Nintendo NES / Famicom

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The Nintendo Entertainment system is the first home console released in America by Nintendo. Games were released in cartridge format.

Problem Solution
System not reading game cartridges with blinking red light First ensure the pins on your cartridge are clean. If the NES still can't read the game the 72-Pin connector in the system needs refurbishing/replacing. Keep in mind most third party replacements are of low quality, refurbing the original part is always preferred. First disassemble the unit to access the connector. The most effective way to clean the connector is with an Ultrasonic Cleaner. If you don't have an Ultrasonic Cleaner, you can clean the pins carefully with Isopropyl alcohol or contact cleaner and a toothbrush, and allowing the connector to dry before reassembly for testing. If cleaning the connector doesn't correct the issue the next step is to attempt to adjust the pins on the connector by hand. This must be done carefully as breaking or overcorrecting a pin can lead to the whole connector no longer being viable for use. This process can be very easy or very tedious depending on whether repair has been attempted beforehand. Another known method is boiling the connector to clean and "reset" the pins to factory spec, although this should generally be used as a last resort.
No Power Check and confirm 5V at the 7805 voltage regulator on the Power/RF modulator module. If the voltage is significantly lower check the main board for shorts. If there are no shorts replace the 7805 voltage regulator and test operation.
No Video - Sound Present Check the operation of the PPU IC with a logic probe. If there is activity on the PPU inspect the capacitors on the RF Modulator module visually and with an ESR meter. Replace if necessary. If there is no activity on the PPU, replace the PPU.
Garbled Video - Sound Present Follow the steps for the blinking red light issue as this problem is often caused by poor contact with game cartridges with the 72pin connector, or the 72pin connector and the motherboard. If this does not resolve the issue, inspect and test the PPU as detailed in No Video - Sound Present. If the issue persists, replace the VRAM.

72-Pin Connector[edit | edit source]

The NES 72 Pin Connector is what connects the game cartridges to the mainboard. It is known to get very dirty as well as bent out of shape with regular use. This generally is fixable, but will eventually need to be done again. Below are images of the connector both before and after Ultrasonic cleaning with Branson EC. This alone allowed the connector to function again in this case.

A 72-Pin Connector before ultrasonic cleaning
A 72-Pin Connector after ultrasonic cleaning