The Handy Cheapskate's Corner: Save Battery Replacement
10/05/26 at 19:45 EST

That title was something of a mouthful. Hopefully this post won't be.

I have been, and will continue to be poor at updating this site regularly, as it is truly against my nature to make "nonconstructive" posts and I thoroughly believe that the average musings of my life are worth neither recording nor reading. What this boils down to is, when I do post, I'm generally aiming to present something useful that the reader can take away, be it advice, an amusing device, something involving mice, or a painful rhyming vice.

I'm a thrift-shop treasure hunter. This isn't news, and the fact that I picked up a copy of Pokemon Silver and Game and Watch Gallery 2 each for a combined price of about tree fitty is not particularly noteworthy either. But to my dismay, when I booted Pokemon Silver up, I discovered that the save battery on it was dead. This is where our story begins.

I made a brief check on Google to see if there was some miracle technique I could use to magically fix the hardware, and that my saving the game within the first minute wasn't some kind of unexpected null SystemException bug in the game. you know how old games are. Bug-riddled. Kind of like new games, but without patches. At any rate, I pretty much accepted the fact that my cartridge had a dead battery. While I was searching for my harbinger, however, I stumbled across the battery type used in the Pokemon save games. It was a pretty common household Lithium button battery: a CR2025. They run for about 50 cents to a buck fifty online, so of course I could get one from a brick and mortar store for about 6 bucks.

This looks like a DIY adventure to me. I'm not going to accept this game as "broken" while I possess the means to fix it. So I decided to pop the cartridge open and have a look at the board.

Well, for the past decade and change, Nintendo have been so kind as to use some atrociously non-standard "security" screw designed to keep people out of their technology. The Mintendo Gamecube (infamous for carting around scrub sauce) uses the same damned hardware, but this time I wasn't too eager to drill a gaping hole in anything, so I had to figure out how to open it. It was a tough son of a bitch, and any screwdriver I made out of plastic and fire quickly lost its thread against the might of this one damn screw. So I'm going to impart some more practical advice for anyone out there wanting to get at a GB cartridge without the rare specialty screwdrivers required.

All you need are a pair of pliers and something sharp enough to grind away at plastic. I used a screwdriver for this. What it comes down to, is using a sharp object to widen the hole in which the Nintendo screw rests, wide enough for your pliers to close around the screw. If you've got pliers narrow enough to fit around the screw off the bat, then hooray for you, all you need are pliers. Once you can get the pliers onto the screw, it's just a matter of applying pressure, and twisting that bitch open. With the screw out, the cartridge just slides a tad lengthwise and pops off.

And here's what we find:

Well, minus the save battery. The save battery is a pink-rimmed Maxell 3V CR2025 lithium button battery, but mine was removed before this photo was taken. The battery is connected on both ends by small metal clamps that are either welded or super-glued to the battery's positive and negative sides, because it sure was hell separating the battery from the pins. I ended up breaking the lower (positive) connector, and that led to some hi-jinks of its own. (Author's note: I ended up soldering it back on via a string of solder and a cheap 1 dollar lighter, but the solder snapped off before long. If you have an actual soldering iron, I'm certain the process is easy as hell to repair it.) But as you can see, I finally got the save battery out. At that point, curiosity overwhelmed me. Literally missing a piece of hardware, would the game still work? Let's take the half-cartridge and try to stick it in the Gameboy. Turn it on, see what happens.

The answer? Yes. It still works. I've gutted the cartridge, broken a pin, ripped out a battery, and it still works. Pretty impressive. Well, moving forward, I bought myself a CR2025 battery from ye olde locale photographye shoppe (Black's Photography, but you can get CR2025s at most technology stores, and even department stores with electronics sections) and it was time to put it in. Since I broke one of the pins, it was going to take a bit of extra effort, so to test out the feasibility of the experiment, I held everything together with my hand, sliding the cartridge in my old Game Boy and very awkwardly starting a new game, skipping all the dialog, naming my character, setting the time, wandering outside, saving the game, shutting the Game Boy off, waiting for several seconds, then rebooting, to discover my intact save file. Superb!

All that remained was re-assembling my wrecked-up battery hub:

The end result? I just booted the system up after 20 minutes of power-down (which is much more than the 15 seconds necessary to completely release memory from the system with a nice 12 second buffer) and the adventures of Fagball were still safely recorded and not-corrupt.

Victory has been the end result of this match. Victory in the name of denying defeat through persistence.

Oh, I also made a noteworthy recent purchase:

but I'll explain more on that later. For now I've added the tag just to see if I remember how my site's source code works. I've also been routinely playing my Atari (game library's up to 4, and I've got a walk-through video which can be seen here for now, I'll host it later) as well as the beloved Katamari Forever. I have a history of adoring the Katamari games, and the fifth major installment is no exception. But that will likely be saved for another time.
Tagged under: drumming, gaming, music, site
1 comment(s) | Leave a comment

Comment by user Dr.P
at 10/05/27 at 1:56 EST

"Part One of a one-part series." - Best part.

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