Projects Video Games

Virtual Boy Broken Screen Line Fix (Kinda)

If you haven’t noticed I have been a Virtual Boy kick as of late. I have a thing for dead, semi-forgotten machines, ok (see Brave Little Toaster).

A common problem with Virtual Boy, as with the Game Boy, is the LEDs and Screens are attached using an adhesive instead of solder. This is great for the short term, but in the long term the contacts ten to lift as the adhesive ages. There are a couple ways to fix this. There is the much harder, more tedious way of soldering the points directly to the ribbon cable. This involves etching away the old adhesive and having very steady hands. I opted for the second route: take the LED array out and try to re-melt the adhesive using an oven. So, this is that tale.

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The Virtual Boy pre-strip.

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Older Nintendo (maybe current, too) uses a special screw design to prevent tampering known as GameBit. It’s a weird looking star. I had a bit for that, but as long as it was (2″ probably) it still wasn’t long enough to reach the most sunken screws in the Virtual Boy. I had to use a dremel tool to grind away more of the bit so it could fit. Even then it barely made it. Nintendo is serious about the no tampering thing.

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The naked Virtual Boy.

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The LEDs ready for the oven.

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Out of the oven. After this you are supposed to vigorously rub the contact of the ribbon to the board.

The result after this was that it still didn’t fix my problem. Although unlikely, one of the LEDs might be burnt out. I only left it in the 200 degree oven for 2 minutes. I am going to try for 5 minutes next time. I only need to do the right one now that I know the culprit. I hope the next time it works. That one dead line of pixels is far more annoying than it should be.

Projects Video Games

Virtual Boy Power Mod Revisted

If you remember I semi-recently modded my virtual boy to run on AC power instead of having to buy an expensive AC Adapter.

Well there was several after-the-fact things I noticed.

1. Two cords going opposite way jutting out from the controller. It was really obtrusive.

2. When I put the jack inside there controller there was not a lot of real estate so I had to rip out a lot of the structure inside. That never sat right with me.

3. It looks ugly. Butt ugly. Ugg buttly.

I decided that I would do it right. My good(ish) name would not be besmirched with such shoddy craftsmanship.

I bought myself a brand-new, used controller off eBay to try my hand at this again.


The workbench for this process.


Power Jack

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AC Adapter. It supports world voltages so it can be used anywhere with only a physical change to the prongs.


The controller board with the wires soldered on.

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Those are actually the contact points for the power. They take 9V DC @ 350 mA at least.

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Here is the completed AC Jack. I drilled a small hole out of the top of the controller so the cords are aligned in the same direction.


Everything hooked up.


Closer view of the power connection.


The new controller.


The old and new together.

Overall, much better than before. All the internal integrity is retained and the feel is much less obtrusive. The AC-DC supply itself is also much more versatile. I have a few more projects planned for the VB before I call it done, including trying to fix a broken LED in the array leaving a blank strip when viewing. The ribbon cables were secured with poor adhesive so it’s probably that, but it needs to be fixed. Stay tuned!

BTW: I got all my parts from Digi-Key for those interested.

Projects Video Games

Game Gear Resurrected!

It is finished! I am thoroughly glad with how this project turned out. I wasn’t sure If I would be able to resurrect my Game Gear from the grips of death, but I am pleased to announce that it is currently back up and running like a champ. I will do a quick recap (that very well could be a pun here in a second). Many electronics at the time of the release of the Game Gear had some poor capacitors in them. They would often break and leak electrolytic fluid. This fluid tends to corrode traces on the board. This happens not only on the main board, but also on the audio board. What is the solution to fixing this you ask?



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Here is an example of some corroded point. If you see the nasty stuff next to the 22 microfarad cap. All of this needed to be scrapped off and cleaned to create a  good solder point. Kind of a pain.

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This is what it looks like with the new caps in place and the corrosion cleaned off to the best of my ability.

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I replaced all the caps on the board. ALl the blue cylinder things are the new ones. 11 in total. There was probably 3 or 4 leaky ones, but it was a good idea to just replace them all.

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WOOO! Go get’em Sonic. The small board in the upper left is the audio board before I replaced the caps.

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This board was surprisingly worse than the main board. It was extremely corroded. Almost all the caps were leaking, too.

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This is the Game Gear all back together. Everything works again including the audio.

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These are all the bad, old caps that were replaced.

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The aftermath.

I am very happy with how this turned out and it gives me more confidence to do this kind of stuff in the future so watch for more projects of this nature.