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Tamagotchi Surgery
By Ed T. Toton III ("Bones")

Please be patient, this page may take some time to load due to all of the pictures etc!

We were featured in YAHOO Internet Life in the November 1997 issue. Here is what was said:

"It's not that there is anything odd about providing food and nurture to a digital pet, but an entire page devoted to reengineering the Tamagotchi environment genetically is obsessive, if not just plain strange. After you read the painstaking details of how to change the colors and design of your pet's environment and its control buttons, you might find recent advances in sheep cloning that much more plausible."

Well, I don't know whether to consider this an insult or a compliment, so I'll just be pleased with the added exposure the article has granted to this page. :-)


Please note that this site is in no way affiliated with Ban Dai and is in no way "official". The information presented here has been obtained through personal experimentation, and the techniques shown should be attempted only at your own risk.

There are several ways in which you might customize your tamagotchi, the most obvious being to paint it a different color, or draw designs on it with paints or markers. However, wouldn't it be much more "cool" to change the color of the buttons? Or to replace the background that you see inside it's window? This page shows you just how to do that. But keep in mind that there is always risk of damaging something whenever you work on the inside of a device. I can not be held responsible for anything that may go wrong when you work on your tamagotchi. If you are very nervous about opening it up and moving parts around, then maybe you should consider not trying.

Note that this page does not tell you how to make the backing itself, only how to remove the old one and put the new one in place. Also, if you want to change the color of the buttons, you have to have another tamagotchi to take the buttons from.

Before you begin, be sure to read over all of the instructions first so that you know what is coming ahead of each step, and so that you can decide whether or not you want to go through with it. Take your time, and be gentle, and I'm sure you will succeed without too much difficulty.

Remember- whenever you handle the components of an electronic device, there is always the chance that something will get destroyed by static electricity. Make sure not to do this work on carpet, especially while you are wearing shoes. If you are sitting at a desk that is on carpet, take your shoes off first so that you don't accidentally build up static by scuffing the soles on the rug. If you have an anti-static wrist-strap, use it.

General rules for the work ahead:

  • When removing screws, they turn counter-clockwise, and always be sure to put them somewhere where they won't get lost or fall on the floor.
  • When putting screws back in, be sure to tighten them as far as they go, making them snug, but do not FORCE them.
  • When handling the circuit board, try to handle it only by the EDGES. If you avoid touching any of the electrical components and connections, you can minimize the risk of static discharge.
  • Be VERY careful around the inside of the SCREEN. Try not to touch it EXCEPT as described in the instructions. You don't want to scratch or smudge it, or otherwise ruin it.
  • Don't rush ahead, pay attention. Also read ahead so that you don't do something, read the next sentence, and then say "oops!"
  • Keep in mind that the LCD screen itself is rather dark, and whatever background you put in will thus be difficult to see. In this demo, the backside of the original backing was used, which is a pure white, and the result is a dull-grey appearance. Also note that the characters/pixels aren't as easy to see either after such a change, due to the original backing's reflective quality.

I apologize for the black and white pictures, the quickcam isn't the best camera for this, but it works! The quickcam shots were taken in the 1/2 zoom-in view, and then run through GifWizard to optimize for size (making them a little more grainy). The color photos at the end were taken by putting the tamagotchi into the flatbed scanner. All photos of the construction process and the before/after shots are Copyright 1997, Ed T. Toton III, and may not be reproduced, copied, or displayed on other sites without my specific consent. Although, making print-outs for personal use is certainly fine.

Here are the tools of the trade. You will need a small phillips-head screwdriver (mine is in a set), the likes of which you would use on anything with small screws, such as watches, eye-glasses, etc. In this picture you will also see an razor-sharp hobby knife, which you will NOT need (and if you use one I may have to hurt you). Another important tool shown here is the wooden tooth-pick. You will want to use the tooth-pick for some of the delicate work for several reasons:
  • It is not sharp and will not hurt anything.
  • It is not strong, and will break before you break something important.
  • It is not metal, and therefore not electrically conductive.
The first step is to carefully remove the screws that hold the battery cover on. Unlike in the picture, use your other hand to hold the tamagotchi still (my other hand was required to take the picture).
After removing the screws, gently pull off the battery cover. This image shows what you should see. You'll notice the two LR44 batteries kind-of "jumping" out of their sockets because of the spring-like contacts underneath. The metal disc that is visible through the third hole is the piezo-disc that serves as a speaker/beeper.
Take the batteries out, and put them someplace safe with the screws. The tamagotchi should beep at you a little ("I'm dying! My mind is going! I can feel it... daisy... daisy...") If you look at the screen, you'll see whatever it was last doing is now beginning to fade away.
There are 4 screws that hold the case together. Remove them. Again, put them someplace safe. These screws are longer than the ones used in the battery cover, so don't mix them up.

OK, now that the screws are out, GENTLY pull the halves of the case apart. The circuit-board is loosely attached to the back half by two wires (they're the leads to the piezo-disc). As it starts to pull apart, the little rubber reset button (shown in second picture) may fall out, so be careful not to lose it. Put it somewhere safe, with everything else you've removed. As you open the case, keep the screen-side facing DOWN (in fact, the front will always face down while you're working on it).

Shown here is the circuit board. If the little foam insert sticks to it, it'll look like the second picture. That big black "glob" is what you would refer to as a "chip". It is the IC (or "integrated circuit") and is the brains of the little gizmo. The IC itself is not visible, because the "glob" is actually a protective plastic covering. In this picture, you will see 2 "contact strips" visible above and below the "chip". This is where the "spacers" mentioned later connect the screen to the circuit board. You won't be doing any actual work on this part of the tamagotchi, but it's interesting to see how it is constructed.
Here is the FRONT half of the tamagotchi, with the foam insert removed. Notice that at the top and bottom of the window are what appears to be rubber "spacers". Be careful NOT TO MOVE THEM. They are more than just spacers! They have many small conducters running through them, and act as the "wiring" that connects the LCD screen to the circuit board. If you do accidentally bump them, try to make sure they're straight. In the case of this tamagotchi, a good way to tell if they're in the proper position is to hold the tamagotchi so that the top (the keychain end) is facing left, then look to see if the "spacers" are as close to you as they can get in their slots.

Using the tooth-pick, gently lift the little cardboard backing out. You shouldn't need to do any prying. The backing is very thin, and if you go too deep you may end up trying to pry out the entire screen (a big NO-NO!). Be careful not to touch the inside of the screen after you remove the backing, since leaving fingerprints on the inside of it would be unfortunate. If you do accidentally leave a smudge, use a q-tip or a peice of soft toilet-paper or a lens-cleaning tissue to wipe it down. Facial tissues tend to leave behind a lot of dust, and anything more abrasive might scratch this delicate component. The second picture shows the screen with the backing removed, with a tooth-pick pointing at the end of one of the "spacers". Unfortunately, these pictures don't show the "spacers" too well, but continue to be careful not to move them.
Here is the backing. Notice that it is slightly bigger than what you can see inside the window of the tamagotchi. You'll need to take that into account when making a new backing. If you make a new backing on the computer and print it out, make sure not to cut it out until you get the required size from the original backing.
For the purposes of this demonstration, I opted to merely have a white/grey background, and so all I did was flip the backing over and draw pencil-lines where the original transitions between the character display and icon zones were on the other side.
If you want to change the color of the buttons, of course you will need to follow the same instructions to open up the tamagotchi you're taking the buttons from. This picture shows how all three buttons are one-piece, and lift out rather easily. In this demonstration, I did not change the buttons.
Anyway... Back to the backing.

Once the new backing is ready, gently push it into place, being careful to put it in right-side-up (look from the other side to make sure, being careful not to lose the "spacers"). You'll be better off using your finger than the tooth-pick for inserting the backing (I used the tooth-pick to push the first side in, then my index-finger to get it in the rest of the way). Once again, do NOT USE FORCE. Be Gentle. The last thing you need to do is crack the LCD screen. After youhave put the backing in place, put the foam insert in too, right on top of it. It's easier this way than to try to line it up with it placed on the chip.
Carefully close the case, making sure that the circuit-board is correctly lined up. Also, don't forget to make sure that the little reset-button is in it's correct place (if it was in place a minute ago, chack again, it's likely to move during this step). Press the two halves together, but once again, be gentle. If it seems that force is required, it's not lined up right.
Hold it closed, and look at the front to make sure it looks the way you want. If it looks OK, then proceed, otherwise open it up and make changes as necessary.

If everything looks good, then turn it face-down again, and put in TWO screws, at opposite corners. Tighten them down. Make sure they are TIGHT, but don't force them. Pressure is what makes the proper contact between the screen and the circuit board, so insufficient pressure can result in sections of the screen not working properly. Hold in the batteries and look at the front (it will beep a bit when you put the batteries in). It should look like it's working OK. You can even use the test-screens here to test it out by holding down button "A" while pressing RESET. Then, press "B", then "C", then "A" to see each of the three test-screens. If the entire screen is working correctly, you're almost done! If not, try squeezing the case halves together more tightly and see if it behaves properly. If it does, try putting the other screws in, and tighten them all. If it doesn't, or the screws don't help, you need to open it up again and "adjust" those spacers, because you must have bumped them. Once all of the screws are in place, make sure the batteries and the reset button are still in their correct positions, and then put the battery cover back on and screw it down tight. Look at the front again to make sure it is still working, and maybe do the test-screens thing again. You're DONE!

Before image
After image

My Tamagotchi
Tamagotchi Navigator

There have been reports of a supposed 'twins code' that allows you to have 'twins' on your tamagotchi. There have even been pictures, but as of yet, no one that I know has been able to 'prove' the existence of such codes, despite the fact that these pictures seem quite convincing.

However, seeing is not necessarily believing! Therefore, I have created this picture to show that with only a small amount of talent, and a decent graphics program, and a little time, such pictures can be faked. I made this one in about 10 minutes using Paint-Shop Pro. I even changed the color of two of the buttons while I was at it. This certainly does not disprove the existence of the twins codes, but it should at least shed some doubt on something that no one *I* know has been able to reproduce or verify.

(Please do NOT e-mail me just to tell me what the twins codes are, or to ask me what they are (they're already available in countless places on the web). I'm already aware of how it's supposedly done, but I have not been able to make them work, and I've seen no proof that they do!)


[Click here to go to Tamagotchi Fever!]

Copyright 1997, Ed T. Toton III, All rights reserved.
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