Almost everyone knows about Nintendo, buys their consoles, and/or plays their games. This also means that many people have experienced the disappointment of a seemingly undamaged gaming console falling hopelessly into a state of dysfunction. This dysfunctionality can often be characterized by temperamental or inconsistent boot up, distorted display, and faulty disk reading. If you count yourself among those unfortunate enough to encounter these errors on the Nintendo GameCube, don’t defenestrate that cube just yet. If your GameCube turns on but refuses to load any games, it is probably experiencing a rather common optical drive error which can be corrected with a bit of clever hardware manipulation.
- Multi-Meter with resistance reading capability
- 4.5 mm Nintendo security bit (This will likely need to be ordered online)
- Small and medium sized Philips head screw drivers
- A good sense of humor
The most difficult item to get your hands on will likely be the security bit. This item is used to unscrew Nintendo’s pesky security screws. Without this special screwdriver, the console will not be opened without the use of highly destructive forces.
Step 2:Open the Cube
Once you have obtained the Nintendo security bit, cracking open the cube shouldn’t be a problem. The four screw holes (one on each corner) are located on the bottom of the console. Unscrewing them will give you free access to all of the internal components of the GameCube. Once the screws are out, carefully slide the casing off from on top of the main unit.
Step 3:Ribbon Cable
The front of the GameCube contains the four controller ports. The macro component is attached to the main console with a ribbon cable. It is not mandatory that this should be removed; however, it could get in the way and potentially become damaged. If the cable were to tear significantly, it could render the controller ports inoperable. To remove the cable, hold it firmly near the connection point and carefully slide it out. It can be reinserted similarly when you have completed repairs.
Step 4: Clips and Screws
The next task is to remove all of the screws that are holding the optical drive to the motherboard. This involves unscrewing the cooling fan as well as the clips above the memory card slots. (hint: There are two screws concealed by the cooling fan. Once the fan has been released, these can be accessed.)
Step 5: Remove Optical Drive
If all screws have been removed, the optical drive should be able to lift off from the motherboard. Without the screws, they are only connected by a medium sized, vertical port.
Step 6: Opening the Optical Drive
If you flip the optical drive over, you will find several small Philips head screws. These must all be removed in order to access the circuit board underneath.
Step 7: Locate and Adjust Potentiometer
Once you have removed the metal grate from the optical drive, a green circuit board should become available. On this board, locate a small, screw-like structure. It should be within close proximity to the blue wires. On the board next to the component, it should read: VR401(Variable Resistor). This is the potentiometer. Turn on your multi-meter and set it to measure resistance. Touch the pins to a terminal on either side of the potentiometer and observe the readings. Most consoles seem to operate with this component set between 200 ohms and 500 ohms. In the image above, you can see that I have mine set to 437 ohms. If yours is already past the lower end of the range, it could likely be an exception to the rule (I have found one set to as low as 170 ohms). In order to drop the resistance, use a Philips head screw driver to turn the potentiometer counter-clockwise. Be warned that the smallest of turns can change the resistance by over 100 ohms so it should not require anymore than a small fraction of a turn. Be careful not to set it too low, or you might send too much power to the laser and cause permanent damage. If you pass your desired resistance reading, simply turn it back the other way. Once the potentiometer is set to your satisfaction, your repairs will be complete.
Just put everything back in the reverse order. With any luck, you’ll be good to go! Place a game disc into the GameCube and turn it on. If you make it past the console menu, this means the operation was successful. If you are still receiving errors, do not feel discouraged. The potentiometer settings can be inconsistent and may require some trial and error before it will enable the console to operate successfully.