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Has your N64 controller pak stopped saving?

10/29/13
If your Nintendo brand N64 controller pak (model NUS-004, aka N64 "memory card") has stopped saving, there are 2 common causes.  

N64 controller pak1) The contacts on the little green circuit board inside may be dirty, usually from oxidation just from exposure to air.  These can be cleaned with our #1 Nintendo Game Cleaning Kit, just like a game cartridge.  The controller paks have 2 3.8mm security screws that will need to be removed using our 3.8mm Nintendo game opening security bit, which is included in the game cleaning kit as well as sold separately.  Then slide the side where you removed the screws toward you to separate the halves of the controller pak. Remove the green circuit board and use the paste and then rinse to clean both sides of the strip of metal contacts. You can follow the procedure on any of our game cleaning guides on our website. At this point you may want to use a multimeter to test the coin battery on the back side of the circuit board (see #2 below). Reverse your steps to re-assemble the controller pak, and that may be all that is needed to start saving your N64 games again.

2) If cleaning the contacts doesn't work, then the coin battery that is inside the controller pak may be dead.  You can test the old battery with a multimeter (aka voltmeter). If the battery has significantly less than 3V, it is time to replace it.  If you don't own a multimeter, they are sold at electronics stores (like Radio Shack), pretty inexpensive, and handy for testing all kinds of batteries and other uses. They come with directions on how to use them.

If you need to replace your battery, there are two ways this can be done. If you have a soldering iron and can solder, you will need to order our "Nintendo coin battery with solder tabs."  If you don't solder, order our "Nintendo Game Battery" and go buy a roll of black electrical tape.

a) If you can solder, then de-solder the old battery's solder tabs from the green circuit board, and solder on the new battery, paying attention to whether + or - was up before you remove the old one. A digital photo is helpful in case you get interrupted and forget.

b) If you don't solder, use a tiny flat screwdriver to gently pry the solder tabs off the old battery. Be very careful that you don't remove the solder tabs from the green circuit board, just from the battery.  Remove the top tab first, then turn the battery up to get at the bottom tab.  Be patient, this will take a bit of prying.  Now take a 2 or 3" length of black electrical tape, and lay it where the old battery was, sticky side up.  Place the new coin game battery position, making sure that the correct positive or negative side is up, and that the solder tabs are pressed back in place and making good contact..  Again, a digital photo taken before you removed the old battery is a good idea.  Now press the solder tabs around the new battery. You might need to use pliers to press them in place, if so do this very gently, and cushion with a soft cloth.  Now pull the ends of the electrical tape up over the battery tabs, and secure it in place. Don't get it too thick, or the cover of the controller pak won't fit.  But once the controller pak is re-assembled, that battery isn't going anywhere.

3) If you did both these things, and the controller pak still doesn't save, the problem might be your N64 controller.  Look at the connector in the controller handle where you insert the controller pak.  Do you see any corrosion in there, perhaps greenish, or just blackish?  One way to clean this is with an aerosol spray can of electronic contact cleaner. You can get this at an auto supply or electronics store.  Get one safe for use on plastic PCBs.  Hold the controller handle upside down so when you spray into it, the spray will fall back out. You do NOT want the spray to penetrate inside the controller.  If you really want to do this right, you can take the controller apart to get at this connector and cover the other parts of the circuit board so they don't get covered in spray.  Let the spray drain out, then insert and remove the controller pak or rumble pak about a dozen times. You might need to repeat the process.  If the connector isn't corroded too badly, this should get it going again.

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