Saturday, June 1, 2013


New hobby? Yes and no.

So recently I found my old Gameboy Advance that I got when I was in middle school (it was already beat up when I got it). Anyway, I really like the Original Gameboy because it is much more comfortable than the SP. Unfortunately, the screen is not lit and it really hurts my eyes playing it when it is dark. So I decided to try and backlight the screen. I read online that it was impossible to backlight the OG GBA screen but I had to try for myself. I had a vague suspicion that polarizing the backlight source would fix the washed out problem that they claimed would happen. Unfortunately, I was wrong and regardless of how I polarized the backlight the screen remained washed out. After reading more I decided that this problem is due to the screen being a reflective LCD versus the transmissive display that is used in backlit screens. Anyway, during my experimentation, I tried peeling off what I thought was a polarizing film (which it was) but I think I ended up peeling a plastic thin film along with it, breaking the film. In other words I broke the screen. After a period of depression, I found online there were people that replaced the screen of the OG GBA with the SP screen. I asked around and my friend was kind enough to donate his SP. I was hoping for a AGS-101 edition which has a bright backlit screen instead of the AGS-001 which only has a frontlight but I got impatient and just went with the frontlight. Anyway, here is the progress.

Clearly visible crack in screen

OG Screen (before crack)

GBA with SP Screen

For anyone who cares, there are two versions of the OG GBA. My version has a 32 pin screen ribbon cable. I believe the other version has 40 pins. Anyway, the SP screen has 34 pins the first 32 corresponding with the 32 on the OG GBA. However, the order is reversed (1,2,3...32 versus 32,31,30...1) so the pins needed to be reversed. I accomplished this in the above picture by cutting off the ribbon cable for the OG cable and placing the SP ribbon cable over it metal contact points facing each other (I will try and make a diagram but for people that can spatial visualize this the 1-32 pins would be touching each other in the correct order this way). I then left a little it of the OG cable sticking out past the SP cable so that it can make contact with the connector on the motherboard. This way the signals from the motherboard are picked up by the OG cable and sent into the SP cable almost immediately after in the correct order. This however, posed a problem as the SP cable is too short the move the screen into the center of the GBA. This solved when I extended the cable but I will post about that at a later time. the 33rd and 34th pin (no I have not forgotten about them) are for powering the backlight. I however, just cut off the contact points (as they do not fit on in the 32 pin connector) because there are two soldering points on the back of the screen where power can easily be hooked up.

To be honest I've already finished the entire screen replacement assembly but like always I was too busy finishing my modded Gameboy to take pictures so I will take them later and upload them. Then comes the painting process (the most important part). Anyway thanks for reading! Until next post.

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