Gameboy Case Lives on With a Pi Zero

After scoring a non-functioning Gameboy in mint condition for $10, [Chad] decided it was time for a fun electronics project, so he ordered an LCD and bought a Pi Zero.

He started with a 3.5″ LCD off eBay for about $25, and got it running with the Pi Zero. It’s only 320×240 resolution, but hey, we’re recreating a Gameboy — not a smartphone. The next step was rather finicky: cutting up the case to fit the new components in.

Using a collection of files he whittled down the screen opening in the case to make room for the LCD, a few hours later and it looked surprisingly good.

From there he started laying out the components inside of the case, trying to figure out the best layout for everything to fit nicely. To power the unit he’s using a lithium ion battery from a Samsung Note which should give him some serious play-time. It fits right in where the game card is suppose to go.

To add some extra control functionality he’s added the game-pad buttons from a SNES onto the back where the battery door is, he’s also got a USB port on the side, a MicroSD card slot, and even a new audio pre-amp with potentiometer for controlling the speaker volume.

In case you can’t find a mint condition Gameboy case like [Chad] did, you could just print one from scratch

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25 thoughts on “Gameboy Case Lives on With a Pi Zero

    1. Tell that to the portable retrogaming community 10 years ago, when the best things we had were cost-reduced later consoles, NiMh batteries, and original controllers hacked to pieces and reassembled with Bondo.

  1. In case you can’t find a mint condition Gameboy case like [Chad] did, you could just print one from scratch

    Or buy a brand new replica in Little Ali’s Big Chinese Store for about $10. About a year ago, the Chinese started producing them and they actually hold up against the originals’ quality. Off-white ones are still quite easy to come by, although $10 for a broken one has become increasingly hard, prices have soared in the last few years.

    As for the hack itself: Well done, I guess? TBQH, I’d rather go for a RPi0 inside a Competition pro.

      1. I’m repairing/recapping/modding original DMGs as a hobby (I am getting broken ones, exclusively, it’s just more fun). Those replica cases actually stack up exceptionally well — unlike replacement shells for other systems which are oftentimes flimsy, fitting poorly, and of noticeably lower quality plastic. Most people wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference — I’m actually afraid there will be a market for “counterfeit” models such as the white Play It Loud edition that’s become increasingly rare.

        If I wanted to get a case to mod like in the article, I would certainly get such a replica one instead of a banged-up broken one and not bother with the inflated price for a broken, gritty second-hand one.

      1. As far as I can tell, all the ones on Aliexpress come from the same mold in the same factory, just from different resellers. Do a search for “Gameboy GBO case” (“GBO” seems to be Aliexpress lingo for “Game Boy Original”), compare prices, depending on quantity they should go for between $10 and $12 delivered.

        It’s important to me to note that it’s possible that these are “third shift” items from the same mold as the ones produced for reputable shops like ASM Retro (and/or possibly buttons/silicon mats for Kitsch-Bent, although his cases aren’t going for authenticity). So if you want to kick some money towards the ones who are actually doing the good work, you might consider getting cases from them (ASM Retro doesn’t currently have a shop though, they are sorting out some internal restructuring at the moment).

  2. I do like this! Shame hackaday was not as interested in our cheeky build.

    But how about some love for a VTech V.Smile Pi with stock controllers?

    This bad boy was good fun to make, but crazy useful and tough. I cannot imagine the difficulties in shoehorning this kit into a Gameboy case.

  3. Now I’m wondering what could be stuffed into an old Handspring Visor (not the thin Edge version) case. Or how about a Palm Life Drive case? It already has a 640×480 LCD with single point resistive digitizer.

    1. Yes (some of them) they can. You can find some instructions on the Raspberry Pi forums.
      Man, I really need to finish that build. The nearly same thing has been lying around on my bench here for ~1.5 years… :/

  4. Jealous! I’d been planning to do exactly this mod. Well, I’m glad it went well for them, hopefully I can glean some pointers from their work. I should get around to this now that I finally have a PiZero.

    1. I already have this in progress but with a 3.5″ inch touchscreen from adafruit :)

      However, it’s currently on hold because I’ve destroyed two lcd controller boards so far trying to desolder the gpio connector.. Any ideas anyone? The groundplane just absorbs all of the heat and snipping lifts the traces :/

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