Blinking Light Win Installation and Review

Blinking Light Win

A few months ago, the geniuses at Arcade Works put up a product on Kickstarter called Blinking Light Win. Anyone who has ever owned a front loading NES knows just how annoying it can be to get the system to read cartridges. Blinking Light Win isn’t just a cartridge connection replacement, it’s a newly designed cartridge connector that uses more reliable modern tech. But does it actually work? Well the one I got on Kickstarter came in a few days ago so let’s see!

Before I install the Blinking Light Win, I wanted to do a comparison test of before and after. When I got my NES, it read cartridges about 5% of the time. I was constantly cleaning cartridges trying to get them to work. I bought a replacement, but it still only works about 20% of the time. For the test, I’ll try 4 games on the currently installed replacement, then I’ll try 4 completely different games on the Blinking Light Win. But first, I had to install it.

1. Installation


Blinking Light Win
The Blinking Light Win came with a black cartridge slot, a cartridge connector, and stickers.


Blinking Light Win
First thing to do is open the NES. After that S-Video mod, I was kinda hoping I’d never have to work on this again, but hopefully this will be worth it in the end!


Blinking Light Win
After removing the top, I can get to the RF shield.


Blinking Light Win
After removing the RF shield, I can get to the cartridge connector. Again, this is a newer one I bought to replace the original.


Blinking Light Win
Cartridge tray removed. This was a tricky part. The tray is sort of clamped to the mainboard at the front, and it had a tight grip on it.


Blinking Light Win
Then I removed the cartridge slot. This was probably the hardest part, as that thing did not want to let go!


Blinking Light Win
Installing the Blinking Light Win was much easier than installing a generic replacement. After sliding the cartridge slot on, the cartridge tray just screws in. No weird clamping to the mainboard on this one!


Blinking Light Win
Now to reassemble the whole thing. I decided to use the included sticker. The Blinking Light Win slot doesn’t press down like the original slot, so I thought it was a good idea to have this sticker to remind me.


Blinking Light Win
What the sticker looks like after it’s reassembled.


2. The Test

Here’s what I did. I divided my NES games in half (I only have 9… so far) and I would try 4 games and see how many started on the first try. I would try all 4 games 3 times. Then I would do the same with the Blinking Light Win. The games were split randomly, except I have 2 very troublesome games, and I put one on each side.

Before Blinking Light Win (standard replacement)

ATTEMPT #1:   0 OK   4 FAIL
ATTEMPT #2:   0 OK   4 FAIL
ATTEMPT #3:   0 OK   4 FAIL

Yes, you read that right. Not a single game started up first try with the old connector. On the 3rd attempt, I didn’t even push down the cartridge since that sometimes helps.

After Blinking Light Win

ATTEMPT #1:   3 OK   1 FAIL
ATTEMPT #2:   3 OK   1 FAIL
ATTEMPT #3:   4 OK   0 FAIL

On the other hand, the Blinking Light Win did excellent only failing to startup twice out of 12 tries. On the third attempt it managed to read every one of them!

But there is one thing I must take marks off for. The Blinking Light Win sometimes has a a death grip on the cartridges. From what I’ve read, a tight grip is what is needed to ensure a connection, and I understand it might be necessary. But honestly, while doing the Blinking Light Win test, my fingers started aching from tugging at the cartridges.

So in the end, is it worth it? For any NES fan I would say yes. Gaming on the original systems is the best way to play, and it’s frustrating when they don’t want to work. The Blinking Light Win fixed much of that frustration.


Blinking Light Win
In the end, I put the other sticker on the back of the NES. Between the S-Video, and Blinking Light Win, this NES has become very special.


Blinking Light Win
Now to play some Super Mario Bros 3! Before Blinking Light Win this game would often crash after about 30 minutes of play. It’s all good now!

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