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Get those Game Gears Recapped!!!




I know...I know... you hear it everywhere that everything in excess of so many years needs new capacitors and that will fix everything. Well, that isn't always the case as there are many electronics that date from much longer than 40 years ago whose caps while not perhaps quite within their original spec, are still working and doing their job. However, in the 90s there was an issue where most capacitor manufactures essentially had to start over with the formulas they had been using and as a result of this, many of the capacitors of that era have NOT held up well over time. One of the best examples of this, is in fact the Sega Game Gear. For those that don't know the GG actually uses standard radial through hole style capacitors just like most things. But, in an effort to keep costs low and have capacitors of that size fit in the small space of the GG. Sega used some very low quality capacitors that were then housed into a squared plastic housing. The leads of these caps were then folded under and trimmed so they could be installed onto SMD surface mount pads vs through hole. They did this so that the caps could fit flush against the PCB and be held into place with lite epoxy during assembly.


Well again, over the past 20-30 years, those capacitors are not just dead, but decaying and leaking out over the PCBs. This causes not only the connections at the capacitor leads to no longer register contact, but can leech through the rest of the trace work and start to cause issues eating away at other places in the system. If you want to see exactly what I mean...here you go.


If you look closely at the base of the capacitors where they are attached, you can see how the shiny silver of the solder is actually brown and almost dirt like in appearance. This is the tell tale sign of electrolyte leakage and corrosion having already begun. Also turn your attention to the green looking spots on the copper disc near the bottom of that picture? That is electrolyte that has leaked out over the board and started to interact with the copper of those discs turning green. It is like a syrup substance that has to be cleaned off.


Want to see something really nasty but also quite typical of the GG capacitors? Well here is C1 and it is the main bypass capacitor for the power in the GG. This is what 30 years of crap quality looks like and what it does...


That brown crud is the old electrolyte having eaten at and corroded most of the solder joints. That black color section to the right of it, is the epoxy they used to hold down the caps during the assembly process and is NOT an issue. In fact, it is best to just leave that be as trying to scrape it off the board can result in breaking traces in the process that are under the epoxy. So yeah...it all needs cleaned up and neutralized so no further damage continues.


Here is the same C1 section and pads after I removed that cap and cleaned up the mess getting it ready for a new capacitor to be installed.



This game gear is fully back to stock working condition now and will be set aside while waiting for the new LCD screen to come in as the owner of this GG has requested.



So yeah... get those Game Gears recapped stat!

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