Introduction

I decided to teach myself how to repair Nintendo DS Lites, because broken units are available cheaply on eBay in 2017. After working on a few dozen units, I have seen the mistakes that people have made and I offer you this guide to make sure that you don't damage the unit that you're repairing (especially if you're fixing it for yourself). All of the problems I've seen with the DS Lite can be fixed for between $2 if you only need a new digitizer to about $10 if you need to obtain a used motherboard from an otherwise scrapped unit.

The most common problem with the Nintendo DS Lite is a broken latch. You can buy a new shell for under $10 directly from China.
  • The most common problem with the Nintendo DS Lite is a broken latch. You can buy a new shell for under $10 directly from China.

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Unscrew the battery case with a P000 bit. You will probably need to pry open the battery case as the cover becomes sticky with age. The battery compartment is often quite tight so you might need to gently pry out the battery with the plastic spudger.
  • Unscrew the battery case with a P000 bit. You will probably need to pry open the battery case as the cover becomes sticky with age. The battery compartment is often quite tight so you might need to gently pry out the battery with the plastic spudger.

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  • Quite commonly I see this part of the DS Lite damaged. Follow these steps to remove the feet without damaging anything.

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  • Now remove the two gold colored screws under the rubber feet and the two silver colored screws in the battery compartment with the P000 bit. Then remove the three silver screws and the small black screw with the Y00 bit. Set the Y00 bit aside as you are done using it.

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  • I see a lot of damage caused by carelessly removing the bottom cover, so take your time and carefully move the plastic spudger around the perimeter. If the bottom cover seems glued on, remove the cover with the unit closed. This may help prevent scratching the digitizer.

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  • Carefully grasp and remove the shoulder buttons. Try to hold the spring assembly together so that you don't lose any pieces. Without functional shoulder buttons the DS Lite isn't very useful.

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  • You must remove the Wi-Fi daughterboard at this stage or you risk damaging the digitizer. I learned this the hard way. You will need to pull hard on the daughterboard as the adhesive is very strong.

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  • Gently lift the flex connector from this side. I stress gently. I've broken three of them.

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  • Remove the final screw holding down the motherboard.

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  • Flip the motherboard around as shown. Be gentle as the flex cable is fragile.

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  • Remove the flex cable with your fingernail. Do not use a flathead bit, as it may damage the connector.

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  • Remove this black wire. You will have to wiggle it out. One of the stupidest design decisions on the DS Lite besides the latch problem, the black wire is even harder to put back in. Do not attempt to mess with the DS cartridge port in any way. You will damage it. The black wire will come out and it will go back in when the time comes.

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  • At this stage remove the white wire and the digitizer flex cable.

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  • Remove the lower display flex connector. Pry the clip up with your fingernail, as you did with the upper display.

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  • Remove the rubber and plastic button assemblies. This step is pretty easy, but don't lose any pieces. Every plastic and rubber piece can immediately go into hot, soapy water.

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  • This is the chief design flaw of the Nintendo DS Lite. The latch assembly is much too fragile. Save the screws and the metal and plastic piece if you're replacing the shell.

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  • The most common reason why DS Lites don't go together properly is that this white wire is not routed properly. When reassembling, follow this routing scheme and the finished product will feel like it is fresh off the factory floor.

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  • Make sure that both wires are routed through the center of the flex cable and carefully route the flex cable through the slit. The flex cable is incredibly fragile, and it was strengthened in later models. Take your time on this step. If it takes you ten minutes to avoid damaging the flex cable, so be it.

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  • With the smallest flathead bit you can find, work the bit under the sticker to avoid damaging the unit as much as possible. Completely avoiding damage to all components is impossible.

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  • With the plastic spudger, pry the top cover loose. Do not remove or otherwise mess with the rubber pieces on the side. You never need to touch those, and I've seen them unnecessarily damaged and missing countless times.

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  • Begin pressing on the top screen as show here and work your way around. Be fairly gentle but note that the actual LCD is protected by a plastic shield in front and a metal shield in back.

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  • Noting the routing of the black and white wires for later reassembly, remove the microphone and Wi-Fi antenna, carefully pulling the wires through the center of the flex cable so as not to cause any damage.

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  • These should be removed and replaced shiny side up. They may be attached here or attached to the speakers.

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  • If the flex cable is damaged, then you're out about $8 as of this writing. Exercise extreme caution with this fragile piece, carefully rolling it into a tight cylinder. If the flex cable is damaged, there is no way to repair the LCD, and the entire module must be scrapped. Remove and set aside the metal piece.

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  • Remove three gold screws from the stylus retainer and two gold screws from the metal shield. Disassemble. You will need to gently pry loose the power switch and volume control. Wash all shell plastic pieces shown in hot, soapy water. Alcohol may be required to remove decals and other grime.

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  • If you're replacing the shell with a different color, you definitely need to remove the sticker. With the iFixit metal spudger, this step is easy.

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  • Slide the metal spudger under the black sticker and carefully work your way around the assembly, avoiding the flex cables. This step is easier than it looks, but only perform this step if the screen or the digitizer needs to be replaced. If both are functional, this step is unnecessary. Thoroughly clean both pieces with alcohol afterwards.

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  • This step is only necessary if your upper LCD is bad. Unfortunately, this is a common problem. First, wet the contacts with flux. Then, with your iron at 400 degrees C, melt the solder and remove all four wires. It might help to add fresh solder with lead. The lead-free solder used by Nintendo sucks.

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  • Clean up the contacts as you prefer. I use a tiny American-made solder wick and I've applied some fresh lead-based solder.

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  • Inspect the flex cable for damage.

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  • The plastic cover is wedged underneath the back metal cover and is held on by a few different schemes, depending upon how old the DS Lite is. One method is two tabs on each side. Gently work the tabs loose without removing the back metal cover. This step is unnecessary unless you're changing the color of the shell.

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  • Now test the disassembled unit. First, connect the Wi-Fi daughterboard. Then connect the two screens to the motherboard. Then, while holding the battery in place, turn on the unit. The unit should power on as shown (provided that the displays were working in the first place---replace them first if necessary).

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Conclusion

To reassemble your device:

1) Insure that the white wire is properly routed before remounting the motherboard.

2) Carefully reassemble the shoulder buttons. This takes practice.

3) Insure that the alignment of the power switch and volume controls are correct before replacing the bottom case. Incorrect alignment will damage the motherboard and you won't be able to turn on the unit anymore.

5 other people completed this guide.

John Gotts

Member since: 01/17/2016

341 Reputation

1 Guide authored

2 Comments

Great work pal! Congratulations.

Daniel Moraes - Reply

The best guide online for fixing the DS lite. Thanks a lot!

JohnJD - Reply

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