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Wii Exposed: Wiinternals, Wii-motes, and a Teardown Wiideo

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Nintendo is billing the Wii, their entry into the latest round of next-generation video game console wars, as something different. Sporting a low price and a completely different kind of controller, it is different on the outside. But what's it like inside? Seth Fogie takes a look at the Wii console, Wii-mote, Nunchuk, and sensor bar and points out some of the interesting pieces and parts that help make the Wii experience what it is.
Want to do more with your Wii? Check out Seth's article on Adding an External Antenna To Your Wii to learn how to extend the range of the Wii's wifi antenna.

The Wii is the latest offering from Nintendo. Since word of this console system has hit the gaming community, people have been speculating over how the device operates and what kind of features it would have. Over time, it was discovered that the Wii was not going to be just another upgrade (like the Xbox 360 or PS3). While there would be some hardware enhancements, the Wii caught the interest of the gadget and gaming world due to how the user would interact with the system. Instead of the standard two-handed controller, this system sports a Wii remote that resembled a small TV remote. Figure 1 provides a shot of the Wii and accessories.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The Wii with accessories

The Wii-mote, as many are calling it, not only has the normal buttons you would expect, but it has three additional features that truly redefine the gaming experience. First, the remote can detect motion on three axes. In other words, the remote can tell if you flick it left, right, up, down, forward or backward. The second new concept is that of the infrared pointer. Thanks to the use of a small black bar that a user places above or below their TV, the Wii-mote can move an object around the screen, much like you would do with a mouse. Finally, the Wii-mote incorporates Bluetooth technology to allow up to four different wireless controllers to be used at one time. Take a moment and imagine the possibilities for such an interface.

There are some other useful features that Nintendo built into the Wii. For example, they added 802.11B/G wireless networking capability that can easily allow the Wii to connect to the internet. With this ability, Nintendo has also incorporated features like news, weather, shopping, pictures and more into their device (Figure 2). The point is, the relatively cheap Wii has done something that console system makers can only dream of — attracted the attention of every gamer in the world. Sure, the PS3 and Xbox 360 might have better graphics and more powerful processors, but game play isn't all about how it looks. The Wii pulls off a relatively sharp-looking screen when used with an HDTV, but it also keeps the user physically involved with the game.

Figure 2

Figure 2

The Wii setup and running

In this article, we are going to take a look at this system and it peripherals. We will start with a system teardown, accompanied by an nine minute video you can view to check out your own Wii's internals. We will then take a look at the Wii-mote, Nunchuk, and sensor bar and point out some of the interesting pieces and parts that help make the Wii experience what it is.

The Teardown

The Wii is a very tight system. There is little in the way of wasted space, which indicates an excellent design job. I am honestly impressed at how the creators of this device put all these pieces and parts together. If you are not the type to tinker with your electronic gadgets, consider the following as a front row seat into the world of the Wii. On the other hand, if you are reading this because you are the moding type or are trying to fix a broken part, this article will serve as a step-by-step guide to disassembling the Wii. Either way, we hope you enjoy!

To disassemble:

  1. Flip the device upside down and remove the small silver Phillips screw. Once out, remove the battery tray from the console.
  2. Next remove the rubber foot directly above this battery tray. Also remove the three square white stickers from the bottom of the Wii. The rubber foot and the sticker are covering hidden screws. Figure 3 provides a shot of where these screws are located.
  3. Unscrew the two Triwing screws and three Phillips screws from the bottom of the Wii.
  4. Figure 3

    Figure 3

    Bottom Screws

  5. Flip the Wii over onto its right side. Locate and remove the two rear rubber feet and the two rectangle stickers near the faceplate.
  6. Remove the two silver Triwing screws in the holes and remove the two black Triwing screws on the faceplate (Figure 4).
  7. Figure 4

    Figure 4

    Left side screw locations

  8. Flip the Wii upright and carefully remove the two socket covers. They come right out with a little wiggling.
  9. Remove the three black Phillips screws from the black plate (Figure 5). Note the one closest to the faceplate is the longest and will need to go back into that hole when putting the Wii back together.
  10. Figure 5

    Figure 5

    Top black plate screw locations

  11. With the screws removed, carefully pull off the faceplate of the front of the Wii. You will need to disconnect the red/black wire plug from the Wii to remove the faceplate completely. Figure 6 shows what is hiding under the faceplate.
  12. Figure 6

    Figure 6

    Under the Wii faceplate

  13. Remove black plate from memory/controller socket area.
  14. Remove two silver Phillips and two silver Triwing screws from memory/controller socket area (Figure 7).
  15. Figure 7

    Figure 7

    Topside screw locations

  16. Lay the Wii on left side (with the ATI and Nintendo logo facing you) and slowly work the right side cover of the console off the device. This will take a little bit of force. If something appears to be stuck, double check to ensure you removed all the screws.
  17. Locate and remove four screws holding DVD reader in place. Two are located in plain site in the middle of the unit. Two are located near the front of the Wii inside the DVD unit (Figure 8).
  18. Figure 8

    Figure 8

    The insides of the Wii

  19. Slowly tilt the DVD player upward toward top of Wii. There are two wires that need to be disconnected before you can safely remove the DVD unit. One is a plug type of connector that only requires a little tug. The other is a circuit strip connector that requires you to lift the brown catch, which will release the pressure holding the strip in place (Figure 9). Do not break this!
  20. Figure 9

    Figure 9

    DVD Connectors

  21. Locate and remove two wireless antennas (Figure 10 and Figure 11). One is located near the bottom of the device and can be removed by carefully pushing against the tabs keeping the card in place. The upper card can be removed by unscrewing a silver Phillips screw. Once removed, unthread the wire from the Wii's body.
  22. Figure 10

    Figure 10

    Wii Antennas 1

    Figure 11

    Figure 11

    Wii Antennas 2

  23. Remove two silver Phillips screws holding the fan in place (one on each side of fan). Disconnect fan power wire and remove fan (Figure 12).
  24. Figure 12

    Figure 12

    Wii's fan assembly

  25. Remove three silver Phillips screws from fan flow guide/black plastic piece. Lift away the black plastic piece (Figure 13).
  26. Remove two silver Phillips screws from middle black plastic piece. Then remove the one center silver Phillips screw (Figure 13).
  27. Figure 13

    Figure 13

    Fan flow assembly

  28. Lift the black plastic pieces off the Wii. The rear piece will pull away fairly easily. The center black plastic piece will require some attention. Remove the DVD wires from where they are tucked, and watch the silver heat shield piece when lifting the center plastic piece off the Wii.
  29. Remove three silver Phillip screws from front black piece and then remove the piece from the Wii. Be careful of the small square nut located on the bottom part of the piece, as well as the arm that is slightly inserted into the body of the Wii. To remove this, just lever the arm gently away from the Wii when lifting the black plastic piece out (Figure 14).
  30. Figure 14

    Figure 14

    Front plastic piece

  31. Locate and remove numerous silver Phillips screws from silver heat shield where you see a small arrow or a small square. Then remove two black Phillips screws marked with a small triangle (Figure 15).
  32. Figure 15

    Figure 15

    Removing the heat shield

  33. Once all screws are removed, slowly lift off tin heat shield. Be careful as this piece can not be damaged. At this point the motherboard is exposed.
  34. Locate the heat sink and remove the four black Phillips screws to gain access to the processor. Do not do this if you are not familiar with how heat sinks need to be seated onto the processor or you could cause irreversible damage to your Wii.
  35. You can optionally remove the wireless network card from the motherboard.
  36. Lift the circuit board off the body of the Wii.

Figures 16—21 show various pieces and parts of the Wii for your amusement.

Figure 16

Figure 16

Broadcom 802.11B/G wireless card

Figure 17

Figure 17

Bluetooth and SD socket

Figure 18

Figure 18

Full motherboard

Figure 19

Figure 19

Hollywood graphic processing unit

Figure 21

Figure 21

Wii Disassembled

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