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Front-light a Game Boy Color

Mon. April 16, 2012
Categories: Game Boy

I finally made a guide for the GBC! Here it goes, with pictures!

Here’s a video of how it should look in the end!


    -A Game Boy Color

    -A GBA SP (Make sure the model is AGS-001, not AGS-101); try to get one with a cracked screen

    -A bit of wire

    -Soldering iron

    -A 47O Resistor (a bit less or a bit above won’t hurt a thing)

    -A phillips screwdriver (The + head)

    -A tri-wing screwdriver (Like the + head, but with only 3 parts instead of 4)

    -Wire cutters or other cutty things

1. First, dismantle your GBC. Remove the 6 screws on the back (triwing) and pull the back off. Then, remove the 3 screws from the middle (phillips).

2. Go to the top of the open GBC. See that little orange cable? There are two black tabs on either side. Push these tabs AWAY from the middle of the GBC, then gently pull the orange cable out of the slot.

3. Lift the now-free GBC motherboard out of the casing.

4. You’ll be confronted with the screen, which has foam on the back. Using a credit card, pry under the area with the orange cable until the screen pops up. Remove the screen, and set it aside. Take your wire cutters or whatever else you please, and cut away the area below where the screen was (above the A and B buttons, below the screen itself).

5. Now, take apart the top of your GBASP. There are five screws on the screen border, under rubber things. Remove them (triwing). Now the back of the GBASP case should just fall off. There is a screen inside, with a black frame around it. DIsconnect the two wire contacts with your soldering iron, and flip it around to the front. Extract the black frame from the rest of the screen.

6. You’ll have an assembly like this once you’re done doing that:

[img]http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn185/TehBibin/IMG_1433.jpg” /img>

7. Now, you need to get the black frame off of the frontlight itself. Remove the double-stick stuff that’s on the top area:

Then, just push up from underneath and gently remove the clear plastic, attached to the metal bar. Don’t tear the tiny ribbon cable!

8. Now, back to your GBC. Take the little panel, and mount it like this:

Be sure it is facing the right way! If it is facing the correct direction, there will be a little bit of orange cable on top of the metal bar as seen in the lower-left corner in my picture.

9. Now, put the LCD on top of what you just did.

Since nothing holds it in place, I suggest you use some tape along the right side and top to keep it where it is.

10. Using your handy soldering iron, solder two wires to the small metal contacts on the frontlight’s ribbon cable. One should be about 1-2″ long. This goes on the BOTTOM contact, and is GROUND. The other cable should be about 4″ long, and goes on the TOP contact. This is the + Voltage.

11. The long cable should be routed and secured down towards the bottom of the case, on the opposite side of the speaker. The other wire should go towards the left side, and come up along the edge.

12. Now, being mega-careful, put the GBC motherboard back in place. It’ll be a tight fit but it’ll fit. Make sure the long wire comes out through the bottom, the short wire comes up on the side, and you plug the LCD ribbon back in.

13. Solder the short wire to somewhere as a ground. I used the power switch:

14. Now, look down at the lower-right section of the motherboard. See the little section, with 4 pins in a row? You need to solder the resistor to the TOP pin, like so, then solder the long wire to the resistor.

15. Here’s an overview of how it should all look so far:

16. Now, just put it back together. It’ll feel like a tight fit, but don’t worry – the screen has foam there for a reason.

17. After that, pop in a game to test it out!

Stock on the outside…

Hardcore on the inside!

85 Responses to “Front-light a Game Boy Color”

  1. Brayan Says:

    By 47O resistor do you mean 47ohm? Sorry if it’s a stupid question.

  2. PhiphyL Says:

    Thanks ! I just received my GBC from eBay and after 10 seconds of testing I found out the screen was way too dark to be playable. Your tutorial might come in handy, now all I have to do is find a broken GBA. I’ll post here again once I’m done. I think you’ve made my day :)

  3. brian Says:

    Do you offer this service if I supply the screen and gameboy?

  4. mikejmoffitt Says:


  5. mikejmoffitt Says:

    I’ve been historically on the fence about this because it’s a really annoying and tedious procedure I haven’t done for about a year :/ It really depends on the offer. I don’t enjoy it enough that $40 is pretty much the bare minimum I’d do.

  6. Sam Says:

    I have everything needed the tri-wing screwdriver… Is there anything else I could use? I’ve found one on Amazon but i’d like to try other things before investing money in a screwdriver I’ll probably only use once.

  7. Zach Says:

    Hi, I’m interested in letting you do this for me if possible. I have the Game Boy Color, and I would be willing to buy a front light if they sell those by themselves. Let me know, my email is masterz_13@yahoo.com. Thanks.

  8. Manuel Says:

    How do you remove the contacts frome the orange tab? i pulled the two layers from the orange tab apart and the contacts also came off, how exactly do i remove them with the iron, i would really appreciate any tips on this matter so i can attempt this mod again thank you

  9. mikejmoffitt Says:

    I used a soldering iron to heat the tab contacts while also prying from underneath with a screwdriver to lift it.

  10. mikejmoffitt Says:

    I don’t typically do these for money unless it’s a pretty good offer since it’s a very bothersome modification.

  11. Matthew Says:

    Can you do this too a gameboy advance? Please contact me :D matthew.j.heider@gmail.com. If you can’t I still have a question about the gbc

  12. Jazo Mannucci Says:

    “10. Using your handy soldering iron, solder two wires to the small metal contacts on the frontlight’s ribbon cable.”
    How do you know wich one is + and wich on is GND?

  13. Leandro Says:

    hey, i have a problem. i finished all the wiring correctly, the light turns un and everything, however, the light is too bright and the backscreen too dark, so i cannot see my gameboy screen at all :( i had to tear it back since i dont seem to find a solution to this. can you help me?

  14. Ray Larabie Says:

    Thanks for the easy-to-follow guide. I tried it with an Atomic Purple GBC and now I can nerd out in the dark. Cheers!

  15. Nick Says:

    If I send you the products will you make it for me?
    And send money for services?

  16. mikejmoffitt Says:

    Sounds like your frontlight panel is backwards. Try flipping it over.

  17. mikejmoffitt Says:

    Try it out, if it doesn’t work, flip it :P It won’t hurt the LED.

  18. Nicolas Murray Says:

    You mentioned needing a 470 resistor, from my research I thinking it’s a 470 ohm, but how many watts? Do you have the exact info on the one you used. Thanks a lot in advance. I can’t wait to get this project underway.

  19. mikejmoffitt Says:

    It’s supposed to be 47 Ohm, with the O standing for Ohm. I suppose I really ought to update that.

    The wattage isn’t important as the current is very low. Whatever the smallest resistor you find is fine.

  20. Jeffrey Says:

    How much would you charge for this service if we supplied the GBC and GBA SP?

  21. Jeffrey Says:

    Hey. How much would I have to pay if I had do this to a GBC and ship it to me? I’d be willing to pay a good amount.

  22. Erik Mourtgos Says:

    You said in the video this was your 4th one and this one had much better contrast and clearness. What did you do differently this 4th time to give a better image. A lot of the time I have seen this mod done the screen gets washed out, but yours looks really good. What did you learn from doing it 4 times? Thank you for your time.

  23. Gianni Lopez Says:

    Do you still do the light mod service for the gbc? I just recently tried it and failed miserably but I still want it.

  24. Tyler Says:

    I have a gameboy color and an sp if i give them to you can u mod it for me?

  25. ferinfinland Says:

    It looks great,
    Would this be possible on a GB Pocket?
    And if so, where’s the + to where I have to solder the resistor?

    Thanks in advance

  26. Chyenne Says:

    How much would you charge to do this??

  27. Duane Cabasal Says:

    hey mike em is it ok to use one of led insted of backlight of gameboy sp
    im pretty wrisky about doing it. I just want to ask you if you can make a clearer mode illustration about this http://www.instructables.com/id/GameBoy-Pocket-Backlight/?ALLSTEPS

  28. duane cabasal Says:

    Um mike how to backlight a gameboy pocket using gameboy sp with brighter screen?

  29. Justin M. Says:

    What gauge of wire should I use for this?

  30. Manuel Says:

    I have a question, I noticed that a lot seem to cut the front like so it fits better to a clear shell, I really wanna mod my clear shell since its exactly like the one I had but I don’t see instructions for that, did you cut it on others that you did and if so, how did you do it, thanks man

  31. Manuel Says:

    I have a question, I noticed that a lot of videos online cut the front-light so it fits better to a clear shell, I really wanna mod my clear shell since its exactly like the one I had when young but I don’t see instructions for that anywhere online, did you cut it on any of yours and if so, how did you do it, thanks man

  32. Jesse Says:

    Hey would do this for me.its too complicated for me plus I don’t have the tools :/

  33. Tobey Cardenas Says:

    I would love to pay for one of these and a modified Gameboy Pocket. Please shoot me over details if you are doing this for cash.

  34. DonavanJones Says:

    hello, i have a suggestion to experiment with. I have just thought of an idea where you can use the gameboy micro backlight screen for the gameboy color. I got it after looking through other gameboy mods and it poped in my head. i was thinking that you only need to connect the ribbon for the screen and maybe an extra cable for the light. i think that the micro screen is better because it has a backlight instead of a front light. will this be possible? please reply. thanks!

  35. Thyago Says:

    I Accidentally tear the tiny ribbon cable, can i fix it ? can i solder the ribbon cable ? or solder directly the wires in the front light screen ? I’m sorry i don’t know anything about solder and circuits

  36. Gunz4fun Says:

    Maybe, I accidentally bought a 470 ohm due to misunderstanding.

  37. mikejmoffitt Says:

    Unfortunately probably no.

  38. mikejmoffitt Says:

    The GBC LCD can not be backlit, and also importantly the GB Micro screen is far too small. The GB Micro screen can not be reasonably attached to the GBC either.

  39. mikejmoffitt Says:

    The GB Pocket has its own modification using a backlight kit. This is also a page on my site.

  40. mikejmoffitt Says:

    I am considering making a page for this.

  41. Darkitsuki Says:

    Hmm, I was thinking about doing this, even though I don’t have the tools yet, and I don’t know if i’m willing to take my gameboy advance sp apart >.< But once this is all set up, I am curious as to how much battery the light uses. I don't know if it would be worth it if it sapped a lot of battery life. Then again, I could always use that Solar Panel mod to charge batteries while it's in the gameboy..

  42. Jackson Ross Says:

    Hi im not really good with all this so is there like a specific kind of wire necessary? i found some wire that i cut from an old dishwasher motor but idk if its the right kind or if there is a right kind.

  43. Johnny Says:

    I already wrote my email but in case it doesn’t come up, it’s catfat94@yahoo.com. This is such a brilliant idea however I’m not very good with handling such delicate electronic components. I have a Gameboy Color and a Gameboy Advance SP. Would you mind performing this service for me?? :) I’ll pay you for your work! I’m serious this is amazing!

  44. Anthony Ayala Says:

    works with a nintendo ds?

  45. Dave Says:

    @Thyago I don’t know if you’ll see this or if this is even useful for you, but it can be fixed as long as you have something to bridge the connection. I broke it too, had my dad help me repair it. He has bits and bobs laying around, he used some sort of conductive tape, I haven’t really got a clear idea of what you’d have to look for.

  46. Juanfran el cazurrillo Says:

    Hey dude, it would be a cool option to add a switch in order to power on/off the light, like in GBA SP. Do you think it can be done?

  47. Anthony Ayala Says:

    Funciona con la pantalla de un nintendo ds

  48. thor17 Says:

    Good tutorial, but i don’t like this method, because GBA SP has to be break up -.-
    I use an acryl sheet of 50x50mm surrounded by 0603 SMD LEDs.

  49. mikejmoffitt Says:

    No. Only GBASP AGS-001.

  50. NusDoggy Says:

    Going to perform this ASAP now that I got an atomic purple GBC coming. :D

  51. Ax0 Says:

    hi, i recently did this mod on my GBC and everything went pretty well; except when i turned the gameboy on the screen and frontlight both came up, but then the backlight began to get darker and darker and then the whole system shut off. I tried different batteries and it still wouldn’t turn on. i took it back apart and found that the wire had been disconnected from one of the contacts on the frontlight (not sure why this would turn the entire gameboy off though..). I resoldered it and put it back together and the gameboy turned on, but no frontlight. at that point i became frustrated and just put it on a shelf.
    about a week later (today) I tried turning it on and, to my surprise, the gameboy and frontlight both turned on, except the frontlight was extremely dim. i could really only tell it was lighting up because i have a clear case and could see the corners of the frontlight light up just a little. i took it apart and realized that the wire was disconnected from the contact again. i’ve been attempting to resolder the wire to the contact but to no avail, for some reason the solder doesn’t seem to stick to the contact. this is the first time i’ve done any kind of mod or even used a soldering iron, are there any tips you could give to get the solder to stick?

  52. Kizul Says:

    You seem to get a lot of requests from people to do the modding for them, but I have a slightly different question: where exactly is the best place to get just the AGS-001 front-light part?

    I keep looking around on ebaY for ‘for parts’ AGS-001s — or even just the front-light part itself — but I either can’t find any, OR the ones that I DO find all keep getting bid up out of the price range that I’d really want to pay. :/ And I don’t really want to buy a perfectly-working AGS-001, since the only thing I want it for is the front-light anyway. >.>

    I’ve got a soldering iron, and I’m sure I could probably find some decent wire and a few resistors for this (since I’m wanting to mod more than just my GBC), but I can never seem to find a front-light part at a very affordable price. So… Would you happen to know of any place that supplies just the front-light?

  53. Levi Says:

    Hey, I was wondering if it is possible to add a toggle switch to toggle the backlight so that I could save power? If so, could you please elaborate? Thank you in advance. :D

    P.S. Where can I get a cheap sp? eBay seems to be expensive actually.

  54. Levi Says:

    I would solder the short wire to the switch instead of the power switch as ground, right?

  55. Oso Says:

    Hey Mike, great write up, i followed your steps verbatim but im having an issue. The orange tab on the frontlight seems to be missing those little contact strips. Does that mean i did something wrong? I dont want to have to destroy another perfectly good gameboy!

  56. mikejmoffitt Says:

    It sounds like the contacts were torn off. If you can scrape away the metal in the orange ribbon, you can use that, or solder directly to the resistor found inside further along the ribbon.

  57. Oso Says:

    I have two broken gba sp’s now so im hoping that works! What does the resistor look like? I have had nothing but bad experiences working with that little orange ribbon :/

  58. Oso Says:

    Ok so im assuming by resistor you mean that small box attatched to the side of the screen. Could you point out exactly where i might want to solder to?

  59. Oso Says:

    Ok so sorry for spamming but I got everything to work, and now it starts up and lights up. However it doesnt seem to be able to read games! Any ideas? Thanks

  60. Mike Says:

    Where can i get a game boy color?
    Please hlep!

  61. Ell Says:

    can i do it with the first version of GB Advanvce?
    can you do how show it?


  62. elleitkor Says:

    hi, can you do thAt with de first version of gbA?

  63. mstraham16-mc Says:

    Is there a site i can have professionals do this for me because id rather not buy an sp just to break it and my gbc. Or atleast isbthere a site wher i canbuy a frontlight for my color

  64. Nolan Says:

    do you still do the service?

  65. GameBoy Color retroilluminato Says:

    [...] http://mikejmoffitt.com/wp/?p=70 prego [...]

  66. Aaron Says:

    Hey can you do this with a gameboy advance? I am wanting my gba modded to use my old SP screen and dont want to ruin it myself. if you could do this please let me know! Thank You!

  67. Antony Says:

    DIY gameboy frontlight panel, led frontlight for gameboy


  68. Gustavo Camargo Says:

    Here’s a alternative much much MUCH cheaper than buying a GBA SP. http://www.aliexpress.com/item/GAMEBOY-GBC-GB-GBP-SP-GBA-LCD-DIY-LED-front-light/1041296223.html

  69. mikejmoffitt Says:

    Yeah, I just came across that the other week. I have to get some and try them, it’s a great thing that someone has made these.

  70. Bryan Collins Says:

    @OSO “Ok so sorry for spamming but I got everything to work, and now it starts up and lights up. However it doesnt seem to be able to read games! Any ideas? Thanks” I have the same problem, the gameboy boots up, and the front light comes on, but it will not read any games. I was wondering if you might have found the solution? or if anyone else has any ideas and to why this is happening.

  71. Ryan B Says:

    would u be able to make one for me and how much? am willing to spend a bit for it. please email me and let me know. thanks

  72. mikejmoffitt Says:

    Sounds like something might be wrong with the cartridge reader. Try cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol. It could also be a bad solder joint for the cartridge slot, try reflowing the pins for it.

  73. Gazp Says:

    Heres an irrelevant question, if i may ask…i am trying to change my gameboy color’s power switch and solder a custom switch as the original one is broken. Do you happen to know which of the four pads (1, c, 2 and 3 ) should be wired to the new switch and how? Sorry about the tottally irrelevant question but i have really searche all over the internet and havent found a tutorial on this, or at least, a schematic of how the switch works…Thanks in advance.

  74. Ryan B Says:

    do u still offer this service?

  75. Myles G Says:

    @Ryan, if mine turns out well I’ll do yours, I’ll send you picture proof and everything you need.

  76. John S Says:

    Did anyone ever try that front light from aliexpress? I wanna get one because its so cheap but from the pictures the glass does not look very clear at all. http://www.aliexpress.com/item/GAMEBOY-GBC-GB-GBP-SP-GBA-LCD-DIY-LED-front-light/1041296223.html

  77. mikejmoffitt Says:

    I’ve been informed those are illegally sold prototypes that nonfinite had made. They apparently aren’t so good.

  78. Flavor Says:

    DO NOT BUY those AliExpress front-lights.
    I made the mistake of buying 5 of these to mod some games for people. All the ones currently listed on AliExpress are the same, and they’re all terrible. They have something like a matte finish that makes the panel not fully transparent and pretty much unusable.

  79. draco Says:

    On the front light orange tab do you completely cut off the strip that was for the sp screen http://cdn.instructables.com/FMN/MPRO/GLK0O1BE/FMNMPROGLK0O1BE.MEDIUM.jpg or do you leave it like this one?

  80. Jack Egan Says:

    Hey, if the current that goes through the frontlight is unresisted, would it fry it? I did this and now my frontlight isn’t turning on. Thanks!

  81. Starr Says:

    Just a quick question as the last post was some time ago.. Do you still offer this service? and if so.. how much do charge.


  82. mikejmoffitt Says:

    I don’t know, really. I’ve done it backwards for sure but it didn’t really cause any issues.

  83. mikejmoffitt Says:

    I try not to, but if I do, I usually end up just supplying my own LED in that situation.

  84. mikejmoffitt Says:

    I mean, I could do it, I just really don’t like to. Mostly because it’s a bit of a pain, and the chances of ruining something are high which can get expensive. Probably something absurd, like maybe $80 + parts?

  85. Starr Says:

    Aha, that’s fair enough. It is fiddly. Appreciate your honesty. I’ll pick up a GB Advance SP at some point and play around with it myself.