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Chronicling the Schizophrenic ramblings of an individual too freaking stubborn to use emulators and has a passionate desire to collect and play all sorts of retro games and consoles.
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Retro Console Collecting - Part XII (Schizo Resurrects a Console From the Dead)

Posted 12th October 2013 at 10:25 AM by Schizo

Welcome back for yet another installation of Retro Console Collecting - the blog that promises updates, and never delivers!

In my defense, I'll contend that I'm faster at posting blogs than Congress is at passing a budget! Oh hey, did I just make a political joke? I must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel here.

Anyway, for those of you who are long time readers (and haven't hung yourselves yet), you may remember a few years back I managed to win an Ebay auction with a bunch of Sega gear in it. For those of you who haven't read about it, you can check out all the details here (because you know I can't get through one post wihout a shameless plug for my previous installments).

At any rate, I ended up being the owner of a Sega Nomad! For those of you who don't know, the Sega Nomad was released in 1995. Essentially, it was a portable Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive for those of you who drive on the opposite side of the road).

In 1995, this thing was pretty darn rad. Did the cool kids still say 'rad' in 1995? I forget...

However, the Nomad did not fare too well in the marketplace. A combination of high initial price, a distinct lack of battery life, and the upcoming release of the new Fifth-Generation of consoles (Playstation, Saturn, and N64) meant that this device was held to relatively low sales numbers.

Which is, of course, what suckers collectors like myself gobble up.

Anyway, here I was with a Sega Nomad. This particular device was a little rough around the edges. It had no battery pack, and no AC adapter. After my previous experiences using an incorrect power supply (and did I just sneak in a second shameless plug?) I was a bit hesitant to fire it up. Once I managed to determine the correct AC adapter to use, I plugged the unit in, grabbed a game, and decided to see what portable Genesis gaming was all about:

Color me...disappointed

Yep, it looks like I managed to score a Nomad with a busted screen. Seriously, only about a third of it was viewable.

So the Nomad sat for a while gathering dust.

Later, I found a youtube video showing how you could swap the old LCD monitor inside the Nomad with a modern equivalent. I was intrigued! Not only could I now have a fully functioning Sega Nomad, I could have one with a much brighter and sharper display.

It was time to make my move.

I scoured Ebay and found an appropriate sized monitor for about $20. All I needed was an LCD display measuring approximately 3.5" diagonally. The device I purchased was originally intended to be used as a backup monitor for a car. I'd like to think I gave it a much better life.

So, now I was ready to take this thing apart and start getting to work, right? Wrong! Of course, to prevent stupid ignorant sloths (especially the ones that go by the handle 'Schizo') from accessing the innards of the device, Sega uses a special 3.8m proprietary security bit to lock down the back of the device. After some searching on Amazon, I amanged to score the proper bit for ~$5 or so.

Now the fun began.

The patient, the donor, and the surgical tools all laid out.

It was time to get down to business. I'll admit, doing this was a bit daunting - I'd never done something like this before in my life. But I figured, if I'm going to keep up with these old consoles, I'd better learn how to repair them since they aren't exactly making any more of these things.

Hey, can we censor some of the innards of this Nomad? Would someone PLEASE think of the children being forced to look at this filth?

So I managed to get the Nomad opened up and could finally get down to brass tacks. The ribbon cable connecting the two halves was disconnected and then I removed the connections to the motherboard. Once that was out of the way, I could pull the whole thing out of the housing.

Then came the point of no return - I took a razorblade and cut the ribbon cable connecting the old LCD display to the motherboard.

Gratuitous handheld console violence! And not of the Mortal Kombat variety!

Now it was time to prep the donor monitor for its transplant. I removed it from its housing and stripped back the wiring.

When using wire strippers, the 'stripper' jokes never get old.

I proceeded to use my exemplary crappy soldering skills to tin the wiring before attaching it to the appropriate points on the motherboard.

I had a witty caption to put here, but I forgot what it was. Let's just pretend this was a gut-buster of a caption, shall we?

The new display was centered, and glued into place. For good measure, I replaced the screen protector with a new replacement I picked up on Ebay for a couple of dollars. I buttoned up the system, plugged it back in, inserted a cartridge, flipped the power switch, and held my breath:

Oh hell yes! I wanted you to see the rest of the Nomad here, but the display is just SO vibrant, the camera can't focus on anything else!

Success! The new display was not only working perfectly, but it was such an improvement over the original display that came with the Nomad. I had just brought back a console from the dead!

And just for a quick comparison, here is a shot of the old screen, and the new screen (I tried to replicate the same shot as much as possible to show the difference):

Old and busted

New hotness!

Everything turned out better than I could have hoped. The fixes were cheap, and actually spending the time repairing the unit was pretty fun. For a little over an hour of work, I now have a Sega Nomad that functions better than new. I've tossed around the idea of selling it (and getting more money back in the coffers for other retro gaming goodness), but the allure of having a beautiful portable Genesis may make me stay my hand.

Stay tuned, and I'll be updating with a few more recent developments in the land of retro gaming goodness!
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  1. Old Comment
    Juganort's Avatar
    Just epic mate Love your work.

    Reminds me of a battery pack I once replaced in an expensive exercise bike with zero electronics experience... my mum would have been so proud.
    Posted 23rd October 2013 at 04:45 AM by Juganort Juganort is offline
    Updated 23rd October 2013 at 04:51 AM by Juganort
  2. Old Comment
    Good bit of work there. Nice to know that in this throwaway age, there's still a use for a soldering iron

    I really, really (really!) wish I'd kept my old Atari 400. That was a great machine. Threw it away when it broke. Oh well, lacking a usable time machine not much can be done about that...
    Posted 18th November 2013 at 10:33 AM by lunawisp lunawisp is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Tulgar's Avatar
    Great work Schizo, that worked out really well. Golden Axe was a great game too
    Posted 31st December 2013 at 12:35 PM by Tulgar Tulgar is offline
  4. Old Comment
    CAMMO's Avatar
    You have done an awesome job there, Schizo.
    Posted 20th January 2014 at 08:20 PM by CAMMO CAMMO is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Tachyon's Avatar
    How awesome is that, nice work!!
    Posted 10th July 2014 at 05:44 AM by Tachyon Tachyon is offline
  6. Old Comment
    very nice work
    Posted 6th January 2015 at 05:48 AM by foteino foteino is offline

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