Updated 5/12/19

The following guide is a working document that describes the basic steps necessary to install a Freeplay CM3 PCB SLIM into a Boxy Pixel aluminum housing.

Parts Needed:

-Boxy Pixel Aluminum Housings

-Freeplay PCB kit WITH freeplay battery

-Replacement screen lens - This is specially designed to allow full screen mode

-Kapton tape

-Foam or substitute material

-Small phillips screwdriver

-Hex bit 

-Flush cutters


-New L/R plastic trigger buttons

-Replacement Silicone

-Rear acrylic

-Clear Light Pipe


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 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.  Inspect the front and rear housings.  Specifically, the front housing may have a sharp edge on rectangular screen opening.  If this is sharp, simply use a very fine file or deburring tool to remove.  You could use a razor blade at a 45 degree angle, just go slow and be careful!  

2.  Do a trial fit of the included rear flat aluminum panel.  There are 5 small flat head fasteners that hold this piece.  Ensure they all thread in all the way and are fully seated.  If they stop before going all the way in, you may have to create a larger chamfer.  A chamfer tool would be ideal, however you can use a drill bit and and turn by hand as it will not take much to create a chamfer.  After you confirm the fit is ok, set the parts aside.   See below to see one example of the chamfer highlighted in blue.


3.  Prepare the freeplay PCB if necessary.  If you do not have the preconfigured PCB from Freeplay, solder the 4 rubber nipple buttons to the board as shown below.  Then, trim the backside solder joints flush.  

Freeplay rubber nipple switches


4. Also, trim the solder joints in the vicinity of the speaker to ensure the speaker doesn't touch the PCB once installed.  Add kapton tape to the backside of the speaker.

Freeplay trimming solder joints

5.  Do a trial Install of just the LCD screen into the front housing.  It's intentionally a tight fit.  Use care, and don't use too much force as you could damage the LCD!  Once installed, it is advisable to add some very soft foam to the backside.  This foam (or other substitute) will compress when the PCB is installed and hold it in place.  I use an adhesive backed foam, and cut to size so it doesn't later interfere with the battery installation or the flex cable.  (See black rectangle in image below)


6. Attention! Add kapton tape to two locations on the board. The left side is shown below highlighted in green. There is another location at the right side.  Add kapton to both locations.

7.  Next, place your directional D-pad (metal or plastic), D-pad silicone, the start/select silicone, and you aluminum A, B, X and Y buttons. Also, add your left and right triggers.  Left is right, and right is left when assembling.  Alternatively, you can add your triggers after the PCB is installed also.

Aluminum D-Pad Installation    

Boxy Pixel Aluminum Button Installation

8. Place your plastic LED light pipe into position.  It's a clear plastic piece that fits in the hole near the right trigger.   See below for reference.  (This is for another version shell, but the placement is the same).  These light pipes come with old Game boys.  Alternatively, you can 3D print one, or use hot glue to fill the hole.

Gameboy advance Light Pipe

9. Connect the display flex cable to the Freeplay PCB connector.  There are two small tabs that must be pulled up.  After the flex is in position, push these two down to hold it in place.  

Freeplay CM3 LCD Connection

10. Tape the battery and/or the PCB that will be near the speaker to prevent the backside of the speaker from shorting on the PCB.

11.  Drop the Freeplay PCB into place. Be mindful of the speaker and LCD as you guide everything into place.  Careful not crease the flex cable!  Fasten the PCB using 3 of the included stainless steel phillips head fasteners.  


12. 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.  See below for highlighted surface.  You can also shave the opposite size.

13.  Next, connect the battery and set the battery into position and bring the rear housing down into position.  It is recommend to add a couple layers of kapton tape to the backside of the battery as it touches the rear metal housing.  Now is a good time to verify every powers up correctly.  

Freeplay tech battery connectionFreeplay tech battery install

14. Lastly, sometimes the triggers can move out of position slightly, so keep an eye on them. 

Gameboy Advance trigger installation

15. Make sure the unit is powered down, and bring the rear housing down into position.  Fasten using 4 phillips drive fasteners.

Boxy Pixel CM3 Rear Housing Installation


16. Install the rear sheet metal or acrylic.  Fasten using the 5 hex drive flathead highlighted in blue below.

Freeplay Boxy Pixel Rear Fastener Installation


17.  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.  Not so humid that it forms condensation on your parts!  

 Lastly, here is a video how to setup the CM3