Categories: Game Boy, Game Consoles, Hardware
Years ago I had the nifty idea of putting a Game Boy Advance SP Model 2 (the nice backlit one) inside an original Game Boy’s housing with the intention of basically creating a very comfortable, back-lit Game Boy Color. I shelved the project after some initial work because… well, I really don’t know, but I did.
Finally, I have finished it. The idea started when I was trying an old GBA SP I forgot I had with some old Game Boy games. I remarked at the screen’s contrast, viewing angles (!) and response time for playing these old games, especially compared to the dim unlit GBC or the slow, low-contrast old Game Boys. I held the SP up to the back of a game boy shell…
Well wouldn’t that be nifty! The cut-off of the sides would be a non-issue; I would only want to play GBC or older games on this thing anyway. I got to tearing the SP apart (what a fussy tiny system!). I wired on a 32-pin cable for the cartridge slot; I was going to use the original, nicely mounted Game Boy cart slot from the DMG.
Meanwhile, I mounted the nice GBASP LCD into the case, being sure to center it so that the GBC viewing area would be in the center.
I then prepared the DMG cartridge slot for soldering.
Here it is all done:
At first, nothing worked. I realized that while I had soldered the in-slot switch to lock it into GBC mode properly, I didn’t take into account that the switch also physically runs the cartridge slot at 5V – no power was getting to the game cartridges. I figured out where the 5V ran and diverged the pin 1 wire – power – to that spot. Unfortunately, only a few games worked – Tetris, Quarth, and Little Sound DJ. It then occurred to me that where there should have been 5V power on the slot probably also powered some circuitry related to bankswitching or memory management of some sort, so I ran the 5V there as well and everything began to work.
The original GBASP back housing only is here for the sake of being a good battery holder…
Annoyingly, I discovered my original cart ribbon was too long – it wouldn’t fold properly into the case! I grit my teeth and shortened it, re-doing the bottom soldering job in the process (it was gaff anyway). This new job was much neater!
A little heat-melt glue helps keep these guys in place.
Now it more or less closes! Things are looking up.
Finally it is time for the buttons. Part of the original DMG front PCB, which was unusably busted on the top, was cut with a band saw to fit below the GBASP motherboard. Luckily since I was a step ahead of my hasty self, I already had run wires for all of the buttons from the SP motherboard before I secured it to the top of the case:
Then it was a tedious matter of linking these to the areas of the DMG button PCB. Annoying, since the DMG doesn’t use a common ground for the buttons; I had to do a lot of re-routing of the traces.
I mounted the battery inside the battery compartment. All the original game boy’s buttons, ports, and switches are wired to do what they should; the DC in jack is for charging and it works great for that. Here it is all together: