So to those other 7 people who own a WiiU out there, let me give you some advice. Don’t have a HDMI cable pull one way or another whilst connected to the console, even slightly. You’ll see why later on…
So I’ll walk you through the issues I’ve had over the past month or so with my WiiU. I had been living away from home most of the past academic year whilst I was studying (aka lazing around) at university. When I came home, one of the first things I did was turn my WiiU on to play it. The problem was, it didn’t turn on. The light just blinked red.
Like most sensible people (not that I am one), the first thing I was google the issue. I found it could be one of 3 things
- Poor ventilation (dust in the vents, over-heating, etc.)
- Faulty power supply
- Motherboard issue (I immediately dismissed this one, but apparently “motherboard issue” can cover a very wide range of things)
The first thing I tried was a fix for the power supply, which was to let it ‘reset’ by having it disconnected from the console and mains for 90 seconds. Didn’t work. The next thing I did was take a look at the vents, and sure enough after months of sitting on its own, it had gotten dusty. I gave it a quick blast with some compressed air, and it worked!
So if you’re experiencing the Red Flashing Light of Death (or RFLoD as we’ll now call it, should we mention it again), letting the power supply reset or cleaning the console could be your fix.
I thought this was the fix for my console, but sadly, it was not. I took the console to my girlfriend’s house a week or two later (not having played it much since I got it to work) and it didn’t work. I assumed it got dusty in my car or something, so we hoovered it (yeah). Didn’t fix it. We left it for a while, tried it again… and it worked! This is what starts my belief in the power supply being at fault.
We then go over to my house later that week (or the next week, fuck knows) and she wanted to play Wind Waker again. It didn’t work. After about half an hour of plugging cables in and out, swapping between mains sockets, fucking everything, it still didn’t work. I then ring Nintendo support, and they don’t suggest anything other than to send it in. The problem with sending it in, whilst it’s free to do so and get a diagnosis, the repairs are not. My WiiU is half a year out of warranty, meaning the repairs range from around £50 for a ‘minor’ repair to £140 for a ‘major’ repair. Another issue is that the vWii on my WiiU is softmodded, and there’s no way of virginising it (I could hide it somewhat, but a Nintendo engineer would easily be able to see that it’s been softmodded, if they were to check). So a combination of the cost of repairs and the fact I’ve broken the terms of service made sending it in a last resort.
A while after I tried the console once more and… it worked. Again, I put this down to the power supply because leaving it alone for a while and plugging it into a different mains socket appeared to fix the issue. Over the last week or so there have been occasions it has decided to work, but for the most part, it persisted to have the RFLoD. What was really odd was that if it had been off all night, it would always come on again in the morning when I tried. I was really baffled, and was sure it was a faulty power supply. I then borrowed a multimeter and testing the output, and it was as it should be. So what was the problem? I was still thinking it was a dodgy power supply, or mains outlet.
I was very close to buying a new power supply (since I don’t know anyone else who owns a WiiU) but I decided to do some testing first. I’d managed to get the console to work earlier today (during which I backed up all of my files in case it did have to get sent off to Nintendo), and when I turned it off I tried turning it on again. Sure enough, RFLoD. I then unplugged it all to let it reset, and whilst doing so I unplugged the HDMI cable on a whim (because this morning when it actually came on, there was no picture – the HDMI cable had come loose). The console turned on! I did about 15 minutes of testing, with having the HDMI cable in, different HDMI cables, trying the composite output, having the HDMI in on just the WiiU and not the TV… many, many combinations. I finally came to the conclusion that having any HDMI cable connected into the console caused it to RFLoD, and it would work perfectly if I turned it on with no HDMI cable present. I could even turn it on, then connect a HDMI cable afterwards and it’d output video and audio perfectly.
During this whole process I was posting what was happening on a forum in the hopes that someone would have an idea (even before I whittled the problem down to the HDMI port). One user suggested that whilst I was away at university, a cable might have been left it and had been pulling on the port. I couldn’t recall whether or not it had been left plugged in, but taking his suggestion I decided to hold the cable to the right of the console (or in this case upwards, since whilst I was away the console was vertical, but it’s now laying horizontally). Whilst holding the cable the opposite direction it would have been pulling, had it been left in all those months, I booted the console. And it didn’t RFLoD. The forum user was indeed correct, the cable had bent the port over time and caused damage so the console was refusing to boot.
To fix it, I put a HDMI cable in and slowly, but with pressure, pushed the cable the other way and held it with pressure for 20s or so. Ever since, it’s been working fine. So,my advice to WiiU owners is to make sure that your HDMI cables aren’t pulling on the console. Don’t get me wrong, mine was just connected and pulled slightly to the left because the TV was to the left of the console. It wasn’t forced, it’s exactly how my PS3 has been for years and that’s had no issue.
So here are my fixes for the RFLoD
- Check and clear vents of any dust
- Check the power sully is outputting the correct values
- Try the console with nothing plugged in besides the power supply (including USB cables, memory cards, etc.)
If the console boots with nothing connected when it otherwise wouldn’t have, try each thing individually until you find the one that’s causing the console to RFLoD. If it’s the HDMI port, try bending it the opposite way to which it would have been pulled. If that doesn’t fix it, but you’re sure it’s the HDMI port, you’re either going to have to send it off for repairs or replace the port yourself (would require soldering, but looking at images of the motherboard it honestly looks like a relatively simple job)
If not of that fixes the issue then it’s almost certainly something else wrong with the motherboard, for which I have no suggestions.
tl;dr HDMI cables can break your WiiU and why is it such a piece of shit, like really my N64 still works and that’s had thousands of hours of use jesus fucking christ