New to the Gameboy 'Chiptune' Scene?  Or maybe your still trying to get to the bottom of what this whole Chiptune thing is?  No matter your situation, by the end of this Instructable, I can promise you'll be a pro!

Relatively new to the 'LSDJ' scene myself, I was baffled when I tried to put together my first DMG- so many options, yet so little troubleshooting guides!  Seeing the need for more structured tutorials, i planned to put my own together- that is, after i could figure everything out!

Fast forward a few months, and here I am!  A bit more experienced in working with the Gameboy, and electronic skills increased, I started working on the group of tutorials within this Instructable to help others conquer the DMG, helping you make an awesome, custom instrument, all of your own!

Now, of course it would help to have a little background in electronics, but for those of you just starting out, have no fear!  I've made sure to document each step, taking plenty of pictures along the way!  I can almost guaranty you'll have no trouble!  (and, of course, if you ever have trouble, just comment!  I'll be sure to help!)

Now follow me, on a journey, as you and I turn our ordinary ol' Gameboys into something truly worth making music on! 

Oh! but before we get started: 
If you like the Instructable, or are following it to build your own DMG- Please consider voting for it as a winner in the Music Instruments Contest!  It's just a quick click- and I'd really Appreciate it!  Thanks!

Thank you guys so much for your votes!  It's because of you i placed in the Musical Instruments Contest- i really 
appreciate it!

Update (9/30): Having finally finished the two main builds featured, i thought i'd come back to add some pics- as well as go more in-depth about my new found friend- the Pocket!

Step 1: Types, Terminology...

For those of you new to Gameboys and/or Chiptunes, it may not be the worst idea to take a look though some of the strange new vocab you'll be seeing both in the Instructable, and out 'n' about in Chiptune forums!  (Clicking the link will open a new tab with an example!)

- Chiptune: As the name implies, a Chiptune is an analog or emulated tone created by some kind of 'chip'- or rather an IC.  In most cases though, these tones are brought together forming music!  Think Atari and NES, or in our case, Gameboy!

- Chrystal/Oscillator: A Fancy little part that essentially vibrates electrical signal that can be honed to a very accurate frequency.  Commonly used to keep time, you'll see later we can mod the Gameboy's to make it run quicker/slower!

- Clearboy: DMG's that once/still are clear.  Most are painted from the inside, creating an awesome effect!  (check out step five to se my Clearboy!)

- DMG: A common nick-name for your standard original Gameboy, the letters DMG come from the first part of the model number's printed on each Gameboy.

- Gameboy Advance/SP/Micro: Other types of Gameboys, not normally associated with Chiptunes, as they're new aged ways of audio processing sound no where near as good using LSDJ,as the old ones!

- Gameboy Color: A bit smaller, and with a colored screen, the Gameboy Color is still very mod-able!  Pay close attention though, as somethings, such as the backlight require completely different parts!

- Gameboy Pocket: A smaller, model of the original DMG, that contains a much more clear screen.  These guys are almost identical in circuitry to the original Gameboy, so many DMG mods will work on here too!

- LSDJ: Unlike the psychological drug, LSDJ, or Little Sound DJ, is an amazing little program that's most common in the Gameboy Chiptune world for making music!  Check Step 14 for more information!

- PS/2: An older connector for keyboards and mice, you can use a PS/2 keyboard to play sweet tunes on LSDJ like a piano!  Checkout Step 12 for more info!

-Tri-Wing Screwdriver: An uncommon screw type, that also just happen's to be Nintendo's favorite!  Be sure to pick on of these up before we begin!

*Confused on a term and it's not here?  Comment!  This list will be updated quite frequently!*
I like this tutorial a lot, it's very informative. However, it's so info-dense I don't know where to start. It's very unclear what I actually NEED to make music, and what is just other cool stuff to do. I'd like to know what is the easiest and most bare-bones way to make chiptunes on a DMG?
Also, I am super dumb and while I'm sure this tutorial makes perfect sense to someone smarter than I am, I would LOVE you if you could make a 'talk to me like I'm five' version.
<p>Hello I'm very new to this and I do not understand much of this. I have a GBA SP, what will I need for any of this because all I see is the usage of a GBC. Please help me I really like chiptune and I want to try other ways to make this music.</p>
Hello, what you see here isn't even for GBC, but for the one before, the one that started all, the DMG (Dot Matrix Gameboy).<br><br>Whatever, I'm afraid you can not do anything following this tutorial, the GBA SP is using veeery different components than it's oldest brother.<br><br>But tell us what do you want to mod on your SP, maybe we can help!
I'm with Wdash, none of this makes any sense to me. I'm too dumb w circuits and none of the equipment links work anymore so I don't even know what I'm supposed to buy anymore in order to follow this guide. Fml
<p>Haha, sorry about the links! I'm just now realizing Radio-Shack no longer hosts many of their parts online (Nor in stores RIP RadioShack)<br><br>However, even without silly parts I picked, you can TOTALLY do this!!<br><br>You don't pick this all up over night! It takes time to really understand what you're working with!<br><br>However, no one is &quot;too dumb&quot; to work with circuits! You can learn anything with some research! There are <em>soooooo</em> many great places online to learn, I don't even know where to begin!<br><br>If you have any direct questions, or points of confusion, I'll do my best to answer them though!</p>
I finally watched a backlight installation in real-time to understand exactly what I'm supposed to do. Will be doing that first (: might get confused again on the prosound jack but I'll cone back to you on that, thanks!
<p>See... I knew ya could do it! Just takes some research!</p>
<p>I've seen other tutorials in which they use the original internal jack.<br> <br>What's the difference between this and placing an external (new) one? Less noise and humm, maybe? Also, do post or pre do anything to the sound quality? My guess would be &quot;no&quot;...</p>
<p>No difference. It's just harder to accidentally pull out and RCA or 1/4&quot; plug than an 1/8&quot; headphone style one.</p>
<p>Pretty late to this reply, but Toastalicious is right! No real difference between the two!<br><br>Those who use the internal jack generally disconnect it entirely from the board, and just rewire it (as described in the instructable) Doing it this way can make the internal jack sound just like something new! (This process would indeed involve cutting all four wires if you cut the speak out as well! Otherwise cut only the right two most of the cables running to the internal jack (these are right/left audio-- replace with 'pro-sound' connections) to use the plugging of headphones in to toggle the speaker on/off)<br><br>Pre/post-pot connections are a little different-- you'll get a little more <em>buzz</em> with the post-pot conections, however this will also let you use the volume knob. Wiring to pre-pot will give you a tiny-bit more clear sound, however the difference isn't worth losing that lovely volume control.<br><br>This is a bit rushed, so I apologize if my explanations aren't 100% clear. Feel free to ask anything else you may be having troubles with!!</p>
<p>What about cutting all four wires and even getting rid of the speaker?</p>
This instructable doesn't really make any sense to me.... I guess I'm too dumb :(
<p>Aww.. Don't say that!</p><p>New project always confuse me in the begining! But once you dive in, everything becomes more clear..</p><p>What's trippin' ya up? Maybe I can clear it up!</p>
Aww, don't say that!!<br><br>New stuffs like this is always confusing at first! I've always found once you dive in, things start to become more clear!<br><br>What's confusin' ya? I'll do my best to help!
<p>I assume you know this but DMG = Dot Matrix Gameboy. That's why that's the serial number.</p><p>Drugs/medicines are not &quot;psychological&quot; :p <br>LSD can be described as psychopharmacodynamic (but a biologist would slap you)<br></p><p>Loving your guide, addicted chip-fan, after a decade of fandom deciding to unveil the magic trick for myself.</p>
<p>Hi! One question: i really CAN'T REMOVE the gbc crystal oscillator....please, help me! </p>
<p>hi, i have a question \. My gameboy color's power light turns on and the screen goes black, it makes the little shiny sound when started but wont respond to buttons or any game hat I put on it. any suggestions?</p>
<p>I have 2 3mm green and 2 3mm blue leds with 82ohm resistors wired to the positives and they're ran in parallel. I also have a 4xLED white backlight installed, and the leds are hooked to a dpdt switch. that worked great so far.. but then I added a variable pitch mod and now I hear sound, but the screen is blank and it's not responding to button presses.. what's wrong? wire touching something perhaps? oh, and the leds are connected to a potentiometer(A20K) and so are the LEDs on the other side of the dpdt switch(but I connected the on/on's to eachother so the leds will stay on and the switch is for the variable mostly)</p>
<p>While doing the backlight, 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?<br>Thanks for the tuto!</p>
<p>Well I got another DMG and everything came off easily! I guess the other one is on stand by.<br><br>One more question, I want to put RCA &amp; TRS Prosound. I do the RCA connections on the mid-right back part of the DMG and the TRS on the bottom part?</p>
<p>One more question, is there any problem if i remove this part? (RED SQUARE)<br>I want to put a 1/8 female TRS panel and this space empty will be usefull.</p>
<p>Sorry, i meant 1/4 TRS female panel</p>
<p>what is the difference between using internal jack mode or the 1/8 outputs for pro sound mod?<br>and thanks for that great tutorial <br></p>
<p>Hey! Sorry for the late reply! I guess I stopped getting email notifications for comments..? Anywho......<br><br>There's no real difference between putting in your own 1/8&quot; jack, or using the original port.. Some people prefer to keep the original intact, so they can always hear that nice OG gain, but if that's not what you're looking for, wiring up prosound to that port can make the DMG look a lot more clean!<br><br>As always, it's all a matter of preference!<br><br>Hope this helps,</p>
<p>i juat got this im new to it all any tips in how to use slash improve is a gba better then a normal gb to use. i have a itch to make beats</p>
Well it looks like you've gotten a great start!!<br><br>Mod wise, I've seen backlights, prosound, even a few pitchmods for GBAs, but for how to do them..? You're going to have to check wit hthe pros!<br><br>This guys has some awesome looking GBAs: https://rosecoloredgaming.wordpress.com/ I'd check there if you're looking for inspiration!<br><br>Happy Chipping!
<p>You should compile this tutorial into an eBook- I would totally buy it.</p>
Wow, I've never thought about that!<br>If it ever come to fruition, expect a free copy :p
<p>Hey, I backlit my DMG, but now when I try to load certain cartridges the screen is just blank. Any thoughts on what's causing this?</p>
Uh oh!<br><br>There's a few reasons this could be going down- I'll need some more info to be able to tell for sure..<br><br>What kind of backilight? Did it have a built in resistor? Did you put on in if not?<br><br>What ground/+5v line did you use?<br><br>You can see the Nintendo start up splash right? If so, It sounds to me like your screen is just using up too much power, and when the gameboy goes to load whatever game, it browns out.. (do you notice the screen getting more dim when this happens?)<br><br>Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of this!
<p> I used a backlight kit I got from handheld legend. It works great, I'm just having a few minor issues with it. All my carts work, including the one I use for LSDJ, which is good. The main cart I'm having issue with is pokemon red. When the gameboy starts up it works fine except the nintendo logo doesn't appear and I don't hear the bell start up sound. The gameboy and backlight both start up but nothing appears on the screen. I don't think there's anything wrong with the cart since I've tried it with my gamecube GB player and it works fine, it just doesn't work with my DMG since I added the backlight.</p><p> As for the resistor, I'm not sure. The backlight works perfectly so it would appear that I installed it correctly. Another thing is that with my carts that DO work I'm getting garbled &quot;nintendo&quot; text at start up way more often. I know that isn't a major problem but I think it shows something funky is going on inside the gameboy. </p>
<p>Trouble with a pok&eacute;mon game? Yep. Almost positive that's a power issue! The kit should have come with a 100 ohm resistor to put between the ground cable of the backlight and the ground pin.. Sound familiar? Try this.... Load up a LSDJ save, and hit start. Does the screen dim when the music plays? If so, the backlight's just drawing a bit too much current. It's a common thing, and not normally too big an issue, but pok&eacute;mon games are notorious for their also high power usage..<br><br>Throwing the resistor in should fix any problems with carts! But as for the garbled logo..<br><br>This could mean a few other things... It's most likely also a symptom of low power-- Maybe the clock isn't pulsing just right..?<br><br>I wouldn't worry about it just yet, fixing the power issue will probs fix this too!</p>
<p>how to I go about adding a 1/4&quot; prosound?</p>
Same process as the 1/8&quot; port!<br><br>Be careful the plug isn't mono- or at least if it is, know that you'll want to wire both the right and left sound channels across from the ground wire.. <br><br>You should be able to find a pinout view of your jack though- it'll give you a better idea of which wires go where, because everyone is different!
<p>So can I try LSDJ on an ez flash cart that I have? Also is a GBC just as good as a DMG for chiptunes? I literally only heard about chiptunes because of this instructable, and I think it'd be something fun to try, but not drop a lot of money just to find out I don't like it.</p>
<p>Also, I want to paint my gameboy, then design it using paint pens. What would be the best way of doing this? Should I use vinyl dye or just some spray paint?</p>
If you're going to use paint pens, your best bet is going to be to:<br>0) CLEAN THE GAMEBOY! maybe even sand it down a bit so that the paint sticks well...<br>1) paint the GBC white (or w/e base color)<br>2) use your paint pens to make your designs<br>3) use a clear coat spray paint to 'seal' in the designs<br><br>Step three is crucial, because most paint pens are just acrylic- meaning water can was them off. The clear coat will also smooth out the surface, making it look nice and clean!
<p>Thank you so much! What types of paint would be best? Should I sue vinyl dye or spray paint? Have your gameboys been sticky after paint? I'm planning on painting a gameboy for my fiancees birthday. </p>
Yeah! As long as you can program to the cart, you should be set!<br><br>As for the GBC, the hardware is a little different from the DMG- some say it sounds better! Of course others argue the opposite too.. Either way, it's definitely a great place to start!<br>
<p>For anyone interested I have a couple of builds I've yet to sell!</p><p>Check out my eBay Shop <a href="http://www.ebay.com/usr/ecco3967" rel="nofollow">here!</a></p>
<p>So wait.. I'm wiring two grounds to the switch? That doesn't seem right.</p>
<p>Yep that's it!- well, kinda!<br><br>All the switch is doing is connecting/disconnecting a ground source to the ground wire of the backlight!<br><br>When connected current will flow though the backlight, and when not, the backlight will be off!<br><br>Hope this helps!</p>
Thanks for the response. I need a basic wiring course I think. I just look at some line drawings and it seems to make sense. Excellent tutorial by the way. This is the largest collection of DMG modding I have found in one place. I really appreciate it.
<p>Don't sweat it! My writing is most defiantly rushed- one of these days I'll get around to touching this guy up!</p><p>Happy to help!</p>
<p>Thats amazing! A while back i tried to make some chiptunes with a free software called FamiTracker. This software is great, but is a LOT easier if u have a MIDI controller, so I cant really make a decent song with it. Also it isn't genuine chiptunes. But this ible' is... just awesome. I'm seriously considering buying a game-boy now! P.S. whats whats a &quot;rom&quot; and a &quot;GBC&quot; ? Thank u SO much Ben :)</p>
Thanks for the kind words! So glad you're a fan of the guide!<br><br>ROMs are the digital file that holds a Game Boy game (or NES/64/DS/etc games). most ROMs can be flashed onto a cart, and then played on an original system, otherwise they can be used with an emulator.<br><br>A GBC is just a Game Boy Color.<br><br>Hope this helps!
<p>Hi Ben,</p><p>Just a question, I'm about to embark on modding both my Color and my DMG, but before I begin I wanted to make sure that everything you entailed in this guide applies to both the color as well as the DMG models unless specifically noted?</p><p>Say, if the circuitry in the color is vastly different from the DMG, would that affect the process of attempting any of the mods?</p><p>Also, does it matter the type of solder used when soldering down wires? Is a specific type recommended?</p><p>Thanks very much for the help!</p>
<p>why did you cut the blakc wires ??</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: Although opposite of common belief, i really hate wearing hats! In all honestly though, I've not documented many of my projects- and i plan ... More »
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