Fixing a Nintendo DS Lite

Our Nintendo DS Lite developed a fault in the top screen. It would work occasionally, but then started going green and blotchy.

I checked the price on eBay – £12.00 for a new screen and a set of screwdrivers sounded worth a go.


Nintendo decided to use special tri-wing screws for the DS Lite. I am not sure why gadget manufacturers use special screws because it does not take long for the DIY community to get hold of suitable tools, but I guess it deters the most casual tinkerers. This is why three screwdrivers were included in my package. There were also several plastic tools for prising open the case though I did not use these.

I found numerous guides on YouTube and elsewhere, though they rarely tell you everything you need to know

The operation was harder than I thought it would be. I can take apart a DS Lite in seconds now, having done it a few times, but the first time took a while as I learned where to prise it apart and which bits are likely to ping out and get lost – the left and right bumper buttons, for example, have tiny springs that are likely to come loose.

Why was it difficult? Well, to get at the top screen you have to disassemble most of the DS Lite, including the bottom part. There is a cable running from the screen to the motherboard that has to be pushed through the hinge, which is tricky. There are also two cables (antenna and microphone connectors) that have to be threaded under a metal assembly on the motherboard, and which tend to get stuck when out of sight. You can see these in the photo above – they are the black and white cables towards the bottom.

Another fiddly task is that the speaker wires are soldered to the aforementioned cable that connects the top screen. This means you have to detach them from the old screen and solder them to tiny pads on the new cable.

I also had difficulty reassembling the top part of the case. It seems to go out of alignment easily, and in fact it is still not quite perfect.

The outcome? Good news and bad news. The top screen works fine. However, when I reassembled the bottom case the plastic power switch must have been slightly out of alignment, because it broke the small protrusion on the internal switch. This means the DS Lite can now only be operated with a pin. This is a common problem, but unfortunately I did not find one of the guides which mentions the issue until it was too late.

Well, I have ordered a new power switch for a further £1.00 including postage. However, apparently replacing the power switch is another tricky job because it is surface mounted. We’ll see.

Postscript: I am happy to report a successful power switch replacement. I am not sure if it is attached quite as strongly as before; but for now it is working fine.

4 thoughts on “Fixing a Nintendo DS Lite”

  1. Congrats! Replacing that top screen has got to be the most difficult game system repair/mod activity I’ve ever attempted. Much harder for me than the bottom screen. I never could, however, get that ribbon cable safely through the hinge. I thought I had it just right this last time, but after 3 weeks it started glitching from wear and finally went out again. *sigh*

    So, I have officially given up on fixing it after my second attempt. So…anyone want to buy a clear blue DS light with a broken top screen? 😉

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