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We want to address something that’s coming up frequently in the modding community… that the first impression of backlighting a Game Boy Pocket is disappointing. We get it. It doesn’t have to be, though, as the primary issue is brightness of the backlight - or sometimes the system simply behaving oddly or failing to stay powered-up.
Here’s the good news: this is an easily resolved problem… it may seem intimidating at first, but the solution is a 5V step-up (aka ‘boost’) voltage regulator. I’m going to cover not only the solution, but we’ll dive a bit into what’s happening and why the backlight is dim (or the system failing to work at all).
What’s going on here?
Simply enough the Pocket is awesome in that it’s very small, light, and is even powered by just 2 AAA batteries… and at the same time the issue is that, electrically speaking, it runs on very thin margins. Simply enough the main DC-DC convertor in the Pocket was designed to handle the system itself and using standard cartridges... there isn't enough margin for things like a hungry backlight and/or flash cartridge. While 2 AAA batteries add up to ~3.0v (alkaline), keep in mind that the system itself is using the bulk of that the batteries don't spend much time at the full 3.0v, either. The backlight is dim due to not getting sufficient voltage. Sometimes even, as mentioned, the system will behave oddly, visual anomalies, or even fail to stay powered-up at all… that depends on a number of factors, which I’ll skip for now to get at the solution.
Ok, so now what?
What’s needed is to boost the voltage supplied to the backlight, which is aptly named since the common name for the part is a 5V ‘boost’ [voltage] regulator… more formally known as a 5V step-up [voltage] regulator. These are rather small PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) but very important in function.
A 5V step-up regulator (I’ll call it a ‘boost’ going forward) does exactly what it says it does in that it takes voltage as low as 0.5V (per spec of our suggested boost) and ‘steps it up’ to a smooth and continuous 5V.
You can purchase the Polou U1V10F5 on their site currently for $4.49 USD (for 1) plus shipping: https://www.pololu.com/product/2115. You’ll need one to do this mod. Mind you this isn’t the only boost that will work, I simply find it to be the smallest and easiest to tuck away in consoles.
What’s we’re going to do is get the boost installed in a way that uses essentially straight battery power so that it does two things:
Installation (presumes console open, etc)
Note: We’ll be placing the boost on the back of the speaker, so be sure to give yourself enough wire to do that.
You’re all set regarding the backlight… now where to put this stuff? As mentioned briefly ahead of the wiring instructions, we’re going to place the boost on the back of the speaker - there’s a bit of room there, and the step-up is small, so it works out well. If you’ve placed your bivert module there, you can pick up our Pocket Bivert (link below) or relocate the bivert or the 5v step-up to another location in the Pocket (something not covered here, for brevity and focus).
Especially if your console had difficulty staying powered-up or had other odd behavior when you first had the backlight installed, and to ensure top performance, you’ll want to replace the capacitors in your pocket… there are only four of them, so it’s an easy procedure.
Close up the console, now that we’ve tested everything and ensure it’s working, and you’re good-to-go!
Thank you once again, and keep those questions coming! We promise to do what we can to answer the most common questions to the best we’re able.
References and suggested viewing