Assembly Guide - Backlight Your Game Boy Advance

Updated 5/23/19

The following guide is a working document that describes the basic steps necessary to transform your stock Nintendo Game Boy Advance to use a blacklit LCD (referred to AGS-101 screen).

 

Parts Needed:

-Nintendo Game Boy Advance

-Custom machined Game Boy Advance aluminum housings (Boxypixel)

-AGS-101 screen with adapter

-Rechargable Lithium battery

-Micro USB power board 

-Custom battery holder/USB locator piece (BoxyPixel)

-1n4001 diode 

-Replacement screen lens

-Wire (26 AWG stranded) - 6" total

-Small phillips screwdriver

-Soldering iron

-Flex cable screen adapter (40 pin or 32 pin)

Optional

-New A/B buttons/direction keypad

 

 Steps

Important tip!  The machined aluminum housings are raw CNC machined aluminum.  As such, if you lay the aluminum shells face down on a surface with any contaminants, you can scratch the surface.  It is advisable to coat the surface if you have a non-anodized housing.  I have had great success with a product called protectaclear.  It's durable, easy to apply, and won't yellow.  

If you do get a scratch, it's not the end of the world.   You can remove light scratches with a scratch removing compound and micro fiber cloth.  It's much easier to do this before assembly.   Ok, onto the assembly -> with  foam or micro fiber cloth on the table!

1.  Dissemble the stock Game Boy Advance.  Turn it face down, and remove the battery cover and batteries.  There is 1 small phillips drive screw to remove circled in red  Next, remove 6 tri-wing screws from the rear of the housing, shown circled in yellow.  Remove the rear cover. 

Gameboy Advance rear Tri-wing screws

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Next, remove the thin sheet metal from the rear housing held by 4 phillips drive fasteners shown below circled in red.

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Disconnect the old screen by releasing the flex cable.  To do so, there are two small tabs that need to be pushed up ever so slightly (do not remove).  This releases the flex cable from the connector as shown below.

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Flex cable is released and ready to be removed.  

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Next, remove the phillips drive fasteners holding the Nintendo PCB.  Set the PCB aside for now.

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Carefully place your aluminum front housing onto a soft surface.  Inspect your AGS-101 screen, then remove the front protective plastic.  Place the screen into the front housing as shown below.  Avoid touching the front surface of the screen.  

AGS-101 in metal Gameboy advance shell

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 Drop in your A/B buttons and Directional keypad.

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Insert the rubber silicone over the A/B buttons, the directional keypad, and also drop in the start/select silicone.  Make sure to orient your directional kepad silicone as shown.  

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Lastly, install the LED light pipe.  It's the loose clear part.  There are two scallop cuts on the sides.  Rotate this clear light pipe piece until it sits flush with the fastener hole that is next to it as shown below.

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Attach the thin rear cart guide sheet metal piece using two of the the included screws.  You may have just start each screw a couple of threads to get both screws started, then snug (do not over tighten) them both down. Set this aside for now.

Gameboy Advance rear cart sheild

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Remove the two battery battery posts shown below.

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You can remove the entirely by desoldering, or you can just cut them as shown below if you plan to solder from the bottom.

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Trim solder joints on the backside of the Nintendo PCB shown in the areas in red below.

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Although you can solder the +/- wires to the top side, I find it easier to get the solder to flow on the backside as shown below.  If you use this method, I suggest routing the wires up as shown.  (even more is better).  This will be come clear later when fitting parts together.

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 Attach your new flex cable adapter to the top of the Nintendo PCB connector.  There are two different flex cable sizes available.  The example shown is 40 pin.  Be sure to push the two brown plastic pieces down to lock the piece into place.

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Next, get ready to connect the AGS-101 screen to the other end of your flex cable adapter piece.  This side of the flex rotates to open.  See two images below showing the closes and then open position.

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Insert the flex cable from the AGS-101 screen as shown, and close the lock tab on the flex cable back down. Your connection for the screen is now complete.

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Next, wrap the flex cable around to the bottom side of the PCB.  In order to keep this piece from moving, I suggest taping it into place.  If it moves out of position, it can press on the backside of the AGS-101 screen and create a dark spot when fully assembled.

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Rotate the Nintendo PCB into position

Be mindful of the speaker.  You may have to adjust it into it's pocket.

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Keep an eye on your flex cable adapter.  If the tape holds, it should look similar to below.  There should be extra slack in the visible flex cable shown below.

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 Start the fasteners to hold the PCB, but do not tighten yet.  Your 3d printed piece needs to slide under the PCB.  Below are the locations of the two fasteners.

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Prepare the boxy pixel micro USB battery holder by sliding the micro USB charging board into the 3D printed housing.  See below.  (Two colors

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A diode must be used to reduce the voltage.  The image below shows the diode inserted into the out + hole and bent around to the little channel.   Note the orientation of the grey stripe on the diode in the image below.

Gameboy Advance micro USB board

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Now is a good time to turn over, solder the diode, and trim the excess length shown below.

 

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Put the assembled micro USB and holder into position in the housing.  Make sure your positive and negative wires that you previously soldered to the Nintendo PCB are out of the way.  Fasten the two fasteners to hold down the micro USB holder and also tighten the two Nintendo PCB fasteners you previously left a little loose.

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Solder the micro USB board and battery.  Below is an overview of all the wiring.  At this step, we're just doing the battery.

Red battery wire to B+ on micro USB PCB,

Black battery wire to B- on micro USB PCB

Wiring backlight game boy advance

  

 

Solder the red wire from the flex cable to the left top left leg of DA1 as shown below.  Route the wire and tape.  Tape shown below covers a mounting screw hole.  Don't do this.

 

 Now is a good time to turn on and tryout a game, and all button functions.  

Add your L and R plastic triggers.  I guide the metal piece in, then guide it into position.  It will stay on its own.

 

Install the power switch plastic into the groove in the housing.  Note: the power switch may require it to be shaved a very small amount if you find it is too tight after the front/rear are assembled.  Carefully not to break the little legs on your power switch.  The green area (or opposite side) may need to be shaved.

Next, set the battery into position and bring the rear housing down into position.  I'd recommend adding a couple layers of kapton tape to the backside of the battery as it lightly touches the rear metal housing and could wear.  Lastly, sometimes the triggers can move out of position slightly, so keep an eye on them. 

Gameboy Advance rechargable Mod final assembly

Install 4 fasteners.Machined aluminum metal Game boy Advance Rear view

Flip over, clean all surfaces to perfection and install the front screen protector.  Tip: You may want to turn on a shower and install the screen in somewhat steamy room as it helps to settle any dust particles that naturally float in the air.  But not so humid that it forms condensation on your parts!  

Power up, and enjoy!  If you have time to wait, and you'd rather have us build one for you, I can custom mod one for you.  

 

Tips:

If you have a dark spot on your screen, then something on the inside is pressing on the backside of your AGS-101 screen.  Often, it is the flex cable adapter.  Another possible reason is the battery wires are bunched up under the battery.  This will cause the battery to push on the 3d printed part, which could press on the back of the screen.