I’m currently working on a power board for Game Boy Zero which I will be calling the tinkerBOY PowerSwitch. It’s supposed to be a builtin upgrade for my tinkerBOY Controller v3.0 but I decided to design it separately and integrate a slide switch. This way, it’s not limited to just my v3 but can be used by anyone using any controller board as well as my other controllers like the v1.1, v1.2, v2.0.
The 3 most important features will be 5V boost, battery charger, and a safe shutdown feature. I’m almost done with the design and I will be ordering some PBCs soon so I can test it. So don’t forget to subscribe to my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tinkerBOY/ for updates.
Use the diagram below to wire the tactile switches for the L and R shoulder buttons. You can wire the GND to any GND pins on the board or any GND somewhere else like from the Raspberry Pi, Battery, powerboost, etc…
For v1.1, v1.2, v2.1, and v2.2:
Just do the same wiring if you want to add the L2 and R2 buttons.
Minimal back case mod for tinkerBOY Controller v2.1 or v2.2:
If you want to bypass the volume wheel or just want to control the volume by other means, here’s how to do it:
Update: tinkerBOY DPI Adapter v1.0 now available!
I finally had time to populate and test my DPI adapter prototype which will be included as part of my all-in-one board for Game Boy Zero / 3. So far it’s working fine. The DPI screen looks way better than composite.
I actually built a Game Boy 3 using just a simple FPC breakout board for doing the DPI connections but it was very difficult to make it work. Obviously because of all the wires I soldered to the Pi which are prone to interference. But I managed to make it work anyway. So I made a prototype to make it easier to use a DPI screen.
The AIO board will be compatible with Raspberry Pi Zero and Pi 3. Both will have sdcard access from the “CONTRAST” area of the Game Boy case.
Adding a separate GND wire for the video (yellow wire) is optional but recommended. Diagram assumes you are using a screen that works on 5V power like the GearBest Screen.
The pwm audio on the Pi Zero is horrible and noisy so you probably be needing a low/high pass filter too.
For the controllers, you can visit GPIO Button Guide for Game Boy Controller v2.0 / v2.1.
Wiring the Game Boy Controller v2.0 to the Pi Zero or Pi 3’s GPIO pins is the simplest way to configure controller inputs for the Game Boy Zero/3 without any additional component. You can use the following diagram to solder the button inputs to the Pi and download a copy of RetroPie with the GPIO program already pre-installed.
I got asked a few times about the difference of each of the 3 Game Boy Controllers I currently sell so I’ll try my best to explain it here. I’m talking about my Game Boy Controller v1.1, Game Boy Controller 2.0, and Game Boy Controller v2.1.
This is one of the first boards I designed while learning Eagle software and electronics. Most of the boards that were available when I started building Game Boy Zero were not really solder-friendly and were just plain simple PCB with only solder pads for the controller buttons. So I designed one in order to make it easier to solder and included some useful features like builtin power strips, audio and volume wheel solder pads which is inspired by Helder‘s work. I think got the idea of building one from rolf.
So what does it do? Just like any simple Game Boy Common Ground PCB it just does one thing and that is to provide controller/button inputs for the Game Boy Zero only. Although I made my v1.1 a little easier on the soldering side and added some useful features I mentioned above. But of course you need more than a simple pcb to build a proper working Game Boy Zero. Aside from the Game Boy case, screen, battery, Pi Zero, 5v boost and charger module, you also need an audio amp, speaker, a low/high pass filter, headphone jack, etc..
I have built and sold a lot of GBZs and GB3s here in the Philippines using just a simple PCB button which requires a lot of work and soldering because there wasn’t much available option. So I decided to make my own. Here comes my Game Boy Controller v2.0 which includes the low/high pass filter, PAM8403 audio amp, and a headphone jack already builtin to it. It’s similar to Helder’s Audio Board which I got the inspiration from and since the schematics for the PAM8403 and the low/pass filter are easily obtainable.
So what’s the advantage over the v1.1? It may seem simple to build, but soldering and wiring a separate audio amp, low/high pass filter, headpone jack, and the volume wheel is pretty confusing to most and requires some basic electronics and troubleshooting skill. The v2.0 should save you time from figuring out and soldering the audio part of a Game Boy Zero build.
Another important advantage is it’s simplicity. It does not use any USB device for the audio and controllers so you get to keep the only USB port on a Pi Zero for external use. This is not an issue with a Pi 3 build since it has plenty of USB ports. Which lead me to my next board.
My Game Boy Controller v2.1 has all the builtin features of my v2.0 board but instead of using the Pi’s GPIO pins, it uses a USB-based Arduino Pro Micro module for the controllers which practically reduces the number of wires to solder. You only need to solder 2 connection wires while my v2.0 and v1.1 board need atleast 10 button connections excluding the L and Rs.
Another advantage is the Analog Stick support which you cannot do on a v1.1 or v2.0 board without buying a separate Pro Micro or a Teensy module. While it’s perfect for Pi3 builds, it takes away the only usb port on a Pi Zero unless you consider an external usb hub for it. Which again lead me to my next board.
I’m still working on this one. 🙂 Features should include a builtin USB audio, amp, atmega32u4, etc.
So, that’s it for now. I hope you found this information helpful in building your own Game Boy Zero. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any help or advice.
Here’s a visual guide on how to wire the Game Boy Controller v2.0.
Latest version v2.0.01:
Previous version: v2.0:
Latest version v2.1.01/v2.2:
Previous version v2.1:
Building controller boards for the Game Boy Zero takes time so I’m thinking of just re-using ready-made modules like the Pro Micro(atmega32u4) for the buttons and the PAM8403 for the audio amp. Makes it faster to build.
This setup uses both left and audio channel.
/boot/config.txtand add the following line:
You can also use 2 speakers for left and audio output if that’s what you want.
There are different ways to setup the audio on a Game Boy Zero/3 but this is the most common and easiest way to do so good luck and happy building!
Update: tinkerBOY DPI Adapter v1.0 now available!
I just got my DPI Adapter a few days ago and have been testing it earlier. I made this one to make it easier to use a DPI screen for Game Boy Zero and Game Boy 3 projects. It works on both the Pi Zero and Pi 3. There’s a builtin backlight driver but im still waiting for parts to finish it
This one is designed specifically for a commonly used 3.5″ lcd for GBZ/3.
Game Boy cartridge labels I designed for Game Boy Zero/3 builds.