Introduction: How to Replace the Housing of Your GBA SP
Hi everybody- I hope this set of instructions I wrote for my ENGL390 class can help any of you out there nursing a well loved GBA SP. Pictures to come soon and I'd love any con-crit
Gameboy Advance SP Revival: How to Rejuvenate Your Beloved but Battered Buddy
Sometimes our favorite toys can be loved a little too much. Today, I am here to explain how to replace the housing of your Gameboy Advance SP to bring it back to tiptop shape. Or, if you want to make a quick buck, purchase a heavily damaged console for cheap and refurbish it to sell for a profit. Back in 2011, I learned how to replace the housing of my own console using multiple video tutorials. Since then, I’ve refurbished more than seven consoles for friends and family. I’ve streamlined the directions for those of us who aren’t familiar with the inner workings of electronics. Making your console look as good as new is deceptively simple and needs nothing more than a few household tools and your own pair of hands.
Gameboy Advance SP console
If you are afraid of permanently damaging your own console, you can purchase one for $20 to practice.
Gameboy Advance SP replacement housing
Purchase this from any third party vendor. I recommend exploring eBay for a variety of colors and pricing options, rarely exceeding ten dollars.
These screwdrivers are specially made for small electronics that primarily use tri-wing screws, screws with three slots joined in the center, in their assembly. They often come bundled with the housing but verify with the seller that these are included.
Cross head screwdriver
These are used for cross head screws, screws with two perpendicular slots. They are also frequently bundled with the housing. Don’t forget to double check!
Flat, well lit work space with empty ice cube tray
Your work space needs to be flat to prevent any screws or small pieces from rolling away. The ice cube tray is an optional but convenient way to organize all the screws as you remove them if you’d like to use them again.
Time and patience
While more experienced “mod-ers” may finish this within half an hour, someone new to this type of modification may need at least an hour to remove the old console and another hour to put the new one on. Being patient is key- sometimes pieces don’t fit together as you’d like and you may have to go back several steps to catch the problem.
Words of Caution
Damaging the ribbon cable of the console will permanently damage system. Be very careful once you expose the cable. There is no way to repair this so if you find yourself struggling, place the console to the side and approach this again at another time.
Step 1: Removing the Old Housing
1. Turn off the console and remove any game from the cartridge slot
2. Close the console and flip it over. We will be working from the bottom up, starting with the battery cover. In total, there are four pieces to the housing- a top and bottom for the controls of the console, and a top and bottom for the screen of the console.
3. Remove the battery cover with the cross head screwdriver. Keep the screw to the side, placing it in your ice cube tray.
4. Remove the battery and put to the side. Keep this safe, you’ll need this later!
5. Using the tri-wing screw driver, remove six screws.
Four will be from each corner of the console. One will be at the back of the now empty battery
compartment. One will be in front of cartridge slot. The screws found at the corners will be longer, so keep
them apart from the shorter ones found at the battery compartment and cartridge slot.
6. Gently lift the piece of housing, exposing the motherboard underneath.
7. Locate the three cross head screws in the motherboard. These screws hold the motherboard in place. Using the cross head screwdriver, remove the three screws. Keep to the side.
8. Lift up the motherboard. It should be mostly free except for a ribbon cable connection underneath the hinge. This ribbon cable comesfrom the screen to connect to the motherboard. To free the motherboard completely, we need to disconnect the two.
Be very careful with the ribbon cable since it’s very delicate! Damage to the cable will result in a screen that remains black whenever the console is turned on.
9. The ribbon cable is attached to the motherboard in a special slot with a tab on either end. Gently push each tab down. The ribbon cable should now be free from the slot.
10. Free the motherboard from the bottom housing and place to the side.
11. Remove all the rubber pads and plastic buttons from the housing’s underside and keep to the side. Remove the small round speaker and keep to the side as well.
12. Locate a small cross head screw near the hinge, underneath the protruding ribbon cable. Use the cross head screw to remove it and place the screw to the side. Remove the now freed piece of hinge.
At this point, we should have three pieces of housing left: one piece of the bottom and two for the screen.
Step 2: Transitioning
13. Open the console. Locate the five screw covers around the perimeter of the screen. Pry the covers off with the tip of either screwdriver. Remove the screws underneath with the cross head screwdriver and keep to the side.
14. Pry the top and bottom pieces of the screen’s housing along the seam with your fingernail. The top housingshould now come off, exposing the back of the screen underneath.
15. Gently remove the screen from the housing. Be careful not to damage the ribbon cable as you transfer the screen to a safe place.
We have two pieces of housing remaining: the bottom housing of the screen and the top housing of the control. They are connected at the hinge. The hinge mechanism must be salvaged.
16. Using any screwdriver, place the tip into the left hinge to force the mechanism out the other end. Do this for the right hinge as well.
Don’t apply too much pressure.
If you push too hard, you may end up stabbing your hand with the screwdriver.
Step 3: Applying the New Housing
17. Configure the new housing such that the top piece of the control’s housing is aligned with the bottom piece of the screen’s housing.
18. Connect these two pieces by forcing in the salvaged hinge mechanisms. You now have a working hinge.
19. Keeping the hinge closed, place the screen into the housing.
20. Insert the ribbon cable through a small slot found at the hinge, allowing it to dangle underneath.
21. Place the top piece of the screen’s housing on top of the screen. Hold the top piece in place while you open the console.
22. Screw in the five screws salvaged from the old housing around the perimeter of the screen. Place screw covers over the screws. You can use your old ones or the ones that came with the new housing.
23. Close the console. Flip it over. Screw in the screw found underneath the ribbon cable.
24. Replace the speaker. Replace the buttons, followed by the matching rubber pads on top.You may use the buttons that came with the new housing, but I find I prefer the feel of the original buttons.
25. Replace the motherboard back in the housing. Attach the ribbon cable to the motherboard by putting it back into its designated slot and lifting the two small tabs.
26. Lay the motherboard flat and screw the three screws back in.
27. Align the last piece of housing just on top of the mother board. Screw the six screws back in. Remember the corner screws are longer than the more interior screws.
28. Place the battery back in. Screw the battery cover on top.
29. Pop in your favorite game and get ready for an adventure in your refurbished console!
If you are refurbishing with the intention to sell, make sure to dust off the motherboard, contact points, and screen once you’ve freed them. That way, you can ensure a fully functional product.