Thursday, April 10, 2014

Extra Hardware Part 2: GBDSO, FlyBoy, BarcodeBoy, WorkBoy

GBDSO - Game Boy Digital Oscilloscope

This invention let's you use the game boy as an oscilloscope, by plugging in probes into the top of the cartridge itself:



The FlyBoy was built for people to take with them on gliders, it has GPS and a Pitot to measure things like altitude and display that on the game boy:



This was a specially made device that would connect via the link port and the barcode of these cards which would work as input to a small number of games that used this:



A very cool device that increased the number of buttons on the gameboy massively, of course only useful on carts that would interface with this device:

Extra Hardware Part 1: Camera, Printer, Link, Cheats, Backups

Game Boy Camera and Printer

 The Game Boy Camera was a cartridge which includes the first smallest portable digital camera:

Here is a special golden Zelda version

and through the Game Link Port you could print out your pictures with the game boy printer, here's a special pikachu edition:
 You could also print things other than photos from games if they had the featured, for example from pokemon:

Game Link Cables

The Game Link Cable was used to have serial communication between the two game boys for things like multiplayer:

There was also a 4-way game link cable:
it's not known exactly how this device works.


 Cheat and Save-Backup Cartridges

 There were a few different cheat cartridges which would let you plug your own cart into and then by some mechaism affect parts of the game.

Here's the Game Genie:

This would patch locations in ROM as they tried to pass through the cart.

Other popular cheat carts are the game shark (which would hook into the vblank interrupt handler to patch RAM at every frame) and the action replay:

There were also Xploder and MonsterBrain

Memory Expander

Another special cart which other carts plug into, this time it would let you back up saved games!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Retail Display/External Game Boy Displays

I found this really fascinating. In the video he says "we've added some really cool special electronics so that you can watch your game boy being played on a tv screen". I would love to know what electronics! Would it be difficult for someone today to build a gameboy to CRT converter? I couldn't find any schematics for the retail display.

You can see a ribbon cable going into the game boy itself, and a small electronics board - but I think it's just the volume controls. It's not at all clear how this device works!

A separate kiosk/external display was based on the NES, it uses a board called the Demo Vision (thanks to Retrogamer72 of nintendoage for the tip!):

from assembler games thread
For example, this was used inside this kiosk:
and here is a picture of the back of the modified () gameboy that you use it with:
It's not clear how the gameboy has been modified, maybe it's just an extra long ribbon cable soldered on?

To ease the strain on the eyes of developers working and testing a game, there was the wideboy:

picture from the handheldmuseum
This plugs into a famicom/NES and lets you play game boy games on a screen - it's basically a NES cartridge with a gameboy CPU on it! Another page on the wideboy here.

A similar type of thing called the wideboy64 exists, letting you play game boy color games on an N64!

picture from
These were never available to buy (because they were either used in retail store displays or just for developers) but the GameBoy Booster was sold which let's you play game boy games on an n64:

picture from

A really cool hack someone did is interpreting the game boy signals from the ribbon cable using a microcontroller (but I have read that an FPGA is much more suitable) and then converting it into data for an oscilloscope to display:

See his blog here
And a video of it in action:

Another amazing hack, A gigantic LED matix being driven by a real gameboy through an FPGA: