Gameboy color on an LED matrix

Here is a video of a GameBoy Color being played on an LED matrix. He has built it up to 140×140 LEDs so far and it seems to be going well. He needs to add the final 20 LEDs to get the 160×140 resolution of the GameBoy.  He notes in the comments that he had some problems with dead LEDs in the boards he got from eBay. Trying to remove the dead LED with a hot air rework station resulted in massive damage to the board. At one point he says that the power consumption is 1KW when showing all white. Wow, that’s a drain.

[Kevtris] gave us some more info in the comments with a link to the build pictures in his blog.

[thanks tReg]


  1. bort says:

    he needs another 2304 leds, not 20.

  2. Voyage says:

    Wow! I thought Kevin Horton had retired.

  3. EdZ says:

    I think he meant ’20 lines’.
    1kW for 20736 LEDs is nearly 50mW per LED. That must be one hell of a bright display (or just REALLY inefficiently driven).

  4. Adam Ziegler says:

    What is the measurements on this? (length x width – in / cm)

  5. Adam Ziegler says:

    nvm… youtube comments mention 31×31 inches

  6. jbr says:

    Another mistake. Apart from the 20 lines being mistaken for 20 LEDS, the gameboy’s resolution is 160×144, not 160×140. In the description of the video, however, it is noted that this display is 144×144, not 140×140.

    Can we please get some proofreading?

  7. Eric says:

    I used to have Revenge of the Gators… one of the best pinball games I’ve played. I wonder what I did with it.

  8. joey says:

    Doesn’t he need a pot resistor to limit the brightness?

  9. treg says:

    >1kW for 20736 LEDs is nearly 50mW per LED. That must be one hell of a bright display (or just REALLY inefficiently driven).

    It is 50mW per led, which is only 17mW per die. On standard ultra bright red die run at 25mA for 2V, whih is 50mW (for 150mW for white RGB light).

    Also, the leds are certainly muliplexed. If they are pulse and get 100 time more current during 1/100 of the time, they will look really less bright than if they’d get normal current during the whole time. So I really don’t think that it will blind you.

  10. Mike Collins says:

    up next, 480×272 for PSP!

  11. peter says:

    Why stop at a 480×272 display? why not go all out and go 1920×1080 for a full 1080P resolution? of course a display that size would be 31.5feet by 17.7″(36.1feet diagonal!) when using 5mm RGB LED’s but still why stop at PSP resolution? – Peter

  12. deekwan says:

    This is one hell of a project. I wish I have the time, money and skills (debug and solder SMD) to do something like that. I still have my 40x 8×8 red LED matrix waiting for me to finish them up. Kudos to Kevin.

  13. Joel says:

    Now time to make one out of surface mount leds.

  14. MaterialDefender says:

    Metroid II, Crazy Castle III, Tetris…I think I still have these games…

    Awesome matrix!

  15. nick says:

    this hack is pure gold. A+

  16. xirtamdel says:

    What, no Zelda DX? FAIL.
    no, really, it’s neat.

  17. kevtris says:

    Thanks for the kind words about my project. I REALLY want to make this thing full size, which would be 192*144 LEDs, but I have to get ahold of 4 more of the boards. I could only buy 13 of them, and I got 12 working. one had too much damage and I needed parts to fix the other 12 anyways.

    A full array would be 16 boards. (8*2) Each board is 72*24 LEDs.

    Refresh is 1/12th duty cycle, and it really does take a huge amount of power to run them all. I used 16 power supplies to run the whole mess, and made a custom controller for it.

    There’s pictures and stuff on my blog about the construction with pics of the supplies and stuff.

    I have some other videos up of my earlier testings and debug and stuff if you view my other videos.

    Also, yes it really does take about 1KW to run, and if I had all 16 boards running I would be seriously straining the capacity of a standard US wall outlet.

  18. Caleb Kraft says:

    Thanks for the input kevtris. I’ve updated the post to include a link to your blog.

  19. j s says:

    I used to follow this guy’s projects very closely; he’s an electrical engineer by trade and a darn good one.

  20. Sam says:

    Though it’s tempting to do the calculations on power consumption knowing that the final output requires 1kw of energy and the number of LEDs, one has to factor in resistance.

    I’m certain that the LEDs aren’t all wired together with gold conductors, so there is probably a lot of energy being lost to heat.

    It’s a really cool hack, despite the huge consumption, and it does qualify as a hack as opposed to some of the projects that show up on hackaday lately, anyway.

    Kudos to Kevtris!

  21. strider_mt2k says:

    This is an awesome project.
    Well done, and thanks for the game ideas too. :)

  22. nitroray says:

    How long do leds live ?

  23. Natho says:

    @ kevtris (or anyone else who knows about such things):

    How did you manage to get the video signal out of the Gameboy Colour you were using? I’ve been having a look at trying to get a video out of one, and it seems like the only way is to take out the screen and mess with the wires underneath; is this the tactic you used, or is there another way?

    – N

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