Adding A Backlight To The ‘ol Game Boy Brick

For being more than 20 years old, [Max]’s old brick-sized Game boy still has a lot of life left in it. Even though his Game Boy was still in good condition, there were a few vertical lines in the display, making it a perfect candidate for a restoration. While he had his DMG-01 open on his work bench, [Max] also decided to put in a back light.

After researching the blank vertical lines in his Game Boy’s display, [Max] learned the problem was probably a loose solder connection. [Max] whipped out his tri-wing screwdriver, disassembled his classic plastic friend, took a soldering iron to the LCD’s flex connector, and fixed the problem easily.

Since his Game Boy was already taken apart, he decided to add a 3rd party backlight. The installation was a snap – [Max] only removed the reflective LCD backing and shoved an edge-lit backlight panel into the Game Boy.

If you’re wondering why anyone would still be interested in a 20+ year-old Game Boy, the DMG-01 is highly regarded in the chiptune scene when paired with Little Sound DJ, in part because of the noisy amplifiers and unique sound. Anything that keeps these wonderful machines out of the garbage is alright in our book, so we’ve got to hand it to [Max] for putting together this wonderful tutorial.

19 thoughts on “Adding A Backlight To The ‘ol Game Boy Brick

    1. Not a repaint, the white-balance of the image is probably just a bit off. I did, however, replace the buttons and front lens with white ones I got from Kitsch-Bent. Thanks nonetheless, though! :D

  1. I remember reading an article about someone putting a backlight in his Gameboy… i think it was back in 1992, in a paper magazine…

    This is more of a repair than a hack, and it isn’t really news. People do this daily and there are hundreds and hundreds of posts about it ever since you could post pictures on the net.

    If hackaday are going to make posts about everyone repairing anything electronic this site is going to become pretty uninteresting :P

      1. Yeah, but a GameBoy Pocket chassis doesn’t feel near as good in the hands. Though the GBLight no doubt has a MUCH better display than the smeary mess of the original brick.

        But if I recall, the GBLight has a buzz to it on top of the usual sound variants between GameBoy models.
        So if it’s for chiptune use… it’s far better to retrofit a light to the original brick than to spring for a GBLight.

  2. I took apart my DMG01 once, but after peeling off the reflective sticker, nothing showed on the display anymore. I thought that the polarising sheet had to stay in place so after this failure I declared it ‘dead’.

    Do you think that this was my problem? Did it stay blank (or look blank perhaps) because I left the polarisation sheet on?

    I’d say that by removing this, the screen wouldn’t show pixels anymore. Could you explain why yours does?

    1. The backlight has a new polarizing film built in. Without that built in green film (or the new one provided inside the backlight) the pixels will be invisible to the naked eye. Leaving that sheet on while removing the reflective backing still allows the display to function, and you should still see pixels if that is the case.

      Perhaps you removed the polarizing filter by accident? You might try using a pair of polarized sunglasses and see if anything shows up then.

      1. That won’t work since he removed the back polarizing film, the LCD has to be between the two polarizing films for anything to show as the crystals only shift the polarized light by 90 degrees, it doesn’t create any polarization.

      2. Thanks, I supposed that I applied too much pulling force on the LCD, killing all the pixels. I’m damn sure that I left the polarising film on.

        Could also be the solder connections. Breaking the wrong one might also disable the entire screen.

        I’ll check with a polaroid behind it btw, nice idea.

        Backlight also works with the old polarisation film btw, it’s just that it’ll be greenish..

    1. No, not the really old ones, but if you read the article, he makes this clear. It is less clear in the summary.

      Otherwise, it is an awesome hack and makes me want to dig out my old brick and back light it.

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