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Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:02 pm

PiBoy Advance

Sun Apr 10, 2016 1:38 pm

So, I've wanted to do a project like this for a while.

Its the concept of a GameBoy Advance (NOTE: Not the SP, never really liked them) being used as a housing for the Raspberry Pi 3.

You can pick up a cheap housing for the GBA online, and building 2 custom breadboards for the buttons. As long as I can remember, the screen size is about 2.8" and the Adafruit one should fit fine. If you are wondering how the Pi would fit in the thin exterior of the GBA, pulling out the USB and Ethernet ports is possible, and reduces the form factor significantly.

Image Image

What i am wondering, is if this project is at all possible - I have all the parts listed below, don't be a stranger and leave a reply! :D




[The buttons and breadboard are also found on Adafruit, just too many of them to sort out right now]


Charging Stuff etc.
http://goo.gl/WNWWMm http://goo.gl/irwljp

I've probably forgotten a lot of stuff, but it's a list so far, eh?
Thanks ;)

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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:00 pm

Re: PiBoy Advance

Fri Apr 15, 2016 5:50 pm

I'm doing a similar project and have had trouble getting all of the parts to actually fit and I'm using a pi zero. Course i am using the GBA pcb for my button inputs so you might save a little room by using a bread board. i would also recommend just using a 2500 mah battery instead of the 2000 mah battery. The 2500 fits nicely inside of the game boy advance and you can mod a gba cart by cutting just below the screw that holds it together to make the outside case look nice and complete

little heads up on the screen you will have to unsolder the female gpio inputs and solder you male gpios from the raspberry pi directly to the screens circuit board you will also have to trim the screens board a lot ( not a big deal since they just put the logo on there to look nice doesnt actually matter). once i finish working on the screens board i will try to upload images that show what im talking about.

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Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:02 pm

Re: PiBoy Advance

Sun May 01, 2016 8:18 am

Thanks for your reply!

I looked around for anther screen, and came to the conclusion that a composite screen, would be far more stable than the one I have selected, (GPIO) and upon further review, it takes up a lot less room, which we need!
Also, thanks for your recommendation of the 2500 mah battery, it is something else i will replace in my basket!

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Re: PiBoy Advance

Mon May 02, 2016 9:04 pm

2500 mAh isn't enough. Here's why. (wall of text warning)
My gameboy uses a 4000mAh battery with a pi2, and it gets 2.5hours at most.
And the pi3 takes even more current, so you'd get even less, maybe 90-100minutes at 4000mAh.
A 2500mAh battery, and you're looking at like.. 45 minutes tops. (3.7v -> 5v, is like a 1500mAh battery, infact, you could be drawing more than 2.5A from the battery once you take the voltage boost into consideration.
So unless it has multi-cell discharge rates, like an RC car battery, you could be drawing too much current and causing damage to the battery. That's why hobby batteries are like 3S 20C, 3 cells, 20cell discharge rate. IE if the battery is 1000mAh, it can put out 20A of current.
Adafruit batteries and the like, are 1C, so 2500mAh means you can only draw 2.5A, which a pi3 plus other stuff, could exceed after voltage boosters.

The pi3 overheats, it's the 1 pi, that actually should have a heatsink. I'd even go as far as to suggest a tiny 20-30mm blower fan and some vent holes. It'll actually thermal throttle as it'll reach 80c+
80c temps + a Lipo battery is BAD news. 60c is the max for lipos. so if the pi is near the battery, it could be bad, or if it got too hot inside the case.
My gameboy has a small blower fan where the cartridge slot is. and it keeps cool. because it was getting too hot (pi2) and was getting unsafe for the battery that was near it.

So go with the largest battery you can fit. my gameboypi uses a 3.7v 4000mAh battery. i couldn't get a bigger one in there.
My RPi needs a fan, heat will leech into the battery, so people saying I don't need a fan, don't understand how Li-Po batteries are affected by high temps. Cool pi = cool battery.
I would very much so like to see a Pi2/Pi3 Zero, power and size.

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Joined: Sat May 14, 2016 12:25 am

Re: PiBoy Advance

Sat May 14, 2016 12:29 am

I too have been thinking of doing this, adafruit just released a kit for doing something similar with the pi zero that might be the ticket.

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Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:29 am

Re: PiBoy Advance

Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:17 am

Back in April 2016, I completed a retropie portable build using a GBA and a Pi Zero. It's called the NeoPiGamer.


You can get the specs, details, and a few build photos from the post linked below.


I have modified it a bit since then. I trimmed the housing a bit more and was able to fit a 2500mAh battery doubling the battery life to around 6-8 hours. I've implemented push-button power-on of the powerboost using a modified implementation of what's documented by NeonHorizon at https://github.com/NeonHorizon/lipopi. I tried several very good implementations of detecting the low power and auto-shutdown, but reliability and system performance were an issue so I added a low power led to the location of the original power led. It works perfectly by blinking when the battery is getting low and stays solid when it's time to shutdown down. Shutdown of the Pi Zero turns off the powerboost as documented.

The project is now 100% complete and I can say I am truly enjoying the NeoPiGamer. So far, it's running NES, SNES, Genesis/Megadrive, FBA (for Neo Geo and a few arcade games), Lynx, Gameboy, and Gameboy Advanced. I'm quite amazed at how well everything runs on the Pi Zero.

@DJinny - A 2500mAh battery is more than enough for a PiZero. The PiZero is a lot more power efficient than the Pi2 and especially the Pi3. I have all three and I agree that the Pi3 definitely runs hotter than the Pi2. I don't think it's possible to fit a Pi2 or Pi3 into an original GBA case along with all the required components anyway.

I look forward to hearing more about the progress of everyone's builds.

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Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:41 pm

Re: PiBoy Advance

Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:55 pm

gamegearpi3b.jpg (87.21 KiB) Viewed 7623 times
Yes! Do it! I built this exact thing with a pi 3B and a gameboy advance case. I had the color screen, battery, working audio (including the volume wheel), custom breadboard, buttons etc. The only thinkg I struggled with (and finally gave up on) was the headphone jack.

I literally made an account so that I could encourage you to do this. I had to remove USB and Networking ports, and then physically cut the pi3B itself removing a great deal of the board. Then I cut the back of the game boy advance case out, and rebuilt it flatter with more space using bondo, and repainted it. After all of that the pi3b fit inside with all the extras, I closed it up and gave it to a kid at church.

I should have kept it. I do have some pictures :) I'm glad to send them to you however you do that here. I have all the parts to redo this build and make it neater/better so if you want to tackle this together I'm game (get it?).

P.S. Doing it in a Sega Gamegear was MUCH easier lol.

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