Introduction: Modify an 80's Retro Handheld Game by Adding a MP3/MP4 Player

About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with!

I have a bunch of very cool 80s handheld games - some in great condition, others have seen better days.  One I had was totally dead, and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't throw it away.  So instead I decided to bring it back to life with a modern twist. 

I scoured ebay trying to find the perfect MP4/MP3 player that I could intergrate into the casing of the game without having to do too much damage to the original look of the handheld.  I managed to find the below MP3/MP4 player which with a few modifications actually fitted amazingly well within the handheld. 

MP4/MP3 player

Check out the clip below on the mod in action:

This really was an easy mod which only needed a dremel, soldering iron and a little ingenuity - anyone can make this.

Here's what you'll need to do...

Step 1: The Bits and Tools You'll Need

List of tools:
  1. Dremel
  2. Soldering Iron
  3. Stanley Knife
  4. Screwdriver
  5. Patience!

List of Material:
  1. An old handheld game you don't mind modding
  2. MP3/MP4 Player (the one I used was a touch screen - see intro for details)
  3. Switch

Step 2: Step 1 - Disassembling the Game and MP3/MP4

Disassembling the Handheld Game

Once you have your MP3/MP4 player and the screen looks like it will be a nice fit for the game, start to dissasemble the game itself.

Taking apart the handheld game
  1. Un-screw the back un-screw the circuit board from the shell of the game
  2. put all of the parts aside

Disassembling the MP3/MP4

Next you will need to get the MP3/MP4 player out of the casing that it is in. 
  1. On the MP3 player I used, I first cut the outer casing at the front with a pair of tin snips.
  2. Bend-up the casing and slide out the inside circut board and screen.
  3. Remove the white outer casing of the MP3 player (be careful - it is pretty fragile.)
  4. Put aside.

Step 3: Modifying the Handheld Game Casing

So now you need to work out what you need to modify inside the casing to enable the MP3 player to fit snuggly.
  1. Put the MP3 player inside of the game casing and mark out what you need to dremel.  Make sure that the MP3 player is up the right way - headphone jack and USB connector facing down.
  2. Dremel the area's marked
  3. Check to make sure that the screen sits flush against the inside of the casing.
  4. Put the back onto the game with the MP3 inside and make sure that everything fits.  You can see from my pics that the first MP3 I brought cracked, this was because I applied too much presure when I put the back on and it wasn't fitting correctly.  It wasn't such a bad thing as now I could be rougher without having to worry about breaking it (again) 
  5. Next you will need to make some openings in the casing for the headphone jack and USB connection.  Mark these on the game casing and use a dremel to make the openings.  I had to take my time with this to make the holes as smooth as possible.  Continually check to make sure that the holes you are making are just the right size - nothing worse than making a huge hole in the outer casing when only a small will is needed!

Step 4: Adding a Switch and Securing the Rubber Buttons.

This was one of the hardest parts of the project, trying to find the right switch!  I needed something that was going tobe small enough to fit and it also had to be a DTDP (on/off) swich which unfortunately don't come in "tiny".  I did manage to find a small on/off swich in my parts bin which would do the job.
  1. RUBBER BUTTONS - Cut the circuit board as shown.  You can use the ends tto secure the original switches into the game casing.

  1. ON/OFF SWITCH - Work out where you are going to locate the switch.  I used one of the pre-existing button holes in the game.  Initially I didn't want to remaove the rubber button but I could find a small enough push button to use.
  2. Modify the button hole to allow the swich to fit tightly into position.
  3. Solder some wires onto the swich.  I used some computer ribbon wire for this.
  4. Carefully cut one of the wires on the battery and solder the wires on the switch - see diagram.  The reason I did this is the switch on the MP4 player is tiny - so small in fact that there was no way that I would be able to remove it and attach wires to the solder points. Use heatshrink to cover the naked wires. 
  5. make sure the MP3 player turns on with the swich.  You will need to leave the  swich in the "on" position ON the MP3 player.

Step 5: Sticking Everything Back Together

Now the fun part!
  1. Once you have everything in place, carefully put the back casing back on.  I didn't need to hot glue anything down as all the bits fitted nicely.  You might have to though if your having trouble with parts moving about.
  2. Test.

If the MP3 player comes on you did it - if not, I'm sure you can work it out!

Add some music, movies etc and away you go.  When you add any video, you need to convert it to AMV format.  An easy program to use is 4videosoft, you can get it for free on the net.

This little mod is really cool, I've had guys on the train approach me asking where I got it from.  It seems the kid in us never dies!
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