Introduction: How to Add a Frontlight to Your Gameboy Color

Picture of How to Add a Frontlight to Your Gameboy Color

If you grew up with playing Gameboy like I did, I'm sure you remember countless hours of pokemon battles, many of which were only possible by the saving grace of your wormlight. I know I owe many long nights of Gameboy to that wormlight.

Now that I'm older though, a wormlight doesn't really cut it. This tutorial will show you how to very simply add an internal frontlight to your Gameboy Color. A feature that blows your wormlight out of the water.

Step 1: What You'll Need.

1. Your favorite Gameboy Color
2. A Broken Gameboy Advance Sp. (Make sure the model is NOT an AGS-101, this version uses the wrong light)
3. Tri-Wing screwdriver
4. Soldering iron and basic soldering skills.
5. Some wire and solder.

Step 2: Disassemble and Remove Screen

Picture of Disassemble and Remove Screen

First you'll need to remove all the batteries from your Gameboy, followed by the 6 Tri-wing screws that hold everything together. Once you have the screws out, the back half of the Gameboy should come right off, leaving the Gameboy motherboard still attached to the front casing. To remove the Gameboy motherboard from the casing you will need to do 2 things, First remove the phillips screws that hold the motherboard to the casing. Second, unplug the screen ribbon cable. The pictures should help you understand.

Once the screen is unplugged, you can remove the motherboard, leaving you with the screen inside the front casing. The screen has some adhesive around the edges, so it might take a little pulling to get it out, but it shouldn't be to difficult.


Step 3: Remove Frontlight From Your GBA SP

Picture of Remove Frontlight From Your GBA SP

To remove the light from the Gameboy Advance SP, you don't have to take apart the whole thing, just the screws around the screen. Once you remove those screws, you should be able to pull the plastic casing apart, leaving the screen attached by only a ribbon cable. Go ahead and cut this cable with some scissors to free the screen.

Once you've got your screen loose, the first thing you need to do is remove the screen bezel. (The clear plastic that says "Gameboy Advance SP" on it)The screen bezel is attached with a rubber like adhesive all the way around the edge. VERY carefully pull the screen bezel off from the edges. Try not to touch the screen underneath this, it's actually the light panel that rests ON TOP of the actual screen, and it's very hard to remove finger prints if you touch it too much.

Once the rubber adhesive stuff is removed, you should be able to pull the light panel and light up out of the screen assembly. You'll need to cut the plastic around the screen that the ribbon cable was fed through. On the backside of the screen assembly you will need to peel up the ribbon cable that attaches to the light. There is a small rectangle on the end of the ribbon cable for the frontlight, this rectangular section has two solder pads on it. BE SURE to peel up this rectangular piece AND the piece under it. If you only peel the top layer you will render the solder pads useless, and ruin your light.

The left solder pad is positive and the right pad is negative.

Step 4: Installing Your Frontlight.

Picture of Installing Your Frontlight.

Before you can install the light into your gameboy casing, you will need to modify it a bit. It's not too hard though, all you need to do is rip off the plastic "wall" below the screen. I just grabbed it with pliers and folded it over and ripped it out. It shouldn't take more than a few mins. Once that plastic is removed, you can simply lay the frontlight into the casing and then place the Gameboy screen on top of it. Be careful of finger prints! You don't want everything smudged up!

Once you've got the light installed and the screen laying on top of it, Go ahead and lay your Gameboy motherboard back in. The orange rectangle with your " + " and " - " solder pads on it should stick up around the side. (see pictures)

Go ahead and wire leads to each of these pads. The left (positive, blue wire) pad needs to be wired to the third pin down on the power switch.

The right (negative, yellow wire) pad needs to be soldered to ground. I soldered it to the negative side of one of the caps behind the battery connectors.

Once you have everything soldered up, go and and screw the motherboard back into the casing with your philips screws, plug your screen ribbon cable back in, and finish it off by screwing your back casing back on. The Tri-wing screws might be a little harder to screw down now that you have everything installed, but don't worry, it should go back together just fine.

Step 5: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

That wasn't too hard! You've now given new life to your Gameboy color, and made good use of a broken Gameboy advance SP. I personally prefer the way a Gameboy color plays over an SP, so I use my frontlit gameboy's instead of my working SP.

Comments

dereckd2 (author)2017-09-10

Do you need a AGS 001? or a AGS 101?

KimM305 (author)2017-09-10

So I tried it myself and I am proud that at least I didnt break the light but the problem I have is I barely see it when the lights are closed and it really is annoying please help

ChuckP36 (author)2017-04-30

Where can I buy a broken AGS101? I can't seem to find one online.

SoulD2 (author)2016-07-08

You can actually buy these now without ruining a perfectly good AGS001. go to handheldlegend.com they have really good ones for a great price

EvanH36 (author)SoulD22016-10-08

Those look absolutely terrible, I did one last week and you couldn't even see the screen it was so bad. They charge $12 plus shipping for those.

Broken AGS-101s go for just about the same amount or less (and he even mentions specificially to buy a broken one).

SoulD2 (author)2016-07-08

You can actually buy these now without ruining a perfectly good AGS001. go to handheldlegend.com they have really good ones for a great price

josephchrzempiec (author)2016-01-25

Hello i always wonder what size of screen is the Gameboy color?

Spence1989 made it! (author)2015-06-21

Great mod! Works flawlessly, thanks a lot.

nancyjohns (author)2015-03-25

Sorry if I'm rude, but, that's stupid. Why would you hack up a perfectly good GBAsp to use it's already established frontlight?

Mateloi (author)nancyjohns2015-05-02

You can take a GBA SP with a broken screen if the backlight is alive

I_-FANGOR-_I (author)nancyjohns2015-04-11

I just quote the instructable : you will need "A Broken Gameboy Advance Sp"

blondegirl780 made it! (author)2015-04-30

Works great! Great instructions!

N00B5L4Y3R (author)2011-09-15

Say guys, i don't know if I should do this. my gameboy color is a limited edition pikachu version. I don't think I should mod it. Unfortunately, the screen is old and the lcd is pretty dark. So dark I can barely see what's on my screen in daylight. Help?

imrexman213 (author)N00B5L4Y3R2015-04-15

Buy a new case from aliexpress.com and just mess around with that.(aliexpress is great because the cases are brand new.)

enovah (author)2015-02-23

So can I get opinions on how this mod actually turns out in the end? I've read a lot of forum posts and the overall vibe I get is that this mod isn't as great as it sounds because it causes glare issues and has wavy lines on the screen. Can I get some confirmation if that is true or not?

foxwater made it! (author)2014-12-31

Thanks for the instructable, worked like a charm.

Marshen Waha (author)2014-09-14

hi there I wish you would make an instructubles like this for Gameboy Advance that would be awesome.

superduperdrew (author)2013-05-26

I remember seeing somewhere else that you need a capacitor, did you just do it different or did look over a step?

dodo91 (author)2012-12-04

Think of how much easier it would be to move it to GBA. I like GBA better than GBA SP, because of the top loading cartridge and the horizontal orientation. The problem is is that is has no front light. I'm ganna do this, but add a switch somewhere on the device to turn it off when not in use, saving battery life. I'm glad, because my SP will no longer charge batteries, even when I replace the battery itself, and it just seems to be rotting and doing nothing useful.

ninetailnaruto16 (author)2012-10-06

Thanks for coming up with this. My broken SP has been sitting around for AGES. I'm glad I could finally do something constructive with it.

Something kinda weird, I didn't think it through very well but I did this on an Atomic Purple gameboy since the case is transparent and the backlight extends below the screen, you can see part of the backlight in the middle of the gameboy. I feel kinda stupid for not expecting that to happen.

It looks a little strange and it's kinda distracting but its not a big deal I guess. I just wasn't expecting it. I might actually trade this case with the case from my broken Yellow Pikachu gameboy in the future. Yay, more use of broken gameboys. :)

I guess I'm just posting this as a "warning" to anyone who wants to do this with an Atomic Purple gameboy, It'll look like this when you're done.

saulsanch (author)2011-05-12

Need some advice. My front-light isn't very bright and the screen twitches.. Anyone have any ideas to why?

N00B5L4Y3R (author)saulsanch2011-09-15

i have a feeling that your contacts( to the power ) is not done well. maybe you soldered badly?

rbliss (author)2011-08-15

do you think it can work well with a game boy advance ?

N00B5L4Y3R (author)rbliss2011-09-15

it should work better. the gameboy advance is rather "hollow" and somemore, the screen is the same as the advance sp, therefore the light should fit better. alternatively, you can use an newer advance sp with a backlight and screen. i don't know if it works or fits(the backlight method) , but no harm in trying. after all, the advance is really easy to assemble or dissassemble.
Good Luck!

XO Liam XO (author)2011-09-08

i wouldn't trust this way of doing it, mostly because you aren't using a resistor which could either mean the light burns out or the whole gameboy dies.

i would suggest using a 47 Ohm resistor and soldering it in between the audio jack and the speaker on the 4 metal blobs (use the top one as it worked best for me)

mine works like a charm and i used this guys, tutorial mostly for the reason it had a resistor.
http://mikejmoffitt.com/tut/tut_cgb.html

sillyzombie666 (author)2011-07-07

yo if any one has some extra front lights letme know im looking to mod a gameboy color with a front light and with lights in the case

defghui (author)2011-06-08

quick question, why cant you use the newer brighter sp version? whats the difference?

Zachariah Cruse (author)defghui2011-06-08

You can not use the newer version. The new ones have a light behind the screen that works completely different. You need the light from older ones because it's made to sit on top of the screen to light it up. I don't completely understand it, but for some reason, the way the GBC screen works, when you put a light behind it you can't see the image anymore, which is why you need a frontlight.

defghui (author)Zachariah Cruse2011-06-08

i see. thanks very much!

charker (author)2011-05-25

Very good tutorial! Very well written and plenty of good pictures. Think I'll give it a try,thanks.

northernmagnet (author)2011-05-07

Does anybody know how to do something like this to a GBA? really could use help

Satella (author)2011-04-30

Mmm... I think is ver good idea to do this, only you have a dead GBA-SP....but if don´t shuld prepare another with some external leds. Verywell. Nice project.

kirillre4 (author)2011-04-09

Awesome guide. I just finished building one myself, and here is some notes on problems I encountered during process

1) You don't really have to peel piece under the rectangular piece with solder pads (step 3). It will work without it fine, however, it will be more difficult to solder wires to it, But adding more flux to wire will solve this problem.

2) Light panel can easily fall out of it's metal holder (where is LED placed). If it did so, then things will get a little bit more difficult. Follow the guide, but don't put everything back into the housing, just solder everything and connect batteries. Turn it on. If you can't see anything on the screen through working light panel - then you plug it wrong way, flip it over or turn it 180 degrees around. Keep trying until you get visible image on the screen with working frontlight.

3) DON'T scratch the light panel, even slightest scratches will turn into highly visible dark areas when it will be powered on. I've got one myself (small, though) and it suck.

Few words about result. I am a bit disappoited about it, colors look washed out a little, the best angle to use GBC is like on the photos here - this way colors will lok pretty AND you will havw a backlight. Now I'm working on adding a switch for frontlight, because since I don't need it al the time, I'd prefer to save battery life

TeamDuck (author)2011-03-22

Thanks, I'll probably get round to doing this at the weekend. I have a dead SP lying around and needed something to do with it :)

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