Frankenstein 3DS XL (my adventure in housing and LCD replacement)

When I saw this I knew saving the console was worth my time.

I bought this console with no information about it other than a picture. When it arrived and I saw this I knew saving the console was worth my time. God, I love eBay.

So Halloween just passed and I’ve graverobbed together a nice GW3DS compatible 3DS XL for myself out of two broken consoles. I had first bought a console with a broken hinge, thinking I might fix it. However, I quickly realized that, if I could play my cards right, I might save a bit of money and a whole lot of time by combining two broken consoles together to make one functional console, instead of buying replacement parts separately. The other reason I chose to go this route is that replacement 3DS XL parts are few and far between. There are no Chinese companies that I’m aware of that make replacement housing parts yet, and the only time that official Nintendo replacement housing comes up for sale is when somebody is parting out their own console, which is not an everyday occurrence even on eBay. There are some companies that make aftermarket replacement LCD screens, but they’re usually quite expensive.

When I received the console the first thing I did was check that there was nothing else wrong with it besides the lower LCD. This was a risky move, since you never know what sorts of problems sellers will leave undisclosed on eBay auctions. They may mention one thing that’s wrong with the console but neglect to mention several other larger issues. Fortunately, when I got the above console the only thing wrong with it was that the lower LCD had some slight damage that caused those vertical lines in the picture. There were also cracks in the front housing. Luckily the uupper housing was not broken so I didn’t have to go through the trouble of rolling the ribbon cables through the hinge. I took a good lower LCD and digitizer from another console I had purchased with smashed up housing and bought a replacement front housing section for $15.

3ds xl lower lcd3ds xl replacement front housing

The first step, of course, is disassembly. The best method, by the way, to remove those two little rubber things on the bottom of the console without damaging them is to use a sewing needle to pry them up.

3DS XL disassembly is only very slightly different from a normal 3DS. Once you remove the battery cover, battery, and back housing the motherboard is revealed.
3ds xl motherboard

We then remove all those little tiny screws on the right, left, and bottom center of the board. There are 10 in total. We also remove the two very long screws that hold the analog stick control mechanism in place. There’s a round, papery thing beneath the analog stick control mechanism that you’ll want to put aside so it doesn’t fall out and go missing. You also need to remove the WiFi board (it pulls right off) and disconnect the antenna cable from it. Finally, disconnect the bottom LCD and digitizer, the speakers, and camera ribbon cables from the motherboard. Use your fingernail to open up the clips and gently pull the ribbon cables out.

Now we can lift the motherboard free of the lower housing.

Now we can lift the motherboard free of the lower housing.

The top LCD ribbon cable is still connected in the upper right of the above picture. Disconnect that. Now the motherboard is completely free.

This is the ugly, cracked piece of the housing that I wanted to replace.

This is the ugly, cracked piece of the housing that I wanted to replace.

To replace the front section of the housing it’s necessary to open up the top housing. Remove the four square rubbery pads surrounding the top screen. Again, if you use a sewing needle for this you can probably manage to remove them without any damage so that you can later re-use them. They were already damaged on my console so I wasn’t particularly careful and ended up destroying one and losing another. Remove the four screws beneath.

Once you remove those four screws you need to push hard on the back part of the top shell. It’s hard to explain, but if you put the console on your lap with the back of it (i.e. the side with the charge port) against your torso and push forward on the top housing using your two thumbs it’ll slide upwards and off. I looked at these pictures to figure it out at first, but contrary to what the photographer writes, you definitely don’t need to use a screwdriver or anything else to pry it open. You can easily do it with just your thumbs. You push forwards, not upwards, and it slides off.

Here's the big mess I made out of two consoles. It all works out in the end though.

Here’s the big mess I made out of two consoles. It all works out in the end though.

I’m not proud to say it but I couldn’t figure out how to slide the left hinge inside of the top housing in order to cleanly separate the top and bottom sections of the console. On a normal-sized 3DS you can stick a small screwdriver or a pair of tweezers into the top leftmost section of the bottom housing and push the hinge inside the upper housing, allowing you to separate the two halves of the console. I couldn’t figure out how to do this for the 3DS XL though. So, in the end, I used a pair of pliers to crack open the upper left corner of the lower housing since it was already cracked a small bit. This revealed the hinge. I then pushed it into the top housing using a small screwdriver. This allowed me to separate the two halves. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it made no difference since I was destroying a part that was already broken anyway. Below is the hinge position that will let you separate the two halves. The hinge is in the same position in both photos; they’re just taken from two different angles.

Hinge pushed inside the upper housing.Second angle.

Once separated we simply slip the ribbon cables and WiFi antenna cable out through the slit in the original lower housing and pull them through. We then slip them into the slit in the replacement housing.

Top screen assembly installed in the replacement lower housing.

Top screen assembly installed in the replacement lower housing.

Before replacing the back of the top housing make sure the 3D slider is in place. It’s very likely to fall off. Also make sure the speakers are in place. When you’re ready to replace the back section of the top housing make sure you push the hinge back inside the lower housing. When you first push the hinge into the lower housing it will slide in and feel like it’s in place properly, but it most likely isn’t. Don’t be fooled! You need to push it quite hard once more after that and will go in a bit farther so that it’s nearly completely hidden inside the lower housing. Here are comparison images of the hinge in different positions:

Hinge open. Top half can be separated from lower half when in this position.

Hinge open. Top half can be separated from lower half when in this position.

Hinge not fully inside lower housing.

Hinge not fully inside lower housing.

Hinge fully inside lower housing. Halves cannot be separated. The console will now "click" open and closed like normal.

Hinge fully inside lower housing. Halves cannot be separated. The console will now “click” open and closed like normal.

Now you can replace the back part of the top screen housing. Just push the two pieces together. It’ll click into place. At this point reassembly is just the opposite of disassembly. There are guides for the ordinary 3DS and the 3DS XL isn’t much different. I would recommend that, before closing the console up, you test it by simply holding the battery in place, flipping the motherboard over, and pressing the power button with your finger.

If you hear a popping noise then double check that both screens are properly connected. Also check for debris on the connectors. You don’t need to connect everything to do the test. You just need both LCDs connected. You can leave the WiFi module and analog stick disconnected when testing and the console should still power on.

Once I confirmed that everything was connected properly, I screwed the thing back together and gave it a test. I had noticed before the repair that there were parental controls on the console because when I had tried to format it I got the following screen:

oh no! what i do now?

oh no! what i do now?

The last two times I bought a locked 3DS console on eBay I had to call Nintendo and pretend to be a morbidly forgetful parent who not only forgot his PIN but also the answer to his secret question in order to get a master code. Well, that was all before neimod cracked parental controls earlier this year. No more embarrassingly bad acting! This time I was able to remove the parental controls easily and quickly in my own home. Now all is right in the world. Eventually I’ll get around to replacing the battery cover and the top housing since they’re scuffed up pretty damned badly. But for now I’m satisfied with the console being 100% functional and Gateway compatible. I put my own parental controls on it to make sure I don’t accidentally update it!

3ds xl repaired

All in all, the two consoles and the replacement housing piece probably cost me about $180 so it’s not like I saved much money. I could’ve bought a brand-new 3DS XL from 2012 with firmware ~4.3 for not much more than that. But it’s so much more fun and satisfying playing a console when you know you’re the one who saved it from the trash bin.

I bought this (almost) brand new 40 inch LCD TV for $78

I've had this Coby TFTV4028 TV for a few months now.

I’ve had this Coby TFTV4028 TV for a few months now.

Sometimes gambling on those “parts or not working” eBay auctions pays off. The damnedest thing is that, from what I gather, this was a store return. It’s still under warranty though, which means that even if it were broken, the original owner should have been able to get it repaired or replaced for free. He or she would have had no reason to sell it.

There’s not a single scratch on the screen at all. The only cosmetic imperfection is a scuff on the lower left corner of the bezel.

The TV does have an iffy power supply. It sometimes won’t come out of standby mode. If I take the back off the TV, unplug the motherboard from the power supply for a few seconds, and then plug it back in it usually starts working again and will last for weeks or longer as long as I leave the TV plugged in and don’t have any electrical outages. If it loses electricity for even a second, it’s likely to get stuck in standby mode again and I either have to leave it unplugged from the wall for anywhere from several hours to several days or unplug the motherboard from the power supply again to get it work. It’s not much of a problem though since I don’t plan on moving/unplugging it any time soon.

I liked Sakamichi no Apollon


I just marathoned Sakamichi no Apollon today and I’m convinced it was the best show of this last season. Granted, I watched very few shows this season because throughout most of it I was overwhelmed by difficult exams at school and a new OSX86 laptop project I was feverishly working on for a while, but I think I can pretty much dismiss the rest of the shows of the season as inferior without bothering to watch them.

The first episode really got my attention immediately for reasons that show I completely missed the point: I felt tremendous empathy for poor Kaoru climbing that slope every morning to get to school, the reason being that my own school that I attended until last semester is at the top of a hill far steeper than the one in the show. Carrying books up something that steep before a day of expensive, insipid classes that teach you nothing you couldn’t learn for free in less time on the Internet is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. Seriously, if we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we build escalators on sidewalks?

For a so-called josei-muke show the characters have relatively small eyes. Ritsuko, perhaps is an exception, but even she doesn’t have those very large sunfloweresque eyes that I would have expected of a lower tier show of this genre, proving the high quality of this show beyond the need for any further discussion. Nonetheless, I’ll further it.

This is one of those shows for which, after watching the first episode, you say to yourself, “Ah yes, this is why I continue to convince myself, season after season, that there are worthwhile anime out there. It wasn’t self-deception after all”. The theme song alone engaged me immediately, to say nothing of the fun and lively music in the show itself.

I was hoping for a bit more about Jun’s activities in the Zengakuren student strike, but that was not a major plot point it seems. Any time I watch a period show set in the 1960s I hope that the writers will make best use of such an interesting time period, but I feel like it was almost wasted in Sakamichi no Apollon. On the one hand, the fact that the time period is almost irrelevant is appealing to the extent that it’s the sort of story that could happen anywhere, in any era. However, it just seems like a loss to me that one of the major side characters, Jun, unwittingly gets himself involved in a student strike, yet nothing much is made of it except that it ends up being the indirect cause of him moving to Tokyo later on. It’s almost as though it was thrown in there to say to the viewers, “Here’s this apropos reference, just in case you forgot it’s the 1960s”.

The costumes, on the other hand, are really fantastic. There’s something about the cap and red and white striped shirt that Sentarou wears that is very friendly and appealing, rather than threatening. Jun’s plaid pants are the pinnacle of style, if you ask me, though I could never wear them myself due to being vertically challenged. Ritsuko is agonizingly cute with her freckles, pigtails, ribbons, and red winter coat. It’s a shame that the characters are usually wearing school uniforms and that we didn’t get to see more outfits, though the school uniforms themselves are interesting as well since each character wears them in his or her own idiosyncratic style.

Even the unimportant background characters have nice outfits. For example, the mother of Ryunosuke, one of the kids from the rock band that Kaoru and Sentarou upstaged at the culture festival, looks exactly like Jane Jetson and this lady with the pink coat and hat is the type of extra mile effort that, while not strictly necessary, adds flourish to the show. The clothes and music all make me feel nostalgia for the era, which is an incredible feat considering that I hadn’t yet been born at the time.

For a 12-episode series the pacing was quite good. There were times where the show felt a bit heavy-handed like when Yurika and Jun were at the train station and he was about to leave for Tokyo and the scene with Kaoru and Sentarou on the hospital rooftop. While the problem with the former is that it’s simply a really overused cliché, the latter, I personally suspect, wouldn’t have seemed so overstated if it weren’t for the fact that by the time this epiphany moment comes along the viewer has only known the characters for about four hours in total. If it had occurred in episode 22 of a 24-episode series instead of episode 11 of a 12-episode series it may have been quite different for me.

Make no mistake though; my whining shouldn’t be construed as a lack of emotional response. I was tearing up plenty during the last couple of episodes. It’s times like these that I really have to stop and wonder if a show was actually well done and I’ve been legitimately affected by it emotionally or if I’m just a sucker for trite crap and a crybaby in addition. But then I remember that I have impeccable taste and that if I liked something then the only answer to that question is that it must have been good to begin with because retroactivism and coining neologisms are valid as long as I’m the one doing it.

this is how long it took me to shake off level 15 murderer status

I started with somewhere around 180,000 PK points.

The character started at level 28. Now it’s level 10. All I did was log in with a bot and set it to stand around in town, respawn, and then simply do nothing until the character dies again. It only took around 7 hours, though for about one of those hours I had it set to walk outside town where I had a wizard standing by to nuke me, so that may have sped things up just a little bit.

I’ve been very lucky in iSRO this week

These are just a few of the prizes I got in the White Day event.

I barely played at all, to tell the truth, and I still ended up getting some fabulous prizes. The last one is from SRO-R. Of course, I’m happy about it since I’m the one who benefits, but it’s quite obvious that the ease with which these items can be acquired will be ruinous for the game economy. It really ought to take a lifetime of grinding and alchemy, not to mention massive amounts of real currency, to be able to obtain these Seal of Nova and “Rare” items. Yet a person like me, who had barely played in the last year, was able to get those items using a brand new character that I hadn’t even been botting very much with. Case in point: I bought a level 101 “Rare” earring from a guy for 150k gold. That’s how flooded the market is with Seal of Nova and “rare” items; people will sell them for less than the price of a single star level 35-50 Dimension Hole.

Ruined though the economy may be, it was to my great advantage, especially since my character is a newly created one. I once again am reminded of my theory that the bad luck I used to have in SRO was due to some sort of invisible “luck” factor built into the game, one that is assigned to each character upon creation and never changes. Not that I really believe there is a hidden “luck” statistic, but I did play legitimately without botting from level 1 to 80 during cap 80 and it is true that I never once got an SOS drop or even a +5 drop. Yet, in the space of several days of light botting (not even 24/7), my character got these:

As though that wasn’t enough good luck, the new equipment exchange system is worth mentioning. I haven’t seen too much written about this yet, which surprises me because it strikes me as one of the biggest game-ruining updates ever implemented, dwarfed in imprudence perhaps only by the elimination of the triangular trade system. The idea of the exchange system is that if you have, say, a level 56 sword and you need a level 56 blade you can go to the Magic Pop NPC in any city and exchange the sword for a blade or any other Chinese weapon of equal level with randomized stats. You pay a small fee in gold for the exchange. The key phrase here is randomized stats. This isn’t random in the same sense that the alchemy success rate is “randomized” to never, ever work when you most need it to. No, it’s “randomized” in a good way. Say your sword has shit stats, no blues, and is +0. You might get a +5 blade with full blues and superb stats in exchange. All it’ll cost you is a very modest fee in gold. Here are some items I got today with my new character by exchanging equipment with no bonuses on them at all:

I don’t know if the best part about all this is

    a) that you can buy an item from the NPC and “exchange” it for a superior item of equivalent level or
    a) that you can “exchange” an item into something else and then “exchange” the resultant item back into the original type of equipment

The latter requires a teensy bit of elaboration. Let’s say you use blades and have a level 52 blade with garbage stats. You have no money or patience for alchemy to fix the stats on the blade. As long as you have at least a little bit of gold you can exchange it for some other weapon and then exchange that weapon back into a blade. There is a good chance the resulting blade will have better stats than it did when you started the process. If it doesn’t, you can just keep repeating this exchange loop, as it were, until you get a blade with stats that you can be satisfied with.

The fee is not enough to discourage gaming the system like this. I can’t remember the exact fees, but for low degree stuff the fee was only four digits. For the 8th degree staff it was around 250k or thereabouts. It’s highly affordable and less of a gamble than you might imagine. I didn’t go through the loop more than three times on any of those items, if I recall correctly.

Once again, this change to the game gives some instant gratification and I’ll even admit I did momentarily feel like posting a global chat message proclaiming my overflowing love for Joymax when I realised how I could take advantage of it, but, just like the White Day event, it takes one of the meaningful challenges out of the game while leaving untouched the most injurious of the game’s many flaws which is the amount of time it takes to level up. Planning ahead was one of the things that made SRO great. You could never be certain that you’d be able to find equipment mid-degree. By this I mean that, while you could always be sure in the knowledge that, in a pinch, you could buy NPC equipment, you couldn’t buy equipment after the first item for each degree from NPCs. So if you were level 52, you needed to start thinking about buying your level 56 and 60 weapons because, though you could buy the level 52 weapon from the NPC, you had to buy the latter two from actual human players via a stall or direct exchange. The same was true for equipment. The stall network made it easier to find the second and third tier items for each degree but didn’t actually do anything to reduce the scarcity of them. The exchange system, on the other hand, actually reduces that scarcity and makes it easy to create out of thin air equipment that cannot be purchased from the NPCs. This reduces the importance of long term planning and will surely precipitate a sharp fall in the prices of most non-SoX equipment and perhaps even elixirs.

Having said that, I should really quit biting the hand that feeds me. I will exploit the exchange system to the fullest. It’s not a bug, so I can’t be banned for it. I just can’t help but wonder if Joymax realised when they implemented it how generous they were being.

The most incredible episode in my series of good luck, however, must be the following:

I’m telling the truth when I say that I only started playing again in mid-March. I went to the Forgotten World a total of three times since I started playing and, as is my wont, only went to the first treasure box. I got Spell Paper on my first run, Red Tears on the second, and Elder Staff on the third. I’m now in the peculiar situation of having the two most sought-after talismans but nonetheless being unable to finish the quest for lack of a Puppet, which is not all that rare of a talisman. Yet in the entire stall network there has not been a single puppet since this morning, when I got the Elder Staff. I suppose I’ll just try to get one myself since I’m only level 56 and have no need to finish the quest just yet. I can’t wait to one-hit mobs in DW stone cave with my SoSun staff!

I tried Silkroad-R today…

...and got this in the White Day event!

It was my first day playing SRO since last autumn and I didn’t even know what Silkroad-R was. Now I do. Since I’ve only played it for a few hours so far, I’m unable to conclusively say what I think of the new system yet. It’s weird getting stacks of 500 potions. I used to have to do gross estimates in my head every time I would restock on pots, trying to estimate how many inventory spots I would need to leave empty in anticipation of elixirs, alchemy materials, and, if I was lucky, equipment drops. Now I don’t have to do that. Pots take up 3 spots: one for HP potions, MP potions, and universal pills.

On the positive side, you get a free SOS equipment set every time you reach the next degree (eg. 8->16->24->32->42->52, etc…). This is nice, I suppose, especially for someone with bad luck at getting SOS drops. On the other hand, it takes all the luck out of the game. In normal SRO even killing thousands of Niya snipers has a tiny degree of suspense because you never know if a piece of equipment will drop. In the back of your mind you even maintain hope that maybe today will be the day you’ll get a SoX drop. Nearly all chance is taken out of the equation though without equipment or even gold drops in SRO-R prior to level 70.

But the reason I’m so excited is not because of SRO-R actually. In fact, I was going to play normal SRO today but I can’t get the client to update properly. Shortly after starting SRO-R I got these two White Day event items. On my very first try I got the above SOM garment chest piece. My first thought, of course, was that I had stumbled across some bug and that now I was going to be banned for “abusing” it. My second thought was something along the lines of, “Holy hell, this is one uncharacteristically magnanimous event if all the rewards are like this!” But no, apparently I’m just the luckiest noob on earth.

I’ve cashed in two sets of heart-shaped event items now. The first was a grand triumph. The second time I got a cookie that restores 25% HP and MP. The value differential between the first and second prizes is just staggering. So for all my complaining about there being no element of chance in SRO-R, it looks like it’s the events that are going to restore the premium on luck. That and presumably alchemy. I suppose that’s still all about luck, too.

I hope I can get a GDF. Those are worth barrels of money now.