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PSA - Be sure you know the quality of services you are paying for!!!

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I've got a Game Gear that was sent to me to get a new LCD upgrade installed. Normally as part of something like this and especially with Game Gears, I require that the console get new capacitors to be sure everything in regards to power where needed is clean and all worn out leaking caps are replaced. In the case of the Game Gear, it isn't an option really as they all need their caps replaced due to the poor quality of the capacitors made in the 90s.

So due to circumstances, the owner of this GG was having issues getting the screws removed from the console. They were required to open it to be sure which model main board they have so the correct LCD kit could be ordered. Well, they sent it to a 'tech' that offers Game Gear services on ebay and they were able to remove the stuck screws and also provided a recap of the console as well. For some reason, they weren't willing to install the upgraded LCD for the owner. The owner contacts me to ask if I'm willing to install the upgraded screen for them as the system has just been recapped and is working fully in stock condition at this time. I agreed to handle the request.

I receive the GG and then proceed to test it before doing anything to be sure everything appears to be working correctly. It was...mostly. I noticed that audio would sometimes seem to cut out and sounded more distorted than usual at louder volumes with this GG. So I opened it up and was not exactly prepared for what I found inside....


That is the audio board. I won't go into too much detail on this as I think the picture will say most of what needs to be said. But the main issues are two things here: 

1st, they use cheap no brand capacitors that in all fairness likely work just fine but for how long or how well I can't say.

2nd and worst issue is that no attempt was made to clean up the original pads and leaking electrolyte from the original capacitors or the flux that was used. You can see this with all the dark yellow to brown spots on the board. 

The fact that the caps are radial vs the SMD that was originally used isn't a huge deal but they could have tried to use smaller sized caps vs this mess. This required them to bend part of the metal shield for the cartridge port section for this to fit. 

I wish it ended there... but here is a pic of the left side of the main GG system board. Now to be honest, the soldering here is likely fine and again the caps are doing the job as the system is working. But the lack of any attempt to clean this up around the solder work is really lazy and will cause problems further down the line as even flux can be corrosive over time.


Last is that it doesn't appear that the actual power board for the console was even touched. I state this because the small plastic cover for the battery terminals for it was stuck fast and hadn't appeared to be have been removed before. Also, the solder joints and bottom portion of the PCB appears aged. Given the lack of cleaning on the spots they did work on, I would have expected some brown flux residue but nothing like that on the power board. Also, the caps on this board I'm pretty sure are factory and were a brand that Sega was using in the GGs back then.



I will likely redo that cap located at C1 on the bottom of the PCB because it is a bit off kilter. But again, that is factory work.

Well, in an attempt to make a point and see if I could correct the audio issues, I went ahead and redid the audio board with SMD caps of more exact spec that was used and it did correct the audio dropouts and distortion I was getting. Here is what the audio board looks like now cleaned up as best as I could...



So now the question is... should I just redo the capacitor work on this entire GG? It is working so I do plan to at least try and clean up the board more. That will also give me a better look on the solder joints that were done to see if anything looks weak or suspect. But I also feel bad for the owner as I don't know what they paid for this service and I don't need to know nor did I ask who did this.

Remember, you should always ask for references and pictures of work done in the past by any person you are reaching out to for services. If they aren't able to provide or offer, then you might want to look elsewhere so you can have a better idea on what you are paying for.


Edited by CrossBow

See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections


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17 minutes ago, OniDensetsu said:

Glad you got that mess cleaned up. Id redo the entire thing if my hands were on it. Cheers Crossbow!

That has been the general concensus from others I've shown this too as well. The problem is that recapping a GG is pretty time consuming. The parts is only like a $10 kit which comes to less than $1 per cap, but the time to remove the old, clean up the board well, and especially reinstall with careful forming of the leads so it all fits nice, is time consuming.

There is a quote already paid for that was only for the LCD installation, Wasn't planning to charge for the audio board as I had those as spares on hand that would work, but for a full recap and redoing what someone else already did, that will cost them extra. They would rather I just clean up the board and inspect the work for any loose joints and go from there. 

I mean, even if a few years down the line it starts to have issues, it can be recapped then in a more proper manner since at least the originals are gone and aren't going to cause problems now. It could be argued the owner would save money spending the extra to have me do it again and not worry about it. But then none of us can really offer any warranties anyway since we are dealing with 30+ year old stuff here and what works great today, could develop an all new unrelated issue tomorrow that couldn't be forseen. And while these caps are generic and not of a brand I know of, they could still do the business just fine for many years to come...

I have sent these pics and expressed my concerns to the owner before posting any of this online. Again, the current decision is to clean it up, and continue on.


See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections


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I understand the time = $ thing. I just say id redo the entire thing because once it leaves your hands any issues down the road will be blamed on the last person to work on it even if it wasn't there fault & someone else's shoddy work. Hopefully the client understands.
Eww what kinda caps are those that tech used Lol my god! It's like they recycles them from something else? idk. 

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The client does understand. The honest thing here is that the original quote for service of work would double if I end up recapping it and the client would rather push through. My other concern is that just undoing what has been done, could reveal loose or burnt off pads that would then require more additional work. 

There is a reason many of us usually charge extra compared to our normal fees when we have to go back over and redo someone elses work. It is because in  many instances, it ends up taking more time to do than it would have originally before it was even touched.

Like all systems I service, it will receive the standard 2+ hour burn in time before I box it back up and send it on its way. That is really the only thing I can do to verify functionality before it leaves my hands. This is how I've found issues with both a Sophia and an F18A boards I recently installed. They initially were working fine. But then 10 min later odd thins would start to occur. The F18A ended up needing to be sent back and had to be reflowed as apparently some of the SMD ICs had loose connections. The Sophia was working for a few days and survived for a half day burn in test. Then a Month later when I got back to that console, no output from the DVI at all but analog outputs were working. So that too has been sent back and a replacement on the way. No Idea why that Sophia suddenly stopped working a month later, but I'm glad I tested it again before calling it good.


See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections


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Thought you guys might like an update. I was able to clean up the crud a bit and get it looking a little better. Good thing I did as 2 solder joints weren't that great and came loose that I then removed the cap, cleaned up the pads a little better and then soldered back into place. So here is what that looks like now...


New LCD is working and looking pretty snazzy as well!



See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections


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