Introduction: LED Mod Your Gameboy Color

Picture of LED Mod Your Gameboy Color

This Instructable documents a cool mod that you can add to your Gameboy Color to give it neat blue lighting effects! And, of course, you better not hurt your body parts or your Gameboy, 'cause I'm not replacing either of them. But hey, this is worth the risk, right?

Step 1: Stuff You Need

Picture of Stuff You Need

And, of course, the ever-needed "Parts" step.
So, you need:
Two LEDs (Color of your choice)
Soldering Iron
Small Switch
Fine Sandpaper (400 - 500 grit)
Small Wire
Tri-Wing Nintendo Screwdriver or small flathead screwdriver
Transparent Purple Gameboy Color
Helping hands (Optional, but really helpful)
Hot glue gun and glue (Optional)

Step 2: Take It Apart

Picture of Take It Apart

Now you need to take apart your Gameboy. Flip it over on its front, so the back is facing up. Unscrew the six tri-wing screws. Two are at the top, two in the middle, and two at the bottom, under the batteries. Put these in a safe place.

Lift the bottom half of the case off the top one, then unscrew the three screws near the lower half of the PCB. Make sure you save these.

Once you have that done, you need to disconnect the screen. Lift both black plastic pegs toward the orange ribbon cable at the same time, then lift the cable from the connector.

Step 3: Cut the Switch Hole

Picture of Cut the Switch Hole

Although you don't need to disconnect the PCB to cut the hole for the switch, it's nice to have that out of the way.
Start by scoring the case of the Gameboy in the spot you want to put the switch. I found there is a lot of room just underneath the battery compartment. Cut the hole a little smaller than needed. You can always cut it bigger, but you can't cut it smaller. Keep cutting until you cut all the way through. It takes a long time, but it's worth it for a clean cut.
After you have the hole cut out and the switch fits, drill the holes for the screws. I like to put the switch in first, then drill through the hole for the screw.

Step 4: Diffuse the LEDs

Picture of Diffuse the LEDs

Now it's time to diffuse the LEDs. There are lots of guides on how to diffuse LEDs, so I won't go into great detail here. But you basically just rub the LED on the sandpaper so that the LED looks "rougher". Make sure you get the entire LED, or you will have bright spots.
Why diffuse it? Diffusing the LED makes it not as bright, but makes the light more spread out, which is ideal for this project. Photos three and four show you the difference between a diffused LED and a stock one.

Step 5: Buncha' Soldering

Picture of Buncha' Soldering

You should now have your Gameboy taken apart, the hole for the switch cut out, and two diffused LEDs. Now it's time to solder it all together.

Take your switch and solder two wires to the switch. I didn't use red and black, but you can if you like. IMPORTANT: Put the switch in its hole before you solder the wires to anything, or you will have troubles later.

After you put the switch in, solder one of the wires to the negative battery terminal labeled BT- on top of the white part of the PCB. Next cut the leads shorter on your LEDs, then solder red and black wires to one of them. Solder the other ends of the wires to your other LED, making sure you pay attention to the polarity. You can tell on the LED which side is positive because the negative side has a flat spot at the base.

Solder the other wire from the switch to the negative side of one of your LEDs. You should have something like in the sixth picture.

Finally, solder a short wire from the positive side of your LED to the positive battery terminal, labeled BT+. My LEDs are rated for 3.1v, but if your LEDs are rated for a lower voltage, you may want to add a small resistor (100 Ohms) to extend the life of them.

You should now have everything soldered together! Flip the switch and see if everything lights up okay. If not, check all your connections, and make sure you have the polarity right on your LEDs.

You may want to insulate the connections to the LEDs, but I didn't find a problem with it.

Step 6: Get It Back in One Piece

Picture of Get It Back in One Piece

Now comes the really hard part; putting it all back together. First, connect the screen ribbon cable. This is kind of hard, especially if you're trying to take a picture at the same time. :P Make sure you lift the plastic pegs up, then put the ribbon cable in, then push the pegs down again. Next put all the buttons back in, and put the pads behind them. Quickly push the PCB against them, so they don't fall out. Then screw those three screws back in to the correct holes, which are conveniently labeled with little circles around them.

Finally, screw the back cover on again, and you're finished!

Sorry the first picture is out of place, I just wanted a good "main" image. :P

Step 7: Admire

Picture of Admire

Go into a dark room, shut the door, and flip on your Gameboy light! The game can be run at the same time as the lights, just so you know.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your neat mod!


mattiige (author)2011-08-24

can i use this guide to make a frontlight illumination on my gameboy color?

Are you asking if you can loght the screen this way, or are you asking if you can hook the backlight to a switch this way?

jakou3 (author)2012-04-08

hey i did this and when i first turned it on the leds flashed then wouldnt turn on again. they get the occasional flash but i dont know what i did wrong

justanotherlittle (author)jakou32017-04-15

Make sure no points from the wires or LEDs are touching any contact points or anything metallic that would cause a ground out and prevent the light from working properly.

chillycharlie (author)2012-01-01

What case is that?

One of the original color variants, Atomic Purple.

Dj Hacker 93 (author)2013-03-02

I already did this 3 years ago ;) Good job man! :D

bman77 (author)2012-02-11

Hi, today I did this mod and all was working well, the led worked when i put two aa in and the switch worked. I botted up a game (Crystal) and it was working good until I turned on the led and it froze. Tgis then happened a few time, it was working fine with them off keep in mind. Now after the gameboy screen at startup it goes to a black screen everytime, With or without the light on. Why is this? I want it to work, Thanks!

cmanahimik (author)2011-11-23

just did this project, super cool! also, i have the exact same color gbc.

cbrowne5 (author)2011-08-22

does it matter what size wire you use as i have just stripped the wire out of a old playstation pad

hbui1 (author)2011-04-09

Could I do the same for EL wires?

sillyzombie666 (author)hbui12011-07-04

no, not unless you used an external battery source and some how fit the board needed for the el wire with it, its not as simple as an led

GBCmodder (author)2010-04-07

I tried to but it back together but it wont fit. also the springs in the battery compatment are tightining up so the batterys just fall out.  also when i turn on the power to the LED's, smoke comes up.  what did i do wrong/ whats happening!!!!

 i'd say theres a MAJOR short somewhere in your circuitry.  and the way you put the wires back in  is somehow hindering the way your battery spring on the pcb is acting (just my guess)

sounds like the leds cant take the power / crossed wires

Labot2001 (author)2010-09-10

Awesome ible, 1up :D

I'm thinking of adding 4 LEDs. You said you used 2 at 3.1v each... do you know how much voltage I can use before things go horribly wrong? Thanks.

1up (author)Labot20012010-09-11

Thanks! ;)

Well, if the LEDs are 3.3v each or so, you can just put them all in parallel. Since fresh batteries are likely to put out about 3.5v or so, you might want to add a resistor for longevity.

Mr.bluebomber (author)1up2011-02-08

can you please give me a link to buy the LED's and Switches and also how many watts did you use? please answer I really want to do this.

UrbanEngineer93 (author)2010-04-11

 i did a mod pretty close to this, but i custom painted a digital camoflauge design on the case and used 3 LEDs across the top to light the screen. which i advise against unless you are super good at soldering in tight areas! as for me i'm mediocre at best at my soldering skill. but it came out really nice. i had the idea in my head but didn't really know how i'd run the wires. this instructable really helped. THANKS

p.s. i think the reason one LED is dimmer is because there connected in series with eachother and not in parallel

chi-kitory (author)2008-10-27

it was getting a little to much on the reply on the other post, so start to reply here! :D With this new "How to Make a Portable Game System" what will it contain? Like taking any consol and turning it portable to only a certain system? or is the mod more of making your own videogame system with your own gfx, and everything? lol.. Btw its all chill, plus GBP are only like 5$'s so i can get like a few next time just in case.. Its not even your fault.. it was my first mod anyway so i learned alot from it b/c of you! :D thanks! Next time i am going to try to add it to the speaker, so then it flashes with sounds.. its going to look cool! :D ha.. I am thinking about moding my gbp that i have now into something else like a mp3 or something.. Now that the screen is dead.. or making it into a music maker.. idk..

1up (author)chi-kitory2008-10-27

My new Instructable is going to cover how to make an NES portable, meaning internal batteries, controller, and screen. Here is a slideshow I posted a while ago:

Even though we specifically make a portable NES, I will cover briefly how to "portablize" other systems.

chi-kitory (author)1up2008-10-28

yeah i saw that NES port a few days ago! looks great! ha must of took a long time! :D Mad Props! I cant wait until i see this tut.. :D the only problem i have is i dont have a nes.. So i think i might go buy one just to do this tut.. How much did the port screen cost?

1up (author)chi-kitory2008-10-28

That's the most expensive part. It's about $50, if you find a good deal.

bubba4561 (author)1up2010-02-10

Well, you know... Some games for that system were so ground breaking, that you HAVE to shell out a few extra bucks to play them.

kroq-gar78 (author)2009-04-25

where would you get the tri-wing screwdriver?

maschingon (author)kroq-gar782009-05-01

kroq-gar78 (author)maschingon2009-05-02

thanks. lots of other stuff for opening too

1up (author)kroq-gar782009-09-08

You could try too.

CapnTac (author)1up2009-12-21

Found some on Amazon too.

PyroMonger (author)kroq-gar782009-09-11

I just used a flat-head precision screw driver and that did the trick....its gota be a pretty small tip though

triggerhappymoron (author)2009-10-05

i have finished the mod however in cannot play my games without the leds on and my batterys get extremly hot whenever i use it so i am scared my gameboy will explode do you know of any thing i could do?

1up (author)triggerhappymoron2009-10-11

You have a short somewhere. Check all your connections and insulate them.

triggerhappymoron (author)2009-10-11

finsihed this mod finally and everything works great except when i screwed it back together there is a big gap on the left side what can i do ?

1up (author)triggerhappymoron2009-10-11

Something is either not seated right or you made something too thick. Look for what is causing the problem and fix it.

triggerhappymoron (author)2009-09-13

could you put the leds behind the screen to backlight it?

1up (author)triggerhappymoron2009-09-13

No, you can only frontlight it with a SP screen's light. Google around for a tutorial.

triggerhappymoron (author)1up2009-09-17

so what you are saying is open my gba sp take out the light and use that instead of the leds ?

1up (author)triggerhappymoron2009-09-17

And the diffusing panel. Look on Google for a tutorial.

triggerhappymoron (author)1up2009-09-27

i have tried over and over to do this tutorial and has failed each time due to the connecting the battery so i have decided to add a 3v watch battery to power the leds

1up (author)triggerhappymoron2009-09-27

Wait, frontlighting the screen or just adding LEDs?

triggerhappymoron (author)1up2009-10-01

i was thinking could i use the leds to front light the gameboy but its fine now i finished the mod but whenever i connected it to bt plus and bt negative i didi not work so i added a 3v battery to power my leds

triggerhappymoron (author)2009-09-14

so what you are saying is open my gba sp take out the light and use that instead of the leds ?

8BITE (author)2009-09-08

Really good mod, its guna be my first on so just a few questions.
Does it matter what type of wire it is?
Because I was looking online for cheap wire and I'm not in the know with volts and everything.
Would any of these be suitable?

1up (author)8BITE2009-09-08

This project is low current and low voltage, so you could get away with nearly any wire you can find. IDE cable from old computers works great.

8BITE (author)1up2009-09-09

ok thanks alot

bubba4561 (author)2009-05-29

How do you use the flat head to unscrew the tri-winged screw? I've been trying all day and can't figure it out

alphasquad1234 (author)2009-02-28

would this work with more leds and where could I find LEDs and the switch

clark (author)alphasquad12342009-04-25

im sure it would work with more leds, just make sure to wire them right. leds and switches can be found at radioshack

cocoasauce (author)2008-06-04

would this work for lighting up the screen? if not does anyone know any other ways

mythbusterma (author)cocoasauce2008-11-06

no it wouldnt, the lcd screen has a opaque backing

About This Instructable



Bio: Sometimes my Instructables are few and far between, but I try to make them as well as I can. Hopefully you can be inspired or ... More »
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