Game Boy Repurposed Solely As A Camera

As much as we all love the Game Boy Camera, it’s really just an add-on to the popular handheld console. Twitter user [@thegameboycam] decided to build a dedicated camera platform using the hardware, and the result was the Game Boy DSLR.

Camera pedants will note that it’s not really a DSLR, but that’s not really the point. It’s a Game Boy with the camera accessory built into a proper camera-like housing. There’s a CS/C mount for the lens, and it’s got a custom shell with leatherette, just like the cameras of last century. It’s also got a cold shoe, and a 1/4″ screw thread for tripod mounting. Oh, and strap lugs! So you can really rock that old-school aesthetic with your tweed suit on.

More practical modern features include a 1800 mAh battery that charges over USB Type C and a backlit IPS display. The screen has been turned through 90 degrees, and the cartridge port and buttons are relocated to create a more traditional camera-like form factor. If you really want, though, you can still play it like a regular Game Boy. Just swap out the modified camera cart with the lens mount for a regular Game Boy Camera or another game cartridge.

It’s a fun hack that scores big on style points. No longer can you be the cool kid just by rocking a Game Boy with a big ol’ lens hanging off the back. Now you gotta compete with this!

Our tipsline is waiting for when you’ve got the next big thing in Game Boy Camera hacks. Video after the break.

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Game Boy Camera Gets Ridiculously Good Lens

How do you get better pictures from a 20+ year old Game Boy Camera? How about marrying a DSLR lens to it? That’s what [ConorSev] did and, honestly, the results are better than you might expect as [John Aldred] mentioned in his post about the topic. You can check the camera out in the video below.

A 3D printed adapter lets you mount a Canon EF lens to the Game Boy Camera, a trick that we’ve seen in the past. [ConorSev] looked at the existing adapters floating around, and came up with the revised version you see here. There was still the problem of actually getting the images off the Camera cartridge, but luckily, this isn’t exactly unexplored territory either.

While there might not be anything new with this project, using a high-quality lens on the toy makes for some interesting photographs, and you wonder how far you can push this whole idea. Of course, no matter how much of a lens you put on the front, you still have to contend with the original image sensor which has hardly well. Still, we were impressed at how much better things looked with a high-quality zoom lens.

We bet the original designer of the Game Boy Camera never imagined it would have the kind of zoom capability you can see in the video. We love seeing these little handhelds pushed beyond their limits. Cryptomining? No problem. Morse code? Piece of cake.

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Dominate Video Calls With Game Boy Camera Webcam

We can’t promise it will all be positive, but there’s no question you’ll be getting plenty of attention when you join a video call using the Game Boy Camera. Assuming they recognize you, anyway. The resolution and video quality of the 1998 toy certainly hasn’t aged very well, and that’s before it gets compressed and sent over the Internet.

From a technical standpoint, this one is actually pretty simple, if rather convoluted. [RetroGameCouch] hasn’t modified the Game Boy Camera in any way, he’s just connected it to the Super Game Boy, which in turn is slotted into a Super Nintendo. From there the video output of the SNES is passed through an HDMI converter, and finally terminates in a cheap HDMI capture device. His particular SNES has been modified with component video, but on the stock hardware you’ll have to be content with composite.

The end result of all these adapters and cables is that the live feed from the Game Boy Camera, complete with the Super Game Boy’s on-screen border, is available on the computer as a standard USB video device that can be used with whatever program you wish. If you’re more interested in recovering still images, we’ve recently seen a project that lets you pull images from the Game Boy Camera over WiFi.

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Bringing The Game Boy Camera Into The 21st Century

The Game Boy Camera is probably one of the most limited-specification digital cameras to have been mass-marketed, yet it occupies a special position in the hearts of many because despite being a toy with a paltry 128×128 monochrome sensor it was for many the first camera they owned. [Matt Grey] was among those people, and was always frustrated by the device’s inability to export pictures except to the Game Boy printer. So after having bodged together an interface a decade ago but not being happy with it, he returned to the project and made a wireless carrier for the camera that allows easy transfer through WiFi to his mobile phone.

Inside the slab-like 3D-printed enclosure lies a GBxCart RW Game Boy cartridge reader, whose USB port is wired to a Raspberry Pi Zero on which are a set of scripts to read the camera and make its photos available for download via a web browser. At last the camera is a stand-alone unit, allowing the easy snapping and retrieval of as many tiny black and white images as he likes. There’s a video showing the device in action, which we’ve placed for your enjoyment below the break.

This camera has appeared in so many projects on these pages over the years, but we’re guessing that the work on whose shoulders this one stands would be the moment its workings were reverse engineered.

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The Game Boy Camera, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Pixels

Never underestimate the power of nostalgia. In an age when there are more megapixels stuffed in the sensor of a smartphone camera than the average computer display can even represent, why would jagged images from a 20-year-old grayscale camera with pixels numbering in the thousands still grab attention? Maybe what’s old is new again, and the coolness factor of novelty is something that can’t be quantified.

The surprise I had last Monday when I saw my Twitter notifications is maybe only second to the feeling I had when I was invited to become a Hackaday contributor. I’d made a very simple web app which mimics a Game Boy Camera using the camera from your phone or desktop, and it got picked up by people so much that I’m amazed my web host is still holding. Let’s look at why something seemingly so simple gained so much traction.

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Game Boy Camera – Now In Color

The Game Boy Camera is a legendary piece of 90s gaming hardware, despite not being a game at all. It consisted of a low-resolution greyscale camera, fitted to a Game Boy cartridge, that you could use to photograph your friends, vandalise their pictures, then print them out on a thermal printer. It’s hardware that was fun because of its limitations, not despite them. However, [Matt] wondered if there was a way to use early photographic techniques to get color photos.

The technique is simple – get red, green, and blue filters, and take three photos – one using each filter. Then, combine the photos digitally to create the color image.  This necessitates an amusingly complex process to transfer the photos from Game Boy to PC, of course.

There are some limitations – due to the speed of the Game Boy Camera, it works best with static scenes, as it takes several seconds to shoot. Also, due to the low resolution, it’s best to choose subjects with broad swathes of color. Despite this, [Matt] managed to take some great images with a colorful yet vintage digital charm. There’s other ways to achieve this, of course – like bringing the power of neural networks to bear on your low-res Game Boy images. Video after the break.

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Arduino Saves Game Boy Camera

[Brian Khuu] bought a few Game Boy cameras on the Internet and found that they still had pictures on them from the previous owners. The memory in the camera has a backup battery and if that battery dies, the pictures are history, so he decided to mount a rescue operation.

He knew the protocol for how the Game Boy talked to the companion pocket printer was available, so he used an Arduino and a Web browser to extract the photos. The resulting code is on GitHub if you want to save your pictures. Although [Brian] didn’t have to crack the protocol, he does offer a good explanation of it. There’s even some sniffed displays. The Arduino does all the communications and fools the game into thinking it is the companion printer. However, it simply streams the data out and a Javascript decoder handles the actual decoding. In fact, in the blog post, you can enter data, click a button, and see the resulting Game Boy picture.

It works, but [Brian] did run into a few problems. For one thing, the devices don’t seem to use any flow control so he had no choice but to keep up with the Game Boy. Also, there is a CRC he could not correctly decode. However, the pictures look good — well, as good as Game Boy pictures look, at least. So he did get results.

We’ve seen this done with a PC before. If you are more interested in the reverse, by the way, you can use a real Game Boy printer to print from an Arduino.