Articles

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

RetroSix/HHL CleanJuice GBA vs Retromodding GBA battery mod

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

Hand Held Legend, HHL, RetroSix, R6, Game Boy Advance, GBA, AGB, AGB-001, AGB001, CleanJuice

The Game Boy modding community, specifically dealing with the Game Boy Advance, just had quite the nice situation pop up… two different mods are suddenly available for customers to choose from… it’s really nice to have something that used to be niche be a sudden staple offering.

Perhaps two weeks ago the partnership of RetroSix and Hand Held Legend released the CleanJuice GBA - a contemporary take on getting battery power to your Game Boy Advance (GBA)… especially so if your GBA happens to be modded! Going into the project we wanted something that would be beefy enough to handle today’s modern modifications done to our favorite consoles, and have enough capacity for long play-times, even with a power-hungry IPS display.

Retromodding also has a GBA rechargable battery mod available, although it’s most initial missing is a catchy name… but the differences don’t end there, and we’d love to share what’s going on behind the scenes.

 

RetroSix / HHL CleanJuice GBA

RetroModding
GBA Battery Mod

Battery capacity

1,700 mAh

1,400 mAh

Battery type

Replacable

Non-replaceable

Est. play time

14 hours

10 hours

Charge time

1 hour

2.5 hours

Compatibility

All USB-C (even C-C)

Only some USB-C

 

So… granted that’s not the largest table, but the implications are clear… if you’ve got a Game Boy Advance, and it’s modded with one of the popular power-hungry IPS display mods, you may be interested in the RetroSix/HHL CleanJuice GBA… not only are you going to get more play time (14 hours vs 10 hours) with the larger capacity battery (1,700 mAh vs 1,400 mAh), but when it comes time to charge-up, you’re going to spend less time (1 hour vs 2.5 hours) doing it with the CleanJuice from RetroSix/HHL.

Speaking of play time, another mantra we went into the CleanJuice with is that we want you to be able to charge it from your mobile phone as you may be ‘on the go’… all you need is your GBA, your mobile phone, and a standard USB cable. Done! You’re back up and getting more play time without having to find an outlet!

We’ll keep this short - we love this stuff, and it’s why we go all-in when we make these mods and are glad to see this latest offering moving faster than we could have imagined… come get yours and see what it’s like to just keep playing, and playing, and playing…

 

Addendum: There have been many questions on how long the CleanJuice GBA battery will last in real-world conditions, and of course it is going to vary based on multiple factors... see the article "How long will the CleanJuice last?" on RetroSix's support site.

 

 

Read more

RetroSix/HHL CleanJuice GBA vs Retromodding GBA battery mod

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

Hand Held Legend, HHL, RetroSix, R6, Game Boy Advance, GBA, AGB, AGB-001, AGB001, CleanJuice

The Game Boy modding community, specifically dealing with the Game Boy Advance, just had quite the nice situation pop up… two different mods are suddenly available for customers to choose from… it’s really nice to have something that used to be niche be a sudden staple offering.

Perhaps two weeks ago the partnership of RetroSix and Hand Held Legend released the CleanJuice GBA - a contemporary take on getting battery power to your Game Boy Advance (GBA)… especially so if your GBA happens to be modded! Going into the project we wanted something that would be beefy enough to handle today’s modern modifications done to our favorite consoles, and have enough capacity for long play-times, even with a power-hungry IPS display.

Retromodding also has a GBA rechargable battery mod available, although it’s most initial missing is a catchy name… but the differences don’t end there, and we’d love to share what’s going on behind the scenes.

 

RetroSix / HHL CleanJuice GBA

RetroModding
GBA Battery Mod

Battery capacity

1,700 mAh

1,400 mAh

Battery type

Replacable

Non-replaceable

Est. play time

14 hours

10 hours

Charge time

1 hour

2.5 hours

Compatibility

All USB-C (even C-C)

Only some USB-C

 

So… granted that’s not the largest table, but the implications are clear… if you’ve got a Game Boy Advance, and it’s modded with one of the popular power-hungry IPS display mods, you may be interested in the RetroSix/HHL CleanJuice GBA… not only are you going to get more play time (14 hours vs 10 hours) with the larger capacity battery (1,700 mAh vs 1,400 mAh), but when it comes time to charge-up, you’re going to spend less time (1 hour vs 2.5 hours) doing it with the CleanJuice from RetroSix/HHL.

Speaking of play time, another mantra we went into the CleanJuice with is that we want you to be able to charge it from your mobile phone as you may be ‘on the go’… all you need is your GBA, your mobile phone, and a standard USB cable. Done! You’re back up and getting more play time without having to find an outlet!

We’ll keep this short - we love this stuff, and it’s why we go all-in when we make these mods and are glad to see this latest offering moving faster than we could have imagined… come get yours and see what it’s like to just keep playing, and playing, and playing…

 

Addendum: There have been many questions on how long the CleanJuice GBA battery will last in real-world conditions, and of course it is going to vary based on multiple factors... see the article "How long will the CleanJuice last?" on RetroSix's support site.

 

 

Read more


A chat with Jellybelly Customs' Matt Whitehead

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

Here at Hand Held Legend we’re proud to be part of the modding community, and to count a number of other businesses - large and small - as partners and, yes, friends.

One of those businesses is Jellybelly Customs, who’s name I'm sure you’ve seen in our social and other postings from time to time… well we had the notion of introducing, formally, Jellybelly Customs to those who may not know of him… and here is that brief interview:

 

 

Dustin

So no doubt there will be a mix of people who have, and have not, heard of Jellybelly Customs. If you would, introduce yourself and tell us what Jellybelly Customs is all about.

 

Matt

So I’m Matt Whitehead. I’m a family that has a hobby that has turned into a small business. It’s run by me, in the evenings and spare time. The "Lab" or workshop is my garage where I work, make things, and store products.

 

Dustin

How long has your family had Jellybelly Customs going? It seems quite established from the number of things you’re involved in.

 

Matt

It all started when my daughter was born, in 2016. I had other hobbies before, I was heavily into old Volkswagens but that activity was far too noisy to be doing with a newborn in the house. But it started when I found in a locale house clearance store that I visit. I get on well with the repair guys in this store so I get to see inside the workshop. They had a boxed [original Game Boy] DMG gameboy that didn't work. A price was agreed and I went about fixing it. Then I bought more off of eBay and saw the modifications that could be done. The rest went from there.

 

Dustin

What would you say is the motivation behind Jellybelly Customs as a business and why you keep it going?

 

Matt

It's mainly for the fun. I love to make and tinker. I'm not really a sofa and tv kinda guy.

 

Dustin

I feel like I resonate with you there - I also find I’d much rather be tinkering than on a couch… unless I happen to be playing a video game on one of my handhelds.

Do you get into gaming much or do you find that refurbishing and modding take the majority of your time and attention?

 

Matt

Yea very little gaming really. Most of my spare time is in the workshop making.

 

Dustin

Going by your social network posts, you have a lot of things going on… what currently has most of your attention in your Lab, and what are some of the other things that grab your attention lately?

 

Matt

My long term project is the DMG102 PCBs thats I've been doing for far too long. It’s getting there now though. So now china is accepting orders again I can get some manufactured.

Other things when I’m not make or wrapping and packing orders is just trying to work through my backlog of stuff, [Sega] Game Gears and also sourcing things for the website. I like to use the right tool for the right job and I try to bring my most useful tools to the website to hopefully help others out.

 

Dustin

I must admit you have quite the variety on your site; what roles do you see yourself playing in the retro gaming community? As an outsider looking in, it seems to me you like to help the fellow tinkerer but also help people needing work done but would rather someone else do it. Is that the case?

 

Matt

I like making consoles for customers when ordered and myself which I then sell on often in low numbers. I like to learn the process behind things, like resin casting, learning the basics then improving on it ‘till I achieve what I want. I like to make and provide things others can’t which is why I started to cast items. The beauty about casting is that I can make 1 or 100 of any colour combination. Take the metallic gold buttons, I originally made some for my white and gold console but now they are a great seller people seem to like them. The issue with that is that things aren’t mass produced and obviously the price reflects that. Some don't mind but some won't buy because of it. I'm not here to make my millions or take over the world like some are. I just want to learn, create, and Jellybelly Customs to be sustainable.

 

Dustin

So we’ve talked about some of the more visible things with Jellybelly Customs and yourself; what is something relatively unknown about you and/or Jellybelly Customs you feel people would find interesting?

 

Matt

Well I suppose its the fact that its just me, people assume [Jellybelly Customs] is more people but no it’s just me in the workshop for around 3-4 hours most evenings.

 

Dustin

That’s awesome - it’s clear to see you’re passionate about this to keep it going to that level.

Thank you, Matt, for your time.

 

We’ve just spent some time with Matt, the sole person behind Jellybelly Customs. Whether you be a tinkerer yourself or not, you’re sure to find something of interest at his corner of the Internet, www.jellybellycustoms.com. Check it out and thanks for reading!

Read more

A chat with Jellybelly Customs' Matt Whitehead

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

Here at Hand Held Legend we’re proud to be part of the modding community, and to count a number of other businesses - large and small - as partners and, yes, friends.

One of those businesses is Jellybelly Customs, who’s name I'm sure you’ve seen in our social and other postings from time to time… well we had the notion of introducing, formally, Jellybelly Customs to those who may not know of him… and here is that brief interview:

 

 

Dustin

So no doubt there will be a mix of people who have, and have not, heard of Jellybelly Customs. If you would, introduce yourself and tell us what Jellybelly Customs is all about.

 

Matt

So I’m Matt Whitehead. I’m a family that has a hobby that has turned into a small business. It’s run by me, in the evenings and spare time. The "Lab" or workshop is my garage where I work, make things, and store products.

 

Dustin

How long has your family had Jellybelly Customs going? It seems quite established from the number of things you’re involved in.

 

Matt

It all started when my daughter was born, in 2016. I had other hobbies before, I was heavily into old Volkswagens but that activity was far too noisy to be doing with a newborn in the house. But it started when I found in a locale house clearance store that I visit. I get on well with the repair guys in this store so I get to see inside the workshop. They had a boxed [original Game Boy] DMG gameboy that didn't work. A price was agreed and I went about fixing it. Then I bought more off of eBay and saw the modifications that could be done. The rest went from there.

 

Dustin

What would you say is the motivation behind Jellybelly Customs as a business and why you keep it going?

 

Matt

It's mainly for the fun. I love to make and tinker. I'm not really a sofa and tv kinda guy.

 

Dustin

I feel like I resonate with you there - I also find I’d much rather be tinkering than on a couch… unless I happen to be playing a video game on one of my handhelds.

Do you get into gaming much or do you find that refurbishing and modding take the majority of your time and attention?

 

Matt

Yea very little gaming really. Most of my spare time is in the workshop making.

 

Dustin

Going by your social network posts, you have a lot of things going on… what currently has most of your attention in your Lab, and what are some of the other things that grab your attention lately?

 

Matt

My long term project is the DMG102 PCBs thats I've been doing for far too long. It’s getting there now though. So now china is accepting orders again I can get some manufactured.

Other things when I’m not make or wrapping and packing orders is just trying to work through my backlog of stuff, [Sega] Game Gears and also sourcing things for the website. I like to use the right tool for the right job and I try to bring my most useful tools to the website to hopefully help others out.

 

Dustin

I must admit you have quite the variety on your site; what roles do you see yourself playing in the retro gaming community? As an outsider looking in, it seems to me you like to help the fellow tinkerer but also help people needing work done but would rather someone else do it. Is that the case?

 

Matt

I like making consoles for customers when ordered and myself which I then sell on often in low numbers. I like to learn the process behind things, like resin casting, learning the basics then improving on it ‘till I achieve what I want. I like to make and provide things others can’t which is why I started to cast items. The beauty about casting is that I can make 1 or 100 of any colour combination. Take the metallic gold buttons, I originally made some for my white and gold console but now they are a great seller people seem to like them. The issue with that is that things aren’t mass produced and obviously the price reflects that. Some don't mind but some won't buy because of it. I'm not here to make my millions or take over the world like some are. I just want to learn, create, and Jellybelly Customs to be sustainable.

 

Dustin

So we’ve talked about some of the more visible things with Jellybelly Customs and yourself; what is something relatively unknown about you and/or Jellybelly Customs you feel people would find interesting?

 

Matt

Well I suppose its the fact that its just me, people assume [Jellybelly Customs] is more people but no it’s just me in the workshop for around 3-4 hours most evenings.

 

Dustin

That’s awesome - it’s clear to see you’re passionate about this to keep it going to that level.

Thank you, Matt, for your time.

 

We’ve just spent some time with Matt, the sole person behind Jellybelly Customs. Whether you be a tinkerer yourself or not, you’re sure to find something of interest at his corner of the Internet, www.jellybellycustoms.com. Check it out and thanks for reading!

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

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


Game Boy Macro: How-To by Roberto Gualan

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

In 2018 Joe Bleeps created the “Neon Advance” and I immediately fell in love with it! The “Neon Advance” is basically a Game Boy Macro – a modified Nintendo DS Lite that is meant to play Game Boy Advance Games. The distinct feature of the “Neon Advance” is the light tube that adorns it between the hinge posts.

A few months later, inspired by Joe Bleep’s masterpiece and motivated by YouTube channels like “This Does Not Compute” and “The Retro Future”, I began my modding journey and eventually got the confidence to build my first Game Boy Macro.

When I started building these macros and posting the pictures, I realized how much people liked to personalize their handhelds, so I began creating many distinct color combinations and utilizing many different acrylic rods (the light tubes) to produce a stunning final result. The other interesting I realized is that macros mostly had one speaker and the use of headphones was encouraged. Not satisfied with this, I started making two speaker versions of my macros and this has become one of the most appreciated features of my builds. 

I was recently approached by Hand Held Legend to put together a brief, basic guide on how I build these and I gladly accepted. So here it is!

Step 1 – Rescue a DS Lite

Nintendo DS Lites are notorious for broken hinges, cracked screens, and damaged shells. These are often sold for parts and are the perfect candidates for a macro.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Game Boy Macro

Step 2 – Remove shell

Use a tri wing screw driver and a small phillips screw driver to remove the back of the bottom part of the DS Lite. Begin with the battery cover, remove the battery and remove the screws under the battery.

Remove the two rubber covers on the top to get to the two screws there. Don’t forget the single screw at the edge of the DS slot.

Once the shell removed the back of DS Lite motherboard will be completely accessible.

Step 3 – Isolate the motherboard

Find the black cable on the WiFi module and the white cable next to it on the motherboard and use a spudge or something similar to remove them. All you need is slight upward pressure and they should easily snap off. Route the black cable underneath the DS slot and isolate it from the motherboard. The white cable should immediately be isolated from motherboard upon disconnecting it.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Remove the top screen ribbon connector by popping up the black bracket that secures it and pulling it away from the connector.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Remove the touch screen small ribbon connector by easily pulling it from the motherboard. Once again, a spudge is very helpful for this.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Remove the two screes that attach the motherboard to the front of the DS Lite (where the D-pad and buttons are) and push on the screen from the outside to completely separate motherboard from shell.

Detach the bottom screen from the motherboard and you should now have the motherboard of the DS Lite completely isolated.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

You may at this point completely remove the touch screen layer from the rest of the screen. Doing this greatly improves the screen quality and removes any yellowing or scratches there may exit.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Step 4 – Prepare LED light and speakers

Pick an LED diode with the color of your choice (I use 3mm, 6-12v lights), a 300 ohm resistor and 30AWG gauge wire. Solder the resistor to the cathode of the diode (positive side) and the wires as shown in the picture.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

At this point you may open the top part of the DS Lite and isolate the speakers from the top screen.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Step 5 – Solder the LED light and speakers

This is the most complex part of the process. Solder the LED light and speakers to the motherboard. Refer to the picture to see what contacts to solder the LED light and speakers to.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

  • LEDA2 – cathode of LED light (positive)
  • LEDC2 – anode of the LED light (negative)
  • SPLO – left speaker red wire
  • SPRO – right speaker red wire

Solder the black wires of the speakers to a ground point on the motherboard. I solder them to the contact by the headphone jack shown in picture.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Position the speakers on the motherboard. I put one by the stylus slot hole and one inside the DS game slot.

Step 6 – Add the light tube

Add a 6mm (.24 inches) acrylic rod to the section between the hinge posts of the bottom half of the DS Lite. You will have to widen the hole of the right hinge post for the acrylic rod to fit.

Step 7 – Wrap it up

Use kapton tape to cover all contact points that may possible short. I always put it on where I soldered the LED light and speakers and on the contacts points on the actual speakers. 

The trickiest part of the process is routing all the wires properly and making sure that the shell closes properly. This is particularly difficult when using third party shells. Be patient and creative to accomplish this last step.

You should at this point have a stunning Game Boy Macro that is personalized and unique.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Pro tips!

1) GBA games on the bottom

Boot up the macro without any games and make sure you set the bottom screen for GBA games, otherwise you’ll have sound and a black screen and not know what went wrong.

2) Speaker position

If you have setup the bottom screen as the default GBA screen and when you boot up the light tube turns on but there is no sound or video, you’ve run into the most confusing problem when making these macros.

When this happened to me I had no idea what went wrong until I realized that the DS Lites have a function that put the system to sleep when the clamshell is closed. This mechanism functions with the magnet of the speakers when it comes in contact with sensor U11, located between the four buttons (A, B, X, and Y).

If you run into this problem, it means you positioned the speaker by the stylus lot hole too close to sensor U11. To resolve this, simply lower the speaker a little and everything should work normally.

Read more

Game Boy Macro: How-To by Roberto Gualan

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

In 2018 Joe Bleeps created the “Neon Advance” and I immediately fell in love with it! The “Neon Advance” is basically a Game Boy Macro – a modified Nintendo DS Lite that is meant to play Game Boy Advance Games. The distinct feature of the “Neon Advance” is the light tube that adorns it between the hinge posts.

A few months later, inspired by Joe Bleep’s masterpiece and motivated by YouTube channels like “This Does Not Compute” and “The Retro Future”, I began my modding journey and eventually got the confidence to build my first Game Boy Macro.

When I started building these macros and posting the pictures, I realized how much people liked to personalize their handhelds, so I began creating many distinct color combinations and utilizing many different acrylic rods (the light tubes) to produce a stunning final result. The other interesting I realized is that macros mostly had one speaker and the use of headphones was encouraged. Not satisfied with this, I started making two speaker versions of my macros and this has become one of the most appreciated features of my builds. 

I was recently approached by Hand Held Legend to put together a brief, basic guide on how I build these and I gladly accepted. So here it is!

Step 1 – Rescue a DS Lite

Nintendo DS Lites are notorious for broken hinges, cracked screens, and damaged shells. These are often sold for parts and are the perfect candidates for a macro.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Game Boy Macro

Step 2 – Remove shell

Use a tri wing screw driver and a small phillips screw driver to remove the back of the bottom part of the DS Lite. Begin with the battery cover, remove the battery and remove the screws under the battery.

Remove the two rubber covers on the top to get to the two screws there. Don’t forget the single screw at the edge of the DS slot.

Once the shell removed the back of DS Lite motherboard will be completely accessible.

Step 3 – Isolate the motherboard

Find the black cable on the WiFi module and the white cable next to it on the motherboard and use a spudge or something similar to remove them. All you need is slight upward pressure and they should easily snap off. Route the black cable underneath the DS slot and isolate it from the motherboard. The white cable should immediately be isolated from motherboard upon disconnecting it.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Remove the top screen ribbon connector by popping up the black bracket that secures it and pulling it away from the connector.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Remove the touch screen small ribbon connector by easily pulling it from the motherboard. Once again, a spudge is very helpful for this.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Remove the two screes that attach the motherboard to the front of the DS Lite (where the D-pad and buttons are) and push on the screen from the outside to completely separate motherboard from shell.

Detach the bottom screen from the motherboard and you should now have the motherboard of the DS Lite completely isolated.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

You may at this point completely remove the touch screen layer from the rest of the screen. Doing this greatly improves the screen quality and removes any yellowing or scratches there may exit.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Step 4 – Prepare LED light and speakers

Pick an LED diode with the color of your choice (I use 3mm, 6-12v lights), a 300 ohm resistor and 30AWG gauge wire. Solder the resistor to the cathode of the diode (positive side) and the wires as shown in the picture.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

At this point you may open the top part of the DS Lite and isolate the speakers from the top screen.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Step 5 – Solder the LED light and speakers

This is the most complex part of the process. Solder the LED light and speakers to the motherboard. Refer to the picture to see what contacts to solder the LED light and speakers to.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

  • LEDA2 – cathode of LED light (positive)
  • LEDC2 – anode of the LED light (negative)
  • SPLO – left speaker red wire
  • SPRO – right speaker red wire

Solder the black wires of the speakers to a ground point on the motherboard. I solder them to the contact by the headphone jack shown in picture.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Position the speakers on the motherboard. I put one by the stylus slot hole and one inside the DS game slot.

Step 6 – Add the light tube

Add a 6mm (.24 inches) acrylic rod to the section between the hinge posts of the bottom half of the DS Lite. You will have to widen the hole of the right hinge post for the acrylic rod to fit.

Step 7 – Wrap it up

Use kapton tape to cover all contact points that may possible short. I always put it on where I soldered the LED light and speakers and on the contacts points on the actual speakers. 

The trickiest part of the process is routing all the wires properly and making sure that the shell closes properly. This is particularly difficult when using third party shells. Be patient and creative to accomplish this last step.

You should at this point have a stunning Game Boy Macro that is personalized and unique.

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Roberto Gualan, Bobmods, Bob Mods, Game Boy Macro

Pro tips!

1) GBA games on the bottom

Boot up the macro without any games and make sure you set the bottom screen for GBA games, otherwise you’ll have sound and a black screen and not know what went wrong.

2) Speaker position

If you have setup the bottom screen as the default GBA screen and when you boot up the light tube turns on but there is no sound or video, you’ve run into the most confusing problem when making these macros.

When this happened to me I had no idea what went wrong until I realized that the DS Lites have a function that put the system to sleep when the clamshell is closed. This mechanism functions with the magnet of the speakers when it comes in contact with sensor U11, located between the four buttons (A, B, X, and Y).

If you run into this problem, it means you positioned the speaker by the stylus lot hole too close to sensor U11. To resolve this, simply lower the speaker a little and everything should work normally.

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Voltage and current - Comparing Game Boy Color backlit LCDs

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

We've been selling a backlit Game Boy Color LCD solution for a bit now and by all accounts people are loving them... we keep getting in more, and they keep selling out... thank you for your support!

Regardless of if you want to find out before-purchase or after-purchase, it's about time we posted the electrical consumption data on the displays at this time and show a simple comparison. Keep in mind these displays are using the same LCD, but are very different with regards to the hardware and software 'driving' them... and voltage-current is just one of many ways these displays could be compared. This data is perhaps geared more towards those looking to have multiple mods on their console and want to know details of the GBC LCD solution we sell.

 

Lets back up...

...just a minute and take a look at what happened before. Our good friend - Matt Whitehead of Jellybelly Customs - did two write-ups for his site and ours that detail how much current the different backlit GBC LCD solutions draw at different voltages across the BennVenn Freckle Shack, the McWill, and the Midwest Embedded solutions. This is just one way to compare the solutions, but also a way to be more informed about what is in your console - especially when doing multiple mods to it.

 

Method

We followed-suit with what Matt had done before - taking a stock Game Boy Color (no mods) and only removing the stock display to replace it with one of the backlit solutions. In our test we also used a v5 motherboard and have the volume on full, with a bench power supply to control the voltage to the console. We watched the power supply for how many mA the console draws. This can give insights into what kind of battery life you can expect... we'll get into that later, though.

 

Results

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Game Boy Color, GBC, CGB-001, China GBC LCD, BennVenn Freckle Shack, McWill, Midwest Embedded, backlit LCD 

Conclusion

So at this point you may be asking “Yeah, Dustin, but what does this all mean?” It’s a valid question and honestly conclusion from this data is that if you’re looking purely at power consumption, in which lower consumption will translate into more play time, then the backlit Game Boy Color LCD we sell and the BennVenn Freckle Shack are the best performers, the McWill is next regarding consumption, then the Midwest Embedded solution… that said, the McWill console shuts down once the batteries hit 2.1v which is rather early relative to the other options. As a reminder, too, this is just one of multiple affinities to evaluate the solutions on - other factors include price, availability, what shell modifications are required, and more.

Read more

Voltage and current - Comparing Game Boy Color backlit LCDs

Posted by Dustin Hamilton on

We've been selling a backlit Game Boy Color LCD solution for a bit now and by all accounts people are loving them... we keep getting in more, and they keep selling out... thank you for your support!

Regardless of if you want to find out before-purchase or after-purchase, it's about time we posted the electrical consumption data on the displays at this time and show a simple comparison. Keep in mind these displays are using the same LCD, but are very different with regards to the hardware and software 'driving' them... and voltage-current is just one of many ways these displays could be compared. This data is perhaps geared more towards those looking to have multiple mods on their console and want to know details of the GBC LCD solution we sell.

 

Lets back up...

...just a minute and take a look at what happened before. Our good friend - Matt Whitehead of Jellybelly Customs - did two write-ups for his site and ours that detail how much current the different backlit GBC LCD solutions draw at different voltages across the BennVenn Freckle Shack, the McWill, and the Midwest Embedded solutions. This is just one way to compare the solutions, but also a way to be more informed about what is in your console - especially when doing multiple mods to it.

 

Method

We followed-suit with what Matt had done before - taking a stock Game Boy Color (no mods) and only removing the stock display to replace it with one of the backlit solutions. In our test we also used a v5 motherboard and have the volume on full, with a bench power supply to control the voltage to the console. We watched the power supply for how many mA the console draws. This can give insights into what kind of battery life you can expect... we'll get into that later, though.

 

Results

Hand Held Legend, HHL, Game Boy Color, GBC, CGB-001, China GBC LCD, BennVenn Freckle Shack, McWill, Midwest Embedded, backlit LCD 

Conclusion

So at this point you may be asking “Yeah, Dustin, but what does this all mean?” It’s a valid question and honestly conclusion from this data is that if you’re looking purely at power consumption, in which lower consumption will translate into more play time, then the backlit Game Boy Color LCD we sell and the BennVenn Freckle Shack are the best performers, the McWill is next regarding consumption, then the Midwest Embedded solution… that said, the McWill console shuts down once the batteries hit 2.1v which is rather early relative to the other options. As a reminder, too, this is just one of multiple affinities to evaluate the solutions on - other factors include price, availability, what shell modifications are required, and more.

Read more