I owned a couple of Sega game gears when I was younger at different points in time. The games were excellent many were ports of Master System games and I remember being amazed at the idea of being able to play console games on a hand held.
However the battery life was terrible. 6 AA batteries were about a weeks pocked money in cost and they lasted about 2 hours of continuous game play so I soon got bored of hand held games as a kid. However I still feel nostalgia for Game Gear and spotted one on eBay fairly cheep because the buyer was generously honest that it was faulty.
This particular Game Gear had no sound and the screen was dull and distorted. I am aware this is a common fault on Game Gears and is usually caused simply by faulty electrolytic capacitors. Also the battery covers were missing and all of the buttons sticking.
So this is my new Game Gear, pretty good condition cosmetically.
The first thing to tackle was the missing battery covers. Easily solved I found a set on eBay for about £4. Ordered those and so first problem solved.
So the next issue was the dull screen. The screens were always a bit rubbish on those but this is really bad. Even in the dark you can only just make out the screen.
So I decided to tackle the repair but to get in side the device you need a special tool called a “Gamebit” which is a little sort of star shaped tool to remove the in the cartridge slot.
Then there are 6 normal philips head screws (two inside the battery compartments).
On opening up the game gear. I see I have a “Two ASIC” model which is one of the board revisions of the Game Gear. Literally this is because it has two ASIC chips (bottom right of the pic below).
In order to separate the cases you need to unplug the 3 cables. One to the sounds board, one to the power board and one to the speaker.
Once I got it open I realise that this is going to be a very fiddly repair and the components are all surface mounted and very small. I am going to be soldering with a magnifying glass and tweezers.
Next I decided to tackle the sticky buttons. This is just a matter of removing the main board from the front of the case with 6 screws around the outside of the board.
So the buttons had years of grease and much inside them. Removed and cleaned with a cotton wool buds and alcohol. Quick and easy and good as new.
Next was to tackle the problem with no sound. The sound board is located in the front of the case and easily identifiable as it has the ear phone and volume switches on it. There are 5 surface mounted caps on this board, and there is visible leaking and corrosion on the board. These are a pain to get off but the corrosion will make it even worse.
With the board removed, I added some solder to each joint and then sort of heated one side of the capacitor leg and sort of flicked it off with with my thumb nail.
It took a while to clean the leaked electrolytes off the board. I used isopropyl alcohol, vinegar and a fibre glass brush and it tool about 45 mins to clean the connections up to an acceptable level.
Ok now for soldering the new caps in to place. This is very fiddly. The replacement caps I have are not the same type and so I snipped the legs and bent them out to make it easier to surface mount them.
With all five caps replaced I reassembled the Game Gear to test and the sound worked perfectly. Very pleased as this was probably the hardest part of the the repair done. The caps on the main board are easier to get at.
On so on to the main board.
The caps on the main board are normal electrolytic caps in those little plastic shells that are glued to the board. Luckily the glue is very brittle and it broke with a little twist.
I worked around and removed all the caps and again cleaned off the residue from the corrosion. Again these are tiny and exceptionally fiddly.
With the old ones removed, some good flux makes it easier to clean the pads ready to apply the new solder and new caps.
So this is the game gear with all of the new caps in place. The replacement caps were in some cases much larger than the originals. It took a little time to position then so as not to obstruct the the case. Most importantly I needed to keep them clear of the spots as this is where the other half of the case makes contact.
All reassembled . . and bingo, clear sound and clear screen.
Just in case I need it again here is the capacitor list.