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Restore and Modify an Original DMG Gameboy

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Released in 1989, the DMG (Dot Matrix Gameboy) was the first Gameboy Nintendo ever released.  It’s a lot of fun to mess with, so here’s a quick guide of my experiences taking apart, restoring, and modifying the DMG with an awesome new backlight.

The Gameboy I had was in fairly good condition, with the exception of several vertical lines through the display.  After some research, I learned this is usually due to a faulty display connector, where the solder connections have weakened and eventually separated from the top layer of the display circuitry.  Using a soldering iron, I learned that we can reflow (that is, remelt and reconnect) this broken solder below the connector.  It’s not that hard, and fixes what is perhaps the most common issue with these Gameboys.
 
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Step 1: Taking It Apart

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The first step is to remove the back cover of the DMG.  There are six screws, and depending on when your Gameboy was made, they are either going to be triwing or phillips.  Triwing screws, for those of you unfamiliar, are Nintendo’s favorite way to make opening their products just ever so slightly more irritating.  If you don’t want to spend a couple dollars on a triwing driver, you can do what I did and use a small flathead in one of the three slots in the screws.  It’s not super difficult, but you definitely want to be careful to avoid stripping the screws.  There’s four obvious ones on the back of the Gameboy, and two inside the battery compartment.  You’ll need to remove all of these.

Once you take those screws out, don’t pull the Gameboy apart quickly.  There’s a fairly short ribbon connector connecting the screen half of the Gameboy to the circuitry half.  Carefully hinge unit so the screen half is face down on your desk with the circuitry portion sticking vertically upward.  You could disconnect the ribbon cable at this point (it’s a ZIF socket, so the connector just slides out), but I didn’t want to bother having to reconnect it when I was done.  You can do this repair quite easily without having to put this connector back in.
Derpancakes9 months ago
Might I just recommend one site: Kitsch-Bent.
stegu1311 months ago
heard of Gameboy Classic DMG power adapter?
please check: http://luftech.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html
forum: http://chipmusic.org/forums/topic/10806/diy-or-buy-dmg-power-adapter-micro-usb/
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Just finished doing mine as the backlight came today! Thanks for the great tutorial, but now im having trouble with my new screen (protector thing on case) its too reflective, is there anywhere i can get non reflective ones or anti reflective film to put over it?
thanks! this worked perfectly! i just wish i could find a UK seller for that backlight!
brian47521 year ago
Question: My game boy starts up but it won't go any farther than the Nintendo logo and instead of the logo is just a black rectangle. so do I do what this Instructable suggests or is there a different remedy?
Clean the contacts of the gameboy AND the cartridge with alcohol and a Q tip.
mdiehl1 year ago
Any ideas to how to get the backlight to work on an older Gameboy DS? My son got one at a rummage sale and I haven't been able to get the light to work. Appreciate any help anyone can give me. Thanks. Will need to bookmark your instructable for future reference -- still have 2 working Gameboy colors.
Kinnishian1 year ago
Nice! Not so often anymore can you crack something open and see so many throughhole components :P (that actually only really applies to consumer electronics, there are a decent number of power supplies with throughhole stuff.)
loafers1 year ago
Very nice mate! Random Question: do you reckon a coloured backlight can be added to my old GameBoy Pocket just as easy? would they be much different inside besides the size?
Torokun1 year ago
Mt directional pad is functional but the right direction is a bit mushy... Do you know anything about replacing the mechanism that serves as spring inside for the direction pad?
maxjus (author)  Torokun1 year ago
The mechanism is much like the one in your TV remote. There's a silicone membrane with conductive pads underneath each of the buttons. The springiness is a result of the membrane snapping back into its molded shape. It sounds like you should replace the silicone pad, which I think will solve your issue. From a quick look on eBay, there are variously some replacements available, but there don't seem to be any right at this moment. When you find one, it will look like the one below (though eBay links tend to break fairly quickly):

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=300696459972
veeguy1 year ago
Great Instructable! I don't know how many times I considered pitching my old ill Gameboy in the trash over the years, but I always put it back on the shelf just knowing *someday* there would be a fix or other use for it! You have given it new life! (and my wife calls me a HOARDER! )

I guess I look *pretty* BRILLIANT now, huh Vicki ???)
crondog81 year ago
Awesome! Great work. I have the same old Gameboys with the vertical line issue. Nice project to add to my to-do list. I'll have to see if I have a flathead screwdriver to see if that works on the triwing screws, I tried it in the past with no luck.
glad this worked out! did the original gameboy not have a backlight? or was it broken?
maxjus (author)  amandaghassaei1 year ago
Thanks! The original gameboy did not have a backlight.
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