Programmable Game Boy cartridge walk through

We looked at [Gerry's] PLCC based programmable Game Boy cartridge back in May and mentioned that he was working on a how-to video. He did quite a bit more than that. He’s made a PDF version of the instructions but went into deep detail with a collection of four videos on his YouTube channel. We’ve embedded all four after the break. They include an introduction and background about the cartridges, desoldering the ROM chip, preparing sockets and wire, and making the solder connections. Whether you’re interested in this particular hack or not, seeing [Gerry's] soldering practices make the videos worth watching.

Introduction and cartridge background

Desoldering ROM from an old cartridge

Preparing chips sockets and wire

Soldering wire to the pads

Comments

  1. nvrdie says:

    eeeeeeeehm.. eeeehm..

  2. okay says:

    Anyhow, nice tut, very detailed

  3. Word says:

    Damn is that a lot of wires he’s had to solder. Very detailed though!

  4. Mark_V says:

    Wow, This guy is intense. Great work!! His YouTube Channel is loaded with Robotic arm repair videos. Sweet!! I want one.

  5. O.I.B. says:

    That would be a good place to hide passwords/data.
    Replace the ROM whit a ROM that you programed to send the passwords/data to the (serial?) port at the side of the game-boy.
    Who would take the cartridges/game-boy to check for your passwords/data?

  6. emuboy says:

    we, now that you have told us…

  7. amishx64 says:

    I am impressed at the quality of these posts since the publication of the open letter from the HaD owner. Keep up the good work! (Not that your articles were ever that bad Mike) ;)

    – amishx64

  8. Sariel says:

    This is perfectly awesome. Was just what I wanted for turning my GBC into an 8 bit mixer.

  9. PhilKll says:

    wow, amazing documentation, this was a pleasure, and informative.

  10. CodeAsm says:

    Thx Gerry for those Vids.

    I now know I want some magnifying gogles aswell.
    Ill check when im back for some on ebay.

  11. bbot says:

    Seems like it would be easier just to connect a beefy microcontroller to the edge connector and do everything in software.

  12. fermicirrus says:

    i love the music

  13. rj says:

    bbot: micros are terrible at pretending to be memory, which is what’s needed here.

  14. Jake says:

    HOLY CRAP, A REAL HACK!!!!

  15. Funky Gibbon says:

    When desoldering SMT i usually flood all the pins with solder the heat the whole chip up and just lift it off with tweezers then clean up the pads after with the braid

  16. Mr_Bishop says:

    Oh Gawd.. I own a GB still, this makes me wanna give it a shot if nothing else to say I did. Except it was hard enough to do the xbox 360 RF LED swap to blue.. I dont know if I could handle tha.

  17. Drone says:

    Wow a .pdf “instructable” without having to turn over all your personal information to the Instructables Fascists to download. That’s the real hack here.

  18. UltimateJim says:

    Great information, i had an old Eprom that bit the dust i may go dig it up now…

    He says uhm so many times its giving me a headache

  19. Spork says:

    I watched the uhhh video uhh to see uhh what UltimateJim was uhh talking about and uhh, I have to uhh agree with him about the uhh less than eloquent speech of the creator.

    That said, the hack, the music, and the effort were AWESOME. Keep up the good work and if you need to make a video again, try writing a scrip first so you don’t have to think about what you’re going to say next. Cheers!

  20. Gerry_OBrien says:

    Ughhh…Ughhhh…Ok :)
    Thanks for the Tip.

  21. Gerry_OBrien says:

    Maybe Mike should Change the title of this Hack from “Programmable Game Boy cartridge walk through” to “Programmable Game Boy cartridge Stutter through”
    HA! :)

    Well, regardless of my poor ability for finding the right choice of words, I’m glad you all liked this hack. :)

    Cheers Everyone! :)
    -Gerry

  22. Smoker_Dave says:

    FunkyGibbon +1 on the flood method.

    This guy will take all day to remove that chip (I got sick of watching).

  23. leafy says:

    its a great hack but the actual finished wire to solder pad joint doesn’t look great to me. Kind of messy, I know its utlra fiddly work but considering how much everyone is praising him – this is not the best soldering.
    And all that stuff about solder liking copper braid more than the legs of the chip because of the materials blah blah blah, I thought it was simply a wicking effect?

  24. wanna_be_hacker says:

    actually, it’s called capillary action.

  25. leafy says:

    hey wanna be, type wicking into google and see what you get – actually :p

  26. cantido says:

    If you’re going to do things the hard way (You can get perfectly good GB flash carts…) why not use NVRAM with an EPROM with some serial bootloader firmware? Your development cycle would be a ton quicker.

  27. setlahs says:

    A little tip for soldering: Make sure your tip is clean and tinned. That black oxidation and residue on the tip greatly inhibits heat transfer. As you can see in the video the solder is not wetting to the tip of the iron.
    Solid technique though.

  28. Dosbomber says:

    If you can afford it, a Hakko 808 is a nice desoldering iron with a built-in vac pump that runs about $175 USD brand new. Beats the hell out of desoldering braid, and won’t cost you the insane coin of those “industrial” duty desoldering guns (I’ve used all three, and the Hakko does well enough for a reasonable price tag). I got mine from Tequipment.net, but I’ve seen them on Amazon as well.

  29. Phate says:

    I’m planning on building some carts and an Arduino-based reader/writer within the next few months, and this is a great help. I had actually planned on doing a swappable-chip job exactly like this. :]

  30. Dosbomber says:

    @Gerry:

    Could you give the stats of your magnifier setup? I’ve been looking for a decent one for awhile with a camera output (feed to video monitor) for some of my more “How can I solder it when I can’t even see it?” projects.

    As for you guys picking on his stammering through words, where are your videos? He has 28 videos finished. It’s normal to have about 100 before you get over that nervous stammering thing.

    Remember, he’s probably a geek just like the rest of us, and recording a video for the rest of the world to see is outside of our normal anti-social comfort zone. :)

  31. Gerry_OBrien says:

    That’s a really great point setlahs,
    Thanks a mint. :)

  32. Gerry_OBrien says:

    @Dosbomber:

    I purchased mine broken off eBay last year and managed to repair it.

    Here is the store Link on eBay that carries them:

    http://stores.ebay.com/MicroscopeNet

    They cost $500.00 US New with free shipping.
    Mine was a “Trinocular Stereo ZOOM Microscope 3.5x~90x Zoom with a Boom Stand.

    They have a 3.0 MegaPixel USB camera that fits right into the top Ocular on the microscope and does both video and Image capture. They go for around $250.00 I think.

    I ran out of money and so I just rigged up my own setup using a Color CCD security camera and some metal brackets and braces to secure the camera in place. I used a spare X10 Eyepiece that I had lying around and used it for the camera. I’m currently using X20 Eyepieces. I also purchased a X2 Barlow lens to bring total Magnification up to X180. Although, I don’t use that lens that often for soldering.

    You may find other Microscopes out there at a cheaper price, but this one is really rugged and I’m very pleased with it overall.

    Here are a Few Hi-Res Photos of it on my Bench:

    http://www.digital-circuitry.com/IMAGES/My%20LAB/Microscope/MICROSCOPE_ 014.jpg

    http://www.digital-circuitry.com/IMAGES/My LAB/Microscope/MICROSCOPE_ 017.jpg

  33. MWeekley says:

    Can rom dumps be loaded on this? I’d liek to play mai pokemans again.

    Kidding, looks like a fun weekend project, agreed the soldering looks a little dirty but god damn look at how many wires the gay had to solder.

  34. click says:

    This is great work, but although he doesn’t seem to be mensioning it, the real credit goes to Reiner Ziegler, who came up with this hack a many years ago:

    http://www.reinerziegler.de/readplus.htm#Home%20made%20carts

    He has really inspired me, I really like browsing his page.

  35. Gerry_OBrien says:

    This is True, allot of my research was done off of Reiner’s page and he deserves the original credit. My plan form the beginning is actually to use the GameBoy for Robotics Interfacing applications. This was just the first part of my whole project. I’m continuing with it and the end goal is to use the Gamboy to replace a Robotic arm “TeachPendant” hand-held Controller. I’ve also seen many other similar designs but that are using different addressing methods. One I’ve come across uses an older Altera MAX 7000 PLD for interfacing purposes.

    I actually contacted Reiner showing him this HACK, and was getting feedback on a similar project that involves using a Sega GameGear as the interface. Once I get it working I’ll post a video for it also.

  36. signal7 says:

    FWIW, these videos aren’t that great. Their biggest flaw is that they all discuss soldering/desoldering *technique* and have little to do with the actual hack. I expected 30 minutes of information about how he reverse engineered the cartridge or something like that – not some tutorial that teaches me what I already know.

    Maybe these should be relabeled “how to solder/desolder smt components”?

  37. Gerry_MAN says:

    These Instructional videos have recently been updated with a new Narration track.

    The updated videos are posted on my YouTube Channel:

    Part #1 of 5:

    Regards,
    -Gerry

  38. Gerry_MAN says:

    Part 2 of 5:

  39. Gerry_MAN says:

    Part 3 of 5:

  40. Gerry_MAN says:

    Part 4 of 5:

  41. Gerry_MAN says:

    Part 5 of 5:

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