Introduction: Touch Screen Gameboy Buttons!

Ever since I was a wee lad, I've wanted a gameboy. Fast forward a few years, I still don't have a gameboy, I decided to download an emulator. But....

You can't feel virtual buttons!

So I decided to make buttons which I can place on the screen overlapping the virtual buttons.

I designed this one based on the Gameboy Pocket.

Note: Yes, you could just buy a gamepad, but what's the fun in that? (Also gamepads don't fit in your pocket)

Also, please excuse the poor video quality.

Step 1: The Theory

Just a quick explanation on how capacitive touch screen works.
The screen detects electrical like charges produced by the body. Stylus works because it conducts electricity. A stylus is just a hard glorified wire with a soft conductive tip.

Step 2: Materials and Tools!

1. Hard base (I used some scrap softboard)
2. Silicone buttons (The ones from broken items with buttons; mine came from a broken calculator)
3. Some hard card (for the buttons)
4. Aluminium foil
5. A wire (Optional)
6. Coloured paper (Optional)


1. Super glue (Important)
2. Uhu glue, pva glue, double sided tape
3. Xacto knife (or whatever cutting thing you have.)
4. Saw (for the softboard)
5. Files (for the buttons)
6. Ruler, pen, pencil, etc.

Step 3: Cutting the Parts to Size

Cut out the silicone buttons that you plan to use. (1 for each button, duh)

Note: You can leave a few connected, especially the ones you're going to use for the d-pad (digital pad) as shown in the picture.

Step 4: Designing the Button Layout

I designed this based on the gameboy colour. Hence I chose to make the buttons fit to the bottom of the screen.

Drawing a 6.6cm x 5.4cm box as the base, I placed the silicone buttons in it at roughly the position of the buttons to get a feel of the size of the buttons. After that, I measured out the actual positions and the size of the buttons.

I redrew the layout using a technical drawing software later.
I cutted out a few copies of the template and glued one onto the base.
Use a needle to mark the centre of each button on the reversed side of the base. This is where the aluminium foil will touch the screen later.

Step 5: Cutting the Base

This hard base, made of soft board, will be the one touching the phone screen.
Cut out the rectangle with a saw. Trim the sides with a blade.

The size of the rectangle was already decided in the previous steps.

Step 6: Making the Buttons

Under each button, there should be a black conductive circle pad thingy. But it isn't conductive enough. So...
Cut a small aluminium circle and super glue it to the black circle.
Do this for all the buttons.

Note: Make sure the foil circle isn't too big or it may drop out later! Unless your super glue is more super than mine.

Step 7: Wiring the Buttons

On the top of the base, identify the exact position of each button (Mine is marked red). Paste one of the templates onto some thick card. Cut out the holes where the buttons should be; forms the cover. This can help with the alignment. (I didn't though)

Now draw on the base itself the "wires" that the buttons will connect. One wire connects every button, and each button will have a wire to the other side. This is shown in the picture.

Note: By wires, i mean aluminium foil.

Note: The aluminium circles stuck to the bottom of each button will later connect the 2 foils on each side. Allowing the charge from the hand to flow and "touch" the screen.

You can then cut out aluminium foil to the shape of the middle piece. Stick it with double sided tape.

For the other side, prepare "lollipop" shaped foils that will simulate the finger. The diameter should be at least 7mm. The "stick" should be as thin as possible and should end with a thicker part that will be the other part of the button connection thing, as shown in the picture. Make sure the 2 foils don't touch. You can use a multimeter to test it.
Do this for all the other buttons. Test the buttons by putting it on a screen and touching the foil. The screen should detect a touch.

Step 8: Making the Case

Not really a case, more like the walls to hold the buttons and the top.
Arrange the silicone buttons on the base, mark out how much space is there for the walls.
Use some thick hard material. It should be slightly thicker than the silicone buttons. You can use cardboard.
Cut it out and stick it. Make sure the middle piece of wire is still accessible. Also make sure there's room for the button to be pressed. I did not leave a lot of space.

Note: I made it thicker by adding a layer of thick card.
After that, arrange the buttons and glue it to where it should be with uhu glue. Make sure to test them too! Turn on "Show pointer location" in androids developer options to make life easier.
Test them by touching the middle wire and press a button.

After that cut out a thick card following the template (if you haven't done it) That will be the front case. Place the buttons through the buttonholes and see if the buttons press properly.

Step 9: Hard Buttons

Take a thick card the shape of the button and glue a few layers so that it is thick. Harden it with super glue.
The lowest layer should be bigger a bit. To prevent the button from falling out.

You can use coloured paper if you want the buttons to be coloured.

After that, put the buttons in the top cover thing, place the cover on the case. Test it. If it works, glue it and you're done! I used double sided tape, just in case a button doesn't work properly. (And it didn't. Needed to reglue some of the aluminium foil circles)

Make sure that the wire is touching your skin somehow. (I actually planned to cover the top with aluminium foil and connect the wire to it but due to time constraints.....)

Step 10: Finish!

Yay! It's done!

What can be done to improve the thingy?:

1. Find a type of glue that can stick small pieces of aluminium foil without it coming out.

2. Use bigger silicone buttons.

3. 3d print the case, once I get a 3d printer. (I'll probably redesign the whole thing once I get a 3d printer)

4.Design some sort of clip to clip it to the phone.

Any questions? Feel free to ask.

If you like it, please share or something. Upvote it for the Pocket-Sized Contest. Yeah.


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