Nintendo’s classic Game Boy has long been the darling queen of the handheld scene. However, with many fans modifying their handhelds with power-sucking features like modern backlit LCDs, running on AA batteries can become a frustrating exercise as they rapidly run out. [esotericsean] gets around that by modifying his Game Boys with a USB rechargeable battery setup. (Video, embedded below.)
The hack is a simple one, but the execution is quite tidy. [esotericsean] starts by removing the original DC jack from the Game Boy motherboard, and hogs out the hole in the case to fit a micro USB port. The original battery housing is similarly carved out to suit a 2000 mAh lithium-polymer pouch cell. A single-cell charging board is used to manage the battery, with its original connector removed and replaced with a neater-looking panel mount micro USB port instead. The electronics is then wrapped up in Kapton tape and stuffed inside the shell as everything is put back together.
The result is a USB rechargeable Game Boy that lasts for ages. [esotericsean] reports playing the console for hours each day for a full week without running out of power. The hack could become popular with chiptuners who often knock AA cells out of their handhelds during the more enthusiastic parts of their sets. We’ve seen similar hacks for other Game Boy models, too.
20 thoughts on “Game Boy Color Gets A Rechargeable Battery”
There’s a lot of my devices that could benefit from this!
But aren’t rechargeable AA batteries more capable? Here he installs a 2000mAh battery whereas my gbc has 2 2600mAh AA cells in it.
Don’t forget to factor in the voltage too when you look at energy density. ~1.5X vs 2 AA NiMH batteries. The switch mode supply in the Gameboy would draw in less current. In theory, you get 1.5x * 2/2.2 = 1.4X run time.
Milliamp-hours aren’t a unit of energy so let’s compare watt hours. That’s amp-hours multiplied by nominal voltage. 2Ah x 3.7V for the lithium ion battery gives 7.4Wh. If your AA batteries are alkaline they’re 1.5V for 7.8Wh combined and if they’re NiMH they’re 6.2Wh.
The main benefit is say you’re on a plane, your batteries start to die, you realize you forgot your charger. The rechargeable batteries become useless at this point. With the mod, however, and now with a usb-c port, you can pretty much just plug it in with the same charger and cable you use on your phone, and keep the game alive.
Just keep another spare pair, the GBC will out run you.
Battery life is not really a issue on GBC, they outrun you. I’d choose AA rechargeables in a heartbeat, we have standardized reputable AA rechargeables(eneloop, evolta), these proprietary lithium batteries will be discontinued in like 2 years, every old gadget enthusiasts know this.
“proprietary lithium batteries”? It’s just a standard pouch lipo that’s used in most rechargeable electronic devices that are sold nowadays. And even if the specific chemistry is discontinued, a very similar one with better density will replace it and be a drop in for this kind of mod.
Nice job, but why destroy aboriginal case when you can buy a case from China and maintain the original as is?
What is he to do with the original case then? The aftermarket shells tend to not feel as solid and don’t fit as well. He upgraded the game boy. If you want to make an omelette you gotta break a few eggs.
Not making an argument for whether he should have used an aftermarket or not, but I can say that the aftermarket shells have come a long way. Ive got a number of modded GBC’s and some of the shells feel the same as the original in terms of weight and sturdiness. It also is dependent on the color it seems. Surprisingly, the transparent shells have been the best from my experience.
That literally happened to me this week when I received a DMG aftermarket case which feels just like an original one.
I bought a cheap HP48SX on eBay, and the top row of buttons wasn’t working. If you are familiar with HP48 calculators, you’ll know that opening them is a pain in the proverbial. Will prying the case open, I broke the 3 x AAA battery compartment. So after fixing the top row of buttons, I fitted it with a 2000mAh battery from a Samsung phone I got from the recycle bin, along with one of the same charging board this guy uses. The battery occupies one of the expansion slot, but in 30 years of owning HP48 series calculators, I never owned (and thus used) a card. For all I know, the second slot might be impeded too. Anyway, I now have a HP48SX which doesn’t need changing batteries, and the rechargeable battery lasts longer than 3 AAA. I hid the charging board in the battery compartment, so I open the compartment to charge the calculator straight from the board’s microUSB, and I can see the charging LED status too. I’d say that it’s even better than in the GameBoy because the battery delivers 3.7V, so compared to 3×1.5V = 4.5V, I don’t even have to worry about dropping the voltage. I did keep the broken battery tray, but have no intention of putting it back. Besides, I’d have to open the calculator again, and I’m not doing that!
Just checked and I used a Samsung EB-L1G6LLU 2100mAh. The second card slot seems inaccessible too, but with a bit more attention to detail, I’m sure it could be left accessible, although you might need a slightly thinner battery as the one I used seems to be thicker than a memory card. Again, I have no cards, so am unable to verify, and hence why it didn’t matter to me.
It was good 2 years ago when the video was published. There are better options today without cutting the case a lot and with USB-C
Do you have any examples of the better options?
Funnyplaying, obviously a Chinese company, sold at Retromodding. IMO better than original. Retrosix, they’re based in the UK, but available at Handheldlegend. I bought a modded GBA from a seller at Reddit, unbranded but I believe from Retrosix, which has a nice “rubber” paint coating. maybe it’s a personal preference, but for me; best handheld screen experience, better than very expensive smartphones.
I almost forgot boxypixel, machined aluminum shells and buttons. As hardcore as it gets!
I have long thought that instead of the Gameboy Advance Nintendo should have released a Gameboy Color “Bright” that would have a rechargeable battery and a front/backlight. Yeah sure the power of the GBA was great but it really would have been nice as a kid not to have to burn through batteries and use some clunky external light that didn’t look very good.
hours a day for a week? i have eneloops, they last all day each day for a week or longer. i’ve passed out playing pokemon at night and can keep playing in the morning. for days. and i can swap between gb light, gb color, and og gb depending on my mood or the game.
had to get em cos edgb really sucks power when loading a game. regular batteries won’t make it through the night.
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