Comic: Savage Goldfish


Is This Super Mario 3 GBA Fake?



I recently got this old GBA cartridge from a thrift-store, and not only does it not work, but it looks super suspicious. After closer investigation, I see it has every hallmark of a bad bootleg.

  • Missing Nintendo copyright visible above the pins.
  • Game doesn't work after battery dies.
  • The label doesn't resemble known retail cartridge labels.
  • Tri-Wing screw is short, cartridge fit is much too tight.
  • Unexpected Epoxy Blob.
  • Soldering looks amateurish.
  • Chips look ugly / recycled / un-readable.
  • Incredibly inexpensive.

So what is this? The two large center chips look like Mitsubishi M6MGB SRAM memory. I'm guessing there's a storage controller under that epoxy blob, and various J & R pins are used to write/erase the thing. It looks more like a USB drive than a Nintendo game.

Will it work if I replace the battery? I think maybe not - SRAM data is eventually lost if the memory is not powered for a long time, sayeth the wikipedia. I might try replacing it anyhow.

The good news is the FBI goes after counterfeit goods everyday, however plenty of pirate flotsam remains long after a manufacturer is convicted. Estimates are that sales of fakes has increased to nearly $900B in 2018, and perhaps as many as one-quarter of people now admit to knowingly buy knockoffs (which is illegal btw).

I hope companies like Nintendo continue the fight to produce physical games that can be authenticated. As game buyers we want to trust what we're really getting, but this problem also extends to food and medicine where these trust issues become deadly serious.

Project: 1959 Silvertone Syntronic


I decided to fire-up and take a listen to this 60-year-old record player I inherited. The motor works, but a few bits were in bad shape. I ordered a new belt and needle for it. Replacement idler wheels are expensive, so I figured I'd try to print one.

The basic design is a copy of the existing idler wheel with a 2" torus cut-out for an o-ring. I adjusted the final fit making the hole 0.7mm larger than the shaft. I printed it at 50% infill with eSun PLA+ while I waited for the other parts to arrive. For o-rings, I paid a buck each.

Next I need to trace wiring the tone-arm to the pre-amp. I got a $17 Pfanstiehl ceramic cartridge from V-M Audio Enthusiasts - which uses different connectors. I read that USB wire will make a good shielded 4-conductor.

Looking at this machine, it got me thinking about the expected lifetime of various materials. Rubber clearly doesn't last 60 years, but they built these parts to be serviceable. If antiques are what's left after all the broken crap gets thrown out - makes me wonder what from 2019 will still be working in 2079.