Game Boy hand-held consoles prior to the Game Boy Advance SP are not illuminated and pose a problem for gamers who would like to play in low light conditions. Frontlight technology has made it possible to illuminate these old LCDs through specialized light guide panels. Although this technology is not perfect and a TFT LCD would certainly be better, a frontlight panel gives you a good quality and affordable option to light up your console without gutting another Game Boy.
Prepare your work area before beginning. Here is a list of equipment that you will require:
- Game Boy Advance Frontlight
LOCA (OSAKA 7) or generic
- Uv Curing Lamp MelodySusie® High Quality Portable Black 36W UV Lamp Light Acrylic Nail Dryer
- Tri-Wing Screwdriver
- Philips 0 Screwdriver
- X-acto Knife or utility Blade
- Dremel Hand Drill
Always test your frontlight before beginning installation. Use 2 AAA batteries taped together or a 3V power source.
- Remove the 6 tri-wing and 1 Phillips head screw joining the two console halves together. Separate the front and back of the unit so that you can access the PCB inside. 1 Philips head screw is hidden in the battery compartment.
- Remove the 3 Phillips screws securing the PCB to the back shell and unpin the LCD ribbon cable from its socket. Be careful when removing this piece as there are two pin on the side of connector that you must lift before pulling.
- Gently lift the LCD using a flat screwdriver or other flat instrument. Remove the adhesive rubber separator holding the LCD to the shell.
- Wash and clean you case, buttons and pads so that they can dry before you put everything back together
Case Modification: For the next steps you will be modifying the shell so that the frontlight panel will sit flat against it when installed in the case. Trim the extra plastic that once held the LCD in place so that you have a smooth and flat surface to set your frontlight on. Use some sandpaper to get the extra bumps that may be left over.
- Trim the ridge on the battery compartment so to remove any pressure that it could cause when you close up your case.
Frontlight Installation: Remove protective films and the back linear reflective tape covering the 5 LED's on the frontlight. You will need to remove this so that the LOCA underneath can cure properly. Place your frontlight face down (red cord on the right) in the front half of your shell. This position will allow for you LCD and frontlight to align properly when setting the LCD.
- Pick up your OSAKA 7 LOCA and slowly apply in an "X" like pattern (">-<") with a straight line in the middle and the a line of LOCA extending out towards the corners. Do not use too much LOCA here as you will have a harder time cleaning it up after you place your LCD. *** Right photo above is an example of TOO MUCH Loca. This will spill out from between the LCD and frontlight. ***
- Pick up your clean LCD and set it face down on the LOCA starting from one side and lowering it as gently and as slowly as possible. Moving slow will help to make sure that bubbles do not form. After the LCD has been dropped into place, place an object on the top (roll of electric tape, solder roll... etc.) to spread the LOCA evenly between the LCD and frontlight. Let this sit for a few minutes before starting the curing process.
- Turn your shell and LCD over so that the frontlight is not on top of the LCD. You are not ready to cure your LOCA in your UV lamp. Set inside for 2 minutes and remove. Check to make sure your LOCA is curing.
- Next remove the top reflective tape to that UV light can pass through the plastic and cure the LOCA between the frontlight and the bottom of the LCD. If you do not cure the LOCA under the tape, you can encounter an issue known as spidering. This defect may form hours or days after you close up your unit. Spidering is caused by flexture of your frontlight that stresses the bonds in the adhesive between your frontlight and LOCA. The LCD is not flat and will leave a space of glue between itself and the LCD. Without curing, this liquid will give and cause undesired warpage and therefore spidering. Cure this LOCA to keep the frontlight in place and rigid. Make sure your LOCA is fully cured before installing into your shell. Curing the sides of the LCD and frontlight combo is also helpful in curing any glue 90 degrees away from the UV light. This will also help reduce spidering. Remove the foam padding from the back of the LCD to further decrease compression when installed.
- It's recommended that you leave you setup out to cure additionally for the afternoon or overnight. Putting it right in the case may create problems down the road.
Set the frontlight/LCD unit into the front of the shell and proceed to place the PCB in its proper place. You can now re-attach your ribbon cable to the PCB and re-set the two pins to hold it in place. Your red and black wires should not exit the bottom of the case; prepare the ends (if not already tinned) for soldering. No resistor is needed for this install. Solder the red wire to the point shown below:
- There are two different models of the GBA console, a 32-pin and 40-pin version. The Q6 capacitor has a 5V output. Solder the red wire to this point on both versions. You can use the Q12 capacitor as well as this is easier to solder to.
- Ground the frontlight with the black wire soldered to the power switch as shown. Arrange your wires as to avoid compression on the edge of the case when screwing the shell halves together.
- Do a quick spot check and test your setup
- Close up your unit and enjoy!