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Updated: Jun 11, 2020

I really enjoy the GBA, it's a very nice handheld console. As there are various third party screens and components now, I decided to get an ugly example and rebuild a custom version using only the motherboard from the original machine.

Bleached and dirty original GBA parts
Bleached and dirty original GBA parts

I was able to get this sun-bleached pink/orange GBA for around 15euros including shipping. (I paid more, though it came with some multi game carts and I sold those, bringing the total price down)

This GBA was pretty hammered, and was very dirty as well. I recycled the bits I was not going to use. At some point (when they arrive) I will replace the shoulder buttons and the speaker. They are working OK, just for a full rebuild I will swap them out.

GBA Motherboard

I went for the ips v2 screen. It looks great, has 10 levels of selectable brightness and is very affordable. Funnyplaying have a helpful install video on their site:

I'm unaffiliated with them.

There are loads of other online help/tutorial videos and info if you search for gba ipsv2.

Other aftermarket LCDs available, though many of the others are difficult to get hold of as they often are out of stock.

I needed a new shell, buttons, rubber contacts, screen and lens: so bought the bundle which has all these items included. The shell has been adjusted with a CNC machine to properly fit the new screen which is a bit larger than the original.

It was a pretty easy install. It took a few hours in total, I work slowly to get it right first time. The soldering was ok, though if you're new to soldering you might ask someone to do it for you, or skip the brightness control. It looks the business now with the LCD and new shell / button colour scheme:

Tetris game on GBA by night
Tetris GBA by night

I always liked how the screen is between the controllers rather than above (I have large hands and this makes it A LOT easier to hold) I love a rebuild and mod at the same time, breathing new life into what really was ewaste (look again at the 'before' pictures : )

This GBA now looks EXTREMELY COOL, and with the new screen, you can actually SEE what you are playing! What is your favourite game for the GBA, let me know in the comments, I want to play it! I plan to mess about with some retro gaming and chiptune sounds . . .

Let's have a look at some GBA titles in this 25 best of article:

Gallery with build images:

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