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Charger comparison: Replacement vs. Origonal (Safety PSA?)
Old 05-30-2016, 06:59 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 8
Default Charger comparison: Replacement vs. Origonal (Safety PSA?)

Hello folks!
I don't post here often, sorry...

But I thought this might be relevant to some folks.
I'll post a video a little later for those that don't like reading.

I'm an electronics guy, and one of the things that I always want to take a look at before using them is chargers. So many chargers come in from China that are downright dangerous to use (those "100% OEM origonal Apple chargers" that are $1 on ebay? Yeah, don't buy those).

I can't find the charger for my normal 3DS anywhere, so I bought a new one at a local store, not an original Nintendo one though. Went to Fred Meyers later and saw that the official ones are only $2 more than what I paid for the replacement.
Pro tip: it's worth the extra $2

Linking to images instead of embedding them because they're huge

The replacement is made by Tomee, which I thought the name sounded familiar.

Seems good enough so far. Very obviously not an official product. It should be noted that this adapter is multi-voltage where the official is not. I'm curious how a UK or AU charger is different internally.

Well, I have a 3DS XL that I have listed on ebay, so I pulled out the charger for it... I'm going to have to buy that person a new charger now...

Very obviously different side by side. The Nintendo one is serial numbered and clearly branded.

The flip side is where things start to get interesting. The official adapter has all English writing on it, where the replacement is mostly Chinese. You'll also note the very big and obvious UL marking on the official adapter. This is absent from the replacement and should be a red flag. UL listing means that the adapter has passed very rigorous tests and safety compliance.

"Don't turn it on! Take it apart!" - EEVBlog

This is the replacement charger. Not a lot going on in here, this is a very simple power supply. The board is rather dirty, it wasn't cleaned at the factory. On the left is a spot for a fuse which is absent.

On the flip side, we see that the fuse is replaced with a 0 ohm resistor... I guess that's a fuse...
The isolation between the primary and secondary sides of the transformer seem fine. One thing that seems distinctly missing is an optocoupler for feedback, so there must be an additional feedback winding in the transformer. All of the switching seems to be reliant on that chip in the center, since there's no additional switching transistors on the board.

I'm not too keen on this plug design.

Here's the official.
Right away we can see that this is way more robust. That plastic housing is much thicker with reinforcing and isolating internal structures. We can also see that the plug design is very different, and actually disconnects the prongs when the plug is folded.

We can see there's not one but two fuses present in this design, and that the power supply its self is made by Nichicon! Nichicon are known for making extremely high quality capacitors, and it's no surprise that they use their own products here. The replacement adapter used Chinese capacitors. The main switching transistor is glued to the fuse on the right of the transformer.

The official also has rather substantial input filtering. Where the replacement will likely send a lot of back EMF back into the power supply, this thing will be quiet and well behaved.

There's a heck of a lot more going on in here. Honestly, this is a very complex power supply for what it has to do. There's voltage regulation on both sides of the transformer, a large isolation gap, and the whole thing is covered in a protective coating (making it glossy). We can also see that they went for a surface mount rectifier package instead of discrete diodes.

They're using 350 volt rated capacitors in here and the board is marked "250v", so I'm really not sure where the difference would be in a UK/AU charger. Other than the plug obviously.

Anyway, I took it apart so you don't have to. Buy the official adapter, it's a much better piece of equipment.

Last edited by danrulz98; 05-30-2016 at 07:07 PM.
Old 05-30-2016, 07:46 PM
Joba's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Finland
Posts: 1,212

Cool detective work, man.

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Old 05-30-2016, 09:33 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 8

So here's the weird thing... Curiosity got the better of me so I went down to Fred Meyers and bought a brand new 3DS charger... It's quite different

The writings on the outside are rotated 90 degrees and are in English/Spanish

The board is now made by Mitsumi and the barriers that were once moulded into the housing are now glued to the board. It's also not as nicely labeled as the Nichicon design. Capacitors are now Rubycon instead of Nichicons. We see a rectangular fuse on the input side of things and there's a round fuse stuck to the top of the main switching transistor now, where as the previous design used rectangular fuses for both places.

I don't think the separation of sides is quite as good as the Nichicon design on the bottom side of the board here. Still very well made though, I'm confident this charger will be fine