Monday, January 13, 2014

Goodwill Find: Game Boy Advance SP

Let me start by saying that I had no idea that Game Boy Advance SPs were still selling for so much when I got this. I would guess this is because you can play original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games on it, with the lit screen. The Buy It Now prices on eBay are all around $30, and they're going for even more than that if they have a game or two with them. So...what did I pay?


Granted, this is without a charger, though the original fat DS charger will work with the SP. I made off like a bandit though. It's a plain ass white SP. I figured this was no big deal. I figured wrong.

You might think this guy is crazy. He isn't. There's 145 people watching the auction. I've got a find on my hands. It's not in mint condition by any means, it has the kind of scratching you'll see on any pretty well used Game Boy. Since my concern isn't selling it, I'm more than pleased. I'm not wild about the white color, but it should look better cleaned up.

In addition to apparently being a rare color (ooooh white), this also makes it an AGS-101 model. If you've ever been a Nintendo fan, you know they're a bunch of dicks. As far as their handhelds go, the original model always sucks and you can expect to see a better one in a year or two. The GBA was the worst case of this.

The original GBA has by far the worst screen a handheld has ever had. I wanted a GBA so much when I was a kid. I finally got one, and the screen was so bad I couldn't stand playing it. When I got a game I really wanted, I played it. Outside of that though? Nope. So, of course they released the SP. The original model had a front lit screen, with an on/off switch. The AGS-101 was a later model with a genuine backlit screen. The light can't be turned off on this model, with the switch putting the light on high or low.

I did make this purchase knowing there may be a problem, though. The system had enough of a charge to turn it on, but I couldn't get the backlight to come on. I figured this was either because of the battery being low, or because there wasn't a game in the system. GBA SP screens aren't easy to find, because they can be used to mod original GBAs to have a lit screen. I would prefer doing this, really. I like the form factor of the original GBA a lot better. For the time being though, I'm going to stick with trying to get this working.

From what I can gather from some random Russian on YouTube, the culprit of this is often a damaged flex cable (what a shocker). If you read any of the PS2 stuff I've posted, then you know I already hate flex cables with a passion. So, here's what I'll be trying to do to revive this SP:

Seems easy enough, all things considered. If there weren't a million points there, I'd probably just bypass the flex cable altogether. They do use flex cables for a reason, though.

Nintendo doesn't like to make things easy, so they use tri-wing screws in a lot of their products. This means I'll need a tri-wing screw driver. So, that'll be roughly $5 (shipping included) from Nintendo Repair Shop. I'm not too sad about this expense because I'll be able to use it on other Nintendo things I own, instead of just awkwardly forcing the screws out with a flathead.

I wasn't really sure about this purchase at first since the backlight wasn't working. I couldn't confirm it was an AGS-101 either because someone scratched the sticker off with the model information. Since the white one was apparently only AGS-101 and this is potentially an easy fix, I feel pretty good about it now.

If for some reason I can't fix it, then it'll probably be something I can sell off on eBay for a reasonable price (for what it is) since it's apparently a rare variant of the console.

Since I've already got a soldering iron and other necessary parts to perform this fix, it'll cost me a grand total of about $13.

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