Well, I must admit that Google Translate completely failed me here, and thus I have no real idea what the trick is to this beautiful, stunning transparent split keyboard by [illness072]. Allegedly, the older tweets (exes?) hold the key to this magic, but again, Google Translate.
Based on top picture, I assume that the answer lies in something like thin white PCB fingers bent to accommodate the row stagger and hiding cleverly behind the keys.
Anyone who can read what I assume is Japanese, please advise what is going on in the comments below.
Continue reading “Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Busy Box Macro Pad”
We feature a large number of game console mods here, because enhancing the experience of using a classic machine often involves some really clever work. But here’s one that’s a bit different, instead of upgrading his Game Boy Advance, [Wenting Zhang] has downgraded it from a colour screen to a monochrome LCD. Take a look at the video below the break.
One might ask why this would be necessary, given that there are plenty of backlit colour LCD upgrades already for the GBA, but perhaps people who played the original might understand that it’s about improving the viewability over the rather poor-quality colour LCD original.
Interesting too is the choice of display controller. Where it might be expected to find an FPGA, instead there’s an PR2040. He goes into detail about its programming, and we hope it might inspire any others looking at screen transplants. Meanwhile if the name [Wenting Zhang] means anything to you, it should be for his other work with mono LCDs.
Continue reading “A Game Boy Advance – Downgraded!”
Emulating old computers or video game systems isn’t always about recreating childhood nostalgia or playing classics on hardware that doesn’t exist anymore. A lot of the time it can be an excellent way to learn about the mechanics of programming a video game. Plenty of older titles have available source code that anyone can pour over and modify, and one of those is Pokémon Emerald. This was the first Pokémon game that [Inkbox] played, and he added a few modern features to it with this custom ROM file.
The first thing to add to this game was the ability to have one’s Pokémon follow their character around in the overworld map. This is common in later games, but wasn’t yet a feature when Emerald and Ruby first came out. [Inkbox] needed to import sprites from later games into the Emerald game file, convert their color palettes to match the game’s palette, and then get to work on the mechanics. After everything was finished, the Pokémon not only follow the player around the map but are animated, enter and exit their Pokéballs, and even jump off ledges in a believable, 32-bit way.
One of the great things about older games like these is that they’ve been around long enough to have source code or decompiled code available, they often have plenty of documentation, and the platforms they operate on are well-known by now as well. Pokémon Emerald is not alone in this regard; in fact, there is a huge Game Boy Advance homebrew scene that is not too difficult to get involved in.
Continue reading “Taking Pokémon On A Walk”
As video game systems pass into antiquity, some of them turn out to make excellent platforms for homebrew gaming. Not only does modern technology make it easier to interact with systems that are now comparatively underpowered and simpler, but the documentation available for older systems is often readily available as well, giving the community lots of options for exploration and creativity. The Game Boy Advance is becoming a popular platform for these sorts of independent game development, and this video shows exactly how you can get started too.
This tutorial starts with some explanation of how the GBA works. It offered developers several modes for the display, so this is the first choice a programmer must make when designing the game. From there it has a brief explanation of how to compile programs for the GBA and execute them, then it dives into actually writing the games themselves. There are a few examples that [3DSage] demonstrates here including examples for checking the operation of the code and hardware, some simple games, and also a detailed explanation the framebuffers and other hardware and software available when developing games for this console.
While the video is only 10 minutes long, we recommend watching it at three-quarters or half speed. It’s incredibly information-dense and anyone following along will likely need to pause several times. That being said, it’s an excellent primer for developing games for this platform and in general, especially since emulators are readily available so the original hardware isn’t needed. If you’d like to build something from an even more bygone era than the early 2000s, though, take a look at this tutorial for developing games on arcade cabinets.
Continue reading “A Primer For The Homebrew Game Boy Advance Scene”
[Zekfoo] decided to honor the Game Boy Advance’s 20th birthday by redesigning it at the circuit level to give it a more modern twist. To quote the project readme:
I really want to like the Game Boy Advance. Growing up with a GBA SP, I was spoiled by its clicky buttons, rechargeable battery, and illuminated screen. When I finally got my hands on an original GBA, I couldn’t be more disappointed by the stark difference in feel and function. While today’s retro modding scene has produced many improvements for the GBA (referred to from now on as its codename AGB), the console still has many quirks that simple modding hasn’t been able to fix, but that can be addressed in a circuit redesign.
The four-layer board looks great and there a number of modernized features.
For example, this new version is rechargeable. The unit has proper switches, which most people will prefer over the mushy membrane switches. There’s also a screen light and an improved power supply that helps produce cleaner audio, among other things.
We were disappointed that the repository only has images and audio files — if you want to duplicate the build you are on your own. He’s also done a clone of the Game Boy Color, but — alas — no design files there either. Still, a couple of good-looking projects.
We always enjoy seeing old products given a facelift. If you think you just need an emulator, they sometimes don’t exactly mimic real hardware.
From the release of the DMG-01 in 1989 until the final Micro variant hit store shelves in 2005, the Nintendo Game Boy line represented the epitome of handheld gaming for hundreds of millions of players. But that’s not to say there weren’t a wide array of other handheld systems that aimed to chip away at the Japanese gaming giant’s monopoly. SEGA and Sony released high-tech systems that brought impressive technical innovations, while Tiger Electronics famously took the opposite approach with ultra-cheap handhelds that leveraged simplistic games based on popular children’s franchises.
[Chris Downing] had to make do with these budget Tiger games as a child, and now as an adult, he’s determined to made things right with the Tiger Boy Advance. As the name implies, this retro hybrid combines the look and feel of a branded Tiger game with the power and software compatibility of a legitimate Nintendo Game Boy Advance (GBA) circa 2001. It even sprinkles in some modern niceties, like USB-C charging and a backlit display. While most of its charm is probably lost on anyone who didn’t grow up within a fairly narrow range of years, the video below seems to prove that even modern kids can appreciate this one-of-a-kind creation.
From an electronics standpoint, the system is essentially just a gutted GBA crammed into a 3D printed approximation of an old Tiger game from around the mid 1990s. But what makes this project special is the nostalgia-fueled attention to detail that [Chris] brings to the table.
Take for example the custom manufactured faceplate that combines artwork from some of the era’s best known games. Getting the image printed on the back of the CNC-cut piece of clear acrylic proved to be quite a challenge, but the final result looks incredibly professional. Instead of using the GBA’s stock buttons and directional pad, [Chris] decided to 3D print replacements that mimic the look of the original Tiger controls. It all culminates in a device that perfectly recreates the unique look of the original Tiger games.
Some will argue that he’d have done better to equip the system with a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 and the latest build of RetroPie, and frankly, it’s easy to see the appeal of going that route. But [Chris] didn’t make this for us, he built it to encapsulate a very specific time from his own childhood. We’re just glad that the technology now available to the individual maker allowed him to turn this particular dream into reality.
Continue reading “Tiger Boy Advance Is A 90s Kid Dream Come True”
The Nintendo Game Boy Advance was basically the handheld gaming situation of its era, by virtue of the fact that it had no serious competitors in the market. The system was largely known for 2D games due to hardware limitations.
However, [Rodrigo Alfonso] has recently upgraded his GBA Remote Play system that lets him play PlayStation games and others on his classic Game Boy Advance. We first featured this project back in July, which uses a Raspberry Pi 3 to emulate games and pipe video data to the handheld for display, receiving button presses in return.
Since then, [Rodrigo] has given the project some upgrades, in the form of a 3D-printed case that mounts a battery-powered Pi directly to the back of the console for portable play. Additionally, overclocking the GBA allows for faster transfer rates over the handheld’s Link Port, which means more pixels of video data can be clocked in. This allows for more playable frame rates when running at 240×160, the maximum resolution of the GBA screen.
The result is a Game Boy Advance which you can use to play Crash Bandicoot on the bus just to confuse the normies. Of course, one could simply build a Raspberry Pi handheld from scratch to play emulated games. However, this route takes advantage of the GBA form factor and is pretty amusing to boot. Video after the break.
Continue reading “GBA Remote Play Upgrade Lets You Play PlayStation On The Bus”