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EXTREMELY Short Battery Life Problem w Nintendo Game & W

 
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kobuntaku
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Joined: 03 Dec 2009
Last Visit: 31 Jul 2010
Posts: 9
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:33 pm    Post subject: EXTREMELY Short Battery Life Problem w Nintendo Game & W Reply with quote

Hi all,

I bought a Donkey Kong Jr Panorama Screen G&W like 2-3 years ago on eBay, game only, no box, not really beat up, the sound didn't work, but it was generally in pretty good shape when I got it. I kept my G&Ws hidden away for the longest time without batteries in them (mainly due to the fact that in the store they're like $5 for one) but recently I started collecting them again and decided it was time to stop storing them in my desk drawer. I found a really awesome wholesaler of batteries on eBay & bought enough strips of Maxell batteries to power all 23 I have now.

Now, every single G&W save for like 2 that I've bought recently, has a set of Maxell batteries in it, and they've all been working properly for 2-3 months since I decided to display them. I went to put my DK Jr. on display and I noticed that the vines in the upper-leftmost corner were very dim, as well as a platform toward the middle & Donkey Kong, during 2 of his 3 frames of "animation" when he raises his arm with the lock on it, also visibly fades. I thought that there was something wrong with the LCD, but there was no visible damage, the light filter/screen was unblocked, etc. I kinda gently tapped it a little bit, reseated the batteries, etc, nothing.

Then I replaced the batteries, thinking that maybe the wholesaler had them sitting for a while and maybe they began to lose their charge. Bingo, the LCD came back clear as day! In that "test pattern" that shows every portion of the LCD when you first put the batteries in, everything showed perfectly. So two days or so later, I notice that the same parts of the screen are dimming again... Again, I play with it to try & get it back to normal, because, "There's no way that batteries can die in 2 days?!" So on the off-chance that it was the batteries, I put another fresh pair in... another 2-3 days passed, and as of last night they were dying... again. So, just to ensure once & for all that this is indeed the problem, I put in some other brand of batteries I had gotten recently with a Tropical Fish game I had bought on eBay, that the seller kicked in for free. Sure enough, again, the LCD lit up brilliantly. Now, I'm already starting to notice fading in those same spots, and it's been around 24 hours since I put the 3rd pair in.

Has anyone run into this problem before? (And not even necessarily with a G&W, with anything that takes batteries that has had this problem) Googling the problem brings up everything from "a broken circuit", to "psychic phenomena" about people draining watch batteries with their body's electrical field, cell phone batteries, ipods, etc, i.e. - nothing useful. I really love the Panorama Screen games because they're so colorful, (I have Snoopy, too & a Tabletop Mario's Cement Factory) but it's super impractical to keep throwing batteries into this thing every 2 days or so. And I'm hesitant to take it apart because I don't really know what I'm looking for that could be broken (and moreover that I could even fix if I did identify the problem). Anyway, thanks in advance for any advice anyone can provide.
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Rik
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Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Last Visit: 28 Jul 2014
Posts: 1724
Location: California

PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:09 am    Post subject: Re: EXTREMELY Short Battery Life Problem w Nintendo Game &am Reply with quote

kobuntaku wrote:
Googling the problem brings up everything from "a broken circuit", to "psychic phenomena" about people draining watch batteries with their body's electrical field


Heh, I love the psychic phenomena explanation... Figures you found that on the internet... Try wearing a hat made of foil, that'll probably solve it!

Seriously though, you have other Panorama games? They don't do this? If that's the case, I'm going to have to lean toward some kind of circuit problem. Basically, the batteries are probably being shorted somewhere in the circuit which is causing them to drain extremely fast. Do the batteries get warm at all?

As for fixing it, there really isn't much in these games. You will find a microchip and maybe a capacitor and a resistor... Not much else. Best you could do is look for anything shorting (like an extra blob of solder on the circuit board or something), or maybe replace the little caps/resistors and pray... It could be some tiny defect that you'd never be able to find though.

If you are really crafty, you could rig up a power supply that connects to the battery terminals to run them off AC power. You could probably run all of your games off one adapter and never worry about batteries again! I recently did this with my larger games (all the Coleco arcades and similar games from other manufacturers). I can now run 14 games off one power supply. Much easier (and cheaper) than buying batteries all the time! (I display the games at game conventions for people to play, so they sit turned on all most of the day...)

Rik
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kobuntaku
Tomy Blip


Joined: 03 Dec 2009
Last Visit: 31 Jul 2010
Posts: 9
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:52 am    Post subject: EXTREMELY Short Battery Life Problem w Nintendo Game & W Reply with quote

Yes, they are surprisingly bare inside. The only real surprise was the chip inside, I didn't expect a chip, really. I've taken apart Tiger-made games before (granted, a long time ago, so I might not be remembering correctly) and I don't remember anything more than a board, LCD screen, background & speaker.

At any rate, yeah, I have a Snoopy Panorama that is absolutely fine. As well, the other 20-something games I have all work without doing anything like that. Your explanation about the batteries being drained because of a malfunctioning circuit was actually my first guess, but I don't know that much about electronics, so I wasn't about to rely on my own judgment. (Which is why I posted this in the first place) The batteries don't get warm.

I did wind up taking it apart last night & there was some incidental dirt on the board for the controls. I also found a capacitor with rust/oxidization & a little corrosion on one of the connections. Which, I think might be the problem. (Especially now that I Googled "capacitor" & confirmed that my educated guess that it was a capacitor, was correct, lol) The connection doesn't seem to be broken, but I didn't really look that closely, as I didn't want to worsen the problem by accidentally knocking it off or something by probing it.

I think part of the problem of the dimming on the screen might've been due to the LCD, too. I took that portion apart as well, and after reseating the guts of the screen portion, the parts that were dim before are mostly no longer dim. There is a part in the center that is still dim, however. The way the LCD sits in/on the ribbon cable, I can almost see how the connections wouldn't be that solid.

How did you manage to connect all of your games to an AC adapter? I'd love to know, because that sounds like an excellent idea. (I thought of getting little solar panels and connecting them to the terminals, once. But AC power sounds a lot better) Anyway, I'd love to know.
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Rik
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:41 pm    Post subject: Re: EXTREMELY Short Battery Life Problem w Nintendo Game &am Reply with quote

kobuntaku wrote:
Yes, they are surprisingly bare inside. The only real surprise was the chip inside, I didn't expect a chip, really. I've taken apart Tiger-made games before (granted, a long time ago, so I might not be remembering correctly) and I don't remember anything more than a board, LCD screen, background & speaker.


Actually, the chip was probably under the LCD... It's there somewhere. Might just look like a blob of black stuff instead of a chip

kobuntaku wrote:
I also found a capacitor with rust/oxidization & a little corrosion on one of the connections.


That might be a good place to start... The best solution would be to find a new cap and replace it... At the least remove and re-solder it, removing all the corrosion.

kobuntaku wrote:
How did you manage to connect all of your games to an AC adapter? I'd love to know, because that sounds like an excellent idea. (I thought of getting little solar panels and connecting them to the terminals, once. But AC power sounds a lot better) Anyway, I'd love to know.


Well, in my case most of the games have AC adapter ports already (being the larger VFD games that take C-cell batteries). The few that didn't (Coleco arcades) I opened up and added ports to them that hang out on little wires. I then bought a 6-volt AC adapter that was about 20 times more powerful than the 'Coleco Battery Eliminator' (I think instead of a 100mw adapter, it's a 2w or something). I figure if 100mw is needed for one game, obviously I'd need 100mw x number of games powered, and I was planning for 14-15 games. I bought a bunch of AC adapter plugs, extended the wire from the AC adapter to about 15 feet and soldered a plug into the wire about every foot or so. Now I can line up all my games a foot or two apart and connect them all to one plug.

Doing this to little games like G&W would be a little trickier, but possible. First question- would you want to open them and solder a little wire to each one? Then you can add a little AC adapter port (which could be removed to 'restore' them to original condition). If you don't want to do this, you'd have to get little clips to connect to the battery terminals and wire them up all up to a single AC adapter. You could also try building something that same size/shape as the batteries that you can connect the wires to (kind of like the Coleco adapter with it's fake C-cell batteries).

Do you play with the games a lot, or just like them displayed powered on? If it's just for display, any of those techniques would probably work.

You mentioned solar (neat idea, BTW), whatever you would do to connect the solar panel to the game would work for AC, just connect to an adapter instead of solar panel.

For an adapter, you obviously want a 3-volt adapter, and it wouldn't need to be powerful (100mw wold probably power all of the games... There can't be much coming out of a watch battery).

Test all of this on a game you don't care about first if you try it, just in case...

Rik
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kobuntaku
Tomy Blip


Joined: 03 Dec 2009
Last Visit: 31 Jul 2010
Posts: 9
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it looks like if I want to solve this problem completely, I may need to buy the Tabletop version of DK Jr or something. (or another Panorama) I noticed certain portions - one horizontal line really - of the LCD were dim (I've uploaded pictures of it without the color overlay, so it's very distinct looking). I remembered when I took it apart the other night that there was a small chip in one of the screens - on the side. When I took it apart this time, I looked, and lo and behold, there was a small chip that semi-eroded into part of the line on the outer edge of the LCD.

Although it seems to get slightly better when I put new batteries in, perhaps that is the problem, and maybe the problem with the battery getting drained as well... If it's "working harder" to supply power to the damaged portion of the LCD... I've also taken a snap of the capacitor. Looking closer up in the photo, I don't necessarily know if it was corroded after all...

It's just as well, like I said, the sound doesn't work, now there's this & the dimness issue... Anyway, here are the images:





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