The Nintendo Game Boy wasn’t just one of the best-selling game consoles of all time, it was also one of the longest running. It was released in 1989 and had a lifetime of 19 years before being discontinued in 2003. With classic titles like Tetris, Pokémon Red & Blue, and Link’s Awakening, it’s no wonder why even today this console is still loved and adored!
That display though… only 4 shades of green and no backlighting. Ugh! Fortunately we can retrofit the Game Boy with some modern hardware to give that display a much needed level up.
Let’s strip down that Game Boy and install a new LCD Backlight and Bivert chip to make that screen bright and crisp.
This guide isn’t going to cover disassembly but you can look at the tear down guide for the Game Boy Pocket as a reference. It’s not exact, but pretty similar in steps.
What You’ll Need
- For disassembly, you’ll need a small Phillips screwdriver as well as a tri-wing screw driver.
- Isopropyl Alcohol will come in hand to keep the glass screen clean, along with a cotton swab or lint free cloth to wipe with.
- A razor blade or exact-o knife
- Soldering Iron, Solder, Solder Remover, (Optional Flux)
- And of course you’ll need the Backlight/Bivert kit from our shop.
Installing the Bivert Chip
The Bivert Chip, or Hex Inverter, will give the pixels on the screen a higher contrast and greater saturation value leaving the display clear and crisp. A side effect of the inverter is that the pixels will be blue scale instead of the olive green colors you’re used to seeing on old Game Boys.
With the Game Boy fully disassembled and your soldering iron heated up, you’ll need to remove the solder from the 6th and 7th pin from the right side of the ribbon cable mount.
Using some tweezers or small screwdriver (dental pick works great if you have one), gently lift up each pin while applying heat with your iron to loosen any remaining solder. Gently apply pressure to pry each pin up but be careful not to break the pins.
Slide the bivert module directly under the pins that you lifted up in the previous step. You’ll notice that the vias marked as VCC, PIN1, and PIN3 line up directly with solder joints. Line up the vias along with the solder pads for the lifted pins. Note that the module will hang over the edge of the board a little bit.
Apply a generous amount of solder to the VCC, PIN1, and PIN3 vias.
Now solder the pins to the soldering pads on the module. There isn’t a lot of space between the pins so be careful not to bridge them. Using flux may help.
This kit comes with a small red wire for grounding the module to the PCB. Solder one end of this wire to the GND pad and the other to the solder join depicted in the diagram.
Trim the wire as needed. As an alternative to using the ground wire, you can solder the GND pad directly to the solder blob next to it.
On the next page, we’ll install the LED Backlight.