Game Boy Advance IPS V1 LCD Installation Guide (Old)

Game Boy Advance IPS V1 LCD Installation Guide (Old)

Note: This tutorial is now outdated! Please view our new V2 tutorial for the most up to date installation guide by clicking here.


Step 1: Prepare the IPS LCD

The Funny Playing IPS LCD is the sharpest and brightest Game Boy Advance display on the market. Brighter than AGS-101 and NDSL displays, it's also easy to install, making it a great project for beginner modders. Soldering is only necessary for the built-in brightness controller installation, but this step can be skipped for a solder-free setup. 

This tutorial will walk you through two different ways to install the IPS LCD in your Game Boy Advance: centered installation and offset installation. This tutorial will soon be updated with pictures of the new ribbon cable V2.

Please note that, when we refer to the left or right sides as the "interior left/right" wall in this tutorial, we're referring to the walls' positions on the Game Boy Advance when seen from the front.

Note: We strongly recommend testing the IPS LCD to confirm that it works before installing it in your shell. The foam tape included with the kit cannot be safely removed once it is applied to the shell and the screen. 

 

Changes with the V2 Ribbon

In August, 2019, Funnyplaying released a new version of the ribbon cable designed to eliminate the screen tearing. While the bulk of the installation process outlined below, we want to discuss the small ways the install differs. 

  1. The V2 ribbon adapter has tighter tolerances, so installation may put some pressure on the bottom of the ribbon. To account for this possibility, we've removed some plastic from our 3D printed bracket to allow the LCD connector more room to flex safely

  2. Because the connector gets pushed down a few millimeters, it may require additional clearance in the shell trim. You may need to trim a few millimeters of plastic on the interior wall for the start-select buttons with an x-acto knife. Please watch out to make sure the LCD connector is not subject to excess pressure.

  3. The V2 ribbon has a solder pad labeled GND. This is simply a ground test point and does not need to be soldered.

Centered Installation

As its name suggests, this installation process centers the IPS LCD in the Game Boy Advance shell, much in the way the AGS-101 is centered. This process relies on our 3D-printed centering bracket to secure the LCD in the shell. It's the simpler and more secure of the two installation methods.

If you have a 3D printer, you can download the STL file from our thingiverse

Materials

Note: The glass lens that ships with the IPS LCD comes from the manufacturer and is designed for use with the offset installation.The centered installation requires a centered lens, which we sell in full black or with the holographic GBA logo.

Step 1: Prepare the IPS LCD

Apply tape to the ribbon to prevent shorts. We recommend using Kapton tape. Don't forget to tape the adapter you're not using (40-pin or 32-pin). Here, we're connecting the LCD to a 40-pin board and taping up the 32-pin connector. To connect with the 32-pin connector, simply fold the 40-pin side down and the 32-pin side up (picture below in following section).

Add a small piece of double-sided tape to the bottom-right corner of the back of the ribbon. This will be used to keep the ribbon against the LCD.

IPS LCD Ribbon

Connect the ribbon to the LCD using the connector. It should click into place. Tape the other corner down the the back of the display while ensuring that the ribbon is loose enough that it can still flex. Avoid using too much tape, which can add pressure and damage the display.

Connect IPS LCD to Ribbon

Step 2: Place the LCD in the bracket

Place two small pieces of double sided tape on the centering bracket and gently set the LCD in the corner, making sure the plastic tab at the bottom right is resting on top of the LCD. The LCD should be flush with the bracket along both lines. Be careful not to use too much tape.

Once the LCD is in the bracket, it can be used to verify the trim. If you're using an OEM shell, you might need to shave the bottom part of the bracket. It'll be a tight fit otherwise.

Place GBA IPS LCD in Retro Modding centering bracket

Step 3: Prepare the shell

To center the LCD in the GBA shell's viewing area, the interior left wall (D-pad side) must be removed from the shell. We offer this trim option for all our GBA shells.

If you want to do the trim yourself, we've indicated where you need to trim the shell. Trim down the small bump around the bottom and left sides of the viewport, as well as the interior left wall. 

Note: Depending on your shell, you might need to shave down the notches on the top and bottom interior walls. 

Centered IPS LCD Installation Trimming

Be sure not to remove the support for the trigger spring. You will also need to trim slightly more of the select button support to make room for the display connector.

Trimming the GBA shell for IPS LCD

Tip! If you're installing the LCD in a brightly colored shell, color the edge of the shell around the viewing area opening with a black paint marker to prevent the shell from being visible around the LCD.

Step 4: Attach the Foam Tape

The IPS LCD kit includes foam tape to protect against dust. Make sure the foam tape is oriented correctly (it's not symmetrical) before sticking it to the shell. It's difficult to remove the foam tape without warping it, so be careful with this step!

Add foam tape to shell

Step 5: Place LCD in Shell

Peel the coating off the foam tape. With the LCD flush with the upper wall of the shell's viewing opening, slide the LCD into place.

Place IPS LCD in Shell

Since the bracket is supported along the top and right sides, as well as in four corners along the bottom, it's very stable. The left wall that was trimmed was the only barrier to installation. Verify that everything works and that the positioning looks good before removing the adhesive and install the LCD.

Note: Unless you're just testing the LCD, make sure to remove the protective plastic film by gently tugging on the red tab before sticking the LCD down.

IPS LCD Centered installation contact points

Step 6: Add foam tape buffer

Using foam and double-sided tape (or foam tape) make a buffer between the LCD and the PCB. You should aim for no more than 3mm of buffer. Two squares of foam tape on top of each other should be enough to prevent the display from falling in.

Tip! Unlike the AGS-101, the IPS LCD doesn't suffer from internal light bleed, so backlight bleeding protectors aren't necessary for this mod. However, all backlit LCDs  have some amount of external light bleed, so if you're installing this screen in a clear shell, you might want to use some electrical tape to keep the light from bleeding into the shell.

 

Note: You'll want to place the tape a bit higher than we have it here to prevent it from encroaching into the batteries' position.

Add foam buffer

Step 7: Connect the LCD to the PCB

Insert the ribbon into the tab at the top of the GBA PCB. Depress the two tabs on either side of the slot to lock the ribbon in place.

Connect GBA PCB

Step 8: Reassemble the unit

If you're just swapping your screen, you can now reassemble the unit with all the buttons and screws and enjoy an impressively crisp display!

Intermediate and experienced modders (as well as adventurous beginners) can also continue the modding process by soldering the brightness controller (instructions below).

GBA IPS LCD Install Complete

Offset Installation

Due to the large bezel on the left of the screen, the LCD will be offset when installed without our centering bracket.  

Materials

  • IPS LCD
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Tri-wing & Philips head screwdrivers
  • Double-sided tape (included with LCD)
  • Foam or foam tape
  • Kapton tape (recommended)
  • Paint marker (optional)
  • Dremel (if you're trimming the shell yourself)
  • Hobby knife/X-acto (if you're trimming the shell yourself) 

Note: This method relies on the use of the offset glass lens that ships with the IPS LCD, only available in black with a metallic Game Boy Advance logo.

Step 1: Prepare the IPS LCD

Apply tape to the ribbon to prevent shorts. We recommend using Kapton tape. Don't forget to tape the adapter you're not using (40-pin or 32-pin). 

Add a small piece of double-sided tape to the bottom-right corner of the back of the ribbon. This will be used to keep the ribbon against the LCD.

IPS LCD Ribbon

Connect the ribbon to the LCD using the connector. It should click into place. Tape the other corner down the the back of the display while ensuring that the ribbon is loose enough that it can still flex. Avoid using too much tape, which can add pressure and damage the display.

Connect IPS LCD to Ribbon

Step 2: Prepare the shell

This installation method also requires trimming. 

Trim down the small bump around the bottom and left sides of the viewport, as well as the two small vertical notches along the left wall. Trim or File down 1-2 mm on the left side of exterior viewport.

The most important part of the trim is to get that small piece of plastic on the left wall beside the select button. The ribbon can bend and break if the plastic is not trimmed correctly.

Note: You'll also need to trim part of the plastic around the viewing opening if you don't want to be able to see the shell through the offset lens. We recommend using the lens as your guide for how much to trim.

IPS LCD Offset installation trim

Step 3: Score the Adhesive

The IPS LCD kit includes foam tape to protect against dust. We recommend scoring the covering on the foam tape so that the part not covered by the LCD isn't exposed. Since this foam tape acts as a dust protector, the last thing we want is exposed adhesive so close to the display.

Score IPS LCD adhesive tape

Step 4: Attach the Foam Tape

Make sure the foam tape is oriented correctly (it's not symmetrical) before sticking it to the shell. It's difficult to remove the foam tape without warping it, so be careful with this step!

Add silicon or mounting tape to the interior right wall (A-button side). This step is necessary to secure the LCD in place against the top and left walls.

IPS LCD Offset installation

Tip! If you're installing the LCD in a brightly colored shell, color the edge of the shell around the viewing area opening with a black paint marker to prevent the shell from being visible around the LCD.

Step 5: Place LCD in shell

Insert the LCD into the shell. Be careful that the shell has been sufficiently trimmed to allow the LCD to fit securely. Add extra foam where necessary.

Here we're connecting the 32-pin tab. The ribbon is designed to allow you to fold the 40-pin connector down and the 32-pin connector up. We've covered the 40-pin connector with Kapton tape.

Insert IPS LCD in shell

Step 6: Add foam tape buffer

Just as with the centered installation (pictured below), use foam and double-sided tape (or foam tape) to make a buffer between the LCD and the PCB. You should aim for no more than 3mm of buffer. Two squares of foam tape on top of each other should be enough to prevent the display from falling in.

Tip! Unlike the AGS-101, the IPS LCD doesn't suffer from internal light bleed, so backlight bleeding protectors aren't necessary for this mod. However, all backlit LCDs  have some amount of external light bleed, so if you're installing this screen in a clear shell, you might want to use some electrical tape to keep the light from bleeding into the shell.

Foam Tape Buffer

Step 5: Connect LCD to PCB

Insert the ribbon into the tab at the top of the GBA PCB. Depress the two tabs on either side of the slot to lock the ribbon in place.

Offset IPS LCD Installation

Step 6: Reassemble unit

If you're just swapping your screen, you can now reassemble the unit with all the buttons and screws and enjoy an impressively crisp display.

Intermediate and advance modders (as well as adventurous beginners) can also continue the modding process by soldering the brightness controller.

IPS LCD Offset Installation

Brightness Controller (Optional)

The IPS LCD includes a built-in 10-level brightness controller. Installing the brightness controller is simple, but requires a soldering iron, and a basic understanding of how to use it.

There are a couple of different points you can solder to in order for the brightness controller to function. We find the most elegant solution is to use TP9 (L), TP8 (R), and TP2 (Select), which are clearly marked on the PCB. Modders with less soldering experience can choose to solder the wires to the larger soldering points on the other side of the PCB, but we recommend not having the wires cross back over the board. 

Materials

  • 30 AWG silicone-coated stranded-core wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Soldering iron
  • Flux (optional)

Step 1: Tin the Solder Pads

Tin the solder points you plan to use for your brightness controller with solder to prepare the joint. We connect L to TP9, R to TP8, and SEL to TP2. 

You can also add flux, depending on the kind of solder you're using.

IPS LCD Brightness Controller Soldering Guide

Step 2: Solder the Brightness Controller

Strip the silicone coating off both tips of the wires before you begin soldering.  Solder a wire from each solder point on the ribbon adapter to the corresponding solder pad on the Game Boy Advance PCB. 

IPS LCD Brightness Controller Soldering Guide

Step 3: Arrange Wires Around the Shell

For the purposes of this tutorial, we've used longer wires than are strictly necessary. Experienced modders may want to use shorter wires. Just make sure there's enough give.

The wire on the A button side should be tucked in the indentation in the interior wall to avoid being crushed by the PCB.

Tuck the wires beneath around the edge of the shell

Once you connect the board to the ribbon, verify that the wires have clearance than that they're not in the way of any screw posts. Use tweezers, if necessary.

Use tweezers to safely tuck the wires under the PCB

And that's it! Now you can enjoy stunningly bright and outstandingly sharp graphics on your modded Game Boy Advance.

Happy modding!


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