Thursday, September 24, 2015

Original GBA Back-light Mod!

The Gameboy Advance is one of the last best 2D consoles to have graced the gaming world. I recently got back into GBA games but was tired of using my GBA SP due to the small buttons/d-pad, tiny case to hold, and crummy audio output. Not forgetting Nintendo's choice of forcing players to use an adapter just to be able to hook up earphones.

I wanted to play on my original GBA (AGS-001), but without a backlit screen, it's really difficult to stay interested.   SOoooo, I decided to look-up modding it for a backlight screen!
You can replace the original non-backlit GBA LCD with an SP's screen. A pretty simple mod, all you need is to hook it up via a ribbon adapter cable found online, and with a little case modding and a few solder points you have a perfectly comfortable playing experience on your trusty GBA!

I was able to find 2 non-working GBA SP's as donors, I do not condone ruining perfectly working units for this mod, or any type of mod that needs donor parts.

Whenever I mod anything, I try to keep as organized and clean as possible. I use painters tape to keep screws and parts separated and like to write labels on the paper to keep track of where things go (of course in this day in age, we have cell phone cameras to help as well!).  Here's are the parts disassembled for 2 GBA's.

I decided to spend a bit more money on getting the ribbon cable that has the 5-brightness settings, via toggling Select+L. I didn't want to put any janky switches into the case, and I prefer having more dimming options than just the 2-settings that a majority of ribbon adapters out there have.

Ribbon adapters connected to the SP LCD's:

The mod itself is pretty easy. Really the toughest part about it is cutting the plastic tabs inside the case so that the GBA SP LCD fits:

Here are the tools I used for the case modding:

Only 3 wires to solder onto the mainboard:

And voila!  Jimmy is happy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Updates to Arcade Sticks

Decided to update my arcade sticks.

The shmup stick is now fully complete. I replaced the buttons with Sanwa OBSF's w/ clear plungers, converted it to a 6-button layout, and added a new flame ball-top!

I returned my fighting game stick to the stock overlay, and ended up cutting a new port panel (by hand) out of Black Acrylic.  This was done using only a Scoring Tool for cutting the Acrylic, a Rotary Tool for the rough-cuts, and a set of Shaping Files to get the clean edges and rounded corners.
Made for a much cleaner outcome this time, and used a smaller more square-sized RJ45 port (squares a lot easier to cut out evenly than ellipses):

Here's a comparison of the old Port Panel, to the new one. Definitely an improvement:

Cleaned up the wiring, added silent switches to the Sanwa JLF Joystick and Silent Pads to the buttons.

*Bonus pic: Decided to hook up my Dreamcast for some Under Defeat shmup action!  My Gradius stick works really great with that game, having an octo-gate LS-58 joystick, and Dreamcast support using the PS360+ via an RJ-45-to-DC cable.