Friday, May 30, 2014

The PSP 1001 Debacle, Part 1: Screwdrivers by Women, for Women

Something I enjoy doing is buying broken consoles that I've never had before and fixing them. It's a great way to get a start on a new piece of a game collection. You get to learn the hardware in and out, and researching problems is enjoyable (to me). You can typically snag broken items for a low price, and it's often a simple fix that is overlooked due to a "fuck it, I'll get a new one" mentality that many people have.

Repairs are usually simple. Other times, they're hell. This was a surprising amount of hell.

I'm not the world's biggest Sony fan. Recently though, I have been playing PlayStation systems more. For the most part, Sony hardware is relatively reliable. By that I mean "easy to fix if something fails." This has lead to me working on a lot of Sony consoles recently.

There's a few reasons I'm not the world's biggest Sony fan. Generally, I find their products to be overpriced and of low quality. That's not to say that all of their products fall into this category. Some of them are well made and are priced appropriately. One thing that has always irked me is the aesthetics of their products. Most of their products are almost excellently designed. Let's look at the PSP..

The initial reaction to it isn't bad. Then you start looking at it closer. Why is that bumpy texture there at the top? What purpose does it serve? You'll never be touching that part of the PSP while you're using it. That's not where the speakers are either. What's with that little loop at the bottom? I get that it's where you attach a wrist strap, but what are you doing? Playing your fucking PSP on a roller coaster? Initially, that seems to be there to keep the system symmetrical. Then on the other side there's just nothing, so it ends up looking like an asymmetrical anyways. Why do the power and hold buttons need text? What's wrong with icons? Same goes for the buttons along the bottom. Then you look at the left side. Those buttons do have icons. What the fuck is the top symbol? Oh, it's the MagicGate logo. What the fuck is MagicGate? Some bullshit standard Sony uses for their memory cards. Who the fuck would know what that is? We're too goddamn stupid to get that a lightning bolt or some shit would mean power, but we're supposed to immediately identify the MagicGate logo? Same for the wifi indicator. It looks like it would be for the volume of the system. To be fair, it is the typical symbol used to indicate wifi, buut...they tilted it. Why? Why does that need to be on the front? Put it on the side. Better question, why the fuck do either of those things need indicator lights? Then there's the analog stick. It looks like a speaker, and if you didn't know any better, that's what you'd think it is (from pictures, anyway).

Most of Sony's designs have similar pitfalls, but I'm nitpicking really. Its not a bad looking device if you don't stare at it for too long, and I think that's a lot of the reason so many people pay premium Sony prices for subpar or average devices. The design of their products is decent enough that they could speak for themselves. It doesn't need a PlayStation logo in the top left, a PSP logo in the middle of the bottom and a Sony logo in the top right. Not to gush too much about Apple (I may be a fan), but do any of their products have logos? No, they have text and they have the Apple logo. The designs speak for themselves. You immediately know what they are. For the most part, Sony's products are very immediately identifiable as well. They could just use a bit of subtlety to let the design take over instead of the branding.

I became interested in getting a PSP recently, so I started researching the hardware failures and the associated fixes. The PSP 1001 is the easiest model to deal with. The common hardware failures are documented and they're "unbrickable."

Whoever said PSP 1001s are unbrickable is an ungodly liar. He shits in the urinal. He pisses on your car's door at the bar. He recommends anime to you. He's loud in the movie theater when the movie is dead silent. He throws away manuals and cases to games and then sells them to Gamestop. He thinks Family Guy is genius. He shifts his weight to one side to fart. He fucks up the pizza by getting a topping everyone hates.

Let me be quite clear: PSPs can be bricked.

Let's get this shit show started.

I ended up buying a PSP that "wouldn't power on." This seemed like the best way to go since the fix is a simple bridge of the power fuse with solder. I ended up paying $20 for a PSP 1001 in good cosmetic condition with a charger and battery. Honestly, I cleaned up on that. They usually go for $20 without a battery, battery cover or charger and a missing thumb stick. "Wouldn't power on" for an eBay seller means "power light turns green for two seconds and goes off." If I knew that was the case, I wouldn't have bought it. So, at this point in time, I'm still going off the assumption that something is wrong with how the PSP is getting power.

First things first, if you ever attempt to buy a PSP and repair it yourself, be prepared. This fucker has the tiniest screw holes I have ever seen. None of my screwdrivers were small enough to fit inside the screw holes deep enough to actually get to the screws. Time to go shopping. I ended up buying two small screwdriver kits tailored for working on electronics. Neither of them worked. I ended up at Rite Aid and thought I found my solution in the most sexist tool of all time.

That's right motherfucker, tools for women. Women using a regular screwdriver? Fuck no. You need this shit. There's no way you can comprehend a normal screwdriver. Not to continue the sexism, but why does a tool for women have a 000 philips head? I didn't even fucking know there were 000 philips heads. My girlfriend thought maybe they were assuming the only work women could/should be doing with a screwdriver is working on children's toys.

Well, the tool specially designed for women didn't quite fit the hole either (that's what she said?).

The hole I'm specifically talking about is the one on the top right. The perspective is off, but the screwdriver up there is what you typically find in precision screwdriver sets. You can eyeball the end of that and the hole and see that it's even a tight fit for that, and it was. I eventually ended up using an exacto knife to enlarge the hole. It sounds barbaric, but I'm impatient when I want to get a project started and if you're careful you can do the job smoothly with no real aesthetic knock. Like all Sony consoles, it's pretty easy to open. There's two more screws under the warranty label in the battery compartment as well. From there, it's a simple task of lifting the faceplate off.

Now we're into the guts. Looks about how you'd expect given how fucking massive the screen is. That button bar along the bottom is in our way, though...

The button bar is clipped over a circular metal nub. I've already detached it here, just wedging a flathead screwdriver in and wiggling it loose. Then the button bar lifts up, and there's a flex cable to disconnect. The LCD screen is held in place with similar means, using the same nub actually. The same flathead screwdriver will dislodge the LCD screen from its frame. From there...

More flex cables. I don't mind these though, they're the kind that clip down and hold the cable in place. You just have to flip the latch up and they release. I like these better because you don't have to carefully pull them out of place. The less force the better for flex cables.

From here, it's just a matter of removing all the screws for the LCD brace. I got excited and already took one out. After that...

Freedom! Now we can have our way with that sweet, sweet hardware.

That tiny fuse there labeled TD is the target. I went ahead and soldered over it, popped in the battery, flicked the switch...aaaand...

Green power light for two seconds, then nothing.


That's one of the issues with working with a console like PSP. It's easy to hack, so every jackass with aspergers on the internet thinks he's a professional with the console. You cannot take anything on any forum with any amount of truth. Sort of like the Dreamcast. If I hear one more person say there wasn't any copy protection..

Anyways, now it's time to change course. There's something wrong with the system's software. Next, I turned to the Pandora battery and Magic Memory Stick...

1 comment:

  1. That moment when you turn on a power button and it starts to work and your like "YESSSSSSS" (insert Gary Busey yell)...and then it doesn't work. Not so great lol.