An Open Source Game Boy Printer That Doesn’t Print

While we’ll admit seeing your Game Boy Camera shots come out on a little slip of thermal paper was pretty neat back in 1998, anyone who’s still using the Game Boy Printer these days is probably more interested in getting their images in digital form. Which is why the open source NeoGB Printer is so exciting.

A collaborative effort between [Rafael Zenaro], [Raphaël BOICHOT], and [Brian Khuu], the project combines an ESP32 development board and some common components with their GPLv3 firmware to fully emulate the Game Boy Printer hardware. Once plugged into your Game Boy, any of the 110 titles that support Nintendo’s paper-pushing peripheral will recognize the NeoGB Printer as the real deal and happily send along the image.

But rather than committing it to paper, the NeoGB Printer saves the image to an SD card. From there, you can put the card in your computer and do whatever you wish with the captured files. Incidentally, it turns out there’s already a commercial gadget on the market that does something very similar, but this DIY approach comes well under its $99 USD price tag. In fact, if you’ve got a Game Boy Link Cable you don’t mind cutting up, you’ve probably got everything you need to pull this off in the parts bin right now.

We particularly like how the team has went out of their way to support different hardware configurations for the NeoGB Printer. If you want to go all out and add status LEDs and an OLED display, go for it. But if you just plan on using the thing once to grab a copy of the Pokémon diploma you earned 20 years ago, then you can skip the bells and whistles.

If you’re only worried about getting your snaps out of the Game Boy Camera, we’ve covered projects that will extract them directly from the cartridge. But this approach certainly has its appeal, as works with a much wider variety of games. We’re glad this project exists, as it means a whole new generation can explore all the wacky ways developers came up with to utilize the Game Boy Printer back in the day.

11 thoughts on “An Open Source Game Boy Printer That Doesn’t Print

  1. Other than mandating you to involve your actual GB/GBA system in the process, what does this do for you that a $50 GB Operator won’t?
    That seems like a far more fully-featured Gameboy solution overall, with loads more functions than this.

  2. Make this for well under $99, by buying nearly $99 worth of parts then spending a few hours putting it all together.

    I know people are doing this for the fun of doing it and because they can, but it’s silly to make these sort of incorrect financial comparisons as justification.

    1. How are you getting anywhere close to $99 just for the parts? I’d estimate even tricked out with all the documented bells and whistles parts cost will easily be under $30. In fact I actually have everything necessary to build one right now just from my spares bin. Now if you value your time you have a point that manually assembling it could be factored into the total cost, but if this is your hobby then perhaps not.

    2. $99? Where you shipping it, the Moon?

      Price looks closer to $10 from what I can see, based on the going rate of an ESP32 and SD card adapter. Or even less, if you’ve already got one (and if you don’t, what are you doing on this site).

    1. But this emulator works specially with the GB Camera… other games like Pokémon TCG, for example, don’t work (btw, I create a fork of his repository and port this emulator to thw esp32 too, and added the same support that’s the NeoGB have)…. The NeoGB works with all kind of games. The mainly difference is the compatibility… we are planning to add some kind of web interface too like him… we already having this with him =)

  3. Excellent work to the team behind this. It’s not for everyone as the comments testify, but it’s great for anyone who can build electronic projects and it’s a bonus that the team have extensively tested it across all games with printer support. If you just want to dump GB Camera photos, GBxCart with FlashGBX is also an option.

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