Nintendo DS Mini USB Plug


Noting that so many of his electronics are using the mini USB plug for charging, [Xavier] decided to modify his Nintendo DS to charge via the same adapter. It looks like the existing adapter is basically a proprietary mini USB plug, so replacing it was actually almost a perfectly clean swap job. He has nice pictures of the process and some helpful tips as well. If you’re thinking of consolidating your charging devices, this looks like a step in the right direction.

37 thoughts on “Nintendo DS Mini USB Plug

  1. This is excellent work – congrats to the chap who did this – not really for the technical challenge, but because it should be taken as a lesson for Ninty, and other companies and their sinful uses of utterly proprietary and nonsense power or even data sockets that actually boil down to USB or even UART.
    Imagine, no more DC round jacks in about a thousand different sizes and polarities, for thousands of different devices.
    With proper standardisation (down to 1, one, uno, un, eins, standard that is!) the world will be a much better gadgety place!

  2. I actually bought a third-party charger that had a USB cable and a little “puck” that had a mini-b female jack, and a male jack of the GBASP/DSPhat variety (what I needed), plus a jack of the DSLite variety. It also came with a car adapter for USB. It was all cheap plastic, though, and the puck literally split in two as I pulled the anti-theft packaging open (ugh, hate that plastic). Despite the fact that I was still in the Best Buy parking lot, I was in a bit of a hurry so I went on my way, planning to make a return later. I didn’t, though — when I got home, I took a look at it and saw that the plastic shell that formed the “puck” was completely empty (what I had expected, really) save for the connectors. I took the two I needed (female USB, male DSPhat), soldered on /much/ shorter wires (probably about 1/2″), lined them up and “potted” the whole thing with hot glue. It came out (after a little shaping of the dried glue) as a small adapter of the perfect shape and size for my needs… I paid a little more than I maybe should have for the parts, sure, but a nice little hack. Considering it’s encased in solid hot glue, I don’t suspect it’ll ever break (like the original product did), and I’ve been using it for a solid two years now, I’d say.

    As for this project, it’s a great little implementation that I could definitely see doing myself — eliminates another adapter, which is always nice.

  3. Eh, .2 V under shouldn’t do anything.

    What I’d like to see is something like this but where the USB port is used for more than just power. (Maybe connect it to the SD card on the DSi?)

  4. Oh, and to Stu — I agree, I think we all wish a single standard would be wonderful. Couple problems, though — some devices use more than 500mA to charge on their 5V adapters… more importantly, though — the peripheral makers would complain, and Nintendo wouldn’t be able to charge $waytoomuch for their own adapter. I do think that those companies who /do/ choose to utilize 5V USB for their charging, and other such standardized plugs, should definitely be applauded for their decisions, though, and I personally use this as a deciding factor when comparing two otherwise similar products.

  5. Gee andrew, I never would have guessed that this (or any other recent article that you’ve commented on) is a hack (or not) I am so relieved to have someone of YOUR caliber to tell me these things, all this technical jargon is really really confusing. Thank you so much for your enlightened input to this forum.

  6. Mini USB is depreciated, since the retention hooks are in the socket, and wear out after a few hundred cycles. The new plug is Micro USB, with the hooks on the cable, with the socket itself rated to 10k cycles, iirc.

  7. just so you guys know, there’s a category called “classic hacks” I believe we’ll be tagging the more hardcore ones with that. I’m a bit reticent to use it though. I’ve been criticized for posting something that is just a simple solder/swap job before. Just goes to show that you never can tell.

  8. I wounder what affect this would have on the durability of the socket. Although, I’m sure nintendo went proprietary to make money off extra adapters etc… I imagine a 2 conductor through hole socket is more durable than a 5 conductor SMT socket.
    Though if your even remotely careful this probably doesn’t matter.

  9. I did a variation of this hack by using a cable cut off from a cheap plastic Car Adapter that came with the NDS Carrying case I bought on markdown. I had a dead mouse that I saved for parts. Cut the USB cable off and wired the cables accordingly. The DS charges just fine at 5v 500mAh, since the power brick does 5.2v at 450mAh. The general rule is within 5% (and some cases, within 10%) voltage (over/under) if it’s not matched, unless the electronics are especially sensitive… and to provide more amperage than it draws. 5v is 96% of 5.2v. USB wall warts automatically push out 500mAh, I have two that will provide up to 1.2A right out of the socket. More than safe enough.

    Put me in the group where Mini or Micro USB should be on EVERY electronics device. Tired of proprietary plugs and wall warts. I wish I had the unit or even took pictures, but I did a similar hack to a portable CD player after the circular jack broke. This was back in 2000ish and it was a good enough model of portable CD player that it was worth saving. (80 hour battery life on 2 AA’s with an external battery pack plug on top of that. It ran for forever on a single pair.)

  10. @bbot:

    then why are they being used in most of today’s user electronics? (Cellphones, GPS, Cameras, etc.)

    that statement is bunk anyway… I’ve never had any issues with what you suggest and I plug/unplug all the time.

  11. @BigD145: Only if you treat your electronics like shit. I have thumbdrives going on 5 years that still work fine. I’ve had my DS Lite since it came out, it still works fine and the battery holds a full charge. Hell, I have a cellphone from 6 years ago that still works fine. My Creative Zen NX 7 years ago is still my primary jukebox for the stereo…

  12. nintendo just wants to annoy the crap out of people and make it that muck harder for nintendo owners. thats why the creat all their screws with 3 notches instead of four or 2, thats why their charger outputs 5.2v, and thats why the decided to put such a useless socket on their product. They think that if their product malfunctions or something, they can still get a couple bucks off of it. Caleb Kraft, way to fight the power, you have my respect

  13. I think I am going to try this, Just decided to charge up my DS this afternoon as it has been forever since I used it, took me forever to find the charger, tossed a half dozen mini USB cables to the side looking for it. Also I noticed that my nephew uses a cell phone charger to charge his DS since he lost the cable, can’t remember what type of connector or brand of cell it was, but I’m kinda curious now as it fits almost perfectly.

  14. >taken as a lesson for Ninty,

    I’m pretty sure they know what they’re doing.. they have shipped millions and millions of units.

    >and other companies and their sinful
    >uses of utterly proprietary and nonsense power

    The idea is that the “proprietary” connector stops people from using the wrong supply, nuking their hardware and then sending it back to Nintendo,.. and then Nintendo have shell out for a replacement when the failure was the user’s fault.

    >their screws with 3 notches
    >instead of four or 2

    Tri-Wing drivers are very easy to get hold of. The 2 or 3 phones I’ve had over the years from Softbank have used triwing screws too. These aren’t electronics kits, or build it yourself’s… you shouldn’t need to take them apart. So your point is basically moot.

    >thats why their charger outputs 5.2v,

    Could it be that the charging circuit in the DS is designed for 5v and Nintendo’s charger outputs a regulated voltage with enough margin for regulators inside the DS etc? Ofcourse random poster on teh intawebs knows better. ;)

    >and thats why the decided to put
    >such a useless >socket on their product.

    See above. Using USB connectors on everything is great. Let’s use a system designed for data transfer + small amount of power supply for charging electric cars, powering our homes.

  15. Well that’s a lot cleaner than what I do. I got stuck at an airport once without my DS charger, an almost dead DS, and a brand new copy of Professor Layton. Spying my mom’s motorola usb charger, I just hoped for the best and jammed it in there. It shaved just enough of the plastic off the port to fit snugly. Now I just use any usb charger I can find and so far no ill effects.

  16. in addition to this hack, can also add a flash drive to the inside of the dslite and wire it up to the usb pins too. so you end up charging your dslite while having it a usb flash drive too(w/out flash memory connected to dslite memory).

  17. @x; Okay, I just tried jamming a mini USB cable into my ds lite. charges just fine lol., a tiny bit snug but it will work until I can get a proper mini-usb jack.

    *note*, the only thing keeping me from doing this before was that I wast sure of the polarity of the plug.

  18. I cut the end off of a nonfunctioning car charger and spliced a USB to it a year ago. The charge is the same as it always was, only faster. No ill effects should occur from this mod. Nice work, I’m gonna do mine now.

  19. @ Eric

    I just did the same on my DS and works like a charm :) Just force a bit and it’ll make itself fit.
    Now it fit’s just perfect.

    I tried it after reading above article and for the confirmation on voltage and polarity :)

    Still a nice hack . keep up the good work

    Al the Pal

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