Nintendo DS Lite power (current) consumption, part 2 (and other stuff!)

This is a continuation of this post, where I hooked up an ammeter as an afterthought while changing the fuse I blew in my DSLite. I didn’t have any games with me and hadn’t fixed it up to sleep with a SuperCard, so these additional numbers are below. Check the prior post for stuff about battery life impact of different brightness levels, DS vs. GBA mode, WiFi, etc.

All the numbers below were taken with the DSLite backlight set to the lowest brightness setting.

Sleep Mode current (DS lite “on” and flipped closed)
This was measured at 1.77mA and 2.31mA, depending whether the blinking green LED is on at the moment. There is no measurable difference between when sleep is entered at the boot screen with no cartridge, or with a cartridge in the middle of a game.

SuperCard SD users will be mildly upset to know, however, that this device is drawing a constant 35mA at minimum at all times, even when the DS is in sleep. Hardware mods, or a dummy cartridge in Slot 1 (to pull the INTerrupt line low) will prevent annoying sleep/wakeup loops, but it won’t allow your system to take long naps.

Cartridge contribution:
Basically none while the cart is not actively being accessed; e.g. sitting at the boot screen, cartridge inserted / not inserted has no measurable effect (<<1mA).
Conspumption of 54.6mA at boot screen raised to average of only 60-63mA at Super Monkey Ball title screen (2 screens + sound), with very occasional highs of about 74mA during vigorous play with both screens active, 3D, sound, touching, basically everything except wifi. Touched / not touched makes no measurable difference, in case anyone is wondering. Cartridge access is certainly a lot less power-hungry than continuous Flash/SD reads.

NDS Lite with external antenna
I got a broken “parts” DSLite cheaply on eBay for any ‘dangerous’ hardware experiments / mods (I didn’t want to risk my good one again with homebrew hardware in the cartridge slot), and the replacement screen it needed. So while it was open, I figured I’d try plugging in an external antenna. This was a pretty disappointing test.

Antenna used was Unigen partnumber UGADA0B1M1050M-IN or similar (4″ swivel w/ 50mm mini-coax tail, 2.0dBi), which was a spare I scavenged from a helicopter blade testing instrument I designed a couple years ago. Certainly no monster, but I thought it would outperform or at least not suck compared to a copper pattern etched on a 50-cent circuitboard. The DS’ builtin antenna wins by a statistically significant margin. Now a pre-amped Yagi coffeecan will certainly boost your range, but then the DS isn’t exactly such a portable hackytool anymore, and you might as well lug your laptop…

DS wifi module (Mitsumi DWM-W004, DWM-W006 or equivalent) mating connector:
I found and sampled some connectors that will mate with the DS’ mainboard wifi connector and the Mitsumi module, respectively. These part numbers are Molex 53748-0308-C (Digikey p/n WM24014-ND) for the “plug” (mates w/ DS mainboard), and Molex 52991-0308-C (Digikey p/n WM24008-ND) for the “receptacle” (mates with wifi module). I’m not sure how they decide the nomenclature of which is which; both pieces look a little gender-confused if you ask me. These may not be *exact* crosses (indeed, what’s on the official Wifi module doesn’t look like a Molex part at all, while the one on the motherboard most certainly is), but they seem to mate correctly. They are not keyed to prevent backward insertion, so take care.

Order one and you can use spare DSLite wifi transceivers (if you can get them) in your own projects; order both and you can make a daughtercard shim between the DS and the module to tap off signals to a logic analyzer. It would be nice to definitively log the communications required for init, various functions, WPA configuration, etc. The DWM-W006 is (if I remember it right) the same module as in the Wii*, which does support WPA. Wii should give a little more room for a shim board too…

* actually, based on photos of the Wii’s transceiver they’re not pin-compatible and probably use different chipsets, although they have the same FCC ID. Ok, FCC, you’re on crack.

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