GB Boy Colour Repair

GB Boy Colour-10-Title.png

Last year’s Christmas present to my oldest boy (2017), started to misbehave in such a way that made playing it no longer enjoyable. This GB Boy Colour, a Game Boy Color clone, likely not made with the highest quality components started to have switch problems. It either wouldn’t turn on or turn on and immediately off, have continual reboots (is that what a Game Boy does, reboot?) or some other odd screen dimming, random lines flickering across and other peculiar behavior. This malfunctioning device was causing my boy serious frustration.

Old Tech Is Better Tech

GB Boy Colour-12.pngThese older Nintendo Game Boy games are great because they don’t require internet connection so there is no way I am being spied on and there isn’t any advertising. On top of it, these old games games are still fun many years later.

If you want to know more about the device itself just search “GB Boy Colour” and there are numerous reviews. What is particularly fantastic about this device is that it is a color screen with backlight and it not only has a bunch of built in games but it has the cartridge slot so that you can pop in those 25 + year old games and play them with an even better experience than you had in the early 90s. I wasn’t into the Game Boy when it came out but this particular unit is pretty great.

Disassembly

I turned this broken device into an education opportunity for my kids. They not only get to see the inside of this portable fun-box, they can also observe the process of soldering and the importance of taking care around tools, like the soldering iron. I consider it a huge win that I burn myself or my kids.

Easy OutTaking apart this device was a bigger headache than it should have been. The Nintendo specific screw heads could not be removed with the tool I purchased to remove it. I could have customized the tool to make it fit in the counterbore but since I don’t have a metal lathe (yet), I was not able to do so. I suppose I could have chucked it up in my drill and used a metal file or die grinder to grind it down but that seemed like far too much work. Instead, I decided to use an “easy-out” to remove the screws and replace the screws with standard cross-recess drive style.

GB Boy Colour-03-Screw Heads

Six screws is all that holds this case together. Pretty typical plastic screws you would see in devices of this type. Two of the screws are in the battery compartment which I didn’t immediately see.

GB Boy Colour-07-Back

Once the case is apart, there are three more screws that hold the main board to the front case.

GB Boy Colour-08-Separated.jpg

Once separated, you have to be careful not to let the screen dangle around and get beat up. That reveled the power switch soldered joints.

Repair

My inexperienced observation of the device reveled that the soldering of the switch was likely done too cold so there wasn’t a good bond between the board and the switch. The fix was rather easy, I was able to use my soldering iron to heat up and add a bit more solder. When I completed soldering the switch I also noticed that the switch itself was ever so slightly cracked. The metal contact was pulling away from the sliding action. I fixed this by applying a little glob of hot glue to properly support the bits to keep it from pulling apart.

GB Boy Colour-04-Switch

After reassembling this Game Boy Color Clone, I gave it a test run (read: played games instead of get work done), lost track of time for a bit until my boy insisted that he try it out himself.

GB Boy Colour-13-Super Mario Land.png

Final Thoughts

I was pretty fortunate that I was able to just re-flow the solder on this switch and beef up the walls with hot glue to hold it together. Using this as an educational opportunity with my kids made for some good family time. It brought about many questions about what the components do, how a soldering iron works and why it melts the solder. I not only helped them to understand electronics a little bit, it also created respect for the tools and the need for increased caution. From their perspective, the most important part was being able to play Super Mario Land and Ms Pacman again without the thing getting stuck in reboot cycles.

Further Reading

Nintendo Life Review of GB Boy Colour

NES SNES Security Bit Screw Driver on Amazon.com

6 thoughts on “GB Boy Colour Repair

  1. Hello! So my GB Boy Colour is broken. Essentially, everything works but the screen. The games boot up, I can hear the sound, but the screen itself is just blank (the backlight does come on).

    If I remember correctly, it stopped working after I put a game in one time. The screen itself when held at an angle is like, half blue, half pure white.

    I want to repair this to sell it, otherwise, I will just sell it for parts or repair (hopefully I could actually get something off of something this obscure haha). I don’t know much about this stuff though. Any idea of what the problem may be? I know it’s hard to know without seeing the device, but maybe you at least have a few leads.

    When I open the device up, everything appears pretty normal. The ribbon cable running to the screen seems right.

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    1. I truly am not sure what the problem is. I would check all the connections. Reseat any cables and go from there. Does the device usable with no cartridge in it at all?

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      1. Hmm, well I was in there last night. All the connections looked fine. Not sure what you mean by reseating the cables? I tried to clean everything like a whistle last night on the board. There was a lot of gunk on the board itself. I had hoped this would fix it, but alas it did not.

        If you are wondering if the built in games load up, there is no way for me to tell, as I have removed the built in game capabilities years ago with this mod https://www.reddit.com/r/Gameboy/comments/4y21f1/mod_gb_boy_color_antipiracy_original_dpad_and_og/ (the GB Boy worked fine for years after this mod) I would assume that they don’t, as the GB Boy logo does not even pop up

        While I was in the shell a few days ago, because I have grown strongly anti-pirate over time, I actually cut out the chip containing the pirated games completely and trashed it. In any case, the device still powered on afterwards with the same screen issue. The sound still worked. The carts themselves were loading fine afterwards; when I put Pokemon Yellow in, for example, I could still hear all of the music, and the buttons were working.

        Now, yesterday while cleaning, I accidentally dislodged one of the wires for the speaker, so now the sound does not work. But this should be an easy fix.

        Also, I actually looked at the screen at an angle more, and here is what I found: when held at an angle, the screen shows an off-blue color on the left 1/6th of it when I power it on the first time. Each successive time I power it on and off, the blue fills up a little more of the screen. Over time, white bars begin to appear. Again, this is so subtle that it is really only noticeable at an angle.

        Honestly, I do not have the time to continue working on the device. I just want to get it off my hands, as it is extra clutter in my life at the time, and I have a viable real Gameboy Color that I may do a backlight screen mod on. Would you want this GB Boy free of charge to try to fix it up for yourself, or just for extra parts for your boy’s? I would be happy to even pay the shipping costs; I just don’t want it around anymore and don’t have the time nor energy to fix it up at this point in my life. Otherwise, it will just end up in the trash.

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      2. I am honestly not sure. This is not a problem that I have run into this myself. They are not the best constructed devices. My electronics debugging is not well developed. I am still learning.

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