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Pi in a Gameboy Advance Build - WIP

  • @moosepr As a gaming device, the Zero works fine. It's just the wonky Wifi. I also have zero problems with my Zero that I have hard wired and acting as a Pi-Hole. I just SSH'd to it and it's been up for over 58 days.

    $ uptime
     14:23:58 up 58 days, 13:42,  1 user,  load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

  • I'm fighting a cold, so I didn't make a ton of progress today, but I managed to take some solid core ribbon cable and use it to solder to test pads on the Gameboy Advance and DS Lite boards and then connect them up to the Pi to test it, and…


    It works!

    Cable management is going to be a challenge, and I'm not certain I won't redo some of the solder joints, but everything registers and all the buttons show up, and nothing lit on fire.

    I then took the boards and buttons and put them in the Gameboy Advance case just to try playing something, and while the Start button seemed wonky (not sure if something came loose on the breadboard, or what) but with the ABXY taped to the front of the case it was really comfortable to play.


    The next step is going to commit to the frankencase and graft in the ABXY area from the DS Lite into the Gameboy Advance case. I need to find something to practice with, because I don't want to mess this up. Yes, they make replacement cases, but I'd rather not buy extras because I made a horrible mess. If anyone has any tips for plastic joinery goodness to share, please let me know.

  • @obsidianspider I had forgotten you were tacking the NDS buttons in there. Maybe @Sephiros can help with hints and tips. He looks to know his way round frankencasing

  • After experimentation with some corrugated cardboard. I think I'm going to try changing course a bit. It may not work, but we'll see.

    I spent a few hours in the garage today interspersed with some "testing sessions" cough playing StarFox cough, and while it's not done, things are looking promising...


  • Excited by the fact that I didn't break it when I removed the Ethernet port and one of the USB connectors I decided to try removing the display connector this morning before work. I managed to mangle the connector, but it's removed and the Pi still works. I'll be testing after I remove each component to make sure I don't break it, or if I did break it, where I broke it, so I can try to fix whatever I messed up. (Don't worry, I won't be boring you with a shot of the Pi as each component disappears.) The resistors and capacitor near the display connector had me worried for a bit when some solder blobbed on them.


  • @obsidianspider

    (Don't worry, I won't be boring you with a shot of the Pi as each component disappears.)

    You should make an animated GIF of each component disappearing ;-)

  • @moosepr Awesome! I've seen a few guides here and there and this will be helpful. I'm also trying to save the bits I cut from the inside of the case to use as a base for gluing things together.

    Also: Removing the HDMI port SUCKED. The surface mount plus through hole pegs were too much to heat at once, and I got impatient. I ended up tearing a bunch of traces, and actually melted the L4 resister into oblivion. Thankfully though, due to an X-Ray of a Pi 3 that I found, those resistors are just for HDMI, so it was OK to remove completely.


    The good news is that the Pi still works. I left it run Street Fighter Alpha 3 and StarFox 2 for a few hours, plugged into a 1A iPhone charger (to test the theory that you can power it with a PowerBoost 1000C), with a 2500mAh LiPo sitting directly on the SOC and nothing got too hot, the battery or the chip.


  • I think this is going to work.

    This morning I removed the rest of the ports aside from the power port (I'm not sure if I'll need to remove it yet, it's not much higher than some of the capacitors near it, but it's at the edge, so we'll see.


    I readily admit that I am a hack and that this could have been done more neatly, but this was my first time trying to strip down a board and keep it functional. And, it is!


    Why was I trying to do this? Well, based on my earlier mockups with some cardboard, I figured that if I could turn the pi sideways, trim the edge under the USB ports, and use a game cartridge to cover the sticky-outy bit, it'd fit.

    A quick mockup with the screen, 2500mAh battery, and cut down Pi make it look like this will work. I should have more room inside once I redo the ribbon cable I soldered to the screen board.


    And, as @backstander requested, a GIF of the components disappearing. ;)

    Shrinking Pi 3

  • @obsidianspider hahahaha love the gif! I bet you could cut a bit more off the end with the USB and ethernet ports

  • @moosepr I want to keep all four USB port pads available, so that's about as close as I could get it. I'm not sure how the board will be oriented inside the case just yet, but this is really promising.

  • @obsidianspider yeah it's looking good! You will have the most powerful GBA in the world! 😀

  • @obsidianspider
    Wow! Now that's progress!
    I love the animated GIF haha!

  • It's Friday night, so that means it's time to cut some stuff up in the garage.

    I was trying to fit the Pi 3 inside the Gameboy Advance game that I bought from eBay (Is Madagascar any good? I still have the PCB in good shape.) and I determined that I would need to make the Pi narrower, and also a bit shorter. I decided that I would only really at most need two USB ports (Maybe one for USB audio (I haven't determined if I can live with the on board audio from the Pi) and maybe one for a USB port for plugging in a keyboard or something.) so I could trim the end of the Pi down a bit more.


    Yes, it still works. I think. It powers up, no funky red LED flashing and I can SSH to it.

    The Pi now fits inside the Gameboy Advance case with the end covered by a trimmed and gutted Gameboy Advance game.




    Its looking pretty good in the case with the control PCBs


    Next up I'm going to try connecting some things to the Pi 3.

  • I got the TFT soldered to the Pi and things seem to work.


    They seem to fit well in the case, but I don't have anything but the Pi and screen in the case in this mockup.


  • I don't care if it's almost 11 PM, I'm really encouraged, so I decided to try hooking up a USB port to the remnants of the board, and it works!


  • @obsidianspider awesome stuff! It's really coming together now!

  • @moosepr It's definitely not a project for the weak willed. I'm still not sure where the heck I'm going to possibly put a USB port, but today I'm going to work on connecting leads to the USB pads and then will probably work on the audio circuit. I'm not sure about how I'm going to do the battery thing yet. I've seen posts in various places about a low voltage smart shutdown and things like that. Apparently if you over-discharge a LiPo you'll kill it.

    First though I'm in a parade this afternoon so no time to fuss around in the garage where I tend to lose track of time. ;)

  • @obsidianspider yeah lithium batteries don't take too kindly to being really flat. I think the adafruit boost doodad has protection built in. If your not using that then there are other options. Some cells have built in protection, or you can add an extra protection board

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