HOW-TO: Make a Custom Game Boy Mod (Pokémon Edition)

VIDEO:

 

WRITTEN GUIDE:

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SUPPLY LIST:
– Game Boy Advance
– Auto-Air Airbrush Colors (http://www.autoaircolors.com/)
– GBA Glass Screen (http://amzn.to/2bc4Q8z)
– GBA Screwdriver Set (http://amzn.to/2b0JRsN)
– Quick Drying Epoxy Glue
– Clear Acrylic Spray

So, we start off by disassembling the Game Boy. There are in total 7 screws on the back, one’s hidden under the battery lid. When we’ve removed the back cover, there’s two more screws keeping the motherboard in place. Before lifting it up, we have to gently jerk it upwards; I put a screwdriver in between the ribbon cable and the plastic cover. It’s kinda important to try not to break the ribbon cable. Then there’s this tiny piece of plastic that covers the battery light that we have to remove as well, or we won’t be able to see the light. This also means that we probably won’t have time to save our game in time, and so the GameBoy will die and we lose everything, and we don’t want that.

STEP 1: PREPARING / DISASSEMBLING THE GAMEBOY

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Then we pop out the glass screen, because this time we’re gonna exchange it for a nice, shiny glass screen. Now we peel off the sticker and remove the metal piece that holds the cartridge in place. Now we have a front and a back piece ready for the next step; sanding.

STEP 2: SANDING WITH WET SANDPAPER

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We’re using wet sandpaper to get rid of the protective coating we usually find on all types of plastic. This will make the paint stick better to the surface, and it will make it smoother which will give better results in the end. We’re gonna start at grit 600, and when it’s absolutely smooth and there are no visible scratches, we’ll continue with 1000, then 1500, and finally 2000. When we’re done sanding it’s gonna be ridiculously smooth.

STEP 3: AIRBRUSHING / SPRAY PAINT

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The kind of airbrush paint we’re gonna use for this type of console mod is Auto-Air Colors (http://www.autoaircolors.com/), which is a kind of water-based automotive paint. It’s actually meant for cars, but it’s absolutely perfect for this purpose as it’s robust, super-smooth and there are unlimited colours and variations of it. We could of course use spray paint instead (which we did in an older guide), and we’ve experienced that the automotive types are better in this category as well. As a first step in airbrushing I always put on a base coat of white, because that brings out the other colours on top of it much better and clearer. If we used, for example, black as our base colour, the colour on top would look a lot darker and less saturated.

Following up on top of the white, we have a medium aluminum base that is going to give it some nice glitter and shine effect, as long as we don’t cover it up completely with a non-transparent colour. You could just use a silver spray can here instead. Then we’re gonna use a candy pigmented purple colour to create a fading effect on top of the aluminum.

STEP 4: PAINT A DESIGN / USE DECALS

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When the paint was dry, I continue to paint by hand. We’re gonna use the same paint as we did earlier. There’s no problem painting with normal brushes using this airbrush paint. All you need is the three primary colours (red, blue, yellow) and some black and white to create anything you want. It’s detailed and time-consuming work, but it’s gonna be worth it. The lines and the proportions can be a bit tough, though. Also, if we take a look at the two pieces, I tried to make them match, and I think it’s kinda cool when they do because it looks more complete that way.

STEP 5: CLEAR ACRYLIC SPRAY / CLEAR COATING

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Topping it all with some clear acrylig spray to seal the paint, protect it and give it a glossy, shiny effect. It’s important to make sure that the layers of paint are completely dry before we start coating it, because if it’s not, the coating might react with the paint and make it crack. Not cool when we’ve used 6 hours + painting that design. I usually wait 2 or more days before coating it with clear spray. I put on at least 5 layers of this clear coat, and let it dry in between each layer. When I’m done with that, I let it sit for another couple of days.

STEP 6: GLUE ON SCREEN & ASSEMBLE GAMEBOY

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As we’re going to attach a new screen, we need some strong glue to hold it in place; and two component quick drying epoxy is just what we need! But oh man, just stop for a second there and appreciate the beauty of the shiny, new glass screen. Anyway, now we’re putting on some glue at the top and the bottom to really seal it in place. Don’t even dare touch that screen when pushing it down, it’s just too shiny.

STEP 7: LAST TOUCHES

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Just signed it, and figured that the battery lid wouldn’t slide in place because the layers of clear coat were too thick. Solution; use a scalpel to peel off all those layers around the edges where the battery lid fits in. This helped a lot, and now it’s fully reassembled, and fully finished. Just a final note; the paint has to dry in between each layer, or it has a greater chance of cracking. Also, I’ve experienced that the clear coating use quite some time to harden. It’s usually dry to the touch within a day or so, but I’ve had to wait at least a couple of days (preferably a week) before attaching the screen or putting it back together, or it won’t be completely hardened. Feel free to use some rubbing compound or polishing wax when it’s dry, that will really bring out the shine in it!

If you like the design and want to use it yourself, here’s a link to a sketch I made for reference. I always find it helpful to have some sort of picture reference when I paint designs like these, so usually I draw them beforehand.

RESULT

Mewtwohowoo

Thanks for watching and/or reading, and remember to stay nerdy,
The Natural Nerds

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