Articles

From technical modding to gorgeous aesthetics, HHL contributors are adding to our library of hand-held gaming mods.

What are “Newton Rings”?

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

I don’t think the name is all that commonly used, but is the term that I hear most often when referring to this phenomenon… and no, this isnt an update to fig newton bars. That’s something else.

Newton rings are most notably seen when backlighting a Game Boy DMG or a Game Boy Pocket, and when I see them they look like liquid dropped between the LCD glass and the rear polarizer, but that’s not the case at all, as you’ll see here.

Unfortunately I found them difficult to capture on film and will try again with the next build I do.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Newton Rings, Game Boy DMG, Game Boy Pocket

The downfall of this is that they don’t always occur… and even when seen, they may not always be present… which is what makes these odd. If you’ve ever seen what looks like a liquid drop under the LCD, you know what I’m talking about already.

It’s a simple, albeit strange, fix… and in giving credit where it’s due, thanks to Shawn Maxwell (http://youtube.com/sjm4306) for this tip today.

You’re going to need two things: a makeup brush and some baby powder or talc. Yes, you read that correctly. ;)

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Newton Rings, Talk, Baby Powder, makeup brush, Game Boy DMG, Game Boy Pocket

What is causing the touching is that there isn't any physical barrier between the rear polarizer and the LCD glass on the back-side… so what’s needed is to keep those separated, and it so happens that the lightest touch of baby powder does just that. So long as you dust it on light enough, you wont be able to even notice it’s there.

Lets get started...

1) Prep

Put a bit of baby powder on a sheet of paper, or a paper towel… something just to hold it so that it doesnt make a mess anywhere. Lightly - very lightly - dip your makeup brush into the baby powder, then tap off the excess. You should have a brush that looks similar to how much this has on it:

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Newton Rings, Makeup brush, baby powder, Game Boy DMG, Game Boy Pocket

2) Apply

Take the makeup brush and lightly dust the top of the rear polarizer with it… if you see any white flecks or streaks, a bit too much was used and needs to be done again. It’s easy - just tap some more of the make up off and give it another try.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Newton Rings, Game Boy DMG, Game Boy Pocket, baby powder, makeup brush

You might end up with some pieces of the hairs from the makeup brush itself, but not to worry, you can get rid of those by gently blowing on the polarizer or another light brushing.

3) Reassemble

I suggest putting the polarizer back in front of the backlight on your console and then turning it on in order to see if any dust particles or brush particles can be seen easily with the naked eye. If so, no big deal - just slide the polarizer back out and give it another light dusting but without adding any more baby powder to the brush.

4) Wrap it up

Once you reassemble the console and don’t see any flecks, you should also no longer see any areas where there looks to be the Newton Rings (“liquid look”) under the LCD.

What do you think? Have you seen these lines before in your or someone else’s build? Now you know what you can do about it!

Read more

What are “Newton Rings”?

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

I don’t think the name is all that commonly used, but is the term that I hear most often when referring to this phenomenon… and no, this isnt an update to fig newton bars. That’s something else.

Newton rings are most notably seen when backlighting a Game Boy DMG or a Game Boy Pocket, and when I see them they look like liquid dropped between the LCD glass and the rear polarizer, but that’s not the case at all, as you’ll see here.

Unfortunately I found them difficult to capture on film and will try again with the next build I do.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Newton Rings, Game Boy DMG, Game Boy Pocket

The downfall of this is that they don’t always occur… and even when seen, they may not always be present… which is what makes these odd. If you’ve ever seen what looks like a liquid drop under the LCD, you know what I’m talking about already.

It’s a simple, albeit strange, fix… and in giving credit where it’s due, thanks to Shawn Maxwell (http://youtube.com/sjm4306) for this tip today.

You’re going to need two things: a makeup brush and some baby powder or talc. Yes, you read that correctly. ;)

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Newton Rings, Talk, Baby Powder, makeup brush, Game Boy DMG, Game Boy Pocket

What is causing the touching is that there isn't any physical barrier between the rear polarizer and the LCD glass on the back-side… so what’s needed is to keep those separated, and it so happens that the lightest touch of baby powder does just that. So long as you dust it on light enough, you wont be able to even notice it’s there.

Lets get started...

1) Prep

Put a bit of baby powder on a sheet of paper, or a paper towel… something just to hold it so that it doesnt make a mess anywhere. Lightly - very lightly - dip your makeup brush into the baby powder, then tap off the excess. You should have a brush that looks similar to how much this has on it:

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Newton Rings, Makeup brush, baby powder, Game Boy DMG, Game Boy Pocket

2) Apply

Take the makeup brush and lightly dust the top of the rear polarizer with it… if you see any white flecks or streaks, a bit too much was used and needs to be done again. It’s easy - just tap some more of the make up off and give it another try.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Newton Rings, Game Boy DMG, Game Boy Pocket, baby powder, makeup brush

You might end up with some pieces of the hairs from the makeup brush itself, but not to worry, you can get rid of those by gently blowing on the polarizer or another light brushing.

3) Reassemble

I suggest putting the polarizer back in front of the backlight on your console and then turning it on in order to see if any dust particles or brush particles can be seen easily with the naked eye. If so, no big deal - just slide the polarizer back out and give it another light dusting but without adding any more baby powder to the brush.

4) Wrap it up

Once you reassemble the console and don’t see any flecks, you should also no longer see any areas where there looks to be the Newton Rings (“liquid look”) under the LCD.

What do you think? Have you seen these lines before in your or someone else’s build? Now you know what you can do about it!

Read more


Review: 1Up Console Cleaner by Kain de Rivera (Atomik Mods)

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

“Less Cleaning, More Gaming” is Katamco’s statement, and they hold true to that. One card is enough to use on multiple consoles and many times.

Read more

Review: 1Up Console Cleaner by Kain de Rivera (Atomik Mods)

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

“Less Cleaning, More Gaming” is Katamco’s statement, and they hold true to that. One card is enough to use on multiple consoles and many times.

Read more


Is the Game Boy a Computer?

Posted by Colin (This Does Not Compute) on

This is the first post in an occasional series by Colin from This Does Not Compute.

One of the things that has always interested me are devices that should be computers, but aren't really. We generally think of "computers" as multi-purpose systems, things that run an operating system and applications. But there are tons of devices out there that have processors and RAM but don't really run an operating system in the traditional sense. What is one very famous example of this that we are all familiar with? The Nintendo Game Boy series, specifically the original Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket, and Game Boy Color, sometimes referred to as the "DMG", "MGB" and "GBC" respectively.

I recently ran across the RealBoy emulator project (https://realboyemulator.wordpress.com). There are plenty of Game Boy emulators out there and this one isn't really any different... except for this excellent blog series that explains in depth how the original DMG works. It's meant as a primer in order to understand how the emulator's code works, but it's also an amazing look at the underlying hardware.

In short, the architecture of the Game Boy is pretty simple -- processor, RAM, and ROM. The first two reside in the console itself while the ROM (and some more RAM) is in the game cartridge. There's only a small amount of permanent code in the Game Boy hardware, basically just enough to get the device to perform an initial cartridge check. (The check is, in a way, a form of DRM; it makes sure that the game was licensed by Nintendo and not independently released).

The CPU is perhaps the most interesting part of the system. In the DMG, it's a Sharp LR35902. By all appearances it's a custom part, and in many ways it is, but designing an entire processor from the ground up just for a hand-held game system (or any game system at all really) isn't cost effective. So the Game Boy's CPU is actually based on the Zilog Z80, which was at that time -- and still is -- a common 8-bit processor. The Z80 itself was actually a binary-compatible version of the Intel 8080; not necessarily a clone, but capable of executing all the same instructions. There were some additions to the Z80 beyond that of the 8080, but the custom Sharp CPU wasn't just a rebadged Z80. It actually leveraged parts from both processor architectures, while omitting anything that wasn't relevant to a game console.

What to me at least, makes the Game Boy more of a device than a computer is that there was no traditional operating system layer, firmware, or anything standing in the way between the game and the hardware. After that initial check, the CPU simply ran any instructions presented to it by the game. Modern games are written using a high-level programming language like C, but older games were written in machine language telling the CPU exactly what to do and when. In some ways, the game itself was an operating system. (This is also partially why emulators aren't perfect -- you have to write high-level code that mimics how hardware works, whereas modern games, already written in a high-level language, can simply be ported to another platform)

You might be most surprised by the lineage of the Intel 8080. It was originally designed in 1974 (along with the Z80), and made its way into early PCs and even some arcade games like Space Invaders. But the 8080 also was the basis for subsequent Intel processors, like the 8086. The 8086 is where we get the common computer term "x86", as it spawned the 286, 386 and 486 CPUs. Those of course led to the Pentium series, and on to the modern processors we use in our computers today. It's crazy to think that in 1989 when it was released, the Game Boy actually shared some similarities with computers running Windows. It is in its own right, a computer... that also isn't.

This Does Not Compute is a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/thisdoesnotcompute) about gaming, content creation and all things technology. Colin can be reached on Twitter @thisdoesnotcomp (https://www.twitter.com/thisdoesnotcomp) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thisdoesnotcomp).

Read more

Is the Game Boy a Computer?

Posted by Colin (This Does Not Compute) on

This is the first post in an occasional series by Colin from This Does Not Compute.

One of the things that has always interested me are devices that should be computers, but aren't really. We generally think of "computers" as multi-purpose systems, things that run an operating system and applications. But there are tons of devices out there that have processors and RAM but don't really run an operating system in the traditional sense. What is one very famous example of this that we are all familiar with? The Nintendo Game Boy series, specifically the original Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket, and Game Boy Color, sometimes referred to as the "DMG", "MGB" and "GBC" respectively.

I recently ran across the RealBoy emulator project (https://realboyemulator.wordpress.com). There are plenty of Game Boy emulators out there and this one isn't really any different... except for this excellent blog series that explains in depth how the original DMG works. It's meant as a primer in order to understand how the emulator's code works, but it's also an amazing look at the underlying hardware.

In short, the architecture of the Game Boy is pretty simple -- processor, RAM, and ROM. The first two reside in the console itself while the ROM (and some more RAM) is in the game cartridge. There's only a small amount of permanent code in the Game Boy hardware, basically just enough to get the device to perform an initial cartridge check. (The check is, in a way, a form of DRM; it makes sure that the game was licensed by Nintendo and not independently released).

The CPU is perhaps the most interesting part of the system. In the DMG, it's a Sharp LR35902. By all appearances it's a custom part, and in many ways it is, but designing an entire processor from the ground up just for a hand-held game system (or any game system at all really) isn't cost effective. So the Game Boy's CPU is actually based on the Zilog Z80, which was at that time -- and still is -- a common 8-bit processor. The Z80 itself was actually a binary-compatible version of the Intel 8080; not necessarily a clone, but capable of executing all the same instructions. There were some additions to the Z80 beyond that of the 8080, but the custom Sharp CPU wasn't just a rebadged Z80. It actually leveraged parts from both processor architectures, while omitting anything that wasn't relevant to a game console.

What to me at least, makes the Game Boy more of a device than a computer is that there was no traditional operating system layer, firmware, or anything standing in the way between the game and the hardware. After that initial check, the CPU simply ran any instructions presented to it by the game. Modern games are written using a high-level programming language like C, but older games were written in machine language telling the CPU exactly what to do and when. In some ways, the game itself was an operating system. (This is also partially why emulators aren't perfect -- you have to write high-level code that mimics how hardware works, whereas modern games, already written in a high-level language, can simply be ported to another platform)

You might be most surprised by the lineage of the Intel 8080. It was originally designed in 1974 (along with the Z80), and made its way into early PCs and even some arcade games like Space Invaders. But the 8080 also was the basis for subsequent Intel processors, like the 8086. The 8086 is where we get the common computer term "x86", as it spawned the 286, 386 and 486 CPUs. Those of course led to the Pentium series, and on to the modern processors we use in our computers today. It's crazy to think that in 1989 when it was released, the Game Boy actually shared some similarities with computers running Windows. It is in its own right, a computer... that also isn't.

This Does Not Compute is a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/thisdoesnotcompute) about gaming, content creation and all things technology. Colin can be reached on Twitter @thisdoesnotcomp (https://www.twitter.com/thisdoesnotcomp) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thisdoesnotcomp).

Read more


Update - Backlights - Game Gear - Buttons and Screens

Posted by Kyle Capel on

Here are a few updates for those of you who have been asking about when we will be restocked with various items. We will be away July 18th - 25th. Store will be open but orders won't go out until the 27th.

  • New Backlights Version 2.0: Completion date is set on the 24th of July. I hope to have them and available on August 1st. Sorry for the wati! Pushed back again...
  • Screens: Complete date was the 29th of June and is not the 27th of July...  hope to have them and available on August 1st. Sorry for the wati!
  • Buttons have been revised so the ETA here is August...
  • Game Gear/Lynx Backlights are back in stock
  • OSAKA LOCA order placed - and shipment is being prepared. Hope to start selling July 27th.
  • Clear GBC shells are on backorder. We hope to have a lot of them in by... (you guessed it) August... I HOPE

What other products would you like to see in the shop? Comment below.

 

Read more

Update - Backlights - Game Gear - Buttons and Screens

Posted by Kyle Capel on

Here are a few updates for those of you who have been asking about when we will be restocked with various items. We will be away July 18th - 25th. Store will be open but orders won't go out until the 27th.

  • New Backlights Version 2.0: Completion date is set on the 24th of July. I hope to have them and available on August 1st. Sorry for the wati! Pushed back again...
  • Screens: Complete date was the 29th of June and is not the 27th of July...  hope to have them and available on August 1st. Sorry for the wati!
  • Buttons have been revised so the ETA here is August...
  • Game Gear/Lynx Backlights are back in stock
  • OSAKA LOCA order placed - and shipment is being prepared. Hope to start selling July 27th.
  • Clear GBC shells are on backorder. We hope to have a lot of them in by... (you guessed it) August... I HOPE

What other products would you like to see in the shop? Comment below.

 

Read more


New Backlight Sneak Peak

Posted by Kyle Capel on

Here are some photos of the new thinner backlight with a flat fcp cable. They look amazing! Colors even better in person, the pictures do not do it justice. Clocking in at 1.23mm, this is our thinnest backlight ever. No cutting required!!

 

Read more

New Backlight Sneak Peak

Posted by Kyle Capel on

Here are some photos of the new thinner backlight with a flat fcp cable. They look amazing! Colors even better in person, the pictures do not do it justice. Clocking in at 1.23mm, this is our thinnest backlight ever. No cutting required!!

 

Read more