LED Mod a Gameboy Advance




After viewing this Instructable, I decided to make an Instructable to LED Mod a GBA. With this mod, you can make your GBA case light up, while giving it nice lighting effects.


Step 1: Gather Materials

For this project, you will need:

Resistors that match your LEDs
Small Switch
Any transparent, colored Gameboy Advance
Small Wire
Tri-Wing Screwdriver OR small flathead screwdriver
Soldering Iron
Fine Sandpaper (400 - 500 grit)
Two LEDs (any color) (preferably low voltage)
Dremel/Rotary tool
Hot glue gun
Hot glue
Heat shrink tubing

Optional materials:

Helping hands
Xacto knife

Step 2: Remove Gameboy Case

First, you will need to remove the Gameboy's case. To do this, you will have to remove the seven tri-wing screws with your tri-wing or flathead screwdriver. There are four screws toward the top, and three towards the bottom. The screws locations are marked in the photo for better clarification. After the screws are removed, lift the front half of the case off, and set it aside for later. For the next step, you will need the back half of the case.

Step 3: Cut Hole for Switch

To cut the hole:

With an Xacto Knife:
Start by gently scoring the case of the Gameboy Advance in the spot you wish to place the switch. There tends to be more space on the back, to the left of the battery compartment. Keep cutting until you cut all the way through. This step may take a while, but it's worth it for a clean cut. If your switch needs to be screwed in, drill the holes for the switch after cutting the hole for the switch.

With a Dremel/Rotary tool:

Start by attaching an appropriate cutting wheel to your dremel/rotary tool. As previously mentioned, there tends to be more space on the back, to the left of the battery compartment.Slowly cut an appropriately sized hole in the plastic.

After cutting the hole, you can place the switch into position, and screw it in. You can also just glue the switch into place with epoxy.

*Cut the hole a little smaller than needed. If you need the hole to be bigger, you can remove extra plastic later.*

After cutting the hole for the switch, be sure to clean any extra plastic out of the case before proceeding.

Step 4: Diffuse LEDs

Now you need to diffuse the LEDs for them to be able to spread their light out, not just point it in one direction. I will provide you with a link for instructions on how to diffuse a LED, but you basically rub the LED against the sandpaper until the LED surface is "rough". Here is the link on how to diffuse an LED.

Step 5: Remove PCB

To remove the PCB, you will have to remove the three screws holing it down. After the screws are removed, lift both gray/brown plastic pegs toward the orange ribbon cable at the same time, then lift the cable from the connector

Step 6: Place LEDs Into Position

Place your LEDs around the screen. You may have to remove some plastic with your rotary tool to get them to fit depending on the size of LEDs that you picked out. I placed three of my LEDs around the bottom of the screen. After you have found where you want your LEDs, solder them in Parallel, according to the parallel diagram on the following site. http://www.theledlight.com/ledcircuits.html

After soldering the LEDs together, you will have to solder a black (color optional) wire to the negative (-) end of the LED closest to the battery compartment, and a red (color optional) wire to the positive (+) end of the LED closest to the battery compartment. After attaching the wires, you can screw the PCB back in, followed by attaching the ribbon cable from the screen to then PCB. To do this, insert the ribbon cable into its holder, followed by pushing in the gray/brown pegs on either side of the holder.

After placing the LEDs in their desired locations, you can hot glue them in place for added strength.


If you cannot fit the LEDs and/or their wires into the case, use a dremel/rotary tool to remove excess plastic.

Step 7: Solder Switch

For this step, you will have to solder two short lengths of wire to one end of the switch, and the other. Solder one of
the wires coming from the switch to the battery terminal marked BT+. Solder the other wire coming from the switch to the positive end of your LED circuit. You can tell the positive from the negative end on an LED, because the base of the LED is flat on the negative side, and the longer leg is usually positive.

After wiring the switch, take another wire and solder that to the negative end of your LED circuit. Solder the other end of that wire to the battery terminal marked BT-.

Before proceeding to the next step, close the case, but do not screw it together yet. Place the batteries in the battery compartment, and turn on your LEDs. If they light up, then Congratulations! If your LEDs do not light up, then check your connections and polarity.

Step 8: Reassemble the Case

After all of that hard work, you can now reassemble the case. start by inserting the R and L buttons, followed by the plastic separators. After that, you can screw the case back together.

*I am not responsible for any damage that you may have caused to your GBA*



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    19 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

     lol so i thought i burned out my GBA doing this.  I originally tried doing this but soldering the LEDs to the GBA power switch.  I killed the switch.  

    Later, I tried shorting across the switch.  GBA still works.  Just have to take one of the batteries out.  Not like that's a huge hassle, the battery doors ALWAYS break, right?  

    So I wired up 6 green LEDs.  Wired up one backwards, but its not like that REALLY matters much lol its WAAAAY bright.  Now I can't really see the screen so well.  I didn't bother diffusing them either... I can always do that later.

    I have 4 across the bottom (actually 3+1 that's soldered in backwards) then one to the right of the speaker, and one under the start+select text.  Its freaking bright.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Can I go without removing the extra plastic? What about the switch?

    is this just to make the case look cool or does it crate a back light as well?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Good idea, and well-written. One thing, though. Since you've had the thing apart, would it be possible to use the LED's (and maybe a piece of acrylic) as a backlight?

    4 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comment.

    Yes, it would be possible to use some LEDs and a piece of acrylic as a backlight, but it would be a very tight fit. If you are planning on making a backlight, I would recommend using some low voltage LEDs, as the Gameboy uses a considerable amount of power for use. You should also look for thin acrylic, and place it in front of the LCD screen. Here is a link to an Instructable that shows you how to backlight an LCD.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I am currently in the process of backlighting my GBA. I just need to source some materials. The hardest part is pulling the metal back off of the LCD without breaking it. The way I am doing it, I won't need the metal bit, so i bent up a corner and used a guitar pick to break the mounting tape. Then i bent it up a little further and continued the process.

    This link shows you detailed pictures of where you can find a 5V power source on the PCB.

    Good luck.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Well, I gave it a try. It didn't work so well.
    there are some pictures of the final product.
    I have pictures of the inside too, I didn't take enough to go step-by step, but if you want to see some, I will upload them.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    yeah i like it but whats the point of it? is it to illuminate the screen in the dark (cos from the pics it dosnt do it) or just as a decoration? if it is decoration then its really cool! also is there a way to frontlight the gba internally with led's without buying an expensive kit?

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, this was meant to be more of a decorative item, rather than to light up the screen. I do remember seeing a forum, where people were talking about how to illuminate the GBA's screen. If I remember the link, I'll post it.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Basically they took a frontlight thats similar to the one in the first generation of the GBA SP. People also do it to GBCs, ive been thinking of it myself.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice. If you have time, post pictures of it when you're finished. Good Luck!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Cool! My Instructable inspired someone to make their own! :D


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Another idea. Use bi-color LEDs and wire them to the power indicator. That way, when the battery goes low, the whole game boy could turn red, much like the XBox 360 in panic mode.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the idea. I plan on making an Instructable in the near future on how to do that. (I will also give you credit for the idea.)