Making a Game Boy Far Less Portable

One of the Nintendo Switch’s strongest selling points is that it is both a portable handheld system and a home console. Not only does that mean that you can move seamlessly from playing a game on your TV to playing on the go, it also means that you can play your favorite “portable” games on the big screen. You can do the same with older Game Boy games via an emulator, but what if you want to play on real hardware? This guide will walk you through how to turn a Game Boy into a home console.

Before you get angry and leave a strongly worded comment, you should know that the Game Boy used for this project was already damaged and had a nonfunctional screen. The donor NES, which acts as the console enclosure, was also old and damaged. In this project, completed by Andy at element14, the two devices are crammed together to form a new console. It accepts Game Boy cartridges, but outputs the video via HDMI to modern TVs. You’ll be able to play games using an NES controller. You can even switch video color palettes.

Andy will walk you through the conversion process in detail in the video, but we’ll cover the highlights here. You need to tap into the Game Boy’s motherboard through a pin header. That gives you access to both video and controller inputs. A Raspberry Pi Pico board reads the video signal pins and outputs the video as VGA with the selected color palette. An off-the-shelf VGA-to-HDMI converter completes the video output. The Pico also reads inputs from the NES controller and passes those on to the Game Boy’s motherboard pin header.

To polish up the project, Andy put all of the components inside of the NES shell using 3D-printed mounts. The Game Boy’s buttons fit nicely inside of the NES controller, so Andy also added stickers to complete the look. The finished console works great and looks fantastic.

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