Nintendo's Game Boy Pocket does a lot of things right when it comes to handheld gaming, but the one thing you cannot do with it is fold it in half (and expect to be able to use it again afterward, anyway!). Programmer Allison Parrish set right what once went wrong by taking the best aspect of the successor Game Boy Advance SP in terms of folding, the hinge, and applied it to the Pocket hardware. The result is a Game Boy Pocket SP, and with a little engineering knowledge and access to the proper resources, you can build one of your own.
Over the summer I dug in deep with Game Boy modding and made this: the Game Boy Pocket SP. It’s a Game Boy Pocket motherboard that I cut in half and then put into a custom-designed shell with a hinge, a la the Game Boy Advance SP. The build has a pair of custom-designed flex PCBs to make routing signals between the two halves of the board easier. Along the way I taught myself CAD (with FreeCAD), PCB design (with KiCad) and 3D printing. The 3D models and PCB layouts for the Pocket SP are available on GitHub.
In this post, I’m going to talk about why and how I made the Pocket SP, and how you can make your own.
At first I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to do this. After all, the GBA SP already plays Game Boy games right out of the box and then some. The Pocket cannot play Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance games. Why go through all this trouble just to end up with a piece of hardware that does less than its more advanced counterpart? Then I saw the photos of the GBP SP and understood completely. Sometimes these kinds of things are worth doing just to accomplish them. I have no need for a GBP SP, but damn if it's not a beautiful little device.