By Mr. P

Cracked DS

As I mentioned recently, my children somehow managed to trashed their Nintendo DS by cracking the top display. Initially I’d considered throwing it, but decided it was worth one try at fixing it. Click on the pictures for bigger versions. Here’s how I got on:

DS Fix 01 My starting point, a knackered DS and a replacement screen. The screen came from ConsoleParts4U and cost me £12.99 plus £3.99 delivery.
I also bought from them a special screwdriver needed to get into the case, but I later realised this wasn’t required for the top screen, only the bottom one should I ever need to fix that. They also supplied some instructions which weren’t great, but pointed me generally in the right direction.
DS Fix 02 Around the screen are four rubber squares, two raised and two flat. I prised these out with a watchmakers screwdriver blade and then used another cross head from that set to unscrew them. This doesn’t take long and the back half of the lid shell will easily come off.  
DS 03 Once inside it’s a really simple layout with the screen in the middle and two small circuit boards left and right. The concern is that ribbon cables that actually connect the display to the electronics in the other half of the base. That need to be reconnected, and the two ones that connect the broken display to the circuitry need removing and news ones reattaching. So far it doesn’t look too bad.
DS 04 If you look very closely in the centre of the picture you’ll see a small screw holding the green circuit board in place, which I need to remove to detach the remove the screen and the ribbon cables. When you remove it you realise that the green board also holds the little speaker in place.
DS 05 Now the real fun starts! These ribbon cables use this tiny connectors to attach, and they need to be removed. It’s almost impossible to see but holding the ribbon in these light grey connectors is a black plastic strip that is hinged on the side that meets the ribbon. All you need to do is put a small flat screwdriver under it and it will pop up releasing
the cable. Personally, this is delicate work and I was getting nervous already!
DS06 When you’ve detached the two easy ones you’re confronted with this blighter, which is tiny. To get this out you need to lift tiny plastic flaps on the left and right of where the cable goes in. On the basis you won’t need the screen or cables afterwards you can be rough with them, but not this connector. Getting this connector to open without breaking it is possibly the toughest part of this job.
DS07 After you’ve got the ribbon cables detach you only need to carefully pull the L shaped cable off a small piece of double-sided tape, holding onto the back on the screen, and your ready to remove the old screen. It comes out very easily one you break the grip of some adhesive film that they put around the front of the display. This is the un-mushed one, fresh from it’s packing.
DS08 One thing about the screen that they didn’t mention when you buy it is that the original is held in place by adhesive, which they don’t provide. I hadn’t any double-sided tape, but I found some pads that are for attaching heat sinks, and cut that into strips
DS09 I placed a small piece on each side of the shell where it provided a border for the display. It’s not really to cushion the LCD, but to stop it moving around.
DS10 Reattaching the cables is tricky. You start with the thin cable, then move on to the two wider ones. Having a magnifying glass helps,
as does having steady hands. If you can do this and the cables are secure, you’re home and dry.
DS11 This is my obvious mistake, which I only realised afterwards. I’ve got the circuit board back, but put the ribbons under the circuit board rather than over. Check imags 3 and 4 to see how I should of done it. Once I fixed this it was time to put the case back on and replace the screws.
DS12 The moment of truth, switch on. And, amazingly it works! Now all I’ve got to do is convince my little darlings not to break it again.

16 Responses to “Replacing the Top Screen on the Nintendo DS”

  1. 1 Steve
    August 27, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Hiya Mark!

    Your guide, along with the one I found at Instructables ( ) were very helpful.

    Pity some joker at some point of my parcel’s transit was doing his hacky-sack tricks with it and managed to bugger up the one thing I REALLY needed in it. I still fitted it to test it anyway – it’s only missing 25% of the screen (unlike the 80% the original is missing).

    Just on the “over/under” statement next to your second last photo, do you consider that image to be showing “under”? If so the cables are assembled “over” – your 3rd & 4th images show what I found when I opened my DS.

    All the best!


  2. August 27, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Glad you found it useful!
    The second to last shows how not to do it (i.e. how I put it back), but I subsequently fixed it to the same as seen in the 3rd and 4th images. I’ve reworded to make it clearer!
    If they break the bottom one I’ll cover that…but I hope they don’t that looks more tricky.

  3. 3 ben
    August 28, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    i’ve just replaced entire case on my daughters ds as hinge was broken everything working fine except theres a slight blue tint to both screens.had to replace one of the ribbon cables as i tore one accidently when i originaly took it apart was wondering if that would affect it

  4. August 28, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    I can’t think one cable would impact on both screens. They didn’t put any protective film on the screens did they? (that’s all I can think of).

  5. 5 Paul
    November 8, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Thanks, very helpful!!!

  6. 6 G-Unot
    December 26, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Hello mate,
    I replaced my tOP screen but now it’s all white. What can the problem be?

  7. 7 Vicky
    January 10, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Hiya wondering if you could help, my husband has changed the top screen on my sons Ds and like yourself took the whole lot apart when he did not need to. When he put it back together when you turn it on the bottom screen just flashes and it won’t turn on, any ideas on what the problem may be. Cheers Vicky

  8. January 22, 2008 at 12:36 am

    thanks, i can finally play pokemon,

  9. June 17, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Hi, I followed you guide but now when ever i turn my DS on i see the green light but the screen flickers :S Can you help me please thank you very much!

    This is for the OLD DS & the TOP SCREEN.

  10. June 17, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I’d check the ribbon cables…it sounds like one or more is loose.

  11. June 17, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I re-took them out & pluged them in agian & still the same thing

    Could it have something to do with the bottom half of my DS?

  12. June 17, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Possibly, just because you lose the screen doesn’t mean that’s the bit that’s gone wrong. Without other spares it could be hard to work out what’s failed on that unit. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  13. June 17, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    The top screen has a ribbon that sticks to the back of the screen,i’ll have another look.

  14. 14 Celtic
    August 12, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks so much. You made it easy to follow and understand. Who said chickies cant do this kinda stuff lol

  15. 15 jt
    October 25, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Hi, great guide and very useful as my son decided to use his DS as a Reebok Step!!!! I’ve purchased a new top screen but was under the impression that there was soldering involved, is this not the case?



  16. 16 Alan
    August 12, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Top guide, screen replaced in under 15 mins, only sugestion is dont remove both large ribbons just the one for the screen. This removes one of the fiddly disconnections and re connection.
    Thanks again very much.

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