Modding Tools

This site often talks about doing things that require special tools.  I wanted to create a page that will show you in detail exactly what you may need for pretty much every project on this site.  I also wanted to point out that you don’t need fancy or expensive tools:  All of mine are crappy, old tools, but they still get the job done just fine.  Other than items specific to each mod, here’s everything else you may need:

Game Tools:
The first thing I always suggest is getting the “Game Tools” that open the screws found in cartridge-based games, as well as console’s from Nintendo.  All three of these tools will cost under $20 (including shipping) and are totally worth it:

- 3.8MM Game Tool - For NES and SNES games, plus random others.

- 4.5MM Game Tool - For SNES and some Genesis games, as well as opening SNES and N64 systems.

- Tri-wing screwdrver - For handheld systems and opening the Wii


Basic Tools:
A set of basic tools will come in handy and will be used often: 
- A normal-sized philips head screwdriver is used in pretty much every mod. 
- Large pliers aren’t necessary, but come in handy now and then.
- Wire strippers are great, but you could always use cutters instead.
- I bought a cheap set of dental tools from my local pharmacy.  They’re great for working in tight spaces.
- Mini cutters and pliers came in handy for pretty much every mod.

You’ll also want to look for an “eyeglass repair kit” or “mini toolkit”.  Someone gave me mine years ago and I use it for pretty much every project I work on.  It’s got bits of every kind and you’d be surprised how often you find yourself using the weird ones:

 

Soldering Iron / Solder / Wire
The next thing you’ll need is a soldering iron and solder.  If you plan on multiple mods, I strongly recommend using a "soldering station" with adjustable temperature control.  If you're only doing one or two mods, any cheap low wattage soldering iron should be fine.  I recommend 15-20w and make sure to get one with a very thin thin tip:

Solder is a bit more important:  You’ll want thin rosin-core solder.  The picture below shows .022" diameter solder, but I actually prefer .015" diameter, as it's much easier to use in tiny places:


If you're a beginner at soldering, I suggest watching this video, as it has great tips and shows you everything you could possibly need:

For some mods, you’ll need extremely thin wire, around 30-gauge.  The kind I bought was actually called “wrapping wire”, part number 278-503 from Radio Shack.  It’s a pain to strip wire that thin, but it’s totally necessary for soldering the tiny pins in some of the mods:

 

Multi-meter
A cheap multi-meter would be very helpful as well.  Once again, you don't need anything fancy, just a basic one:

 

Compressed Air:
Compressed air is always helpful any time you're working on electronics.  The best tool would be an actual air compressor, but they're expensive and loud.  If you only plan on working on one or two projects, cans of compressed air are fine...but if you work on a lot of electronic projects, I found a tool you should look into:  The EasyGo EGP-COM-011.  It's expensive, but if you use a lot of compressed air cans, it'll pay for itself within a few months and works just as well.  See links to the right -->

 

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