Game Boy Zero Custom Parts Guide Part 1

As more and more various custom parts came out for the Game Boy Zero project, more and more people asked if I was going to do a followup guide for making one using all custom and aftermarket parts.  So…  here we are!

In this guide I’ll be showing one of the (many) ways you can piece together a Game Boy Zero using entirely custom and aftermarket parts.  This means that you won’t have to chop up or sacrifice a single original Game Boy part to make this, which is nice.

Below is a list of parts that I will be using in my build:

Oh, and a Raspberry Pi Zero.
Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.32.22

 

First I modified my case just like in the first build, but this time I left 1-2mm around the edges of the screen so that I can easily attach the screen cover from Dominator when the time comes:

Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.33.07

I used the built-in X/Y button hole guides in Helder’s All-in-one (AIO) board to mark where to drill (super handy!).  This time, in stead of making a pilot hole that I then expanded with a dremel (like I did last time), I used a Unibit from Irwin.  It made it much, much easier to drill clean, perfectly-round holes right where I wanted them:

Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.33.34

Hand Held Legend also sells a similar looking drill bit.

Next I mounted my screen.  I used the BW screen from Amazon because it’s what I had on-hand, but lots of folks are reporting great success with the Gearbest screen, which is apparently very easy to modify to run off 5V and has a nice, consistent (and small) controller board.

If you do get one of the BW screens, be careful taking it apart because there is a *lot* of double-sided tape holding the screen cover on.  I actually broke one screen trying to remove it.  ಠ_ಠ

Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.34.58

Once you get it taken apart, you may or may not need to modify it to run off of 5V.  The one I got has a tiny controller board (nice!) but showed some flickering when trying to run it off of 5V without modification.  Thankfully this particular board was very easy to modify: you just attach a wire from the red input power wire to the regulator chip pin shown here:

Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.35.09

Once I did that all flickering went away and it works great!  If you happen to get a different driver board in yours, be sure to check out the wiki to see if someone else has the same screen and has already figured out if/what you need to modify.

Next I mounted my screen just like I did in part 3 of the original guide:

Screenshot 2016-09-06 00.40.46

I then attached my 3D-printed screw bracket and button wells, which worked wonderfully if I do say so myself:

Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.35.44 Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.35.57

Next I attached some wires to the All-in-one board before putting it and my buttons in the case.  Specifically, I attached wires to 2 of the 3 available USB ports on it (I won’t be using the 3rd one), another set of USB wires to the input pins, and then wires for my L/R buttons.  Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.36.33

If you have a spare USB cable (and who doesn’t?) that you are willing to chop up for this, it’s a perfect source of wire since it’s already color-coded for USB and appropriately gauged for the data and power wires.  You’ll notice I only attached a ground wire to the L button pin on the right-hand side of the above image — I’ll be joining the ground pins on the L/R buttons on the other side of the case so it’s one less wire I have to run between the front/back of the case.

Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.37.30

After I was done with that I went ahead and put it and my buttons in the case and started wiring up the headphone jack and speaker.  The pins for the headphone jack I’m using go (from left to right in the above image): ground, left channel, right channel switch, right channel, left channel switch.  What I mean by switch is that without headphones connected, they are connected to their respective channel.  So, you’d want your speaker hooked up to the switch pins, and your audio source (the all-in-one board) connected to the L/R channel pins.

Since we only have one speaker, we’ll want to join our L/R channels.  You can do this by adding a 10-Ohm resistor on each channel before joining them, as shown in the image below (all I had handy was 22-Ohm but they worked fine too):

Screenshot 2016-09-05 10.02.46

I have yellow for my left channel and green for my right channel.  If you don’t add the resistors, your sound will be distorted and noisy.  Some discussion about this as well as some fantastic wiring diagrams by a3k4 can be found here (thanks a3k4!).  The point at which the resistors join will be connected to one of the speaker wires, and the other speaker wire will be connected to the ground pin on the headphone jack.  It’s also recommended to add some ferrite beads to the ground and L/R wires (before they join) that are attached to the speaker to further reduce noise and make it sound better.  I don’t have any of those at the moment so I’ll have to come back and add mine later.  Helder has mentioned that he may be adding those resistors and ferrite beads to a future version of the AIO board, so definitely keep an eye out for that!

Screenshot 2016-09-05 10.03.04

Now wire it up to the AIO board:

Screenshot 2016-09-05 09.36.58

The naming for the pads might seem a little weird (and Helder mentioned he’d probably update it in a future revision), but you’ll attach the ground wire to the “switch” pad, and the left/right channel wires to the left/right pads.  You should go ahead and test it out before gluing/mounting your headphone jack/speaker.

The setup for this is nearly identical to what I did in part 5 of the original guide: you attach the PWM0 pad on the AIO to GPIO pin 18 on your Raspberry Pi Zero and PWM1 to GPIO pin 13, and add “dtoverlay=pwm-2chan,pin=18,func=2,pin2=13,func2=4” to the end of your config.txt file (definitely check out the original guide if you need clearer instructions for doing all that).  In addition to those things, you also need to connect the 5V/GND input wires on the AIO to your Pi (PP1 for 5V and PP6 for GND), otherwise your amplifier on the AIO won’t have any power:

Screenshot 2016-09-06 01.04.29

And then you also need to attach your volume wheel to the POT1,2,3,4/GND pads on the AIO board:
Screenshot 2016-09-06 01.04.19

If you’re holding your volume wheel with the pins facing down, you can just connect the wires in order as shown above.  After you do that, you should be able to load up RetroPie and test it out!

If that checks out, then you can go ahead and attach your headphone jack and speaker:

Screenshot 2016-09-06 01.07.53

Mine’s a little messy (i.e nothing covering the resistors next to the headphone jack) because I’ll be coming back later to add some ferrite beads, but you get the idea.  🙂  You may need to add a piece of plastic or something under the headphone jack to raise it up a bit to where it needs to be.

I was going to mount the volume wheel, but I’ve got something I want to try out with that, so I’ll save it for next time.  I’m hoping to have the rest of this build wrapped up in one more installment of this guide, but we’ll see how that goes…

Until next time!

wermy Written by:

30 Comments

  1. Tim
    September 6, 2016

    This is great already finished my first gbz just haven’t had time to post it and was already planning on doing one of these!

  2. zuul
    September 6, 2016

    nice video! :>

    however i think it’s important to point out that connecting the AIO board to the raspberry pi for power supply is potentially not optimal. see helders FAQ here:
    http://sudomod.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1185
    I know you did that for a test but just thought it’s important to note this 😉

  3. Daniel
    September 6, 2016

    No 640 screen and safe shutdown? 🙁

  4. Billy Blaze
    September 6, 2016

    oh yes! this is what I was looking for. I’m pretty excited and enthused by all these beautiful and astonishing custom parts. Thank you very much for doing a followup guide with these stuff.
    Besides that I’m hoping that maybe someday the essential parts are for sale as a bundle or a kit. Plus it would be really neat to have a store located in Europe to simplify some shipping issues.

  5. Kathryn
    September 6, 2016

    Thanks so much for your amazing work, Wermy, and for everyone’s incredible custom parts here at Sudomod! I’m in the process of ordering everything now, and have some plans for some custom work that I think will even make you proud!

  6. Zacki
    September 8, 2016

    Are the Resistors realy 10Ohm or 10k Ohm? I am asking because in the linked thread they ask talk about Kohm? I have no idee about Resistors, maybe its a stupid Question.

    • Matthew
      October 3, 2016

      The resistors in the pics really look like 2.3ohm (redorggold) vice 22ohm (redredblk)
      I’ll use the 10ohm (brnblkblk) from the wiring diagram.

      Thank you so much for this! My wife is very excited to get it in her hands. I will be ordering your custom parts soon.

  7. GraemeMo
    September 12, 2016

    If I want to leave out the SD card on the cartridge and just have the SD card plugged straight into the Pi, what items should I leave off this list of parts?

    • Gilberto sanchez
      January 4, 2017

      Cartridge reader from eBay
      Cartridge casing
      Actual cartridge pcb
      Cartridge label

  8. Mick
    September 20, 2016

    Great work, thank you ! What kind of wires do you use ? Link ?

  9. September 27, 2016

    Does anyone know around how much all the parts for this would cost? I’m thinking about making one but don’t have a lot of money

    • Gilberto sanchez
      January 4, 2017

      Everything for me without the case added up to below $200!!!

  10. Arturo
    September 28, 2016

    anyone know where I can buy a Game Boy Zero already manufactured?

    • Gilberto sanchez
      January 4, 2017

      Some have them on eBay, but for astronomical prices. Better off building it your self

  11. Mithical
    October 1, 2016

    What wires did you use? Any specific ones? I am new this stuff. So just any generic key words would just help as well.

  12. Floyd
    October 3, 2016

    Awesome build! I’m was and still am stoked on building one myself with use of this
    brilliant tutorial. Sadly the main component (the Raspberry Pi Zero) is not available (literally none) ouside of USA/Canada. I’m from The Netherlands and I have to pay up to 40$ for shipping from the USA for a 5 dollar board. That’s quite a bummer and a showstopper. I’m wondering how other European hobbists are coping with this problem….

  13. Raven
    October 5, 2016

    Should pre-pack this all into a kit and sell it

  14. Arkenix
    October 17, 2016

    Hello Wermy, first I have to thanks you about your website and this case mod, tutorial and more.
    (sry if my english is bad, i from France)

    But i have some probleme with my screen.
    i pay a different screen (like psp 4.3″) but the screen card on back is like yours, with somes differences

    I have to understand well what you do exactly for making ur screen running on 5V.
    I’m not sure if my screen work on 12v or 5v.

    So can you explain me what i have to try first and if i have to make a “hook” for 5v, where exactly ?

    I send you a picture, maybe someone got the same screen.

    Thx for ur answere, and like i say verry sorry about my english, i hope u’ll understand me well.
    card picture : https://puu.sh/rDtiv/1384ba1f5e.jpg

  15. chris
    October 26, 2016

    Where’d you get the wires you used?

  16. Matt
    October 28, 2016

    Is there a list of parts that gets updated as newer revisions/better options come out? Or a thread I could follow to see updated stuff? I see already that there are better versions of some of the boards and want to make sure I get the latest version of things, and don’t buy redundant parts. Thanks for all you guys put towards this project, and this community.

  17. Ryan
    November 11, 2016

    Are there anymore of the All-in-one button PCB’s available to order? I’m very interested in building one of these, but when going to the link in the list it says that an error occurred when trying to purchase through PayPal.

    • Chris
      November 21, 2016

      Same question here. I´am very interessted of the all-in-one-button.

      Thanks for answer

      • Gilberto sanchez
        January 4, 2017

        Preorders from helder are being taken

  18. Donnie
    November 25, 2016

    Is there an alternative to glueing all the stuff?
    I mean in case of repairing something or reusing some of the electronics?

    • Gilberto sanchez
      January 4, 2017

      Not really since that’s what keeps everything firmly in place..

  19. Todna2
    December 29, 2016

    Could I use a TP4056 micro USB battery charger with protection instead of the Adafruit powerboost? It would be much cheaper.

  20. Allan Jorney
    January 7, 2017

    I really enjoyed your videos. I want to make a GameBoy Zero too. I’ll buy the pieces and make one too.

  21. Wes
    January 13, 2017

    Would anyone be interested in buying the one that I built? Pi 3 inside

Comments are closed.