Tuesday, 12 November 2013

I modded my Game Boy Advance!

So last week Friday, I finally received the backlit screen that I had ordered for my Game Boy Advance. It's the same backlit screen as the one in a Game Boy Advance SP, but I planned on putting this screen in a regular Game Boy Advance. The screen came with a 40-pin ribbon connector as well. I ordered it from Zerey from Hong Kong.

The screen was $23.5, the ribbon cable was $18 and the shipping cost me $21 (DHL express shipping, it arrived here in less than a week). I could also opt for regular shipping for $5 but that could have taken the package a month or so to arrive. And I don't have that much patience. ;)

- Ordering from Zerey -
You can check out Zerey's shop on Taobao here, if you follow that link you'll end up on his page for the ribbon cable. Do note that you can't actually buy things from Taobao, it is for China only and foreigners might encounter problems when trying to order. So you'll need to order over e-mail.
If you scroll down his page, you'll see his description in English. He explains to you how you can check what ribbon type (32-pin or 40-pin) your Game Boy Advance needs. Also, based on which ribbon your Game Boy Advance will need, make sure you pick the right screen as well (also mentioned on his page). I ordered a 40-pin ribbon cable and the type AB LCD screen.
So if you want to order from Zerey, you first need to make sure that you know which type of ribbon cable you'll need and which screen will work with it. Then, all you need to do is send him an e-mail.
Zerey's e-mail address is zereyzhang@yahoo.com. When you e-mail him, tell him that you would like to buy a 32-pin or 40-pin ribbon cable adapter and a GBASP backlit screen (mention the type too). Ask for the price and shipping options as well and then patiently wait for his reply.
Because of the time difference (he lives in China), you might have to wait until the morning. I received most of his replies at mornings around 6AM.
It is best to pay with PayPal, Zerey will either send you an invoice or if you both agreed to the order you can ask him for his PayPal e-mail address and send the money with PayPal yourself. Ask him over e-mail if he received the payment just to be sure that you sent it to the right address. If everything went good, you'll have your screen and ribbon cable in less than a week (if you ordered with DHL, otherwise it'll take a month or so).

I actually received two screens. The first screen that arrived was damaged by DHL. It was clear that something had been placed or fell on the package, causing the screen to crack and have LCD leakage. DHL acknowledged the damage, and Zerey sent me a new screen free of charge. All I had to pay was the shipping, so I was quite happy with that.

I followed the instructions from the YouTube video below (this one is part 1 of 3, be sure to check out part 2 and 3 as well):

To begin with, I had to modify a new case I had bought from Ebay. I bought a spicy orange one (or at least I think that's its name). Looks just like the real thing, so it's a perfect replacement. Here's a picture of what I modified in order for the new screen to fit.

It had quite some edges that had to be cut off, and some small ridges as well. I think I spent about an hour on just getting rid of edges, and I even sanded down the cut marks to make the material smoother and to prevent it from scratching the screen.

Next, I screwed open my "old" Game Boy Advance case and removed the old screen from the motherboard. Then I unscrewed the motherboard from the case. I then took the new screen, connected it to the motherboard, soldered the wire to the motherboard (to set up the brightness of the screen) and tried it out.

It didn't quite work out at first. I accidentally soldered it on two parts on the motherboard, and the console wouldn't even start (the screen did nothing, but the led light lit up for half a second and then went out again). So I kinda panicked. But then my boyfriend came home and he did the soldering again. This time the wire was soldered to another point on the motherboard. Although this would give the screen a lower brightness, it now worked! Thanks dear!

Here's a picture of the motherboard and the screen, placed in the new case.

Now I just had to test if it works. I inserted a game I had laying around (The Sims 2 Pets), and this was the result.

Success! All thanks to my boyfriend Michaël, without him I would've probably considered my console to be broken. But he fixed it, and it made my day. ^_^

Finally I just had to reassemble everything. Placed the buttons, made sure everything fit well and screwed everything in place. And here we go! A modded Game Boy Advance, with a brand new case and a backlit screen.

What a beauty. The colour of the case is just perfect, I wouldn't want it any other way! And even though the screen is supposed to be brighter, I'm satisfied with how bright it actually is!
Now I can finally enjoy my games in colour, clearly visible. I no longer need to find a spot with sufficient light, I can just play in the dark if I want to! ^_^

Perhaps one day I'll buy another Game Boy Advance and mod that one too, for my boyfriend. Who knows. You'll certainly know when I did. :)


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