DMGPlus – replace the GameBoy heart with an FPGA and Raspberry Pi Zero #PiDay @Raspberry_Pi @SpritesMods

SpriteMods discusses changing out the heart of a Nintendo Game Boy to make the DMGPlus game machine:

A while ago, with the Raspberry Pi still new, a fair amount of people decided to take one and stick it in the housing of a Game Boy. Usually, these things were somewhat reminiscent of a Game Boy, but pretty recognizable as products of a later time: they had more buttons to accommodate game consoles that needed it, they all had fancy backlit color TFTs and they ran off modern LiIon batteries. But what if you wanted to go for a more authentic mod? Let me introduce the DMGPlus.

The design goal of the DMGPlus was to put a Raspberry Pi in an authentic Game Boy in the most stealth way possible. That meant keeping in as much of the existing hardware as possible, and finding ways to interface with all of it: the display, buttons, cartridge, speaker, even the link port. Also, obviously, everything still needs to be powered from the 4 AA batteries that the original ran on.

If I only replaced the main board, I could keep the rest of the GameBoy stock. This does mean that I need to put a fair few things on this board, however: the Raspberry Pi doesn’t have that many pins, and out of the box it is not compatible with the signals the LCD needs. Aside from that, the GameBoy works on 5V logic levels and the Raspberry Pi uses 3.3V signaling. In order to fix this, we need a few things: a FPGA to do signal conversion and interfacing with things like the cartridge, as well as a handful of level shifters to go back and forth between signal levels.

This is a project that I started a few years ago, and it’s finally finished: I have a stock-looking GameBoy that has a CPU that is a good few hundred times as powerful as the original and a GPU that I don’t even want to compare with the 2d tile pusher that was in the GameBoy. It can run most of the original GameBoy cartridges, as well as GameBoy Color ones and cartridges that have Raspberry Pi native games as well as those from other consoles.

See the video below and details on the build here.

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