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How To Disable the NES CIC Lockout Chip.

I have been modifying consoles for many years and only now have I done one of the most common, simple, and useful mods there is: Disabling the NES lockout chip. If you have had issues with your NES constantly resetting when a game is inserted, you might want to consider doing this yourself. I hadn’t experienced this since I cleaned my 72 pin connector… at least until today. I was having issues using a Famicom to NES (60 pin to 72 pin) adapter with a Famicom Everdrive N8. It worked fine on one of my adapters but not on the other. The reason for this is that one of the adapter boards had a real CIC chip on it while the other adapter just tricks the CIC chip in your NES to allow imported games to run. In order to prevent any future issues, I decided to disable the CIC chip. Although this little mod has been covered hundreds of times on various sites, I am going to go over how to do it. Remember, this is for the front loader NES (toaster), not the top loader. This mod is not needed for the top loader. Things you will need:

  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Wire Cutters
  • Small piece of wire
  • Screw Driver

Take apart your NES. The chip you need to work on is located underneath the main board. My chip is labelled as 3193A. Your chip may have a different number. NES Disable CIC Lockout Chip WP_20140113_001 Now cut or desolder pin 4. I cut mine close to the board so I would have a little room to solder the ground wire to it. Try not to bend those capacitors too much! WP_20140113_014 Now jumper a wire from pin 4 to one of the ground pins (11-15). I used pin 13 because it is directly across from pin 4. WP_20140113_022 Test it before putting it back together completely. If you are still having issues with games not working, you may need to clean/fix your 72 pin connector or buy a new one ($6 to $8 on eBay). Anyway, that’s it! Enjoy your blink free NES.

Microsoft Xbox 360 Racing Wheel on Xbox One

I have been a pretty big Forza Motorsports fan since the original game on the Xbox. I ended up buying a Microsoft racing wheel for the Xbox 360 a while back and have used it quite a bit since then. It was no surprise to me that the Xbox One would be unable to support last generation’s peripherals. While trying to figure out what options I had, I stumbled across an awesome little device called CronusMax. It basically allows you to use (almost any) controllers from current and last gen on (almost any) consoles from current and last gen. For instance, you can use a PlayStation 4 controller on an Xbox One or an Xbox One controller on an Xbox 360.

CronusMax doesn’t currently support racing wheels (although they said they would be working on that in the near future) but I found that it worked fine with my Microsoft racing wheel… well, almost fine. Aside from the lack of force feedback and rumble, there was a large deadzone in the wheel even after changing it to 0 in the Forza 5 controller options. After doing a small amount of research I found that I could change this pretty easily with the Gtuner scripting tool. Gtuner is the software you will need to get firmware updates and to mess with scripting and macros. Here is a short video of me showing that the wheel works on the Xbox One.

If you decide you want to order one of these, make sure you get the one that says “CronusMax” and not the older versions. I got mine on eBay for $49. If you don’t already have a racing wheel for the Xbox One you can buy a Microsoft Xbox 360 Racing Wheel for $50-$70 on eBay.  You will also need a Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for PC which are around $15. That is a pretty good deal considering the only current option is a poorly rated wheel that costs $400.

*The information below has been updated on 7/15/14*

Racing wheels are not “officially” supported yet. The Following wheels have been tested and work without Force Feedback:

  • Microsoft Racing Wheel ($60) eBay / Amazon
  • Microsoft Wireless Speed Wheel ($30) eBay / Amazon
  • Fanatec Turbo 911 S Racing Wheel ($200) eBay / Not available on Amazon

Thanks to Steve Rand and Doc 187 XL for testing their wheels and submitting their results.

The majority of the last gen wheels should work but I would still like to make a complete list of tested wheels. If you would like to contribute, please test out your wheel and post your results in the comments.

At this point there are multiple scripts to choose from. Try a few different scripts and see which one works best for you and your wheel.

If you want more information on the product, check out cronusmax.com.

How to Play Imported Games on Your Nintendo 64

As you may already know, Japanese Nintendo 64 games don’t properly fit into US N64s and PAL games will not display correctly. In order to play them you can do one of three things:

  • Take the game apart (Japanese games only)
  • Modify your system to accept Japanese games (Japanese games only)
  • Buy an adapter (All games)

Taking the Game Apart (For Japanese games only)

Assuming you have the 3.8 mm security bit, you can just take apart the game and stick the circuit board in your N64. I don’t recommend doing this too often as you might wear down the screw, shell, and eventually destroy the board.

Modifying Your System (For Japanese games only)

You will need a 4.5 mm security bit in order to open the console. To modify your system, you need to cut out the plastic that blocks the imported games from fitting. It is pretty straightforward. You can use a dremel, a sharp razor blade (might take a while), or just drill out those sections with a large drill bit. The following picture was from a system I RGB modded a few weeks ago. It looks like the original owner drilled them out. I ended up cleaning it up before I sold the system but you get the idea.

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It may not come out pretty but if you don’t want to spend any money then this is definitely the way to go.

Buying An Adapter (For all games)

I prefer buying the adapter for a couple of reasons. First, you don’t have to alter your console. Second, some adapters have cheat codes built in along with the ability to play PAL games on your NTSC system (or vice versa). My favorite adapter (also the cheapest when I last looked) is currently the Nintendo 64 Passport Plus 3. It does all of these things. You can get them for around $30 on eBay.

N64 Passport Plus III Front N64 Passport Plus III

Once you decide the method you prefer, check out the Japanese Bomberman 64. Have fun!

Broken Nintendo 64 Controller Joystick Repair/Replace

Thanks to Mario Party and a few other joystick destroying games, the joystick on your N64 controller may be completely messed up. If so, you have a few options. You can buy a new/used controller with a working joystick, buy a joystick replacement for your broken controller, or you can attempt to fix your broken/loose joystick.

Buying a Controller

There is not much to say other than to make sure you buy an original controller and make sure the seller states that the joystick is working (or is stiff, not loose, etc.). A lot of these have had joystick replacements so if you want one with an original joystick make sure you ask about that too. They run from about fifteen to twenty-five dollars on Ebay.

Joystick Replacement

Replacing the joystick on the controller is very easy to do. The replacements are around eight to ten dollars on Ebay. These replacements feel fine to me. If you have an original controller with an untouched joystick in one hand and an original controller with a replaced joystick in the other then you might feel a tiny difference. If you are a hardcore Nintendo 64 player and want the joystick to feel exactly how a new original controller would feel, then you should probably buy an original controller with a perfect joystick.

Fixing Your Joystick

This can be a bit of work depending on how bad your joystick is. Since you need to let epoxy fully dry, it can take a few days to complete. If you don’t already have most of these items, it is actually cheaper (and faster) to just buy a replacement joystick.

Once you take your controller and joystick apart, try to remember how everything goes together or take a quick picture.

Nintendo 64 Broken Joystick

Nintendo 64 Broken Joystick

Depending on how bad your joystick is, you might notice white dust everywhere. The majority of that is from the white bowl with the two gears on it. When the stick rubs around in there it wears it down quite a bit. The thicker the dust, the worse shape your joystick is in.

Nintendo 64 Broken Joystick Bowl with Gears

If there is a significant amount of dust, the worn part of the bowl will need to be filled in with epoxy. The easiest way to do this is to poke or dremel a hole through the center of it and put a little bit of epoxy in the bowl. Put too little and the spring will be loose, put too much and the black piece with the gear won’t be able to swing freely. Try to use that black piece as a gauge on how much you need before doing it. If you put too much, try to get it out before it hardens. Tape this piece to the corner of a table or book to help the epoxy dry flat.

Nintendo 64 Broken Joystick Bowl Poked Hole

Nintendo 64 Broken Joystick Poked Hole Bottom

Nintendo 64 Broken Joystick Bowl Filled with Epoxy

Now that you have put epoxy in the bowl (I put way too much in), and taped it to a corner so the bowl is flat, let it sit overnight.

In order to put the now epoxy filled bowl back in the joystick when it dries, you will have to cut or dremel the center nub on the light grey piece.

Broken Nintendo 64 Controller Piece

Now for the swivel pieces with the gear on them. If yours are not worn or have little wear, I would just leave them be. If they are really worn down then put some epoxy where they are worn. It is a good idea to score the section that is worn with a razor blade before putting the epoxy on. Once you do this to both pieces let them sit overnight.

Nintendo 64 Broken Joystick Loose Swivle Pieces with Gears

Nintendo 64 Broken Joystick Loose Swivle Pieces with Epoxy

After everything has dried, use a razor blade or the dremel (recommended) to shape the swivel pieces into its original shape (or close to it). It is much easier with a dremel. There needs to be enough room for the stick to go through them. If it is close, don’t force it. Just keep cutting away at the epoxy. Trying to make it a tight fit is extremely hard so make sure the stick can easily go into them.

Once you shape the swivel pieces, make sure the large swivel piece can swing freely in the bowl without hitting the epoxy. If it hits it, you need to sand down the epoxy in the bowl or use a dremel. I used the dremel to make the epoxy more bowl shaped.

Broken Nintendo 64 Controller Fixed Pieces

Once it all looks good, put it together to test it. It will feel rough but if it isn’t loose, go ahead and take it apart again and put some of the white lithium grease in there. Make sure that every piece that will be rubbing against another piece has some of the grease spread on it.

Now put it all back together and enjoy some Mario Kart!

Nintendo 64 RGB Mod

If you don’t already have an RGB modded Nintendo 64, you are missing out. I’ve done a few of these so I figured I’d write out a little guide (even though there are a bunch of guides in various forums).

Before attempting this mod, make sure your board has the chip VDC-NUS or VDC-NUS-A (Usually US N64 with serial numbers between NS100000000 and  NS168000000). If you don’t have the proper N64, I have a had a lot of luck buying broken N64s on eBay. Most of the time there is nothing wrong with them. When there is something wrong it’s usually minor. So far, they have just been very dirty or needed the controller ports resoldered.

You can buy a pre-soldered N64 RGB kit from our store (currently US residents only) or buy the following parts individually on eBay:

The Nintendo 64 produces RGB signals that get combined into a composite signal. What you do in this mod is pull the RGB video signals from the board, amplify it, and output it to the video connector. From there you can use a US SNES SCART cable connected to a SCART to HDMI converter or a SCART to Component converter. It is a pretty easy mod. Thanks to whoever figured it out!

First you need to wire up the RGB amp just like I did in the picture. The red wire goes to +5 and the green wire goes to ground. The other wires are RGB from top to bottom. The resistor side goes out to the connector and the other side goes to the board.

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Now you need to connect it to these points:

Nintendo 64 RGB Mod Points

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That’s it! Enjoy your RGB N64!

Sega Game Gear RGB, Composite, S-Video Out Mod with LCD Upgrade

So there I was, scouring YouTube for cool retro game mods, when I stumbled upon a guy who had upgraded the LCD in his Game Gear. He was running full screen games on it and I thought it looked amazing! Then I saw his Game Gear outputting video to his TV. “Holy crap!”, I thought. I couldn’t wait to start buying all of the parts to do it myself. I kept looking for links or comments on how to do it. Nothing. The previous commenters were begging for some guidance but the modder never responded to anyone. This annoyed the hell out of me so I went on a mission to figure it out and write this guide.

First of all, you are not going to be able to get full screen video from Game Gear games through composite, RGB, or S-video. This means that an upgraded 3.5″ LCD screen (composite) will not display Game Gear games in full screen. You can, however, run full screen Master System games to all video outputs (which is what that modder showed on YouTube) assuming you have the SMS converter for the Game Gear. Check out my YouTube video if you want to see how it will turn out.

This guide is assuming you have already replaced the capacitors in your Game Gear. If you have not, read this guide first.

Part 1 – GGTV Board

In order to get video out of the Game Gear and/or upgrade the LCD you need a GGTV board. The Game Gear TV out project has been in the works since the early 2000s. There were a bunch of people involved in this but, from what I gather, the main contributors were Victor Kemp, Xavier, and eviltim (Tim Worthington). These guys did all of the hard work for us making this mod pretty straightforward.

You have two options: you can build the board or buy the board. Both of these links take you to to eviltim’s site. He sells them directly. I recommend you buy the board as it will be much cleaner and will be the most up to date design.

I’m not going to go over the installation of this board as it is covered in those links but here are a few notes…

  • On Tim’s page where he says “It’s important to keep the PIXEL CLOCK wire as far away from all the other wires as possible,” he means it. Do everything you can to keep this wire away from the other wires. If you have Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, use it as your test game. While all other games ran fine, this one had all kinds of issues until I moved that wire farther away. In the end I even smothered it in hot glue hoping to help isolate it.
  • I ran H-Sync off of the chip because it was easier for me to solder.
  • I hot glued most of the smaller soldering points after soldering it.

Part 2 – Video Out

Most of the Game Gears I saw that had the video out mod had DB-9 connectors, RCA jacks, and S-Video connectors popping out all over the place. I didn’t like the way it looked so I chose to use the Ext. port instead. Doing it this way renders the port useless for any multiplayer gaming (the last multiplayer game I played on my Game Gear was… never!). I think using the Ext. port is the easiest method and looks the best. You will need a link cable or a SMS 2 player adapter cable if using this method.

– Extension Port Method for Video Out

The first thing you need to do is to take your link cable and cut it in half. If using the SMS 2 player adapter cable, you can cut the DB-9 end off or connect another cable with a DB-9 female connecter and cut that cable instead (the shorter the cable, the better the video will look). I didn’t want to destroy my 2 player cable so I used an old cable with a DB-9 connector to cut.

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Once the cable is cut, connect it to the Game Gear, strip the wires at the end, and check continuity from the following points on the Game Gear to determine what wires you want to use. Ground will remain as ground in your cable.

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - Ext Port Solder Points

If you want to run RGB (SCART) out then you will need 5 wires plus a ground. Composite out will only need 1 wire and a ground. S-Video out requires 2 wires and a ground. I recommend getting audio out externally (through the headphone jack) as it is prone to hum if it’s too close to the video signals and will leave you more room inside the Game Gear. For my project I wanted RGB out and S-Video out while using composite for the LCD upgrade.

Once you have decided what wire will be what (it is a good idea to write it down), you will need to cut these traces on the Game Gear board (this is what disables any multiplayer capability).

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - CUT TRACES 1

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - CUT TRACES 2

Now solder the wires internally from the points you chose to the GGTV board while keeping in mind the routing of them to ensure proper case closure. RGB needs R, G, B (I highly recommend you use shielded wire for R,G, and B), C-Sync, and +5 VDC. S-Video Needs Chroma and Luma connected. It is a good idea to cut the video wires the same length. I had to go back and use shielded video cable for the internal R, G, and B wires because it looked awful without it. I ran the unshielded S-Video wire (I ran out of room for more shielded wire) around the outside hoping to avoid most of the interference from the board.

If you don’t like the idea of losing functionality of the Ext. port then you will have to buy the connector of your choice, drill/cut a spot for it in your Game Gear, and hook it up to your GGTV board.

Okay. The Game Gear itself is ready to output video. Now you just need the proper connector on the other end of your cable. Some TVs support RGB through male RCA jacks. Most do not. You will most likely need a SCART connecter/cable. If you live in a country where SCART isn’t a standard you will also need a SCART to HDMI or SCART to Component Converter. A SCART connector requires a 220uF capacitor on the pin 20 (C-Sync). R is pin 15, G is pin 11, B is pin 7, and pin 21 is the actual connector so use it as your ground. You will also need a 180 ohm resistor between pins 8 and 16 with +5 VDC going to pin 8.

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - SCART PIN OUT

Test your video out before moving on.

Part 3 – LCD Upgrade

Some may not consider this an upgrade, as you are getting a smaller picture on it for Game Gear games, but if your LCD is ruined or looks awful then you don’t have much of a choice. I actually prefer the smaller, more vibrant screen over the original, washed out screen. If you plan on using mainly Sega Master System games on it then an upgraded LCD is a must have. Anyway, if you are doing the LCD upgrade then read on. If not, congratulations! You are finished!

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I’m going to make this super easy for you. Buy your favorite 3.5″ LCD. This is currently my favorite (shown above). Power it by using the unregulated voltage point on the GGTV board , ground it to the GGTV board, and run the composite wire (I used shielded cable) to the GGTV board. The following picture shows the points I’m talking about (your board should be in your Game Gear at this point). Now test it. Yes, it was that easy!

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - LCD Wiring

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If it worked fine then go ahead and grab your razor blade or X-Acto knife. I had to cut/trim these points to make it fit properly:

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - CUT HERE

Once you see that it fits it is a good idea to run a game with colored borders to center it perfectly. Again, Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble is what I used. If you plan on using mainly Sega Master System games then run a SMS game for this part. They run closer to the right side of the screen for some reason. Anyway, grab your hot glue gun, center it up, and glue it sparingly. Large globs of glue will cause the board to not fit properly. I kept the game and LCD on while gluing it so I could make minor adjustments as the glue dried.

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - LCD SCREENSHOT

Now make sure it all works. Check video out, LCD, sound, etc. Put it back together (I had to cut some glue away for the case to close properly). Test it again before screwing it together.

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If it works, pat yourself on the back. You did it! Now go brag to your friends and make YouTube videos showing how awesome you are.

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If you are overwhelmed by this mod but still want it done, contact me for pricing and options.

We will NOT be doing these on commission anymore. They will be sold directly through the store from time to time. If you are interested in purchasing one, like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter. Updates will be posted there with more information on when they will be available.

Nintendo 64 Repair

We all know that the Nintendo 64 is a tank. My friend spilled soda inside of mine as a kid while it was powered on and it has been working fine to this day. I never even cleaned it out until I did the RGB Mod on it. That being said, there have been a few problems in other N64s that I have come across.

Obvious Things
Before getting too deep into this, make sure you have checked all of the obvious things. Make sure the Power is plugged in, A/V cable is plugged in, Jumper Pak is in, game is in, correct TV input is selected, etc.

Power Problem
If your console is not powering up at all it is most likely a power supply problem. Try to borrow a working power supply from one of your friends to see if it is your console or the power supply. If you can’t test it, or have determined the power supply to be the problem, there are three fuses in it that you can check.

N64 Power Supply F1 N64 Power Supply F101 F102

If these fuses all check out okay you can try replacing all of the caps on it but I would just buy a new one at this point.

One or More Controller Ports Do Not Work
This is an easy one if you have a soldering iron. Cold solder joints are usually the problem. With all of the plugging and unplugging of the controllers, stress is put on the solder joints which may cause them to break from the board. All you need to do is take apart the N64 and re-solder the controller port to the board.

N64 Controller Port Solder Joints

Games Don’t Work or Work Intermittently
I have not run into a Nintendo 64 that still had this problem after a good cleaning. First, clean the connector on the game cartridge with alcohol and a Q-Tip then use an air duster in the cartridge slot on the N64. If it still has problems, take apart the N64 and just go to town with rubbing alcohol and Q-Tips. You can remove the cartridge connector completely (it pulls right off once the console is apart) and really clean all of that grime out of there. If this doesn’t work there is most likely a problem with the motherboard. At this point, I would just buy a replacement Nintendo 64.

That’s it for now. I’ll update this post as I find new problems/fixes.