Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Gameboy Color Speaker Repair

After weeks of researching why I wasn't getting any sound from the speaker in my Gameboy Color, I've finally figured it out. The most common answer spewed out haphazardly was to change the speaker, but being the type of person who will test the most common answer as a theory, rather than accept it as fact, I proved that wasn't the case for my particular GBC. When tracking down why your GBC isn't making any sound there are many things to keep in mind. The GBC has many little components within the system that drive the speaker, so for many various reasons your GBC may not have sound. Most of these components will be perfectly fine, but sometimes you'll need to dig a little deeper than thousands of people saying the same thing in the same thread on a forum.

I know my speaker works because I tested it in another GBC, just to be sure that I didn't need to change the speaker. By this point I was fed up with having no sound and I was ready to just bypass the headphones and hardwire the speaker to get any sound from it at all. When I held the speaker wires to the headphone connections on the other side of the board the speaker came to life, which I found a little odd, as I don't believe the headphone jack should be live at this point.

So after a little more poking and fidgeting around, I goofed into figuring out what was ailing my particular GBC. Within the headphone jack of the GBC there is a tiny switch that either opens or closes the electronic signal path to the speaker output. As anytime with metal, sometimes it can corrode or tarnish, as was the case with my GBC. This doesn't allow the switch (simply two pieces of metal) to close properly, sending the signal that should be going to the speaker, instead directly to the headphone jack.

The switch in question is at the bottom right of the jack.
Outlined in red and yellow, these two pieces of metal should make
proper contact to send the sound through the speaker.
As you can see above, red and yellow need to make full contact to send the sound to the speaker. Once a headphone input is submitted, the dark grey bit (above red and to the left of yellow) breaks the connection and sends all the sound through the headphone input instead. As you may also see, the metal is quite dirty and tarnished, as are the connection points inside.

This connection is absolutely minuscule, making it almost impossible to properly clean between the two bits of metal. I tried to slide a tiny flat screwdriver down between the two and scrape away anything I could, without success. Finally what I did was press the one piece (highlighted in red) down with one screwdriver, while pressing up toward the other piece from a small hole on the side of the headphone jack, located just below the connection point.

After a little more tinkering around I finally got sound. Just to be sure it would work I plugged in my headphones, but once I unplugged them the sound was gone again. After a few more attempts of bending the one piece of metal, I finally got a fairly decent connection that would allow me to use headphones as well as the speaker once they were disconnected.

It's not perfect, but it's not something I've ever read online as being a fix for a GBC with no speaker sound. I get tired of the knee-jerk reaction of people on forums just regurgitating things they've seen said, and have possibly been correct, before just to be the first to answer a question. But just because someone has said something is the answer, even with conviction, it's not always the right answer. Test the answer like a theory, don't accept it as fact and keep poking, testing and find the answer yourself.

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