Repairing A Sunburned Game Boy Screen

The original Game Boy is a classic. Sure, it had no backlight, but there is something special about playing on that classic green screen. Unfortunately, some of these older systems are suffering a terrible fate — screen burn. Game Boy’s played best with lots of light — especially out in the sun. But that same sun did terrible things to the screen. A black splotch in the center of the LCD is the telltale sign of a burned Game Boy. You might think that screen replacement is the only option, but [The Retro Future] shows us how to repair this issue.

A reflective LCD is a layer cake made up of polarizers, two panes of glass, and a reflector. The burns often seen on Game Boy screens usually are in the polarizer and the optically clear glue which attaches the plastic polarizer to the glass. We’re guessing these burns happen when someone leaves their Game Boy out in the sun. Between the sun rays directly striking the top polarizer and the rays bounced back from the reflector at the rear of the screen, that poor polarizer doesn’t stand a chance.

Repairing the burn is a delicate operation, as one false move could crack the thin LCD glass. The first step is to carefully peel off the burned polarizer. This leaves a mess of dried glue, which can be scraped off or dissolved with alcohol. A new linear polarizer can then be placed on the front of the screen. [The Retro Future] chose not to glue the polarizer, but we’re betting some UV cure LOCA (Liquid Optically Clear Adhesive) from a cell phone screen protector would do the trick.

If you love the look of the classic Game Boy, but want to play just about any classic game, grab a Raspberry Pi zero, and build a retro Pi Boy.

20 thoughts on “Repairing A Sunburned Game Boy Screen

  1. I suspect this person was lucky in that only the polarizer was damaged, rather than the LCD itself (which would have required a complete replacement).

    The liquid crystals are organic molecules that are sensitive to UV (as well as heat, etc.) damage. With sufficient damage, they stop lining up in nice, electrically controllable rows that can influence the polarization of light. This will make the display go black.

    From https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_crystal
    “An extended, structurally rigid, highly anisotropic shape seems to be the main criterion for liquid crystalline behavior, and as a result many liquid crystalline materials are based on benzene rings.”

      1. Did it a few times in a factory I worked at just to see how co-workers reacted, stopped because a Quality person was chucking them as “the reversed display was an indicator that they were malfunctioning and couldn’t be trusted to do a 5 sample average” LOL

        1. Eh, WD40 dissolves adhesives, it’s not a secret. In fact, if something has been featured on one of those ubiquituous “let’s regurgitate the Wikipedia entry on this retro system, molest its innards with a soldering iron, and bleach the living shit out of its case” youtube videos, it can safely be considered common knowledge.

          1. A simple “you’re welcome” would have sufficed. Yes, I have been using it on tape etc for years, just never thought to use it on a DMG-1 screen. Trying to stay positive here, but that is pointless on HaD :(

  2. Pretty cool repair. I did something similar with my uncle’s depth finder display which suffered a similar fate. I have seen many DMGs with this problem though, so hopefully RetroFuture’s guide will help some others :)

  3. I’m a Gameboy collector and did this procedure several times, but I don’t like the final result. The contrast is affected and the screen looks like a DMG’s green screen. Seems that this happens because that second film you removed (the most difficult one) is a color filter film that removes the green tint and improves the contrast. I’m looking for this film to buy, does anyone knows here I can find it?

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