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Sega Game Gear Repair & Restoration

May 18, 2013

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Nintendo has better games. Sega has better graphics. I remember arguing about this on the playground as a kid anytime someone was seen trading games or playing on their handheld. I would always wave the Nintendo flag in these heated debates. Although I’m still a Nintendo fan boy at heart, there is a secret I’ve been keeping to myself for almost twenty years… I have always wanted a Game Gear (along with every other Sega console).

A friend of mine recently acquired a broken Game Gear and successfully fixed it by replacing all of the capacitors. Knowing that they are somewhat of an easy fix, I then searched eBay for a broken one. For $30 I got a broken Game Gear in a bundle that included six games, an AC adapter, a screen magnifier, a case, and a Game Genie. The screen was a little scratched, but that can be buffed out (to a point). Overall, it was a great start to my new Game Gear collection.

Here is what you’ll need for replacing capacitors:

Here is what you’ll need for buffing the screen:

  • Meguiar’s PlastX Clear Plastic Cleaner & Polish – $6-8 (Amazon, Walmart, Auto Shop)
  • A microfiber cloth

Removing the capacitors takes longer than soldering in the new ones. This is especially true if the capacitors leaked which causes the pads to become corroded. In these cases, I just kept scraping away until I could see solder, then I applied high heat along with some new solder just to get as much of it melted as I could before using the solder sucker.

 After Capacitor Replacement

For the main board, you can try to desolder the capacitors, or wiggle it back and forth until the legs break off, then try to clean it up and desolder the legs. There is plenty of room to work with on the main board — but you should still try to bend the new capacitors legs in a way that they rest similar to the old ones.

The power board is easy and shouldn’t cause any problems. This is the only through-hole board in the Game Gear.

Audio Board Before New Capacitors Audio Board After New Capacitors

The audio board is the hardest to work with. These capacitors need to be twisted back and forth until they break off from the legs. After cleaning the board and pads with rubbing alcohol you need to desolder the remaining legs. Once you are ready to solder the new capacitors you need be very careful on how you position them as this is a very tight spot once you put everything back together.

Now that you are finished soldering, it is  a good idea to give all the boards a good cleaning with rubbing alcohol. This will remove any remaining flux. Now would be a good time to test it (before putting it all back together). Just reconnect the wires and give it a try while making sure not to touch the board at all or short anything. If something is wrong, make sure you put the correct capacitor in each spot and make sure everything is soldered correctly with no bridging.

Now that you have seen/heard what the Game Gear is supposed to look/sound like, it is time to buff out those scratches. Sometimes these old consoles have been so mistreated that the inside of the screen protector is scratched or slimy. If you want buff out the inside of the protector you will have to remove the board from the screen side of the Game Gear and pop the screen protector out. The screen protector is attached with some sort of double sided tape and can be removed just by pushing from the inside.

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(Update 10/15/13) I have made a separate buffing guide that can be found here: Simple Plastic Screen Buffing for Light Scuffs and Scratches

Clean the screen protector with rubbing alcohol first. Once the screen is dry, apply a dot of PlastX to the microfiber cloth. Rub it into the screen in a circular motion with medium pressure. Doing this for about ten minutes while reapplying the PlastX every minute or so will remove any light scratches on the screen. Be careful not to rub too much, or too hard, on the part of the screen with the black border as it will eventually wear off and show a white primer. Unfortunately, medium to deep scratches may look better with this method but generally can’t be buffed out. If you still have a ton of noticeable scratches, you can buy an aftermarket faceplate on eBay for around $12.

Once you are happy with the results, it’s time to reattach the screen protector (if you ever removed it). Use a hair dryer on the tape for a minute or so then push the screen back in place and hold it.

Now would be a good time to put it all back together and enjoy your refurbished Game Gear. This is an impressive system and will be a great addition to anyone’s collection. After playing Sonic 2 on it, I was shocked at how it felt just as fast as the Genesis. I hate to say it, but the Game Boy is a slug compared to this beast.

If you would like your Game Gear restored or are looking for the complete system contact me for pricing. I may even be able to sell individual boards depending on my current stock.

2 Comments
  1. Mart ouwens permalink

    i have a question
    I replace al the calaptors but now when i turn the power on is starts for one second and tuns off ??
    what do you think could be the problem ?

    • This happened to me when one of the caps I had was bad. In order to isolate the bad one I had to replace each one until it worked. Start on the power board if you are going to do this.

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