July 2, 2022

Project Greenboy – Gameboy Backlight

While cleaning my room, I found an old GameBoy pocket I bought from a garage sale years ago. I thought it might be fun to pop in Tetris and play for a little bit, but then I quickly notice, I couldn’t really see anything. I knew that Gameboy screens are hard to see, but there got to be something better! Then that’s when I remember watching a youtube video a while back on a backlight mod for the Gameboy Pocket.

I discover there were two modifications. One was the backlight mod which was straightforward and easy to understand how to install. The other mod, “bivert” was more difficult to install. That inverts the image on the Gameboy screen, then rotating polarized film in the Gameboy should help give more contrast in low light situations. But makes it more difficult to in Lighted conditions.

I decided to install the bivert modification chip, As I needed a challenge and it looks like a good way to get some practice with the soldering iron. Here are the steps I perform installing the Gameboy backlight mod

Note: This isn’t a tutorial, If you want more precise steps and a real guide I leave links below.

Step one: Breaking Down The GameBoy

I took care to not damage the screen and not lose the screws.

Removing the back, on the LCD panel.

Step two: Prep LCD backlight
I started by peeling up the back of the LCD and removing the old polarized film. Then after I install the new backlight screen and with a new polarizing film.
Tip: go slow and using a card helps, just be careful about the ribbon cable.

Step three: Install bivert chip

Wiring in the bivert chip.


much more difficult than the LCD backlight. First I made sure the wires were not too long, as the GameBoy pocket doesn’t have much room. If they were too long there wouldn’t be enough room to close the Gameboy case. Then I had some issues trying soldering the wires where they pose to be. But after realizing the soldering mask on the back of the PCB was preventing me from making a connection. I use a sharp object to scrape some off, and then it soldered on easily.

Step four: Put The GameBoy Back Together


This step took a while as the new wires introduce by the mods, made closing the Gameboy very difficult. But after about an hour of cutting and re-soldiering new lengths, I managed to get it all close-up and going.

while dealing with that issue, the new plastic shell I got for it was weaker than it should be. The screws were stripping out the holes. Luckily I have some screws that were a little bit thicker, that works excellently. Thankfully I don’t have to take it all apart again!

There were some issues with the build. First of all, the screen I ordered was the wrong one. It was posted to be a green back-lit screen, but it was just a normal blueish one. Since it looks nice, and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of reordering a new one and installing it.

Damage on the LCD screen frame.

A day later, I notice that the screen looks like it had some kind of damage in the corners. I’m not sure why it’s doing this, but my best bet, there was too much pressure from behind the screen from the extra wires and backlight. But the screen still works and the issue seems to be isolated in the outer frame and not in the screen’s playfield.


Conclusion

Overall I am quite happy with how it turned out. While it’s still hard to see indirect light, it looks amazing in the dark.

Would I recommend doing these modifications? Yes as a side project. There are much better ways to play old games now, but I can’t blame anyone wanting to do this if they are attached to their old Gameboy.
Giving this old game system a new life, was fun and seeing how well it turned out. I would do it all again.

Links and resources:

Game Boy Pocket Backlight Install

colby

Computer guru with years working with technology. I find it fun to tinker with computer new and old, and make them do my work for me.

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