Boxy Pixel Aluminum Game Boy Advance Assembly Guide
This is a working document, describing the basic steps to transform a stock Nintendo Game Boy into a custom Game Boy Advance with a backlit LCD
- Stock GBA
- Boxy Pixel Aluminum GBA Housings
- Aluminum Button Set
- Silicone Button Set (optional)
- LED Light Pipe Diffuser (optional, if need to replace original)
- IPS Screen Kit by Funnyplaying
- Glass IPS Screen
- IPS Screen Adapter - 3D Printed
- Type C Charge Board (optional)
- Micro USB/Type C Battery Housing - 3D Printed (optional)
- Boxy Pixel 2000 mAh battery
- Aluminum Shoulder Buttons (optional)
- Kapton Tape (optional)
Prior to disassembly of the donor Game Boy, insert batteries and a game cartridge. Turn the volume wheel all the way up, and switch the device on.
- Listen for a chime at startup
- Confirm that all buttons (including triggers, start, and select), function well.
- Wiggle the power switch to ensure it stays powered on
Disassemble stock Game Boy Advance
Remove the six tri-wing screws from the back housing (shown circled in yellow). Remove the last fastener shown (circled in red), this uses a Phillips screwdriver.
Once open, remove the four fasteners holding the sheet metal, circled in red. Use the smallest Phillips screwdriver. Keep this sheet metal, and dispose of the screws that you removed.
Remove the plastic power switch by pulling it up. Remove L and R triggers.
Release the flex cable by carefully prying up simultaneously on the two small brown tabs (shown by arrows). They will pop up a few millimeters. Do not pull with too much force. Then, pull up the flex cable to release it.
Remove 2 fasteners holding the PCB with a small Phillips screwdriver. Lift up to remove the electronics (Nintendo PCB). Be careful with speaker wires, to not break the solder joints. Do not lose the small clear diffuser in the front housing-- keep this for future use.
Next, remove the two battery terminals. Turn over the PCB and heat the solder from the backside. Carefully push or pull the terminals out, using pliers.
Clean all gold-colored contacts with alcohol. Clean the power switch by pouring a few drops of isopropyl alcohol into the switch. Switch on/off a few dozen times and use compressed air to dry out prior to putting PCB in the shell.
Verify the aluminum shell does not have blemishes. Check for bends or distortion on the area around the screen. Verify the plastic fixture does not have any debris on the soft surfaces that could scratch the housing. Place the front aluminum housing face down in the fixture.
Prepare GBA Buttons
If using metal buttons, it’s a good idea to remove the sharp corners from the legs of the buttons. It does not take much at all to run a razor blade, a flexible nail file, or very fine sandpaper on the areas shown in red. This is done to ensure buttons actuate up and down smoothly.
Drop in your directional keypad and A/B buttons. The two buttons can only be placed in one orientation, as shown.
Next is to install the conductive silicone set. Drop in the silicone over the buttons, and D-pad, and start/select. Note: You may choose to install the original silicone on the D-pad. This has a different feel than the aftermarket ones.
Drop in the clear diffuser at the location shown on the left. Notice the orientation rotationally.
Prepare to connect the LCD to the orange flex cable.
Make the connection by carefully aligning and pressing the parts together. This flex cable area circled is VERY fragile!
Remove the screen protector. Do your best not to touch the front surface of the screen.
Place the screen in the housing. Move it up and to the right. CAREFULLY fold the flex cable up as shown below.
Add the 3D printed “L” shaped spacer as shown below. It fills the space to the left and to the bottom of the LCD screen. Add soft foam to the back of the LCD
Solder a thin wire to TP2 shown below. Add a small amount of solder to the gold pad first. Then introduce the wire. Do Not leave the solder iron on too long! 2-3 seconds is enough.
Add Kapton tape to help relieve strain on the wire and keep it in place.
Prepare the orange flex cable by adding solder to 3 locations. SEL, R, and L as shown at left. Do Not leave the soldering iron on too long! One second is long enough.
Solder the wire from TP2 (previously soldered to PCB) to the SEL on the orange flex cable at left.
Cut two thin wires to length. Note: Some LCD screen kits have these wires already included. Strip both wire ends.
Solder Wires to Flex Cable
- Attach one wire to the location labeled L on the orange flex cable.
Attach the other wire to the location labeled R on the orange flex cable
The PCB is now ready to flip over. Before doing so, note that the orange flex cable has two possible ways to connect. Option 1 is at the top, and Option 2 is at the bottom. This is due to Nintendo making two versions of the PCB. You will need to determine whether your console has Option 1 or Option 2.
Caution: if you find the need to use option 2, be VERY careful. You will need to bend the flex in such a way that will put stress on the flex.
Add Kapton tape over whichever option you did NOT use.
Carefully begin flipping the PCB over.
Ensure the orange flex is not getting trapped on top. Make sure the start/select silicone stays in place. The Flex can tear! Use caution!
Carefully continue to flip the PCB over. Connect the flex cable. Guide the two black wires such that they are out of the way.
Ensure the orange flex cable is fully seated as shown on the left. Lock the flex cable by pushing down on the two brown tabs.
Be sure the black wires are not being pinched. Fasten the PCB in place at the locations shown.
Solder the Battery
Solder the wire coming from the L to the location shown by the green dot. Notice the red-filled rectangles at left. These are keep-out zones for the wire routing!
Solder the L and R Wires
Solder the wire coming from the R to the location shown by the green dot. Notice the red-filled rectangles shown at left. These are keep-out zones for the wire routing!
Power Circuit Overview
Next is to solder the battery, diode, and power board. At the left is a general diagram. Note the orientation of the diode. Detailed steps to follow.
Assemble Power Board
Slide the micro USB board (or type C) into the 3D printed piece.
Cut two wires and strip wire insulation.
Bend and solder the diode in place. Note the grey end of the diode. Make sure it sits flat.
Solder a black wire from Out (-).
Solder a red wire to the diode and a black wire to the out (+).
Add solder to both the wire and diode. Then, solder together.
Lastly, solder the battery wires.
- Red battery wire to B+
- Black battery wire to B-
Solder to the PCB
Solder the Red wire from the diode to BT (+) on the Nintendo PCB. This was previously where the battery terminal was removed.
Solder the Black wire from Out - to the BT(-) on the Nintendo PCB. This was previously where the battery terminal was removed.
Tip: Use plenty of flux
The diode and all wires should fit in this area denoted in red. This leaves room for the battery to sit on top.
Place the battery in position.
Add a THIN piece of foam to the back of the battery or the housing to prevent rattling. It is recommended to instead add this foam to the inside of the rear housing.
Test the unit powers on and that the dimming function works by holding the select button and using the shoulder (trigger) buttons.
Some plastic triggers may be problematic. They may need to be trimmed.
Add the triggers by sliding the metal piece down in the channel shown.
As you slide it down, compress the metal slightly to move the trigger to its final location.
Power Switch Install
You may need to wiggle the switch from L to R into position.
Secure Sheet Metal to Rear Housing
Set the sheet metal part previously removed from the donor GBA. Fasten in place using two 4mm long fasteners. These are shorter than the typical 6mm long fasteners.
Note the orientation of the shield.
Carefully bring the rear housing into position. You may have to wiggle a little.
Using fasteners in the included zip lock bag (found with every aluminum housing), Install four M2x6mm long fasteners. Do not over tighten.
Caution! Ensure the plastic power switch is lined up. Also, ensure battery and wires are out of the way before bringing down the rear housing.
Insert a game.
- Front button function
- Top trigger buttons function
- Screen brightness functions by holding select and simultaneously using the top trigger button
- Triggers actuate smoothly
- Sound works
Flip the Game Boy over, clean all surfaces, and install the front screen protector.
Using a humid environment helps to minimize dust caught under the screen.
Enjoy your newly modded Game Boy Advance!
For a printable version of this guide - click here