One of the biggest drawbacks of the NES Model 2, or the "Toploader," is its lack of AV out. Being tethered to coaxial output these days seems almost barbaric, especially since the Model 1 Nintendo has it standard! Thanks to the wonders of the internet, and a neat little circuit board, I fixed that issue in short order.
As a bonus, I did some repair to my GBA SP, which warrants some attention in case any would be handymen decided to undertake the job themselves.
First, let's talk parts. I bought my NES AV mod board from http://www.retrofixes.com/
, and aside from a small shipping error, everything got there pretty safe and sound. The board seemed sturdy, and the soldering was done quite well. It came shipped with a cheap cut of an old IDE cable, which needed to be cut separate. The instructions were housed on the RetroFixes website, and were pretty clear. They glossed over a few parts that may have been easier if I had know what to expect ahead of time.
I picked up a new GBA Shell and screen protector off of some random Chinese seller on Ebay. It came with hinges and was pretty cheap, so I'm not complaining...even if the whole ad was poor in grammar. Besides, it is a Pikachu! Who doesn't think this is the cutest!
Now onto the mods! Step one is disassembling the NES down to the circuit board. You have to solder to two of the chips on the main board and to a resistor for some power. This was WAYYYY more finicky that it sounds.
...it was so finicky that I broke a pin off the video chip! I had to use a rotary tool to grind away some of the chip to expose the metal. This was easily the least fun part of this mod, and assuming you take more time than I did, it shouldn't be a problem.
If you decide to do this mod, your circuit board should look way cleaner than mine. I'm not even sure how I screwed it up this bad. You should really keep your wires clean and neatly wrapped up, unlike this. A big plus for the board is that it screws in place, making it feel much more stable in the case than most mod boards.
Make sure to "measure twice and cut once" when drilling the holes in the case for the AV plugs. I messed up drilling the socket for the red plug, and had to fill it with some plumbers epoxy...then drill a new hole.
I added a power LED mounted underneath the switch, as a means to tell when the power is on. It looks pretty clean overall, and was one of the few parts of the mod I did not totally botch (you can see it in the title picture).
Now onto the GBA SP case mod. I bought my AGS-101 at TooManyGames last year for around 30$. It came with everything except a charger (even the box, which was pretty rad!) and I decided to pick it up despite a few cosmetic issues.
Taking the SP apart was a pretty simple task, especially with the included screw drivers. I HIGHLY recommend following a Youtube guide before doing this yourself, as there are a few hidden screws and a tightly packed ribbon cable.
Other than that awful ribbon cable, the case went on like a dream. It feels just as nice as a OEM case. The screen cover replacement was a bit scarrier, especially with the instructions being, "Pull the old one off." It seemed odd, and was a bit hard to center, but calmer heads prevailed the day I did this mod.
So there you have it! Two mods successfully performed and all sorts of enjoyment ahead. My new Pikachu SP is already turning heads at conventions, and the NES has a clean, crisp picture that I can finally enjoy. Now all I need is some time to actually play some games...although you'll have to wait for the next blog post to hear about that one!
Until then, measure twice...cut once!