In an effort to expand my retro gaming collection, I picked up a broken snes from eBay. I narrowly missed out on one that was described as having no power, which I expected would be an easy fix. Instead I got one that was simply described as ‘not working’.
It arrived quickly and I hooked it up to find that it powered on fine but the graphics were all messed up.
I connected up the sound and could hear that the game seemed to be running fine but obviously something was wrong with the rendering of the picture. I messed with the controller and could hear that it was progressing through the game menus, so that gave me confidence that the console might be salvageable.
I did some (Google) research and the only issues that seemed to match what I was seeing was a bad ppu chip. Otherwise known as the Picture Processing Unit chip.
Actually in the snes it’s called a s-ppu chip, and there are two.
They are custom ICs and are not replaceable so my heart began to sink. I couldn’t find any other repairs for this. I did however find some fixes where the traces had been corroded so I cleaned up the board with a baking soda & water mix and then some isopropyl alcohol. The board was in great shape but I could then see that there was some minor corrosion on 3 pins. No prizes for guessing which chip had pins with corrosion. PPU1 !!!
The checked the pin to via connection with a multimeter on connectivity and found that there was no connection. When I looked closer, I could see that the trace was totally broken on the board.
After pulling out my soldering iron, magnifying glass and shouting many expletives as I attempted to solder a jump wire to the correct pin – I got it connected up and was ready to test. I added some hot glue to hold the wire in place too.