Adding a backlight to you game boy is one of the easiest, most effective and affordable modifications you can do to revive some memories of your childhood ! Make sure to have all of your materials prepared and ready to go before you begin. It is an excellent idea to disassemble and scrub the plastic casing and clean the front and back PCBs to avoid drying time lost to mother nature.
- Hand Held Legend 4-LED V2.0 Backlight
- Tri-Wing screwdriver
- Phillips/Cross screw driver
- Soldering Iron and solder
- Utility Blade
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Wire Strippers
- Lens Cloth
Step 1: Disassemble and Clean
To begin, remove all 6 tri-wing screws from the back of your original Game Boy DMG-01. Keep these in a safe place as you will need them later when reassembling. Remove the ribbon cable connecting the front PCB (logic board) to the back PCB in a gentle downwards motion. At this point you should have the front and the back unit’s separated. Proceed to remove the 10 Phillips head screws connecting the front PCB (with the screen) to the front shell. Again, keep these in a safe spot they are easy to lost. NOTE: These screws are easily stripped, so be careful when removing.
Now is a good time to clean the front shell with soap and water. Let dry and turn on your soldering iron!
Step 2: Remove Polarizing Film
To remove the polarized film on the underside of the LCD, protect the front of the screen with tape or a Post-it® note. Turn the screen front side facing down and obtain a clean, sharp utility blade. Starting with the top right corner (when lying down); insert the edge of the blade between the silver polarized adhesive film and the glass LCD. Push your blade gently and evenly with pressure about 0.5 inches between the film and LCD. There is a layer of adhesive under the polarizer that you are aiming to remove as well so be sure to put pressure under, and as close to the glass as possible.
Now use your fingers or pliers to peel back the silver film. DO NOT pull without securing the LCD screen. Make sure to hold the screen with your other hand and protect the connections from the ribbons cables to the LCD. Severing these could lead to a screen that is not repairable. Once all of the film has been removed, you may notice a small amount of adhesive in the corners. Use rubbing alcohol and a cue-tip to remove and clean the glass on the back side of the LCD.
*** If a super sticky layer of adhesive is left over after you remove the film, you will have to put a little more effort in to remove it. My experiences have revealed that about 1 in 10 game boys have this kind of adhesive. To remove, use a good-remover with a razor blade and gently scrape the glue off. You won't scratch your LCD unless you apply uneven pressure. Its a slow process but it works. Be sure not to get chemicals on the ribbon cable to avoid damage.***
Step 3: Backlight Preparation
Clean behind your LCD screen with a can of compressed air. Any speck of dust will give you an annoying dot that is not easily removed. Prepare your LED backlight by removing the protective film on the front. Next, remove the films from the polarized film provided in your kit (front and back).
You'll want to orient your polarization film properly before you install and close up your case or you'll be opening her up again to turn it 90 degrees. Hold up the film to an LCD (such as a monitor) and observe how the transparency of the film changes when you rotate it. Orient the film so that it becomes dark when in front of an LCD and then you are ready to place it on top of the backlight to prepare for insertion. This orientation will allow for a normal pixel orientation when installing the backlight alone. Turn the film 90 degrees and your display will invert, what once was dark would become light and vice versa.
***When installing a bivert chip, you'll want to turn your film 90 degrees (clear when up to an LCD) to obtain a normal configuration. The bivert chips will invert your pixels***
Next, solder the 2 provided wires onto their respective pads on the flat cable of the backlight. Use red for the positive "+" pad and blue for the negative "-" pad.
Install the resistor provided to the "+" or red wire and add some heat shrink tubing for extra protection. A resistor is recommended in order to meet the exact voltage recommendations for the LEDs inside. It is especially necessary for the colors red and orange and gameplay can be effected if the resistor is not installed.
Step 4: Backlight Installation
Now you are ready to insert the backlight and film into the game boy.Touching only the edges of the backlight and polarization film, lift them together and slide them behind the glass LCD to fit into the existing frame. The wires and flat cable labeled "HHL" with a "+" and "-" sign on it should exit at the bottom left of the frame.
***There is no need to cut the plastic frame here as the the ribbon cable is then enough not to be compressed***
Solder the 2 wires to their respective solder points before screwing the LCD cable back down. Test your backlight and make sure you are happy with the cleanliness of your LCD before securing the LCD back down.
The excess wires can be threaded through the holes next to the capacitor to make things neat.
Step 5: Operation Complete
Reinsert your buttons and silicone pads on the front shell. With the front shell facing downwards, and the buttons and pads in place, insert the front PCB into the front shell just as it was before you removed it. Reinsert the 10 small Phillips head screws and secure the PCB to the front shell and reattach the ribbon cable between the front PCB and the back PCB. Combine the two sides together and secure with the original 6 tri-wing screws.
Enjoy countless hours of illuminated retro gaming!
For help and discussion, visit the Hand Held Legend help forum here.
Some other mods to check out include:
- Game Boy bivert modification
- Game Boy Color Frontlight
- Game Boy Advance Frontlight
- Game Boy Advance AGS Modification