Hobbyist adds a hinge to the Game Boy Pocket that everyone is happy with

This custom Game Boy Pocket SP folds in half like a snappy shell.
Enlarge / This custom Game Boy Pocket SP folds in half like a snappy shell.

Earlier this month, a programmer and hobbyist named Allison Parrish debuted a compact hack of the 1996 Nintendo Game Boy Pocket handheld game console. Inspired by the later Game Boy Advance SP, she crafted a custom plastic shell with a hinge so the older monochrome Game Boy can be folded. She calls it the Game Boy Pocket SP.

In Parrish’s in-depth article on the mod, she explains that her hack started as something of a joke. The Game Boy modding community is hot right now, and one currently trending mod is transplanting the circuitry from a folding Game Boy Advance SP (from 2003) into a non-folding custom shell. So she thought, “If you guys can take the hinge out of an SP, why can’t I add a hinge to a Game Boy that never had one?”

Parrish, an assistant art professor at NYU, built her complex folding mod over the summer using tools in her university department’s ITP/IMA store and the NYU Makerspace. The unique clamshell design is courtesy of a Game Boy Pocket motherboard that she cut in half, along with custom flex PCBs (printed circuit boards) that route signals between the two folding halves. To tie it all together, Parrish designed a 3D printed plastic shell using FreeCAD.

An exploded CAD view of the Game Boy Pocket SP custom shell designed by Allison Parrish.

An exploded CAD view of the Game Boy Pocket SP custom shell designed by Allison Parrish.

Additional parts, such as the backlit screen, label, buttons, and rechargeable battery, came from hobby stores.

The final product is compact, backlit, USB rechargeable and plays original black and white Game Boy games. Cartridges plug in just behind the screen, just like in the original Game Boy Pocket. After announcing a rough prototype of the mod back in September, the Game Boy Pocket SP took first place in the “Technical” category in r/gameboy’s modding contest on Reddit.

Currently, the Game Boy Pocket SP remains a unique device due to the enormous amount of effort it takes to create it. “The research and development process was also very expensive,” Parrish writes. “In addition to the material and production costs, there are also the costs of my own labor.”

But if you want to try and replicate her feat, Parrish has provided PCB and shell design files on GitHub and an almost step-by-step description of the build process on her website.

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