The Nintendo 3DS is one of the most popular handheld gaming systems in North America. It offers users the ability to enjoy many of their favorite games in 3D with the push of a button. As of April 2015, there were more than 600 games available for this device. Despite its popularity, it is an electronic device and is therefore not immune to common problems. When a 3DS does not charge, many issues could be to blame. Ruling out the obvious culprits is always a good idea, but it may be necessary to fix or replace the charging port.
Two Primary Ways to Charge a 3DS
There are two main ways to charge a Nintendo 3DS. The first method is with the ancillary charging cord. One end of this cord plugs into any standard wall outlet; the other ends in a micro USB connector and inserts into the 3DS itself. The other way is with the 3DS charging dock. While it does not appear impressive upon first glance, it provides a completely different way of charging the device. If the main charging port stops working for any reason, the plastic charging dock provides a simple workaround since it does not utilize the micro USB port on the back of the 3DS.
Symptoms of a Faulty Charge Port
For simplicity's sake, most 3DS owners prefer to utilize the micro USB charge port on the back of the device. It provides immediate access to electricity, and it allows the user to hold the device in his or her hands while it charges. One of the first symptoms that the charging port is faulty is the need to wiggle the cord slightly once plugged into the port to initiate charging. Over time, this may worsen, and the user may find that he or she needs to position the cord at the perfect angle in order to get the 3DS to charge. The device may stop charging altogether, leaving the user unable to use the handheld system.
Troubleshooting a Faulty Charge Port
When a Nintendo 3DS does not charge as it should, it is necessary to troubleshoot not only the device, but also the charger itself. The first course of action is to borrow a 3DS charger from a friend. If that charger successfully charges the 3DS, then the issue lies not within the device, but within the charger. 3DS chargers are readily available online. On the other hand, if a second charger does not work, then the issue lies in the charging port of the 3DS. It is possible that the port is loose, but it may also be broken and in need of replacement. The methods for fixing the charge port depend on the exact issue.
First, look inside the charging port with a flashlight and a magnifying glass, if necessary. If pins in the port appear damaged or pushed out of place, this is likely the culprit. It is possible to carefully bend the pins back into place with tweezers; be sure to remove the battery from the 3DS beforehand and use small plastic tweezers rather than metal ones. This prevents static electricity and further damage to the device.
In some cases, it is necessary to re-solder the connections from the charging port back into place within the 3DS. This requires opening the device's plastic housing, which voids the warranty if it exists. Use a Torx screwdriver to remove all of the tiny screws on the back of the 3DS, and then remove the back cover, battery, and stylus. With the Torx screwdriver, remove the screws located under the back plate, and then gently lift the back of the 3DS. There are two connectors between the back and the motherboard; carefully remove them to pull the back of the 3DS off completely. This exposes the charging port. Carefully break the solder to lift the port out, and then re-solder the six points. This prevents the port from wiggling and renews the charging ability. Then, simply reassemble the 3DS.
It is possible to break the charging port in the 3DS. This generally occurs after dropping the device, forcefully removing the charger, or inserting a foreign object into the port. Fortunately, a new port is relatively inexpensive, and replacing it follows the same steps as repairing a loose port. Instead of re-soldering the old port back into place, simply lift it out and solder in the new one.
How to Buy Parts and Tools for the 3DS on eBay
If your Nintendo 3DS does not charge with the ancillary charger, or if your 3DS is experiencing symptoms of a faulty charging port, all of the parts and tools you need to repair it are available on eBay. On this site, you can find not only the replacement charging port itself, but also all of the tools you will need to complete the task. Soldering guns, Torx screwdrivers, and full repair kits are all just a few clicks away.