Pi in a Burger King Gameboy Color Build - WIP
Inspired by the amazing work of ivanretrobit where he has managed to put Pi Zeroes into Burger King Game Boy toys I decided to buy some on eBay last night to give it a try. As I was looking through the different toys I not only noticed different colors and games inside them, but that some had the "D-Pad" as a slider which had a huge valley in the front cover to allow the D-Pad to move up and down, but it's much taller than the D-Pad area, and would have a big hole in the front case, so I found that the "water" and "pachinko" variants seemed to be best suited for retrofitting with a Pi. We'll see.
(Photos from eBay auctions)
ivanretrobit's Instagram feed has some hints in it at how he accomplished the build, but he doesn't provide any tutorials, so it'll be more learning and figuring things out, which for me is a lot of the fun in RetroPie.
How small are these things? They appear to be about the size of an Altoids tin based on some rough estimations from the image I saw of the red one next to a quarter, but I'll be sure to take measurements when mine arrive. Here's a photo that shows one next to a real Game Boy Color.
thedudester80 last edited by
Hey that looks like a fun little project. Good luck friend, If you ever have any questions as always don't hesitate to ask. Hopefully soon I'll have all the parts to start my new tiny game device. .... I'm really excited about this one if it works out. =]
@obsidianspider your going to have some fun with that one! There is even less space than there is in a GBA!
Today the Burger King Gameboys arrived. Wow, these things are small, but at the same time, bulbous.
From the front they look like a Gameboy Color, but they have a big flip open compartment on the back that originally stored a Pokemon toy. That area is key to making this build even remotely possible.
The blue Gameboy is slightly damaged (likely from when it was made) near the screen, and it's the pachinko variant. The green Gameboy is the water variant and my initial impression is that it will likely be easier to work with since the water Gameboy's D-Pad area is already cut out so you can press it in, as opposed to the pachinko Gameboy where you actually pull the D-Pad down.
Dimensions of the Burger King Gameboy Color case are:
34mm deep (not including buttons sticking out of the front)
The screen opening is
The D-Pad is 18.4mm across
The B and A buttons are 5.9mm in diameter
For comparison, this is the Burger King Gameboy Color next to my real Gameboy Color.
The real Gameboy Color D-PAd is 17.7mm across
The B and A buttons are 8.7mm in diameter
@obsidianspider when i first saw the inital build i thought the 'hump' on the back had been added, didnt realize it was part of the toy.
if you could shoehorn it in without the hump it would be amazing!!!
@moosepr Haha, I think I'm going to try making the blue one work first (with the hump), since it's slightly damaged anyway (see the top left corner of the screen surround?) and it doesn't have the D-Pad area pre-cut. If I can make that work, maybe I'll look at doing the other one, but I have a feeling I may end up using it because I mess up the first attempt. :-P
I'm glad I decided to start with the blue one. Getting this thing open is proving more difficult than I thought. I'm trying to use a razor blade on the seam between the front and the back, and I've already slipped a few times and scratched the case. Hmm…
edmaul69 last edited by edmaul69
@obsidianspider you should use a piece of thread and saw it instead of trying to cut it with a razor.
Well that was… educational.
I tried @edmaul69's suggestion of using string. That didn't work for me. After a long time of getting frustrated I decided to cut the back open since that would be cut open eventually anyway. I was hoping to easily separate the halves. No dice.
My results aren't horrible, but due to my slicing through with the razor blade I don't have a nice overlapping shell, and there's discoloration from where I was slicing with the razor blade.
It looks like if you cut the back open you can slice the plastic weld from the inside, based on this photo from ivanretrobit.
I kind of want to attempt to open up the green Gameboy right away to see if I can do a better job, but I think for right now I'm going to order some parts and see if I can make the blue one work and then use that as a model for the green one.
ivanretrobit last edited by
@obsidianspider a little late but easiest way to open them is if you make a hole about the size of the door flap on the back and then grind down the posts on the corners with a dremel or cut them with some angled cutters. Some are glued better then others you kind of just have to get lucky :/ but once those posts are cut its easy to pry it open
@ivanretrobit Thanks for the pointer! I've already determined that the blue one is going to be my guinea pig. Since it was damaged when I got it I don't feel as bad about wrecking the edge.
My parts from Adafruit came in. The 2" screen is a perfect fit. I got the I2S amp as well as the regular mono amp depending on if I think I can fit a headphone jack and USB sound card in the case or not, though right now I'm looking for a small enough speaker. I looked at some model railroad rectangular speakers, but even the tiny ones are pretty deep. Also, I got the tact switches from Adafruit to see just how clicky they are, and yeah, they're too clicky for this. I'm thinking about getting these from eBay. Does anyone know if those are quieter/less clicky? Ideally I'd make a custom PCB and use carbon pads from real buttons, but yeah, that's not happening, at least not with the first iteration.
I also ordered a red Gameboy Color toy from eBay that should be here in a day or so. I still really like the blue, even though I bungled the edges and the screen is damaged from when it was made, but if I decide to make that shell the learning tool (which it most likely is going to be) I'm not sure if I should make my "real" one out of the lime green or the red. What do you think?
thedudester80 last edited by
@obsidianspider Yes those buttons still click but are much more natural feeling and quiet. =] Looking good so far.
@obsidianspider they look like the ones i used on my little project. If they are, then they are totally silent, and have a nice soft feel (like the rubber domes of old) but do have a slight tactile feel when they activate
pawpie last edited by
I also bought some burger king toys of these months ago for this same exact project but never got around to it. What soldering iron are you going to use?
I am not very knowledgeable in a good quality soldering iron but i used a couple in the past before to replace batteries from gameboy/gameboy advance carts as well as other little projects. However the irons i bought were from dollar stores and while they did work they only lasted for a couple of uses, the tip was too thick for small projects like these.
@obsidianspider try it straight from the li-po :P most things are pretty tollerant.
The specs from Adafruit say that the 2" TV has an operating range of 6-15V. I gave it a shot, but it won't power on straight from the LiPo (which was reading 3.8V). From the PowerBoost it was getting 5.1V, and it turned on. I pulled out the only NTSC source I had handy (My test Pi Zero doesn't have TV-out soldered up) and "tested" for a while with some Donkey Kong Country on my childhood Super Nintendo. Just to make sure everything worked correctly. Yeah, that's it.
I was worried that being a NTSC source it'd look blurry, but with pixels so small, it's a really nice looking screen. Then again, for $40, it should be.
@obsidianspider nawww it was worth a shot!!! you forget how tiny these things are when you are looking at datasheets and web listings. Its not until you see them next to real world items that it dawns on you :P
@moosepr Yeah, working on these handhelds has really made me appreciate the luxury of how large consoles really are. If I ever build another non-portable Pi, I don't think space will be an issue for me.