The Game Boy Pocket was Nintendo’s 1996 redesign of the classic 1989 handheld, giving it a smaller form factor, better screen and less power consumption. While it didn’t become as iconic as its predecessor, it still had enough popularity for modders such as [Eugene] to create new hardware for it. His Retro ESP32 board is a drop-in replacement for the console’s motherboard and screen, giving it a whole new life.
[Eugene] is no stranger to making this kind of mod, his previous Gaboze Pocaio project did the exact same thing with this form factor, only with a Raspberry Pi instead of the ESP32-WROVER used here. His choice of integrated SoC was based on the ODROID-GO, which is a similar portable console but with its own custom shell instead.
This project doesn’t stop at the hardware though, the Retro ESP32 (previously dubbed Gaboze Express) also offers a user-friendly interface to launch emulators. This GUI code can be used with the ODROID as well since they share the same hardware platform, so if you have one of those you can try it out right now from the software branch of their repository.
If the idea of replacing retro tech innards with more modern hardware is something that interests you, look at what they did to this unassuming Osborne 1, or this unwitting TRS-80 Model 100. Poor thing didn’t even see it coming.
[Alan] procured a few Game Boys from a Yahoo auction with the intent of using them for some other projects, but one of the Game Boys was shipped with a very corroded battery which had eaten up one of the terminals. When [Alan] had repaired it, he was left with a Game Boy with no battery terminal at all, so he decided to splice in some lithium-ion batteries.
Not only does the Game Boy now have a new battery pack, but [Alan] was able to source a USB charger to handle the batteries’ charging needs. However, he realized that his battery pack was 3.7 volts, while the Game Boy only needed 3 volts. To lower the voltage of the battery pack to the required voltage, [Alan] grabbed a 1N4148 diode and put it in series with the battery pack, which also helps prevent any accidental reverse polarity.
This isn’t the most technically advanced Game Boy hack we’ve ever seen but it’s great to see new life breathed into these classic video game systems. Not to mention that [Alan] saved some lithium batteries from the landfill!
There are hundreds – perhaps thousands – of builds out there on the Internet that put a Raspberry Pi in an enclosure with buttons meant solely for running emulators for old games. This one is unlike any other. Yes, it’s still basically a RetroPi emulator, but this Game Boy Pocket casemod goes beyond any remotely comparable build.
The Game Boy Pocket is incredibly small, but after sanding down the bosses on the inside of the case, gluing the battery door shut, and installing a bit of plastic over the cartridge slot, [WarriorRocker] was able to fit a Raspi inside. The buttons use the same PCB as the stock Game Boy, connected to a Teensy 2.0 board that simulates a USB keyboard.
With the two largest components taken care of, [Warrior] turned his attention to the sound, video and power. The display is a 2.5″ composite LCD that actually fits quite nicely behind the screen bezel. Audio is taken care of by a $3 audio amplifier, a new, smaller speaker, and a side-mounted pot stolen from the original Game Boy guts. There’s no chance on running this with the same 2xAAA cells the original Game Boy Pocket had, so [Warrior] somehow found space for a 2600mAh Li-Poly battery, a step-up regulator, and a charge circuit.
The result is a full-color RetroPi build capable of running for three hours before needing a recharge. All the classic Game Boy games are loaded onto the SD card along with select titles for other systems. The result is one of the best portabalized Raspi builds we’ve ever seen. Video below.
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