This is a guide for completely dismantling a ColecoVision to gain access to the motherboard and to be able to clean the inside of the case. Opening the console is fairly straightforward with the only complication being removing the top of the case.
- A large Phillips-head screwdriver
Flip the console over and remove the 8 screws from the bottom. Note: my ColecoVision only had 6 screws on the bottom, but there are 8 screwholes so I assume I was missing a couple screws. Flip the console back over.
Step 2 - Remove the top
Removing the top is easier said than done. The top of the case is still secured to the bottom because of a plastic rim which protrudes into the front panel (the part that says ColecoVision) and prevents the top from being lifted. The easiest thing to do is to remove the 3 screws securing the front panel to the case, which will allow you to remove the top of the case effortlessly. To do this, however, would require you to remove the entire front label to gain access to the screws, permanently damaging the case. If you choose to go this route, I highly suggest that you do not replace the middle screw during reassembly so that in the future you only have to peel back the edges of the label to remove the front panel. For those of us who want to avoid damaging the most visual part of the ColecoVision, luckily there is a better, albeit trickier, way.
You'll notice if you play around with the case that the back opens easily while the front refuses to detach. What we want to do to remove the top of the case is slide the top forward so that the front panel is no longer caught on the plastic rim I mentioned earlier. The best way to do this I found is to choose to start with either the left or right side (I prefer the "ColecoVision" side), use one hand to lift that back corner and push the top forward, and with the other hand pull the front panel past the rim. Try to push the front panel upwards to see if you can get it above the rim, but it will not stay lifted when you let go because you still need to do the other side.
Do the same thing on the other side of the case, but this time when you go to lift the front panel past the plastic rim, you should use your other hand to keep the other end from moving back over the rim. With both ends forward past the rim, you should be able to wiggle the top free, front panel still attached. Put the top aside once it's finally free.
Here is what you'll see when you remove the top of the ColecoVision. The left side is completely empty except for the power cables, and everything else is crammed in on the right side. The plastic power switch and reset button are not attached to anything and can be easily lifted off. The power supply port can be slid upwards out of the back of the case.
The RF shield has two screws, one in the corner near the reset button and the other in the opposite corner. Remove the screws and set the RF shield aside if you can. Some ColecoVision RF shields have a grounding strip that permanently attaches them to the motherboard near the controller ports. If yours is like that as the one in this guide is, you can still lay the RF shield to the side, exposing the motherboard.
Step 4 - Remove the motherboard
The motherboard is held in place by two screws: one in the center near the cartridge slot and the other in the corner by the RAM chips. Remove those screws and lift the board from the back so you can slide the expansion slot out of the bottom RF shield. If you also need to remove the bottom RF shield, it can be lifted effortlessly out of the case since it has no screws. Congratulations, you've completely disassembled your ColecoVision.
There are a few things to keep in mind when putting the ColecoVision back together. The first is that the top and bottom RF shields interlock above the expansion slot, so don't forget to make sure the tabs slide into place (see picture). Also, the position of the power cords matters since you don't want them to get pinched and prevent the case from being fully closed. And don't forget to put the power switch and reset button back on!
Now to what you were probably wondering about: reattaching the top of the case. It's easier than taking it off but can still be a bit tricky. I suggest first setting the back of the top into place and allowing the front to rest as seen in the picture. All you need to do then is pull the front panel forward at the corners so that it can fall past the plastic rim. When you do this, the front will appear to be in place, but the back will now be out of alignment. Use a hand to gently but firmly squeeze the top back into place, keeping in mind that what you're trying to do is force the front panel back into place, snugly attached to the plastic rim.