Assembly Guide - Raspberry Pi CM3 (Freeplay)

Updated 6/15/20

The following guide is a working document that describes the basic steps necessary to install a Freeplay CM3 PCB 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

Optional

-New L/R plastic trigger buttons

-Replacement Silicone

-Rear acrylic

-Clear Light Pipe

 Steps

1.  Prepare the freeplay PCB if necessary.  If you do not have the pre-configured 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

2.  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)

Foam

3. 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.

4.  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

5. 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

6.  You will need to install the two front and right joysticks.  Prepare the joysticks by removing the plastic disc. Shown below is an assembled joystick next to a disassembled one. 

Joystick disassembly

7. Fit the joysticks into the shell.  The orientation shown below is for example only. You will need to solder the connections to the Freeplay board, and also devise a way to keep the joysticks in place.  A rigid piece of compliant rubber or any other spacer will work as the PCB will sit on top.  

Freeplay joysticks

8. 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

9. The speaker needs to be installed.  The included freeplay speaker has adhesive once the white paper is removed.  Stick the speaker to the rear housing pocket. There are two for advanced users that would like two speakers.  (tip: I'd advise disconnecting the speaker from the main PCB temporarily and reconnecting during final assembly)

10.  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. If there is ever an issue with fastners that will not fully seat, you may need to trim the fastners, or purchase M2x4 mm long fasteners.

   

11. You will need to clip the plastic power switch. Below shows an image of an unclipped switch (left) and a modifed switch. Cut the corner and also the "wavy" middle portion. Finally, install the power switch plastic into the groove in the housing  

 

12.  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

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

Gameboy Advance trigger installation

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

 

14.  Flip over, clean all surfaces to perfection and install the front screen protector.  

 Lastly, here is a video how to setup the CM3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja8-R3GveD4