Nintendo DS current consumption – hahd numbahs

Background story
So I was busy homebrewing on my NDS, even bought myself a DSerial board to use it as an ultraportable serial/debug console. I had a few ideas for the much faster, native parallel interface too, so when we were sending out boards at work, I threw my own “DParallel” onto the layout. The boards came back, and we had to cut them apart…note to self: DO NOT let your machinist saw apart your boards on a huge gritty band saw. As is semi-common practice (and just like on the DSerial) I laid out a big VDD (main system power) plane on the bottom of the board and a big GND plane on top. Before inserting the board, I peered down the sides of the card slot to be sure they weren’t metal that would short against the sides of the board, and even performed some quick “due diligence” checks with an ohmmeter to be sure I didn’t do anything stupid (such as somehow shorting VDD and GND together) that would result in frying my DS.

Satisfied that all was well, I popped the board in, hit the power switch…and proceeded to fry my DS :-(

Turns out that the top and sides of the card slot are plastic, but the back surface (hard to see in an all-black DS) is METAL, and it’s connected directly to ground. Combine this with a big VDD plane in direct contact with it, and some rough board-sawing leaving some exposed copper on said plane, and a heap o’ trouble ensues.

Anyway, due to some smart engineering by the big N, I am spared from my own stupidity (it just blew an internal fuse). Googling for Nintendo DS power consumption specs to figure out what replacement fuse I needed, I saw just forum posts with educated guesses ranging from ~ 300mA to upwards of 1.5A. So while I had it under the knife, I decided I’d settle the question once and for all.



Current Consumption Numbers:

All measurements taken on a DS Lite “revision as of Jan. 07” at 3.70VDC, the nominal voltage of the battery pack.

Quiescent (power OFF, just running the realtime clock)…1.3uA! (This is Sweet F-All.)
NDS Boot screen, no cartridges installed…
Screen brightness 1 (lowest) : 54mA
Screen brightness 2 : 81mA
Screen brightness 3 (default) : 128mA
Screen brightness 4 (brighest) : 180mA

All the following measurements taken at Brightness level 3 (default) unless otherwise noted.

DS Download Play (Wi-Fi module active/scanning) : 177mA
Pictochat (Wi-Fi active) : 140-184mA

With Supercard SD installed….
NDS Boot screen (Pictochat / Download Play selection screen) : 159mA
GBA mode (bottom screen off, probably ARM9, 3D engine and a couple other things powered down too) : 98mA
SuperCard home screen: 165mA
Playing a movie using Moonshell (bottom screen off, 2D) : 118mA
Moonshell ‘idle’ (both screens off) : 67mA
Metroid Prime Hunters (both screens active, 3D, heavy Flash seeking) : up to 190mA
Running “WiFi_Example1” (both screens and WiFi active) : 228mA
WFC “Search for access points” : 228mA
“Almost Worst Case”: Running Wifi_Example1 at full brightness: 278mA

Worst case seen: ~ 290mA

Breakdown
Base… 36mA?
1st brightness level: add 18mA to base
2nd brightness level: add 24mA to 1st brightness
3rd brightness level: add another 47mA…
4th brightness level: add another 52mA to all of the above

(Total power savings by keeping lowest brightness: 126mA)

SuperCard SD: add 31-37mA while idle…a bit more while reading/writing the SD.

Bottom screen @ default brightness: save 47mA by turning it off

WiFi enabled (“new” 1/2007 DS Lite wifi chipset) : add 49 ~ 63mA, varies based on what it’s doing.
Around the tail end of 2006, Nintendo switched to a different WiFi chipset (sorry, can’t find any more info online from DS forums, etc…only the code changes in libdswifi CVS to accommodate it). This is the one I have. Power draw results for the previous chipset could vary from this.

Fictional (best case) playing times:
Numbers obtained by dividing battery capacity (1000 mAh) by actual current consumption. The “mAh” (milliamp-hour) rating means the battery can in theory supply 1,000mA for 1 hour (or 100mA for 10 hours, etc.).

These are rough ballparks that assume 100% conversion efficiency, extracting 100% of the power out of the battery, and all kinds of other things which do not reflect reality. Your real numbers will be lower.

Brightness 1 (min), no cartridge: 18.5 hrs
Brightness 2, no cartridge: 12.3 hrs
Brightness 3 (default), no cartridge: 7.8 hrs
Brightness 4 (max), no cartridge: 5.5 hrs

As you can see, backlight setting has a large impact on total run time!

Let’s assume default brightness for now…

Pictochat / Wifi download play: 5.6 hrs
Running SuperCard SD: 6.1 hrs
Running SuperCard SD with intensive game: 5.3 hrs
Running SuperCard SD in GBA mode: 10.2 hrs
Running Wifi app/game from Supercard SD: 4.4 hrs

Miscellaneous
“Low Battery” threshold: about 3.70V
Low battery automatic shutdown: about 3.44V

Startup current profile, no cartridges:
Initial phase: 20mA (screens off, power indicator dimmed)
Second phase: 85mA (screen backlights on, still initializing things)
Fully initialized: 128mA (default brightness)

Fuse sizing (for everyone else who did something dumb and blew F2): I had some 500mA 0603 surface mount fuses laying around (Rezu project represent!), so I used one of these. I think it’s a good number given the above. Worst-case power usage I could produce was just a hair under 300mA, but some other DS slot 1/2 cards (games, flashcarts, rumble paks, specialty cards like the Opera Browser cart with onboard RAM) may draw more juice (still, I doubt it would bring the total over 500mA). Even if you’re sticking your own Pentium 4 accelerator card in there, I wouldn’t advise sizing the fuse above about 750mA, absolute max. It’s there in part to keep the Li-Ion battery pack from going all Sony Vaio on you and melting your pocket into hot slag if something in the DS shorts.

Text on the new Mitsumi wifi module:
DWM-W006
IC: 4250A-DWMW006
FCC ID: EW4DWMW006
(“R” symbol) 007NTCUL0121
Made In Philippines

Mitsumi’s web site provides no evidence that this module actually exists, of course.

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36 Responses to “Nintendo DS current consumption – hahd numbahs”

  1. dekutree64 says:

    Interesting. I didn’t know the backlights were THAT power hungry.

    If you ever have it open again, I’d be curious to see exactly how much power official games take in “sleep mode” (lid closed). Also the difference between repeatedly calling swiWaitForVBlank, versus spinning in a cache/ITCM loop, versus spinning in an un-cached main RAM loop.

  2. Napalmman says:

    Good work!
    I was wondering what the numbahs on the wifi antenna would be.
    It would be a cool hack to mod it, maybe increase the range?
    I think an external antenna could be made, if the specifics were known.
    (impedance?)
    Someone with more know-how can point me in the right direction?

  3. Anakaris says:

    Got a few questions. Fuses 1 and 2. Which one corresponds to the DS card slot and which one for GBA slot?? I’m not the “tech-type”, but what is the lowest amperage for the fuse I should use? The highest you said should be 750mA. Finally are the fuses time-lag, or fast-acting? Thanks in advance. Oh yeah, one more thing. I don’t know how to solder surface mount fuses. Could I use non-surface mount fuses with the correct amp specifications?

  4. Tim says:

    @Anakaris: I don’t think the fuses F1 and F2 correspond directly to a particular slot. It looks like F1 is in series between the wall charger and the charging circuitry / battery (protects the battery and wall charger if a battery cell becomes shorted), and F2 is in series between the battery and the main DS electronics (protects the battery and motherboard from shorted cartridges, like the dumb thing I did). The fuse should be a fast-acting type, 500mA should be plenty.

    A non surface mount fuse of the correct ratings will in theory work, but it doesn’t much change the problem – you still have to attach wires to the tiny SMD pads, but now you also have to find a way to mount and insulate your wired-in fuse inside the DS so it can’t rattle around or short against other things. I highly recommend using the correct surface mount fuse (0603 size) if you can. To get the old fuse off, carefully add solder to the pad on each side until there is enough to touch the iron tip to the solder balls on both sides at the same time (hold the tip against the side of the fuse) so that they melt, and nudge the part off the pads – once free of the pads, it should stay stuck to the tip and you can pull it right up. (See the 2nd and 3rd image of this tutorial.) Using solder wick or just a clean tip, remove as much solder from one pad as you can, but leave a solder ball on the other pad (add a bit if necessary). Hold the new fuse with tweezers, aligned the same direction as the original was. Melt the solder ball with the iron, and slide the end of the new fuse into the solder ball so that it is centered on the pads (one end should now securely stuck to that pad with the solder ball, and the other end resting snugly on top of the other pad). Finally, add solder to the resting pad so that it also flows against the metal edge of the fuse.

  5. […] Nintendo DS current consumption – Original Link. […]

  6. […] Nintendo DS current consumption – Link. […]

  7. Johndoe says:

    Hey, I have a question to ask (if you even see this). Does the voltage on the fuse matter? I’m a complete newb when it comes to electronic engineering. I found this fuse at littelfuse(dot)com (part# 0434.500): Very Fast Acting; Size – 0603; AMP RATING – 0.5000; VOLTAGE RATING – 32; RESISTANCE – 0.1930; I2t – 0.0087; Thin-Film Chip; Surface Mount. Will this work for replacing the f2 fuse in the DS? Most of the nds “scenes” are dead or dying (the ones I know of anyhow). Thanks in advance.

  8. Tim says:

    Hi Johndoe, that fuse should work. For fuses the current rating is the important number, and the voltage rating should be the same or higher than the highest voltage it will see in the device. It guarantees that voltages up to the rating can’t sneak past the blown fuse in other ways such as arcing across ;)

  9. Fernando says:

    Hi Tim,

    Just a quick question. bought my younger kid a Ds for Xmas, on january 1st while playing a game the thing shutdown never to turn on again. Took it to the Nintendo service center, had to leave it for a diagnostic. They called me one day after, two let me know it was repaired and ready to pick up. When I asked the tech, he told me that it was ormal for a new Ds to blew a fuse due to the new battery producing more current than normal. I am not an electronics tech, but that sounds like BS! can I have your opinion please, I am wondering if I should ask for a replacement.

    Thanks

  10. David says:

    I was replacing broken covers (hinges) for both of my son’s games. The upper display on one of the games didn’t work and I figured I could troubleshoot the problem when I took both of the games apart by using the working upper display and ribbon cable with the unit that didn’t work to make sure the problem was with the upper display or cable, then I could substitute the cables to see whether it was the cable or display. Somehow I managed to blow the fuses in both units. I figure that somehow the lower display case must have contacted the back of the PCB, but I thought I was being careful enough as it was made clear with the instructions I had for replacing the case that it was important to make sure this didn’t occur.

    On one of the surface mount fuses it is labeled “32”, I am not sure if that is short for 300mA or 320mA. I wouldn’t think it would be the voltage ratng as it the current should be the most important spec.

  11. Tim says:

    @Fernando: There’s probably no danger (in terms of breakability, etc.) keeping the repaired DS with its new correctly sized fuses, but I’m inclined to call BS on the explanation that the fuse blew due to a “higher current” battery. A typical Li-Ion or Li-Pol battery as in the DS (old or new) can produce several amps without breaking a sweat; what limits it is how much the electronics actually are drawing at any given time. My guess at the fuse rating is 500mA. It’s more likely they reduced the value of the fuse in newer DSes and shouldn’t have; or that a newer part (e.g. Wifi module revision) draws bigger power bursts than in previous generations, but that’s a mouthful for a minimum-wage tech to explain.

  12. Tim says:

    @David: Unfortunately “32V” is also a common voltage rating for SMD fuses, complicating what a vague unitless “32” on top of the fuse might mean.

    PS. Pull the battery before you take it apart next time :-)

  13. sisterlister says:

    Just a quick one, I had 3 old style DS,s today now I have one that works oops. The penny is just dropping as to why the other two are not working since I changed the screen,s and cases, thought I was doing well as well, who would have thought that that little bit of foam was so crucial. The thing is I keep seeing info on the DS light but where are the fuses on the old type. can you help in some way. thanks for your time.

    PS
    Tim the info iv got from this site is ace, loads of thanks for what you have done.

  14. sisterlister says:

    Sorry this sorted it for me. Good work any ways.

    http://ndsrlz.online.fr/?page=tutorials&id=5

  15. yogiboy says:

    Hi tim,first of all,i found this website by accident,im thankful i did…i have two ds.fat ds and ds lite….the lite has the orange lite on..from what ive seen on the wb,it might be the fuse.if you think otherwise,please let me know….also, the fat ds had a cracked top screen,wich i replaced….and i ran into the prblems of not working at all,as ive seen on other posts that people have that rouble because of the ribbon not being possitioned right…i fixed that….well the problem with the fat one now is that the top screen still doesnt work….is just blank.im wondering if is a faulty scren or the ribbon from top to bottom….if you have any pointers,plase help..once again,thanks for this site and your time,ive learned a couple of things….thanks, yogiboy MN>>.

  16. yogiboy says:

    hi, tim. i was waiting for a response from you….anyway…i can figure the orange light with the help youve provided already…my other problem is the old fat ds i mentioned above….i replaced with another screen,it comes up blank (white screen). but i noticed tonight that the bottom screen shows the top clock as well as what is supposed to on the bottom. you can barely see the clock on the bottom but i still think is odd.im wondering if is the top to bottom ribbon,or i just plugged it wrong.i keep messing with it,but it still wont show or it wont turn on…i really need someones help….please.. thanks again for the site.

  17. Ste says:

    Hi, my sons nds lite has stopped working, the orange lite comes on when plugged into the charger but the ds will not power up. I know its nothing to do with connections on the screens as i have used a good ds to fault find with and i also know that from testing both F1 and F2 are sound – Its got to be a fault with the motherboard of some kind – please help hes driving me mad…….thanks

  18. Justin says:

    Hello Tim,

    My DS Phat had just stopped turning on and charging, so I found a website (http://www.m3wiki.com/index.php/Nintendo_DS_Lite_:_Repair_a_broken_console_(blown_fuse)) and bridged the F1 fuse on the back and now it charges fine (orange light comes on) but won’t turn on.

    Do you think I need to bridge or replace the F1 and F2 fuses to get it working again?

  19. Adam says:

    Hey tim. i had a mate called tim once, not as clever as we are. Nice site full of info, im adam, im into almosteverything, i take things apart and puts them back together modded if i had the cardboard and gafer tape at hand. few months back, i recieved a broken DS lite, black, free, i waited for a chance wuld come along and fix the top screen, thats all that was rong with it… finally i saw one on ebay, faulty, and broken, i bought it cheep,very,,,,, yey, i have a ds lite,,nice mix of colors with white and black,, had the chance to put some lights on it,,which was interesting8 lights in total. red.,, the fuse dint blow either…altho at the moment i replaced one near the slot 2. got an adaptor ttds, and the micro card 2gb,, put all the games and software on it,, brill,, i even in between, i put a turbo switch on the side runnin another 20mhz, fantastic in mario carts online. ,,,after a while ,,,week or two,, i dedided to try an solder the adaptor to the board,, by takin off slot 1,,well anyway,,, i was soldering with the battry and holder on the board,, wat a mistake after all that,, got the ttds card onto the board, and found that out..took it apart and back together,, didnt work obviously.. took it apart,, not the top half,, done it tho now..after swappin componants from one pcb to another,, most were goin ok,, ok,,, at the moment all is workin ok,,part from the top screen :>),, it turns on,,,, but fades the graphics to off,,, my uncle says its one of the capacitors i havent touch any big ic on the boarad only the brown and black ones,, still workin i know it culd be one tiny thing,, or lots of things,,just wondering,,, cool,, site… i have pics

  20. […] a las 4 hs la bata.. que onda? alguno tiene alguna idea? No ser? el consumo de la N5? Encontr? esto por ahora sobre el consumo de la consola. __________________ La verdad sobre los Fotolog Un d?a de […]

  21. Philip says:

    Hey, i have a problem with my own nds which i have no idea what it is, it starts and it loads just fine, but when i play certain games like New super mario bros is just shuts down by itself for some reason, and always when i use the buttons frequently.

    Fuse 2 was blown when i got it so i used this method http://www.m3wiki.com/index.php/Nintendo_DS_Lite_:_Repair_a_broken_console_(blown_fuse)
    to get the Nds going again but when i started to play on it it kept shutting down and i have no idea what causes it.

    However, games like Final Fantasy tactics 2 works for hours without any problems.

  22. joy mandia says:

    I would like to ask if there’s a nearest service center here in Bulacan. My son DS Nintendo 2006 model I want to bring for repair. And where I can buy cheaper Memory Stick and Memory Card. ThankS!

  23. ervin says:

    I have a question (sorry for the bad english)

    i have a ds lite witch has a red wire that is attached ad the connector that goes to the upper screen the red wire is at the place wich is the number 44

    i made some pictures of it but dont know how to put them here

    maybe someone can explain???

  24. Masterme120 says:

    Hi, this might be completely unrelated, but probably isn’t. My DS original’s speakers stopped working, so I took apart the top section of the case and cleaned off the contacts on the speaker. Only one thing, I forgot to take the battery out before I disconnected the main ribbon cable! After that, my DS wouldn’t turn on and only made a clicking noise while the light flashed on then off.

    What’s especially weird, however, is that when I disconnected the ribbon cable with the battery still in, then took out the battery, then reconnected the cable, then put the battery back in, it worked and still is working perfectly!

    Can you explain why this worked? I personally have no clue and was just trying anything and everything.

    Thanks in advance.

  25. StaffBull says:

    Fuses and repair service on ebay, user ID ynysmaon2007
    he doe touchscreens and other repair parts too

  26. StaffBull says:

    last post should be user ID ynysmon2007 !!!!!!!!

  27. plugly says:

    any chance you could do a full pin out of a working board so when testing a broken/faulty main board so it would be easy to trace the faulty componant

  28. PC Doctor says:

    As long as you can test that your fuse is really blown you could just solder the new fuse on top of the old one using the same contacts so that you dont damage the motherboard contacts or other components around it. Very fine self closing tweezers also help alot.

    Also trying to design a manualy or self reseting fuse, but not just for the NDS, anyone know of one this size that already exists?

  29. Tim says:

    @PC Doctor: Self-resetting fuses do exist, search for “PTC fuse” “polyfuse” (on digikey, etc.) to turn up the relevant parts. The difficulty with them is that they add some resistance (sometimes 100s of ohms) in their “unblown” state, and still conduct slightly in their “blown” state. When they are designed into a commercial gadget, the part has been carefully chosen so that the on-resistance does not create its own problems such as excessive voltage drop under heavy load (e.g. in the DS’ case, false “low battery” shutdown if the backlights are turned all the way up), and e.g. the off-state leakage does not destroy the battery from overdischarge if the battery is not pulled within a couple days of the “blown” fuse. The upside is that they remain “blown” for as long as the device is powered and the fault exists, and automagically reset when left unpowered for a short length of time (normally a few minutes).

  30. l'apoileur says:

    bonjour,

    j’en ai conclut que la ds lite possédait des fusibles 1 Ampère.
    J’explique ce qui m’a amener à cette conclusion ici > http://gueux-forum.net/index.php?showtopic=218639

  31. Coto says:

    Hi, a F2 labeled “32” fuse just blew yesterday. While I was trying to turn my ds on, it just wouldn´t. Then started googling about it.

    Reading this I finally understood everything. And my word:

    If you ever can´t find a relatively compatible fuse for DS, try bridging both contacts using a small cable and a soldering gun.

    It took a few hours of a -looking good- job.

    And hell yeah, I know the risks, “possible battery melt” or “DS mainboard burn”, but while googling about soldering fuse, never found about melted DSes nor battery melt *after a bridged blown fuse*

    Pd: sorry, english´s just not my main language, but I like it a lot ;D

  32. sam says:

    when I on my nintendo ds the power light is on but the screens won’t turn on.

  33. Bert says:

    Does anyone know how much current one is allowed to pull from the GBA slot ? (Homebrew app with home-made GBA card)

  34. akurei says:

    Thanks for the data. It was really useful for my project!

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