Even Nintendo repair technicians make mistakes sometimes

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I bought this Year of Luigi special edition console on eBay for $40 shipped. The seller listed it for parts or repair, but had no further information about what was wrong with it. The photos weren’t particularly informative either, but I decided to buy it mainly because the screens didn’t appear to be cracked from the photograph, so I figured that even if I couldn’t repair the system, I’d still have at least $40 worth of good parts, since the housing also appeared to be in good shape.
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I spotted the listing after sorting the search results page by “newly listed” in descending order. Since the item was listed BIN, I bought it immediately, since if I waited around to read the listing carefully someone else would have bought it. Only after buying it did I notice that the retail box was mismatched and had a sticker on it indicating the item was refurbished.

I’ve always wanted to disassemble a 3DS system refurbished at an authorized Nintendo repair center. I’ve disassembled numerous consoles that have been professionally refurbished by other companies and then subsequently broken once more, but never one that has been done by an authorized Nintendo repair center. It’s always interesting to see the techniques others use. For example, I’ve noticed that there’s one repair company whose consoles I’ve re-repaired numerous times with an idiosyncratic method of routing the cable for the WiFi antenna such that it serves to hold the microphone in the proper position, a technique that differs a bit from the way the cable is routed normally. It’s fun learning these kinds of tricks and shortcuts that others have discovered.

When I received the above console I was slightly hesitant to open it up, since there was a possibility it was still under warranty. I generally don’t work on anything that’s still under warranty, since I feel it’s a shame to void it. Nintendo have removed their warranty status check tool from the NOA website, however, so I decided I would go ahead and open it. The first thing I noticed was that the head of one of the screws was actually a bit stripped. It seems inconceivable to me that they wouldn’t have the proper size screwdriver at the repair center, so it’s possible that the owner of the console may have been responsible for this by attempting to open it on his or her own. I also noticed that the adhesive that holds the two rubber feet that hide a couple of screws on the underside of the console was weaker than normal, as though the feet had been pried off and then replaced without applying new adhesive beforehand.

The malfunction, by the way, was that when the power button was pressed the blue light would come on but the screens remained black. Neither the backlights nor the WiFi LED came on. If, while the console was in this state, I opened the ZIF connector for the speaker cable, the console would shut off, but it did not make the typical popping sound.

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Inside the console looked beautiful. It was incredibly clean and looked very nearly like a brand new console. Just one thing was out of place: the connectors for the lower screen were loose. This really gave me a good laugh, because after opening the connectors for the lower LCD and the lower LCD backlight, cleaning each with a tiny bit of isopropyl alcohol for good measure, and then reinserting the ribbon cables, the console booted normally and now works flawlessly. The screens don’t have a single scratch on them and, contrary to the numerous complaints I’ve heard about Nintendo refurbished consoles, there is not even the slightest bit of dust underneath the plastic upper screen display lens. I just think it’s so amusing that such meticulous attention to detail went into this repair in order to ensure that not even a single speck of dust was trapped beneath the display lens, but then, at the very end of the repair process, some technician accidentally failed to push a couple of ribbon cables in all the way. It’s always the simple stuff that gets you.

In any case, I’m keeping this one. I could probably more than triple my money if I were to resell it, but it’s actually in nicer condition than my personal 3DS XL console, so it’ll be a good upgrade for me.

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