eliminate the cartridge slot completely as a possibility. If you are an insane person you can get a multimeter, connect the top removable connector, and then check each pin on the bottom of the board for continuity with the corresponding pin inside the removable connector. This is a colossal waste of time though and you should only do this if you are a masochist. Even with a third hand tool, you’ll nudge the board constantly, your hand will slip, you’ll drop one of the probes, you’ll lose count of which pin you were at and have to start over and you will want to off yourself in no time. Besides, you really don’t need to test. It’s never the cartridge slot that causes these issues. When it comes to the cartridge slot, if everything looks good, it is good. The one time I had a system where this sort of thing was an issue, the solder joint was so badly cracked on the underside of the board I could wiggle it with my finger. If something is wrong it will be obvious.

Next is to check for broken traces. There are no shortcuts here. You just need a jeweler’s loupe and a lot of time on your hands. What I’ve learned from experience though is that you shouldn’t waste your time on this step unless you have good reason to suspect there will, in fact, be some broken traces. Basically that means if you have a system that had liquid damage or was in a very damp, wet, humid, or dirty environment you may want to spend some time looking at it carefully under magnification. So if you open it up and find lots of rust or dead bugs, it may actually have some broken traces. But if you open it and it’s nice and clean, don’t waste your time. Unless, of course, someone else worked on it prior to you. If that’s the case, you should absolutely check for broken traces, scratches, lifted solder pads, and that sort of thing, since you never know what the last guy may have done to it.

If the system is an SHVC model, yes, you can try swapping out the sound module. Some games will give a black screen if the sound module is disconnected or bad. But many games actually load to the first screen and freeze when the sound module is bad or disconnected, so if you’re using a game like that and you get a black screen, don’t waste your time, since it’s not the sound module. An Everdrive will load and display the contents of your SD card even with a bad/disconnected sound module. If you try to run a ROM, it’ll freeze.

An Everdrive, by the way, is something that can be very helpful when you’re not quite sure of the extent of the problem. Some systems may give a black screen on most games, but display garbled graphics on another. Still others give a black screen on 9 out of 10 games but might play one specific game just fine. Those consoles may have hope. To help understand the extent of the problem a bit better I see if it’ll read an Everdrive. If it reads the Everdrive and loads the burn-in test rom, I run it and see what it says. These black screen systems may not read any retail games, but sometimes they do read the Everdrive, though it doesn’t always actually load up fully. It often crashes when trying to display the contents of the SD card. But if it does load and I can get the burn-in test rom to run, it usually is very straightforward and simply says, “CPU —— FAIL”. That’s about as clear-cut an answer as it gets. Almost all the failures are CPU-related, but occasionally you do see some VRAM problems. Those are nice since you can easily grab the VRAM from another console. There’s also plenty of space between the pins so soldering them in is easy. But I’ve only seen bad VRAM two or three times and those had all been worked on previously. I don’t think the VRAM is typically prone to failure. Normally it’s a CPU problem.

At this point the only thing left is to replace the CPU. That’s not as hard as it sounds if you have hot air rework equipment. It’s very easy to remove the old CPU, but you do need to be moderately good at soldering to put in the new one. I usually end up with a few solder bridges at the end that need to be fixed. The hardest part though is locating a good CPU. The reason I have dozens of dead black screen SNES boards is because I have no good CPUs to put in them. Most, I’m sure, would work fine with a new CPU, but the trouble is that there’s nowhere to get them. I found a few IC dealers online that claim to have a small quantity in stock, but they are asking such high prices it would actually be cheaper to buy working SNES consoles for the CPUs than to buy from those bloodsuckers. When I get really badly water-damaged or otherwise screwed-up boards I take the CPUs. Sometimes they’re bad, too. But occasionally they’re good and I can revive one dead system from my stack. It always feels good. Plus I end up producing some unique SNES consoles like 1990 SHVC boards equipped with the later (and much more resilient) “S-CPU B”, which was normally only found in the GPM-02, RGB, and APU motherboard revisions.

Don't worry. I didn't cannibalize a working RGB board. It had been eaten up by roaches and was totally beyond repair with broken traces all over and the solder mask peeling up on the back.

Don’t worry. I didn’t cannibalize a working RGB board. It had been eaten up by roaches and was totally beyond repair with lots of broken traces and the solder mask peeling up all over the place.

Maggots? In my SNES?

It's more likely than you think.

It’s more likely than you think.

No, don’t worry, this isn’t my personal console. I got this one on eBay. Mine, of course, is immaculate, as you would expect. Incidentally, buy only from me or else this is the kind of thing that’ll show up at your doorstep after shopping online.

But wouldn’t you know it? This disgusting pile of filth and disease worked fine after I spent several hours washing it. I had to replace the capacitors, but otherwise it was fine. It’s aggravating that horrific-looking systems like this survive despite such neglect and abuse and yet so many well-cared for pristine-looking systems stored in safe and clean conditions by responsible, civilized people just die for no good reason.








Unusual original Nintendo 3DS motherboard revision: CTR-CPU-40


I received a 3DS console today that had been cracked in half at the hinge. As I opened it up to remove the motherboard I immediately noticed that the tiny little IR board that normally connects to a plug next to the P7 connector was missing. The IR module on this motherboard was integrated and not removable. Also strange was the fact that the little piece of tape used at the factory to secure the touch screen connector was black, rather than the typical white. I’ve seen a few boards with black tape rather than white, but in the past I always assumed this was because they had already been worked on before I received them and the last technician had used black tape. Now I know I was probably wrong. This was an entirely new motherboard revision.

The back of the board

The back of the board

Integrated IR

Integrated IR

There are some minor yet consistent differences I’ve noticed from one console to the next, such as the color of the mainboards, color of screws, slight variations in the labeling on the WiFi board, and the fact that most special edition consoles and consoles bundled with a game have the charge ports soldered much more securely to the board than the original black/red/blue models. Normally, however, the motherboard itself is basically the same. This is different from those types of minor variations because it’s a completely different motherboard revision from what I’ve seen before. Though it’s not something I normally pay attention to, I don’t think I recall ever seeing anything other than CTR-CPU-01 and the occasional CTR-CPU-20 boards.

Big blobs of solder secure the charge port in place, unlike the weak connection in earlier models

Big blobs of solder secure the charge port in place, unlike the weak connection in earlier models

The label on the WiFi daughterboard differs slightly from most models, but the board itself is the same DWM-W082 as all 3DS consoles.

The label on the WiFi daughterboard differs slightly from most models, but the board itself is the same DWM-W082 as all 3DS consoles.

In any case, this board does look more or less the same as any other model besides the fact that it has integrated IR and some silver screws in a few locations that normally have black screws. The color of the screws does differ from model to model, but I’ve never seen silver screws in these locations before. It’s fairly common for the external screws for the housing to be silver on special edition or bundled consoles, but I’ve never seen anything other than black for the screws beneath the SD card slot. Additionally, some special edition and bundled consoles have only two, rather than three, screws securing the L button in place and only three, rather than four, screws for the R button. This console follows that pattern but it also replaces the normal black screws for the shoulder buttons with silver ones.

Silver, rather than black, screws beneath the SD card slot.

Silver, rather than black, screws beneath the SD card slot.

Silver, rather than black, screws for the shoulder buttons as well

Silver, rather than black, screws for the shoulder buttons as well

Unfortunately, the previous owner used super glue in a misguided attempt to repair the cracked housing and even glued the battery cover in place, leaving no possibility of salvaging it. But the serial number sticker inside was still legible:


For now I’m keeping this board. I put it inside one of my own consoles and sold the motherboard it replaced. I’ll probably keep it around for a while to tinker with and maybe I’ll eventually sell it.