Reading Game Boy carts with I2C

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After seeing a Game Boy emulator for the first time, [Thijs] was amazed. A small box with just a handful of electronics that turns a Game Boy cartridge into a file able to be run on an emulator is simply magical. [Thijs] has learned a lot about GB and GBC cartridges in the mean time, but still thinks the only way to really learn something is to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Thus was born [Thijs]‘ Game Boy cartridge dumper, powered by a pair of I2C port expanders and a Raspberry Pi.

Inspired by a build to dump ROMs off Super Nintendo games with the help of a Raspberry Pi, [Thijs] grabbed all the hardware necessary to create his own GB cart dumper. A DS Lite cartridge adapter provided the physical connection and a pair of MCP23017 I/O expanders – one soldered to a Slice of PI/O board – provided the electrical connections.

In the end, [Thijs] managed to dump the ROMs off the Japanese editions of Pokemon Yellow and Gold in about 13 minutes. This is a much slower transfer rate of 26 minutes per SNES cart in the post that gave [Thijs] the inspiration for this build. Still, [Thijs] will probably be the first to say he’s learned a lot from this build, especially after some problems with dumping the right banks from the cartridge.

Extreme Game Boy hack plays titles from a wide range of systems

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[Akira] can play any Game Boy, GBC, GBA, NES, SNES, or SMS game while on the go thanks to all the work he put into this portable gaming hack. The outside seems familiar; it’s an original Game Boy case. But you should immediately notice that it has a few extra buttons. That’s the first clue that what’s inside isn’t stock… which is a huge understatement.

The idea for the project started off rather simple, but quickly got out of hand (check out the build log for full details on that). He thought it would be nice to have a backlight for the original screen. After mixed results he scrapped the original mainboard and started anew with some Nintendo DS Lite hardware. It had a broken LCD connector so he tried a couple of different fixes to get it working again. After some success he started adding more equipment, like the extra pair of buttons, a better speaker on the battery door, and the microSD add-on you can see above.

You can catch a demo of the finished goods after the jump.

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A brick-sized Game Boy Advance SP

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For a few years now, [Michael] has wanted to put the guts of a Game Boy Advance – the small clamshell version with a backlit LCD – into the classic and comfortable DMG-01 ‘brick’ Game Boy. He’s finally finished with his project, and we’ve got to say it’s looking pretty good.

The build began by excising the backlit LCD from an old clamshell Game Boy Advance and hot gluing it to the screen bezel of an old DMG-01. The cartridge slot from the original ‘brick’ Game Boy remained, but this design decision did require a fair bit of soldering and a length of ribbon cable.

Since [Michael] is using the original cartridge slot found in the original Game Boy, he can’t play any games in the smaller Game Boy Advance cartridge format. Still, it should be possible to build an adapter to fit those smaller cartridges inside the larger Game Boy, and he can always play Tetris and Little Sound DJ, so nothing of value is lost.

Raspberry Pi is right at home inside of a Game Boy

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[Matt] still has his original Game Boy from when he was a kid. He wanted to pull it out and play some of the classics but alas, the screen was broken and he couldn’t find a source for a drop-in replacement. In the end he ordered a used unit and pulled the screen from that one. This left him with a pile of leftover Game Boy parts which turned into a Raspberry Pi case project.

Since the RPi doesn’t have a power switch he thought it would be pretty neat to incorporate the Game Boy power switch. He was able to cut out one section of the original PCB that included the switch and one mounting hole. This kept the switch aligned with the case and gave him some pads to solder the incoming USB cable and the jumper wires to the RPi board. In the image above the power LED is on. He mentions that there was an issue with that circuit; the voltage drop across the LED was messing up the feed to the Pi so it’s disabled for now.

We’ve embedded a couple of images of everything inside the case after the break. If you’re a fan of this hack you should also take a look at the Game Boy hard drive enclosure which uses the same pixel art printed on paper effect for the screen window.

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There’s something strange about this Game Boy

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What looks to be a stock brick Game Boy with two additional buttons is actually one of the coolest portable mods we’ve ever seen.

Instead of the classic 1989 hardware, the interior of this Game Boy is stuffed with a Dingoo A330 portable emulation machine capable of playing Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and other 8 and 16-bit console classics.

After a great deal of modification to the original Game Boy enclosure, [Alex] cut down two Game Boy PCBs to wire the D pad, A, B, select and start buttons to the Dingoo. An extra pair of buttons were added and the shoulder buttons present on the Dingoo were emulated with rocker switches placed where the original volume and contrast controls were.

All this and a new color LCD (and screen bezel) means this Game Boy looks nearly stock, save for the addition of an extra pair of buttons. It’s a fabulous piece of work, and we’re exceedingly jealous for [Alex]‘s friend receiving this for his birthday.

You can check out this build in action after the break.

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Turning a Game Boy into an Android gamepad

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[Chad] has been messing around with emulators on his phone, but as anyone with a smart phone knows, even the most advanced touchscreen controls are terrible. Wanting something that pays tribute to the classic systems he was emulating, he decided to turn a classic old school brick Game Boy into an Android gamepad.

After gutting an old DMG-01, [Chad] set to work turning the D-pad and buttons in the Game Boy into something his Galaxy Nexus could understand. He chose a Bluetooth connection to provide input for his emulators, with the hardware generously donated from a Nintendo Wiimote.

The Game Boy PCB was cut up and a few leads attached to the Wiimote PCB. After modifying the case to include space for the Wiimote and a cell phone mount, [Chad] had a functional game pad, perfect for his adventures in emulation.

You can see [Chad]‘s demo of his game pad after the break,

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Programming a Game Boy while playing Pokemon

We hope our readers are familiar with the vast number of ROM hacks for the original 1st-gen Pokemon games. With certain sequences of button presses, it’s possible to duplicate items in the player’s inventory, get infinite money, or even catch a glimpse of the elusive MissingNo. [bortreb] is familiar with all these hacks, but his efforts to program a Game Boy from inside Pokemon is by far the greatest Pokemon glitch ever created.

This ‘total control’ ROM hack was inspired by [p4wn3r]‘s extremely impressive 1 minute and 36 second long speed run for Pokemon Yellow. The technique used in [p4wn3r]‘s run relies on the fact the warp points in Pokemon Yellow are right after the item list in the Game Boy’s memory. By corrupting the item list, [p4wn3r] figured out how to make the front door of his house warp directly to the end of the game resulting in the fastest Pokemon speed run ever.

Realizing this ROM hack is able to control the CPU with only the player’s inventory, [bortreb] wanted to see how far he could push this hack. He ended up writing a bootstrapping program by depositing and discarding items from the in-game PC, and was then able to reprogram the Game Boy with a number of button presses on the D-pad, select, start, A and B buttons.

The resulting hack means [bortreb] can actually make Pong, Pacman, a MIDI player, or even a copy of Pokemon Blue. In the video after the break, you can see all of [bortreb]‘s speed run along with the finale of playing a MIDI file of the My Little Pony theme song. [bortreb] has a really amazing hack on his hands here that really pushes the definition of what can be done by tinkering around with a Pokemon ROM.

[Read more...]

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