Original Post

Hey all,

Finally, after years of saving up, I got a virtual boy + stand.

Sadly right as it all came in the right lens is glitching up real bad, and I’m sure it’s the same problem everyone else has.

I saw a video on Youtube of a guy pressing down with a clover mini iron to fix it. Has anyone tried this? Is it generally safe for a novice?

Also I can’t seem to find the old homebrew device I remember seeing be made years ago. Is there a sub $120 option to get a homebrew mutlicart still?

Thanks in advance all!

9 Replies

There are only a couple of “real” options to fix the glitchy display problem, and both require some delicate soldering.

The heat method can work, but don’t count on it to be a permanent fix – in almost all cases the problem will come back. The heat method will also lose its effectiveness with repeated applications. If you are going to attempt this route, you can try to use some 3D printed brackets to hold everything in place and potentially make it last a little longer. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2884075

As far as homebrew goes, you’ll likely want a flash cart. As far as I know, there aren’t any options for one for less than $120, but you can keep an eye on places like eBay for one of the old Flashboy+’s. They pop up for sale from time to time. Otherwise, keep an eye on what user mellott124 is working on as he’s making the current flash carts for the system.

The soldering isn’t too bad IMO – I say that after I royally F’d up my first attempt years ago when having 0 soldering experience. I’ve done four sets of them now. The hardest part for me is peeling back the plastic layer of the ribbon cable to expose the flat wires. Some of them detach from the board and stick to the ribbon cable, so then you have to carefully peel them away from the tape so you can solder them back to the board. Some people may just touch the soldering iron to the ribbon cable without peeling it back – maybe that is the better way to do it, but I assume melted plastic would result.

Before I did it myself or knew of this site, I sent mine to a service through Ebay. The seller had a trade secret- but within months of getting it back it started glitching out again. So soldering is def the way to go for a permanent fix.

In the rare case we live around each other (I’m in San Jose currently), I’d do it for you no charge. Otherwise there are reputable people on this site who will do it for a fee.

Hrmm. That’s good information. Thanks. I might spring for the more expensive cart if only because who knows when another homebrew cart might be made.

When your messed up the first time did you have solder experience yet? I just don’t want to ruin the system all together. Sadly I have an autoimmune arthritis so my hands kind of suck. I might end up just giving it into a service honestly.

That’s a very kind offer of you. Unfortunately I’m in Toronto, Canada which I can assure you is not as warm or beautiful this time of year. 😅

I had practically no solder experience – The main problem was that I used plumbing flux (conductive) so even after my first attempt looked good, I kept getting garbled picture, so I re-went over it a few times until I lost a few terminating pads on the ribbon cable. Then it got all curled up and melted – It was bad. I ended up having to replace the whole ribbon cable with individual 30 AWG wires – which took many hours of soldering, but I actually enjoyed working on it. So if you follow along with a video and use the right flux, the chances of this happening to you are slim. Retro-modding and soldering are big hobbies of mine now. If you’re at all a DIY type, I’d recommend trying it out. Otherwise there is a list of good people on this site who will do it for you for about $10 or $20 I believe plus shipping.
I’ll be moving back to PA soon, so I know the weather you speak of!

  • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by mips5000.

@mips5000: I found that you can peel just the last few mms of plastic off sideways (“across the grain”, as it were), if you start it by making a tiny incision on the edge. The resulting tear will try to “ride down” toward the end of the cable, but you can compensate by peeling “up” (toward the body of the cable) as you go over. You also want the strip you’re peeling off to be as flat to the board as possible, or you can lift the wires, and it’s not fun trying to get them flattened back down. Once the ends of the wires are exposed, a fiberglass scratch brush and some isopropyl will get the glue and corrosion off, so you need very little added flux. (BTW, I used the plumbing kind, too, when I first started. It’s fine if you clean it very thoroughly with isopropyl when you’re done.)

That is good info – If I ever get my hands on another VB head unit I will try it. I didn’t clean the flux, so that is most likely why the screen was glitching out – Also didn’t have a multi-meter to check for shorts at the time. I’ve graduated to some harder mods like the NESRGB and most recently the Dreamcast DC Digital. I’m always looking for the next expert level mod to do – So if you know of any, please tell me.

I doubt I’ll come across another head unit in need of repair anytime soon. Is it just me or has everything skyrocketed in price? About 3 years ago I managed to get on ebay a complete unit w/ Blockbuster case and 3 CIB games: (Red-Alert, Mario Clash, Vertical Force) for $225. I remember when there were bundles of games being sold from mexico – like $20 for six games, Wario-Land included. Right now there are 85 watchers on a $425 empty BB case and 5 loose games. $300 for a VB Box only. I got a VB with box for about $300 only a few years ago.

I remember passing up two head-units for $80. I doubt we’ll ever see a deal go down like that again.

Hey sorry, I never get notifications when I get stuff on here.

I’m glad you’re enjoying the hobby. I’ve been knee-deep in solder all week trying to learn so I think I’ll be ready to do it myself soon. So excited.

Now I want to mod everything.

Too bad I’m not rich lmao.

Unfortunately, none of the homebrew fixes really last. I tried them myself, and would’ve been happy to go that route instead of designing the Virtual Ribbon. Sadly, there was no other option for a permanent repair.

I do have some older prototype boards set aside for very low income folks. I know what it’s like to have a super tight budget and I can help ya out if you need.

Whatever you do, DONT put your virtual boy in an oven or under a blow dryer/hot air though.


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