Nintendo DS Lite touch screen replacement

Funny thing Nintendo. In 2007 I wouldn't have touched 'em. Bolton Dan (bald server man) and Nigel the Red Hat chap both agreed with me that Nintendo made kids toys with cutesy platform games and cartoon characters and they were of no use to real I.T. MEN such as us.

Fast forward to 2009 and all three of us are now armed with a Wii each and at least one DS per household (three in my case). You've gotta hand it to Nintendo, they understand the arcade experience and being able to wirelessly network up to eight DS consoles for some Mario Kart is pure gaming magic - especially as I'm great at it while Dan and Nigel suck arse and cry like little girls when I beat them every lunchtime.

My introduction to Nintendo began when the wife and I gave in to pressure and bought Daughter 1 a DS Lite for Christmas in 2007. It's two years old now and suffering from problems with stylus input because she doesn't look after the thing and it ends up getting kicked all over the house. Attempts at recalibration and trying to clear dust from around the edge of the screen with a toothbrush didn't cure it however replacement touch screen overlays are available from Amazon for a handful of quid coins so I thought I'd take a punt and spend my Friday evening unusually sober in an attempt to fit it.

My experience is documented here however if you're interested in following these steps for yourself, there are a couple of warnings I want to point out. Firstly, the DS is an awkward bugger to work on. Fitting a replacement overlay is tricky and not for the faint hearted. Buttons, springs, posts and screws all have the potential to fall out and get lost in the carpet when you disassemble it so work in a clear area and over a tray or suchlike. Removing the old overlay from the LCD screen requires balls of STEEL (just like mine), for one slip may crack the LCD. Removing ribbon cables is awkward and there is the potential for damage to occur to the ribbon or connector. In short, unless you're comfortable with taking gadgets apart, this may not be for you.

Also be mindful that removing the battery clears the DS memory losing the preference settings although these are easily reapplied afterward.

Remember, this page details my own experience - follow this information at your own risk and be sure to read through all the steps before starting!

You still here??  Good.   As I often say to my wife, I'm goin' in up to me armpits....

Step 1. Remove the stylus, GBA slot blank plate and any cartridge in the game slot. You'll need a small phillips screwdriver to remove the battery cover after which the battery can be levered out.


Step 2. Use the small phillips screwdriver to remove the two screws in the battery compartment (red) and a tri-wing screwdriver to remove the three case screws (green). Don't have a tri-wing screwdriver? Neither did I however Amazon sell them too.


Step 3. Use a knife or similar to prise off the rubber pads and remove the two gold coloured phillips screws underneath them.


Step 4. Remove the black tri-wing screw from the cartridge slot.


Step 5. Carefully lift and remove the underside of the casing. Beware of the L R shoulder buttons that rest on posts and are spring loaded as although we will be removing these we don't want to lose any bits. Don't worry if the volume slider drops off, it simply needs to be plopped back into place upon reassembly later.


Step 6. Carefully lift and remove the shoulder buttons. If the post and spring drop out then they just need to be put back into place upon reassembly.


Step 7. A closeup of the shoulder buttons showing how the springs/posts fit together.


Step 8. Remove the arrowed phillips screw.


Step 9. Carefully prise out the touch screen ribbon cable from the connector. If you're replacing the touch screen overlay then it doesn't matter if the cable gets damaged but be careful with that tiny connector!


Step 10. Gently lift out the motherboard assembly. The LCD screen on the other side is not secure so support it as you lift out the board.


Step 11. Flip the motherboard over so the LCD is facing upwards.


Step 12. Gently prise up the black plastic restraint on the video output connector to release the LCD ribbon.


Step 13. Disconnect the LCD ribbon and lift the LCD screen away from the motherboard.


Step 14. This is the make or break bit! Unfortunately if you 'break' you'll be needing a new LCD screen (also available on Amazon I believe) but if you're careful enough you should be able to use a knife to separate the touch screen overlay from the LCD. A sticky 'tape' is sandwiched between the LCD and overlay but by starting at one corner and working carefully around the screen without applying too much pressure or twisting the LCD, you should be able to get them apart.


Step 15. Once the sticky stuff starts giving way it gets easier to work around the screen until the overlay can be removed.


Step 16. LCD screen (left), touch sensitive overlay (right). Be careful to avoid contaminating the LCD screen. When we fit the new overlay we don't want any fingermarks or dust on the LCD as this could affect the sensitivity and cause future malfunctions. A lint free cloth will get you out of trouble if your screen is marked.


Step 17. The new overlay will need to be stuck to the LCD. My new overlay had no adhesive with it so I peeled off the tape from the old overlay and reused it. I guess some double sided sticky tape cut to size would have worked just as well.


Step 18. LCD with sticky stuff refitted around its edges.


Step 19. As with the LCD, we don't want to contaminate the new overlay. Leave the protective film it comes with in place until the last minute and before dropping it into place on the adhesive be sure there's no dust or fingermarks between the overlay and LCD. Also ensure the overlay is the right side up! It's ribbon should be at the bottom left when the LCD ribbon is at the top right as in the picture below.


Step 20. Overlay fitted to LCD.


Step21. Plonk the screen back onto the motherboard and reattach the LCD ribbon.


Step 22. Flip the motherboard back over into the casing and reattach the overlay ribbon. This is the fiddliest bit in my opinion and I used some fine pliers to persuade the ribbon to reattach on my unit although I almost damaged the connector trying to do it. Be patient, don't force it! Afterward, refit the screw from Step 8 to secure the motherboard.


Step 23. At this stage it is best to check everything is working before full reassembly. Place the bottom cover back on ensuring the power button on the case is in the same position as the power switch on the motherboard, then refit the battery. Turn on and test. If all is well the touchscreen should be operational. If it's not working, retrace your steps to see if a mistake has been made.


Assuming all is well you can reassemble the unit by starting at Step 6 and reversing the procedure back to Step 1. When refitting the case, ensure the volume slider and power button positions match the slider and switch positions on the motherboard.

Step 24. Finally, use a knife to remove the adhesive border from the old touch screen overlay....


Step 25. ...and apply the border to the new touch screen.


Job done! Don't forget to run through the recalibration sequence when you power the unit back on!

One other interesting point, the overlay I received via Amazon was slightly larger than the old one and didn't fit properly into the casing. Some support lugs within the casing ended up pushing into the new overlay causing a bulge at the front of the DS and increasing the risk of a cracking the overlay from pressure should it be dropped or sat upon. I got around this by filing off these lugs from the inside lip of the casing to achieve a more snug fit. I've also fitted an adhesive screen protector to protect the new overlay to try and avoid daughter 1 wrecking it immediately!