Reverse-Engineered GBA Board Could Come In Handy

Retro gear is beloved, both for what it can do, and what it reminds us of. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, after all. But then, so is corrosion — and the latter has a habit of killing hardware and driving up prices for remaining units. Thankfully, hard workers like [NatalieTheNerd] are out there, creating reproduction PCBs to keep old hardware alive. Her Game Boy Advance (GBA) reproduction PCB is a great tool for the restoration and modding communities.

The board was reverse engineered, with [Natalie] sharing various scans and schematics of the GBA’s motherboard on the Modded Game Boy Club website. The project recreates the AGB-CPU-03 version of the GBA, and is designed to be produced on a 1 mm board with an ENIG process. You can combine the PCB with some salvaged parts and a new shell and build yourself a remarkably fresh GBA, if you so desire.

Beyond it’s intended use, [Natalie] points out the board outlines could be used as a basis for RetroPie or ESP32 projects that fit into a standard Game Boy Advance form factor. We love that idea. We’ve seen [Natalie’s] work before too, in the form of this neat little macropad. Nifty as always!

8 thoughts on “Reverse-Engineered GBA Board Could Come In Handy

  1. Well the gba was released in 2000/2001 so the hardware patents expired in 2020/2021

    So technically in the United States I can make my own gameboy advance console and sell it, just can’t call it gameboy advance legally

    Just arm7tdmi and a gbc cpu, that can be incorporated into fpga/asic with built in mbc5 and floating point and vector acceleration

    And supports more sram than a stock unit and plays all the same cartridges

    Call it the gb-ultra

    1. I doubt there were patents on the hardware, so that’s hardly relevant. What you still can’t do, is make and sell something that looks exactly the same or very similar (copyright), and you can’t run the old software in an emulator (again, copyright).

  2. Original GBA is made with green solder mask and has about 2/3 silkscreen covering. With replacement PCB, you can order in almost any color. Aftermarket shell comes in many color and I am sure colored PCB would look great with transparent-clear or some trans-colored shells.

    I have a trans-blue shell and the center part on the back has slight turquoise color due to green solder mask. Maybe a blue solder mask? Or all white solder mask to make my trans-blue GBA look lighter? All black solder mask would make my GBA look a bit darker.

    1. I would have liked a partial BOM list, I didn’t find it. I’d rather use all new resistors and capacitors as reusing tiny pieces isn’t fun and too often the piece(s) will just mysteriously vanish and be found 4 years later at the bottom of my brass tip cleaner. The ICs will be transplanted from a donor board and a new power switch from the usual cheap places like Aliexpress or eBay.

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