Game Boy Build-Off!

The Game Boy build-off competition at BitFix Gaming has officially begun! Everyone is welcome to participate in the competition, so long as they register as a member of BitFix. The rules for the competition are fairly simple: no modding may be performed prior to today, finished projects must be functional, and all projects must fit the Game Boy theme.

I have intentionally left the theme open to loose interpretation to allow for a wide array of creativity. Examples that fit the theme include a Gamecube portable that plays Game Boy games via the Game Boy Player, virtually anything recased inside a Game Boy shell, or an electronics project shaped and painted to resemble a Game Boy. There are so many possibilities!

I’m really excited to see what kind of awesome projects are going to come out of this competition and yes, I will be creating a project of my own for this comp.

For more details on the competition visit the official competition thread on BitFix.

The Nintendo S: a work in progress

DS primed
A friend of mine picked up an original Nintendo DS in less than perfect condition. The hinge which connects the two screens together was cracked and broken and the top screen displayed only a white background. This is apparently a very common occurence for DS systems because the upper screen is only connected to the rest of the system via a rather flimsy ribbon cable. The only thing protecting that cable form damage is the hinge and its housing. Thus, if the hinge is damaged, there is little hope for the top screen.

Fortunately, the DS (and DS Lite) are not completely useless when their top screens have bit the dust. Both of these systems have a second cartridge slot for playing Game Boy Advance games. The idea behind this project is to turn a partially functioning Nintendo DS into a dedicated GBA. So if DS stands for “dual screen” (which, although never officially acknowledged by Nintendo to my knowledge, many gamers profess to be the case), then I christen this handheld the Nintendo S.

DS single speaker
First, I tore the DS open. The stereo speakers are both housed in the top half of the clamshell design, which poses two problems: how do you wire the speaker so that it works in the lower half? And will it fit? To answer the second question, all it took was to cut away at one of the screw post supports to squeeze the small speaker into place.

DS audio pinout
With a little help from a user who goes by the alias john sparks over at the Bacteria forums, I was able to convince the DS to boot without it’s upper screen. John also pointed me in the right direction toward finding the audio pinouts for left and right speakers. Because I’ve only allocated room for one speaker, I eventually only wired up the right speaker.

DS and board
At this point the electronics are DONE! The rest of the project is casework. The largest chunk of the work, as made evident by this photo, is to remove what’s left of the upper screen hinge and to smooth it out. Of course, a repainting is in order after that.

DS cart covered
Some minor alterations must also be done to the shell’s underside. I’ve covered up the DS cartridge slot first by epoxying a small piece of acrylic over the gap, then by applying Bondo to start smoothing it out. I’ve also filled in the stylus holder, as the touch screen will not be utilized for GBA games.

DS initial bondo
The hinge is cut off and what remains is sanded down to match the shape of the rest of the face. Then applied Bondo to fill in all the gaps. After that Bondo dried, I smoothed it out further with some glazing putty, then applied a coat of primer. The result is the first image in this post. I think it looks good, but the untouched portions of the shell didn’t have the same texture as the portion that was built back up with Bondo.

DS glazed over
Coated the entire face with glazing putty. I thought this would be a good idea; it was not. The concave corners turned out to be very difficult to sand and because of that, the putty built up too high in some spots. I finished sanding it down. Primed, sanded more, primed again, then sanded a bit more.

DS perfecting
This is the current state of the face of the shell. I wanted to see what effect my Dremel’s cottony cleaning attachment had on the primer; I ended up rubbing a dent into the case. Applied a small dab of glazing putty to smooth it back out. It’s almost finished now and ready for its first coat of paint.