Hardware N3DSXL failing POST, bottom screen flashes, power LED comes on briefly

DarkDengar

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Hi all,

I took apart my N3DSXL a few days ago to clean the internals, especially the Circle Pad and B button since I was having responsiveness issues with them.
(Curse you Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels! :rofl:)

After reassembly, the system will not boot. I have attempted carefully reseating all of the ribbon cables 3 or 4 times. The cables coming through the hinge from the top screen were particularly tricky for me to reconnect.

After reading the problems and proposed solutions for many others posting on this forum, I believe my system is failing POST, since the blue power light comes on for about 1 second, then the bottom screen flashes for a split second, and all goes dark again. Further, I believe it is failing POST specifically because of a problem with the top screen ribbon connector since the top screen does not flash at all when attempting to boot, which I have read will render the system unable to boot here. Upon examination, I think the top display cable may have been damaged in one of my attempts to reseat it using tweezers. Take a look at this picture:

IMG_20200502_155924 - Copy.JPG


If it is indeed damaged, I see my options as being:
  1. Repair the traces on the ribbon cable. No idea if this is feasible... but it would be a neat solution.
  2. Replace the whole display with a new one. I have read enough to understand that this is a very difficult task, but feasible.
If the cable looks functional to you, maybe there's another factor I haven't considered for it failing POST? All I know for sure is the top screen does not come on at all.

Thanks for looking at my problem. Love my 3DS, and really bummed to have lost access to it at this time... :sleep:
 

IC_

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That's right, the console will not power on without the top screen and the bottom screen will flash white
Try reconnecting the cable again, maybe it was just a bad connection
The cable looks fine to me but it could be damaged deeper inside in the top part
 
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DarkDengar

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That's right, the console will not power on without the top screen and the bottom screen will flash white
Try reconnecting the cable again, maybe it was just a bad connection
The cable looks fine to me but it could be damaged deeper inside in the top part

Thank you for your feedback! I tried carefully re-seating ‘em all again, but now it might be worse... just depends on what is causing the new behavior (see below).

These areas look questionable.

View attachment 207427

Thank you, too! I did not catch the mark on the slot; looks like maybe one of the pins is broken. Looking under a microscope, the traces/channels on the ribbon itself seem to be intact/continuous in those spots, but will definitely keep these 3 areas in mind. All that being said, now we have a new issue.

After reassembly, I am not getting a blue LED or any feedback whatsoever on power button pushes. I am hoping I was merely careless and did not reattach something, but I fear the worst. I tested the battery in another working N3DSXL, and it works fine. I also tried using the working N3DSXL’s battery in the one I’m repairing, but no dice. So I really don’t think it’s the battery, anyways. Also, note that the orange charging LED is functional, and seems to be charging the battery, so the LED array itself seems to be attached.

Do either of you (or anyone reading) know under what circumstances there is no power-on/boot response at all on power button pushes?
 

DarkDengar

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https://gbatemp.net/threads/new-3ds-xl-not-turning-on-no-lights.439525/

So lucky to have a well-known 5 year-old system with lots of experts and lots of people with similar issues! Makes me feel like there’s hope this will turn out okay.

Digging some more into this... I wonder if the pin @TurdPooCharger noticed is causing this new behavior? Maybe when I reseated the ribbons I caused the bent pin to touch another pin and short the top screen? Probably need to whip out the microscope again...

I just discovered that one of the connectors for the screens on the motherboard has bent pins on the inside. Luckily, the bent pins belong to the side NOT touching the ribbon cable's contacts, so I simply have to remove them. I hope the bent pins didn't short out and damage any other components. :angry:
 
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@DarkDengar, the more you disconnect and reconnect the ribbon cables, the higher your chances of damaging the motherboard's ZIF connectors and traces in those cables. Failure to boot caused by broken flex cable(s) { upper LCD, speaker assembly, camera module } especially around the hinge area sometimes give a characteristic popping sound. That 'popping → instant shutoff' is a warning that there's a short and any further attempts at turning on the 3DS can eventually lead to hardbricking the motherboard. Your n3DSXL might have been shorting without the pop. Because the blue LED power indicator no longer turns on, I'm afraid that the continual ON & OFF spread the damage to one or more of these:
  • F1 & F2 mircofuses (Serves as breakers for unsafe spike in voltage & current levels.)
  • power supply filter (inductor coil that's usually found near the charger port. This should be fine if orange LED charge indicator turns on.)
  • IC charging chip (Found on the motherboard. Should be fine if test battery drained on another (2/3)DS charges on this n3DSXL.)
  • powerboard / XYBA buttons board (On the n3DSXL, this contains the power button and PMIC? {power management integrated chip})
The easiest way to determine if that n3DSXL's motherboard is intact would be to find another fully functioning n3DSXL and carefully swap their motherboards. This troubleshooting method is expensive and has the high risk of damaging the donor n3DSXL. Because you got yourself into this pickle with no improvements insight, I don't personally recommend the 'swap mobo into good body' route. Chances of having two dead n3DSXLs is stacked against you in that gamble.

If or when it's financially prudent to do and if that n3DSXL has sentimental value that's irreplaceable to you, consider outsourcing the repair to a someone who specializes fixing 3DS systems.
 

DarkDengar

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@DarkDengar, the more you disconnect and reconnect the ribbon cables, the higher your chances of damaging the motherboard's ZIF connectors and traces in those cables. Failure to boot caused by broken flex cable(s) { upper LCD, speaker assembly, camera module } especially around the hinge area sometimes give a characteristic popping sound. That 'popping → instant shutoff' is a warning that there's a short and any further attempts at turning on the 3DS can eventually lead to hardbricking the motherboard. Your n3DSXL might have been shorting without the pop. Because the blue LED power indicator no longer turns on, I'm afraid that the continual ON & OFF spread the damage to one or more of these:
  • F1 & F2 mircofuses (Serves as breakers for unsafe spike in voltage & current levels.)
  • power supply filter (inductor coil that's usually found near the charger port. This should be fine if orange LED charge indicator turns on.)
  • IC charging chip (Found on the motherboard. Should be fine if test battery drained on another (2/3)DS charges on this n3DSXL.)
  • powerboard / XYBA buttons board (On the n3DSXL, this contains the power button and PMIC? {power management integrated chip})
The easiest way to determine if that n3DSXL's motherboard is intact would be to find another fully functioning n3DSXL and carefully swap their motherboards. This troubleshooting method is expensive and has the high risk of damaging the donor n3DSXL. Because you got yourself into this pickle with no improvements insight, I don't personally recommend the 'swap mobo into good body' route. Chances of having two dead n3DSXLs is stacked against you in that gamble.

If or when it's financially prudent to do and if that n3DSXL has sentimental value that's irreplaceable to you, consider outsourcing the repair to a someone who specializes fixing 3DS systems.

Once again, @TurdPooCharger, very grateful for your detailed help in this post and many others.

To finish the story here: I ended up buying a used n3DS off eBay in great condition and doing a manual system transfer using ninfs by @ihaveamac, a GodMode9 NAND backup, and Decrypt9WIP’s Forced CTRTransfer. I tried using the amazing D9 script you wrote for GM9, but no matter how I sliced it, the .sha file created using GM9 and other SHA generators would not satisfy it. I’m curious to know what I was doing wrong- the .bin I used for the CTRTransfer was the exact same size, to the byte, as the ones from The Guide, but I could only ever generate 32 byte .sha files. The .sha file included with The Guide’s CTRTransfer’s .bin was 33 bytes... :huh:
Anyways, all is well now, and I am back to enjoying an awesome console, just as it was before all this, loaded with CFW and homebrew- very glad I softmodded it in the first place and very grateful for all the research and programming work that has gone into it. :)

I will note to benefit unfortunates reading this with similar troubles in the future; when you mount your GM9/other NAND backup using ninfs, the “ctr_full.img” is your decrypted NAND; you can copy out, rename it to .bin and use it for CTRTransfer purposes. I kind of had to discover that myself, so now you don’t have to!

EDIT: I forgot to mention that I’m still pretty sure after checking fuses and such that you mentioned, it’s got to be the pictured top screen ribbon cable and the slot/cradle for it on the motherboard that are the problem. Someday I will probably order replacements and fix it for practice!
 
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@DarkDengar, the CTRTransfer (Type D9) I created is not a 1-to-1 replica of Decrypt9WIP CTRTransfer. You can read a brief overview in the What is this? section at the info page.

Other than borrowing several key safety features and method of reflashing the raw donor ctrtransfer *.bin image to the CTRNAND partition {this is where the D9 moniker comes from}, CTRTransfer (Type D9) was designed to repair the 3DS firmware + custom firmware from a wide range of causes while [ retaining / salvaging / keeping in place ] as much of the system's console unique files, user's profile setup including eShop legit tickets, and restoring the DS(i) mode {TWL system titles + dsiware games & saves} that bricks whenever performing any form of CTRTransfers. While Decrypt9 CTRTransfer did had its place fixing certain softbricks that standard GodMode9 CTRTransfer might have trouble handling, there are serious shortcomings in the oldest of the three CTRTransfers (excluding SafeCTRTransfer ~ 2.1.0 downgrade A9LH Soundhax), mainly that it's not conservative backing up and restoring important files.

***

The reason why (Type D9) rejects privately dumped ctrnand image is because of that size difference in the *.sha hash file. Public images found on 3ds.hacks.guide, quantumcat1.github.io, adrifcastr.github.io/3Down, etc. are manually marked with the region code for that image's 3DS firmware at the 33rd byte.

Even if a privately dumped ctrnand image had its .SHA edited with the the 33rd byte region code, (Type D9) is extremely selective in only borrowing the donor's title.db, import.db, title folder, tickets (TIK) dumped from ticket.db {any of your original system tickets you still have are dumped on top of the donor tickets), and (if these are absolutely required) certs.db & SecureInfo_A.

***

Also, the kind of forced CTRTransfer you did is something akin to Lazarus3DS. While I have discussed in details before how one can do 'nand cloning' or 'homebrew system transfer',

, having helped others fixed their 3DS systems delivered to me and shipped back through Pigeon Carrier Air Express,

, I am not a proponent or advocate of this modding if used on a permanent basis.

Brief descriptions of several nand files.
 
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My 3ds (N3DSXL) Has a top screen that broke when it fell 1 inch (not even through the air) out my pocket. Dont wanna send it to nintendo, cause repair is 100 $, and I spent 100 on it originally. It has a flickering top screen due to (i believe) the 3d facetracking. I think one of the 3D screens broke. Now I can't play for more than 1 minute without getting s seizure, nor do I have the repair skills to restore it. Im thinking of modding it to run GBA games on the bottom screen and just putting a cloth over the top screen.
 
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