In the world of retro electronics, there’s one problem that always seems to creep up: Leaking or dried out capacitors. When capacitors dry up, they stop working, which is annoying, but relatively easy to fix: Simply replace the bad capacitors. Unfortunately, when the electrolytic fluid leaks instead of just drying out, it can corrode other components around it, as well as the motherboard itself. If left unattended for long enough, the fluid can destroy the motherboard to the point that it’s completely unfixable.
We’ve predominately seen this in video game consoles, most notably the Game Gear, original Xbox, plus the “Express” and “Duo” consoles from NEC. Unfortunately, many people’s fears have come true: We now need to worry about leaking capacitors in game cartridges as well 🙁
Users of the circuit-board.de forum have determined that the shorter versions of Star Fox / Star Wing PCB’s with the “glob tops” may have used lower quality capacitors than other versions and theirs have started to leak. I don’t believe there’s a way to tell by looking at the outside of the case, so you’ll need to open it to check (the one on the left is the one with a potentially leaking cap):
Here’s what’s believed to be the exact capacitor, as well as an eBay link that might be the same thing. You might want to just look up the specs on Digikey, Mouser, or your favorite parts supplier though:
Luckily, many game carts don’t have capacitors at all, however it looks like it’s time to start checking your carts; I’d very carefully open each of your most valuable or rare carts right away to see if there’s any leaks.
At the moment, here’s all the SNES cart board revisions with capacitors (thanks to thegirlg33k and Vanessaira for the info!); Please keep in mind that they all might not be leaking, but as with all capacitors, will need to eventually be replaced and should be checked:
SHVC-1A8F-01 , SHVC-1C0N , SHVC-1C0N5S-01 , SHVC-1C0N5S-02 , SNSP-1C0N5S-01 , SHVC-1CA0N5S-01 , SHVC-1CA0N6S-01 , SHVC-1CA6B-01 , SHVC-1CB0N6S-01 , SHVC-1CB0N7S-01 , SHVC-1CB5B-01 , SHVC-1CB5B-10 , SHVC-1CB5B-20 , SHVC-1CB7B-01 , SHVC-1DE3B-01 , SHVC-BDH3B-01 , SHVC-LDH3C-01 , SHVC-2E3M-01 , SNSP-1L0N3S-01 , SNSP-1L3B-01 , SHVC-1L3B-02 , SNSP-1L3B-10 , SHVC-1L3B-11 , SNSP-1L3B-20 , SHVC-1L5B-01 , SHVC-1L5B-02 , SHVC-1L5B-10 , SHVC-1L5B-11 , SHVC-1L5B-20 , SHVC-1L8B-01 , SNSP-1N0N-01 , SHVC-LN3B-01 , and super game boy boards
While you’re in there, use a q-tip and some isopropyl (and maybe a pink pencil eraser) to give the contacts a good cleaning as well. Please remember to never use abrasive solutions or materials!!! If a pink eraser and isopropyl isn’t good enough, stop and contact a professional.
PSA: If your Star Fox cartridge uses the "4 glob top" pcb there's a good chance that the capacitor is leaking by now. Replacement cap should be 22µF with at least 6V rating and max height of 5mm. More examples: https://t.co/8BDKlLrMOy pic.twitter.com/jgSoecD3JX
— blizzz (@blizzzilla) February 27, 2021