for the past few months i've been working on an idea, which is to make a gameboy pocket with a hinge (so it folds in the middle like a GBA SP or a DS). the plan: cut a pocket motherboard in half, rewire the parts together with a cable that can fit through a hinge, and make a custom 3d printed shell for the whole thing. today i made a proof-of-concept prototype combining in-progress versions of these components and... it works!
here's a picture of the motherboard halves. i'm making a pair of flex pcbs that you'll just be able to solder in place over the relevant vias, and then connect the two with a thin flex cable (which will be much smaller and easier to solder than this nest of wires). the shell in the previous video is my custom design! i still have to model and print the rest of the shell, and i'm still figuring out the whole hinge situation. but i am excited about how it's coming together!
this still needs a ton of tweaking and i accidentally printed the wrong version of one of the pieces BUT this is a more or less complete prototype of the shell, the first prototype i've made so far where i can actually put all the pieces together. compared to the gba sp, it's definitely on the thick side, and it's definitely less "pocketable" than an actual pocket 🤷🏻♀️ but it still feels nice to hold and handle imo (this is not the final idea for the surface finish btw!)
here's the completed build! I present... the Game Boy Pocket SP. it's a Game Boy Pocket motherboard in a custom shell I designed to resemble the GBA SP. to fit the motherboard into the shell, I cut it in half, and then designed a custom flex PCB to connect the two halves through the hinge. i'm using an aftermarket LCD from Cloud Game Store and Gil Tesa's USB-C charging mod for the internal battery. that neat Link's Awakening label is from https://nextstopplease.square.site/
why did I do this? it started out as a kind of joke—there are a lot of mods out there for the GBA SP that take out the hinge (e.g. https://retrogamerepairshop.com/products/slate-by-makho) so I thought... why not take a gameboy without a hinge and add one? it was also a good excuse to teach myself some stuff I've been wanting to learn better for ages—CAD, PCB design, 3D printing, etc. I also learned a LOT about gameboys. here are some more process photos, including my gallon-size bag of failed prints and prototypes
re: gameboy modding
@aparrish Sweet! I brought my own GBA SP out of storage yesterday and have been thinking about what games I could bring for an extended business trip.
@aparrish Nice! like a big flip phone- I wonder if SLA printing might be nice for the little plastic details on the SP?
@JamesAkers yeah, that's the plan! i'm just prototyping with the 3d printer and then I'm going to send it off to pcbway or jlcpcb
@pagrus oshpark! probably would have been slightly cheaper at pcbway, but oshpark had better lead times and I liked the idea of not having to get it shipped all the way from china
@aparrish oh dang I didn't even know they made flexies. I like them a lot, even though I have only ordered like three things from them
@aparrish wowza! USB C charging sure is convenient! And the motherboard chop is mind blowing! That resiny case looks nice and deluxe...
I am sure the mechanism is well figured out- but I am still amazed that the ribbon cables and hinges work as well as they do
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