Introduction: Game Boy Backlight | How to Install | Game Boy DMG

Picture of Game Boy Backlight | How to Install | Game Boy DMG

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Adding a backlight to you game boy is one of the easiest, most effective and affordable modifications you can do to revive some memories of your childhood ! Make sure to have all of your materials prepared and ready to go before you begin. It is an excellent idea to disassemble and scrub the plastic casing and clean the front and back PCBs to avoid drying time lost to mother nature.


Optional Materials

  • Wire Strippers
  • Flux
  • Lens Cloth
  • Cue-Tips

Step 1: Disassemble and Clean

Picture of Disassemble and Clean


To begin, remove all 6 tri-wing screws from the back of your original Game Boy DMG-01. Keep these in a safe place as you will need them later when reassembling. Remove the ribbon cable connecting the front PCB (logic board) to the back PCB in a gentle downwards motion. At this point you should have the front and the back unit’s separated. Proceed to remove the 10 Phillips head screws connecting the front PCB (with the screen) to the front shell. Again, keep these in a safe spot they are easy to lost. NOTE: These screws are easily stripped, so be careful when removing.

Now is a good time to clean the front shell with soap and water. Let dry and turn on your soldering iron!

Step 2: Remove Polarizing Film

Picture of Remove Polarizing Film

To remove the polarized film on the underside of the LCD, protect the front of the screen with tape or a Post-it® note. Turn the screen front side facing down and obtain a clean, sharp utility blade. Starting with the top right corner (when lying down); insert the edge of the blade between the silver polarized adhesive film and the glass LCD. Push your blade gently and evenly with pressure about 0.5 inches between the film and LCD. There is a layer of adhesive under the polarizer that you are aiming to remove as well so be sure to put pressure under, and as close to the glass as possible.

Now use your fingers or pliers to peel back the silver film. DO NOT pull without securing the LCD screen. Make sure to hold the screen with your other hand and protect the connections from the ribbons cables to the LCD. Severing these could lead to a screen that is not repairable. Once all of the film has been removed, you may notice a small amount of adhesive in the corners. Use rubbing alcohol and a cue-tip to remove and clean the glass on the back side of the LCD.

*** If a super sticky layer of adhesive is left over after you remove the film, you will have to put a little more effort in to remove it. My experiences have revealed that about 1 in 10 game boys have this kind of adhesive. To remove, use a good-remover with a razor blade and gently scrape the glue off. You won't scratch your LCD unless you apply uneven pressure. Its a slow process but it works. Be sure not to get chemicals on the ribbon cable to avoid damage.***

Step 3: Backlight Preparation

Picture of Backlight Preparation

Clean behind your LCD screen with a can of compressed air. Any speck of dust will give you an annoying dot that is not easily removed. Prepare your LED backlight by removing the protective film on the front. Next, remove the films from the polarized film provided in your kit (front and back).

You'll want to orient your polarization film properly before you install and close up your case or you'll be opening her up again to turn it 90 degrees. Hold up the film to an LCD (such as a monitor) and observe how the transparency of the film changes when you rotate it. Orient the film so that it becomes dark when in front of an LCD and then you are ready to place it on top of the backlight to prepare for insertion. This orientation will allow for a normal pixel orientation when installing the backlight alone. Turn the film 90 degrees and your display will invert, what once was dark would become light and vice versa.

***When installing a bivert chip, you'll want to turn your film 90 degrees (clear when up to an LCD) to obtain a normal configuration. The bivert chips will invert your pixels***

Next, solder the 2 provided wires onto their respective pads on the flat cable of the backlight. Use red for the positive "+" pad and blue for the negative "-" pad.

Install the resistor provided to the "+" or red wire and add some heat shrink tubing for extra protection. A resistor is recommended in order to meet the exact voltage recommendations for the LEDs inside. It is especially necessary for the colors red and orange and gameplay can be effected if the resistor is not installed.

Step 4: Backlight Installation

Picture of Backlight Installation

Now you are ready to insert the backlight and film into the game boy.Touching only the edges of the backlight and polarization film, lift them together and slide them behind the glass LCD to fit into the existing frame. The wires and flat cable labeled "HHL" with a "+" and "-" sign on it should exit at the bottom left of the frame.

***There is no need to cut the plastic frame here as the the ribbon cable is then enough not to be compressed***

Solder the 2 wires to their respective solder points before screwing the LCD cable back down. Test your backlight and make sure you are happy with the cleanliness of your LCD before securing the LCD back down.

The excess wires can be threaded through the holes next to the capacitor to make things neat.

Step 5: Operation Complete

Picture of Operation Complete

Reinsert your buttons and silicone pads on the front shell. With the front shell facing downwards, and the buttons and pads in place, insert the front PCB into the front shell just as it was before you removed it. Reinsert the 10 small Phillips head screws and secure the PCB to the front shell and reattach the ribbon cable between the front PCB and the back PCB. Combine the two sides together and secure with the original 6 tri-wing screws.

Enjoy countless hours of illuminated retro gaming!

For help and discussion, visit the Hand Held Legend help forum here.

Some other mods to check out include:


up-n-atom (author)2015-01-11

A successful Edge-lit LED Backlight + Hex Inverter IC = Backlit Bi-Vert Mod!

It's my first attempt in celebration of 25 years since I received my DMG on December 26, 1989. Thanks for making the kit affordable and available to Canadians.

HarleyS1 (author)up-n-atom2015-08-07

Your first attempt at biverting, but lots of practice soldering. The way you installed the inverter on the other forum. Just marvelous.

up-n-atom (author)HarleyS12015-08-18

I'm not in anyway proficient, but I've been soldering here and there on minuet projects and repairs for over a decade since high school electronics. The right tools do make a noticeable difference. I've managed to acquire some well rounded work stations from auctions through the years. My current setup is a Hakko FM-202 with a Hakko FM-2021 iron and a nice assortment of Hakko T7, T12, and T15 series tips. I predominantly use a T15-D12 tip, which is a small wedge.

DinguiE (author)up-n-atom2015-07-17

Guy i love your works! Alway nice and clean!!

WayneS18 made it! (author)2015-08-15

Backlight then bivert and side by side.

Rodville (author)2014-11-06

Anyone know if this LED kit will work for a Game Boy Color?

switchie15 (author)Rodville2014-11-06

It wont; different LCD's make it impossible.

faassteddy made it! (author)2014-08-01

Well after my failed attempt where I cracked the LCD on a DMG Game Boy I took the same backlight and installed it into a Game Boy Pocket Today. Thank you for sending me that resistor I used it and it works great.

CodyB28 (author)2017-09-22

Would someone be nice enough to do this for me?After what happened to my other consoles when i tried to do mods they break.

jetskiee made it! (author)2016-10-06

Posting a clean install for that 10% coupon! Glass screen, biversion, and yellow backlight.

switchie15 (author)jetskiee2016-10-23

email me at for your code!

AaronU5 made it! (author)2016-10-22

This was so easy with the HHL v2.0 bivert chip! Take your time and be careful when scraping the reflective layer and polarizer from the back of the screen so that you don't damage the ribbon cables, especially if you are using a razor! But for my first time, this was really no trouble at all!

GerardR17 (author)2016-09-26

First try, and unfortunately unsuccesfull.

installed both the transistor and the bi-vert mod. I found out I had a
DMG with extra sticky adhesive layer. So i removed it with some sticker
remover chemical, and probably damaged the ribbon cable in the process..
my screen now looks like this.

Can someone confirm this is due to
ribbon cable damage? Or does anyone have any idea what I can try? I
have another DMG and another backlight, so I can try one more time, but I
want to be sure that I make it in my 2nd attempt...

switchie15 (author)GerardR172016-09-28

Definitely looks like ribbon cable damage. Those few super sticky layer are a pain but should not be cleaned with chemicals. Keep scraping away with isopropyl alcohol and a razor.

JonnyZZ (author)2016-08-16


So I installed the backlight and bivert mod and it works, but no matter how I orient the polarizer the screen is inverted.

Any idea what the problem could be?


switchie15 (author)JonnyZZ2016-08-16

This has been narrowed down to a resistor on the PCB not functioning properly. We do not know which one. :(

90sF (author)2016-07-07

Please can you do a more easier tutorial for the Game Boy Pocket versiom, Backlight 2.0 ?


0r4 made it! (author)2016-07-05

Once you figure out how to mess with the length of the cables, it's a fun and easy project.

FunkyBeef made it! (author)2016-04-01

I've managed to install the backlight (and bivert module) without any trouble.

I was wondering if is it possible to add a potentiometer to dim the backlight. If yes, what are the specs for it. is a 500 ohms potentiometer good for this?

switchie15 (author)FunkyBeef2016-04-01

Did you install the provided resistor? you can use a resistor to your liking, (100 ohm is recc, 150 or 200 ohm) or a trimpot to reduce the brightness. Not positive about the value. Sorry!

FunkyBeef (author)switchie152016-04-01

Yes I have installed the provided resistor and it works great the way it is.

I was just curious and maybe I will try to add a potentiometer another day!

albpara (author)2016-03-12

Holy molly... tried this with my old Gameboy and when tryign to remove the polarized film, only a plastic film came out and the silver remains on the back of the screen, this is almost impossible to remove :(

switchie15 (author)albpara2016-03-12

some models of the dmg had super sticky adhesive that is a pain to get off. You can remove it with some extra time and patience.

KourisN (author)2016-01-26

has enyone tried to connect the RGB backlight? can i find instructions for this one?

HarleyS1 (author)2015-08-07

So I have a weird one. I installed the inverter just fine. put it back together and it works perfectly then it tries to load and game makes a fast repeat tap then goes blue. I have the white led. and nothing after that. I don't even remember if the card reader worked because i waited so long for a soldering iron in the mail to install the inverter. old one was junk. Could it be the reader or did i solder something wrong. Ill upload pics. Im just stumped i dont really want to swap out readers. Any help would be appreciated. tried new batteries.

HarleyS1 (author)HarleyS12015-08-07

must be the reader. now with game in i have horizontal lines but with game out black bar comes down perfect

switchie15 (author)HarleyS12015-08-07

did you install the resistor?

HarleyS1 (author)switchie152015-08-07

Yes then uninstalled it. both had same out come works until it tries to read game. I probably botch a wire or something on the circuit board. Have a backup. I'll post a picture when i've finished it. One last question. Has anyone made a tutorial on home to bivert a gameboy pocket. This was my first attempt at biversion. Thank you for the fast response. I love hand held legends. You guys are great. Not the best camera. Looks great in person. That was before ripping it back apart. :)

HarleyS1 (author)HarleyS12015-08-07

That had the resister installed. I think I used so much wire and solder that that was enough resistance. Haha

LeeY5 made it! (author)2015-07-15

Hello! 1st attempt. Successful. I didn't use the given polarized film cos the LCD between the glass have. Well, this game boy i bought from ebay. My own game boy have a 'burn' mark on the LCD. It was the crystal bust? Do you think i can use backlight to save it?

switchie15 (author)LeeY52015-07-15

Where did the polarizer come from?

LeeY5 (author)switchie152015-07-19

Polarized film came from the 1st layer that is on the LCD.

BryanA4 (author)2015-05-16

I'm new to backlighting, so I have some questions that I have a hard time getting.

1. The DMG is infamous for blurring especially in faster games like Super Mario Land. Will the new screen improve upon this at least a bit?

2. What exactly is the resistor for? I don't think I saw where exactly to solder it, I couldn't find it in the guide. I only ever plan on using green (for DMG) and white (for pocket), is it important for quality and/or dimming over the course of the battery life?


switchie15 (author)BryanA42015-05-17

1. Contrast improvement with the bivert modification may help this issue.

2. The resistor keep the voltage to the backlight within recommended limits to improve contrast variability and battery life.

rusty.mcgee.92 (author)2015-04-14

I have a question. I modded my DMG with a red backlight & their is some cross hatching effect. is that normal? I've seen one's that appear without it. Did I install it wrong? Is their a work around? Thanks in advance.

having the same issue, any help out there

AndyF3 (author)2015-03-18

So i'm brand new to soldering and this kit is a little out of my comfort zone. However i was stoked to see the orange light up, but thats where the joy ends. Theres just light, no sign of life from the GB. Places with the sound and contrast. No 'ping' from the Nintendo logo or anything on the display. Also this maybe a dumb question, there seems to be many different places you can solder too for positive and negative. Different people seem to have different locations they favour. Any chance of a diagram on where you are referring too? Better yet, what about a youtube vid? Anyways, any guidance on how to fix or what i did to brick it would be appreciated.

switchie15 (author)AndyF32015-03-18

you'll need to install the resistor! should fix the problem

AndyF3 (author)switchie152015-03-20

Nice one! Looking good now. My only problem now is that the GB doesnt screw up tight anymore (obviously to do with the backlight and how it sits). If i do it tight it puts stress on the screen and therefore has more black spots around the edges if that makes sense. Any tips for this?

switchie15 (author)AndyF32015-03-21

It really should be able to screwed in all the way. The case you are using is a reproduction and I don't know if it that has anything to do with it. Sometimes the edge of the film or LCD is not all the way in the casing too.

Tarnelm (author)switchie152015-05-01

I had trouble with that as well, it was because my wires were bundled up in the wrong place, putting pressure on the screen. Being aware of were I placed the wires fixed that

AndyF3 (author)Tarnelm2015-05-07

Bingo. That was it. Cheers buddy :)

Perceptiv (author)2015-01-16

I was peeling the foil, but a lot of foil got stuck on the screen and only the adhesive part came off.. Is there any way to remove the foil without scraping it?

Thanks for the tuto!

switchie15 (author)Perceptiv2015-01-16

You can use a utility blade to get under there without scratching the glass. get some alcohol or adhesive removed to get the glass perfectly clean

Perceptiv (author)switchie152015-01-17

The problem is that the adhesive came out and 90% of the foil is stuck on the screen.
It was really really hard to take it off.. I did it once and it was quite easy.
The thing is that if i will scrape it i will certainly damage the screen. Is there any product that i can use to de-glue the foil glued to the screen?
I heard that vinager, maionese, or liquid to clean hovens might work.
Will it work?

Tarnelm (author)Perceptiv2015-05-01

I had a similiar issue the first time, I'd accidentally pulled up half of the foil, it meant I pulled everything off in two layers. After that I made sure to look at the razor blade's color from the other side of the screen. You can tell what layer you are in by the color of the blade - it'll be greener if you are in the wrong place, and your typical silver if you are in the right place.

Also, heating the polarized panel with a hair dryer really helped with the adhesive - only a miniscule amount of it was left where I had pulled the corner up with the razor blade. Doesn't really fix the problem once its there, but next time its a good way to prevent it from happening.

Heating the LCD could be bad for it though, I dont know.

JasonC20 (author)2015-03-14

Hey, not sure what went wrong. The screen lights up just fine but all I see is a black square outline and sort of a half visible cross. If I lean back and look at the screen from an angle I can see lots of black lines and some pixels changing. Is it possible I damaged a ribbon cable?

switchie15 (author)JasonC202015-03-15

its possible for sure, try adding the resistor and see what happens

JasonC20 (author)switchie152015-03-15

Yeah I added the resistor after making that comment. The LED was definitely dimmer. Unfortunately I think I accidentally cut the LCD ribbon with the blade when removing the polarizing film. This was my first time ever doing anything like this so I didn't expect to get it right the first time. Learn from my mistakes and try again! Hopefully next time you see me here it will be with a "made it!" post.

Tarnelm (author)JasonC202015-05-01

I messed one up like that too! There was like, a magical sweetspot where the screen looked correct but the rest of the time it was either all black or all white or very flickery. I tried to get it in that sweetspot and close it for like, 3 hours!

Next time, I'll just consider it a broken LCD :b

About This Instructable




Bio: I enjoying learning new skills and love working with my hands. I often revisit my childhood and create projects from things which I once cherished ... More »
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