Taking it to the NeX level (RGB backlight)

hi all,

this is my RGB gameboy, it was inspired by the RGB backlight that Nonfinite sent me to test. I really recommend these backlights there is a lot that can be done with them, i don’t know if they are on sale just yet but the shop is at: www.nonelectronics.com

again huge thanks to nonfinite team for this one, the project would have never happened without you guys!

this gameboy comes complete with everything ever! here is a mod list:

3.5mm pro sound factory style
1/4″ pro sound
RCA pro sound
maintained 3.5mm headphone jack
gameboy pocket retro fitted screen
XOR style bivert chip
Super gameboy CPU for quick silent boot
clear buttons
normal and underclocked switch
pitch bend
full midi support
built in LSDJ keyboard socket
25way data port socket
removed text
RGB case lights
RGB backlight
self strobing LEDs
secondery arduino for RGB control
tactile switches and stereo pot for input control
maintains original features including speaker
modified power regulator for extra low interferance

so yea this gameboy was built to replace my other gameboys so i wanted to make sure that every feature on my other gameboys was included in this one. the only thing it is lacking from the other gameboys is an overclock switch, there was space for the crystal but i didn’t have any kind of switch that would have worked.

HERE IT IS IN ACTION!! YOUTUBE VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAzT11PbrIQ

first job was prepairing the XOR chip, this chip was used so that the contrast could be inverted by the Arduino to show mode changes in the midi arduino.

this shows the new board with the super gameboy CPU fitted and the massive modification to make room for the extra stuff. you can see it next to a normal board to see how much has been removed.

the XOR chip is held in place by metal legs from old components, it turns out i had to move it later because it fouled the D25

i tried to lower it as much as possible but it was still a problem

here you can see the pitch bend chip fitted, the 5v and ground pins on the gameboy are exactly the same spacing on the pitch chip making it very easy to mount

the pocket screen prepaired with nonfinites RGB backlight. the pocket screen is clear, unlike the normal DMG screen which has a yellow tint, this means the colours from the RGB backlight come through much better.

prepairing the case, a lot of plastic has already been cut out but much more to go. the original headphone jack and the factory pro sound have the tactile mode switches mounted on top of them.

wiring the pocket gameboy screen to the DMG daughter board. even using 30 gauge wire the screen failed 2 times because of stray solder.

the pocket screen fully wired in and working. i had to wire the screen directly to the board because there was no space for the socket.

RCAs and 1/4″ jacks added as well as the PS/2 socket

another view of the RCAs the power switch had to be modified to make room for the RCAs but very worth it because its a great out of the way location

the 1/4″ jack socket is from a 1/4″ to 3.5mm adapter, it is much smaller than a panel mount jack making it easier to fit. more importantly it is flush fitting, as i wanted to make sure i could still fit my delay box to the bottom of the gameboy.

the pitch pot in place, this was later changed to a much smaller duel 50k pot

holes drilled in the upper half of the shell so that it all fits together notice also the text has been removed from the shell.

the shell was rubbed all over with a mild abrasive to frost the clear shell, this was because i wanted the colour of the case to be chosen by the LEDs and not by the colour of the circuit boards.

Arduino number two in place on top of the gameboy CPU, huge amounts of room here. i later changed the SMD resistors to normal sized resistors and there was still room.

RGB front LEDs fitted and screen glued in place. i later had to move the screen 2 times to make it line up.

screen board fitted with arduino 1 in place and the clear buttons. i had to take it apart many times again because of things like dust getting on the screen and the program on the arduino not being right.

started wiring the back half, you can see the underclock crystal on top of the battery compartment. a lot of this wiring was changed later due to power issues with the arduinos causing the gameboy to reset. also note the RGB chip LED behind the D pad.

another view of the crystal. some of the case had to be modified for this to fit.

all the parts coming together slowly, making sure i labled everything so i knew which LEDs were which.

wiring the two halfs together, i had to make sure that all the wires went down the left side of the gameboy so i could open it and close it easier. this really made a difference with the number of problems i kept running into. the underclock crystal was a last minute idea when i found i had enough space.

here i was changing the code on arduino 2, the code took two weeks to write, but i had no way of testing it. when i had everything in a position that i could test it i found loads of problems. also note that the midi parts are now in place

a view of the heavily modified power board next to a stock one. the larger caps made a big difference.

i was running out of room for the caps for the headphone jack, i decided i would make some space by drilling out the gap between the battery compartment and the bottom of the gameboy. i thought i would regret it as the plastic was bending a lot, i thought it would snap but it was fine

another view of the caps

almost done. just need to wire the D25

D25 wired and all nicely tested

first few test runs







everything plugged in!

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43 Responses to Taking it to the NeX level (RGB backlight)

  1. george says:

    wow what can i say,youve made my attempts look amaturish,white backlight,rainbow leds in case+onoffswitch,pitchbend thingy+onoffswitch,phono prosound out,stereo speakers on back and replacement headphone amp switched also,trying to get the kboard to worq

  2. NeX says:

    wow i would love to see how you got speakers on the back! and a new amp too that sounds really interesting, do you have any pics?

  3. terror8ITe says:

    You sir are a genius!!!! i knew i made the right choice asking you for help :) ! you are on the ball!!!

  4. NeX says:

    haha thanks!

  5. Jannick says:

    Holy crap, that’s cool! Wish I had the ability to do that!

  6. NeX says:

    thanks! it was actually all simple stuff its just there is a lot of it in a small space

  7. DJ says:

    i want that. im no where near good enough with electronics to do that stuff. I can do a pro sound and thats basically it.

  8. NeX says:

    keep trying its just practice to do these things

  9. Pingback: RGB Boy Lite + Screen Invert control test | NeX's ModBlog

  10. Feezor says:

    I would like to learn more about the pocket screen swap that you have done. Do you have a circuit diagram for the pocket screen, or DMG daughter board? Are the wire layouts identical?
    Awesome project!!!

  11. NeX says:

    sorry i have limited data on the pocket screen swap, its all in my head really. the pin outs for the pocket screen and the DMG screen don’t match up at all really, i had to reverse engineer the two boards and even then the last bit was trial and error, but if you want to drop me a mail maybe i can try and help out

  12. Llulagan says:

    What skills do you need to be able to do this?
    because you sir, are all the motivation i need to learn how to do all that

    I jsut started looking into gameboy mods, and ive been learning about one thing at a time, Pitch bend mod, backlighting, then i was this and im completly blown away

    I want to be able to do that

  13. NeX says:

    i am glad you are interested in doing this kind of stuff, as for skills, just basic understanding of electronics, a steady hand with a soldering iron, and some understanding of the arduino platform could make one of these.

    its not so hard, the problem is the amount of work, this took over a month to build sometimes working on it all day, so its not something you can rush or it just wont work.

  14. snsd hoot says:

    Good stuff from you, man. Ive read your stuff prior to and youre just too awesome. I love what youve got here, really like what youre saying plus the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you still manage to maintain it smart. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a great weblog.

  15. NeX says:

    Thanks very much! I really appriciate the comment, i try to lay out each page in the same way i built each thing, so as you read the page you hit the same difficulties and solutions i did while i was working on each project. I really want to put up more things but which Christmas coming up and a lack of money things have kinda slowed down, also on trying to mod this RGB boy a bit more, i broke it and gave up on it for now, so i have been put off gameboys for a bit and i am now working on a computer for my car so maybe i will put that up instead.

  16. great work! and i love the post title is an 8bc quote from me ;D

  17. ryan says:

    Nex, i found something interesting that you might not have seen yet.
    over at kitsch-bent.com they have low battery indicator kit that uses a led. it looks like a good idea, though i would rather build one myself. anyways i posted it here since this is a popular page.

  18. NeX says:

    yea they are awesome, i have one in this gameboy, and one in another gameboy. kitsch was nice enough to send me some to test and they work really well. i was thinking of making my own as well but actually you couldn’t beat these for design and ease of use.

  19. NeX says:

    gotta be good then ;)

  20. MatthewRoss says:

    Hey NeX! I was wondering if you could give me some advice and possibly a few extra instructions on switching out the original CPU with the Super Gameboy one. Also, I bought a quarter inch jack (female), and I was wondering where exactly to solder it to. I would greatly appreciate the help! Awesome work by the way. :)

  21. MatthewRoss says:

    Never mind, I found out where to solder the quarter inch jack to, and I have it in. Now the only problem is finding space for it, haha.

  22. NeX says:

    hey there,

    there is no real tips i can give you for switching the CPU, you just unsolder the existing one and put in the new one, and as for the quarter inch jack, they should be soldered to the same place as any pro sound, which is by the volume pot.

  23. NeX says:

    move the power board to the other side and put it in the bottom left corner of the gameboy, loads of space there!

  24. Todderbert says:

    How did you attach your TTL interface board while programming the Mini? Are the pins just resting loosely on the Arduino, or did you solder a header on it? I would love to leave those pins open and not solder filled.

  25. NeX says:

    it just sits in the holes, there is a header on the FTDI which is great for programming, a lot of things i built i leave the terminals accessible

  26. Gandalf says:

    Are there any screen swaps, backlight installs, speaker or chip upgrades for the Gameboy color? I am skilled in soldering and such, but not so much in figuring out what components can interchange. I am new to gameboy modding, but I build boards for the US Navy so the assembly/connection/construction is no issue, I just need a plan and parts list.

  27. NeX says:

    the only thing you can do to a gameboy colour is a front light. the screen is unique so it cant be swapped, the sound is part of the CPU which again is unique so its quite limited.

  28. Ira says:

    I was curious about something. Seeing a lot of the mods on these Gameboys how does the battery life fair? Also, what is the max voltage these systems can handle? I was wondering if there was a way to mod one with 2 3.6V DS batteries.

  29. NeX says:

    with battery life it is about Amp hours, and not about volts, and that depends also on the kind of batteries you use. the regulator should be able to take up to 20 volts i think, but it would be a waste of time as it would have to work harder, it would be better to get a battery that already puts out as close to 5v as possible, that also has a good Ah rating.

    the battery life is ok on this gameboy it has lasted a while but i haven’t really tested it properly. everything in it doesn’t draw so much power, its more the limits of the power supply itself, as the batteries can take the extra load but the regulator can’t.

    you could fit DS batteries pretty easily but i don’t think there would be much of an advantage, the DS batteries are not that much higher Ah, than a normal battery, the only difference would be the rechargability.

    the best thing to do would be to redesign the regulator using modern components, to reduce its size and make it more efficient, then use the biggest batteries that can fit, for example if you could fit 4 D cell batteries into a gameboy, you probably would never have to change them again.

  30. Ira says:

    Well the biggest reason I asked was mainly for the recharge capability. Plus I didn’t know if I would have to run them in series to meet the voltage or if I could run them in parallel for the added Ah.

  31. NeX says:

    well its a trade off, the gameboy’s regulator i think can go as low as 3v and still run the gameboy, but it will struggle, but you would get a longer battery life. if you meet the 5v input then the regulator doesn’t have to do so much, but you dont get as many Ah,

    the best thing to do would be to find a 5 or 6 volt rechargeable battery, with the biggest Ah rating you can find, but will still fit in the gameboy,

  32. Ira says:

    Lol, I’m still pondering the 4 D batteries. First thought that came into my mind was hacking up a Mag Light and rigging it to the bottom of the Gameboy. Damn thing would look like a club. :P

  33. NeX says:

    do it! that would be awesome!

  34. Ira says:

    I almost forgot to ask, where would I look up a tutorial on setting up MIDI support to the Gameboy?

  35. NeX says:

    google Arduinoboy, there are a few tutorials out there

  36. hi Nex,
    Im interested in ur modding abilities and productions of the ol’ gameboy. Im getting a shipment in of about 20 gameboys and i obviously want to mod them myself, i havent been modding anything since i finished the 64 Boy, Portable N64, which was about a month and a half ago. I was hoping that u cud post a few guides on attatching the gameboy pocket screen to a DMG, places where to solder for the D25, and some other things that ill get back to u on. u can contact me on my youtube channel or my email that is attatched to this message.
    Thanks, take care,
    Youtube site: http://www.youtube.com/user/Bobflannery103?blend=1&ob=video-mustangbase#p/u

    P.s. heres my one gameboy : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9pszTssKns&feature=channel_video_title

  37. NeX says:

    hi there, sorry but i have very limited time so i can’t make guides that easily, i will be making some for NoiseChan at some point, but it wont be any time soon as i have no free time for at least 3 weeks,

  38. ok, i understand, ill try a few things and see how it goes. And are u the creator of the RGB backlights? because if u have any extra i really need one. im waiting till sum are in stock on nonfinite but there hasnt been any for quite sum time.

  39. NeX says:

    no, Nonfinite created the RGB backlights that i use, but there is a delay in their shop due to family things. but Kitsch also sells RGB backlights though they are a sligly different design

  40. Patrick says:

    Where did you get those white button pads, are they NES pads?

  41. NeX says:

    they are clear buttons from Nonfinite

  42. Andrew says:

    What does the D25 and the two bigger ports on opposite ends of the side of the gameboy do?

  43. NeX says:

    the one at the top is an expansion port for video and power etc, the two at the sides are midi in and out

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