My 2019

As 2019 and the decade come to an end its always good to look back on what happened this year. It had some highs, serious lows and lots in the middle.

And boy what a year!

The Printer!

February is when I made the decision to buy a UV printer and I was sure this was the future of JBC (Jellybelly Custom) so the prep on the workshop and everything started waiting for its delivery in early March. It was nothing short of a huge investment. The most amount of money I will have spent since buying my house!!! Just to give you an idea

I made the decision because sourcing prints from others was a pain and time consuming, not to mention expensive it would hopefully open up the world to ultimate customizations for me and other

It arrived and I was solely focused on it, with the arrival of the drop in Game Boy Color LCD the timing was perfect.

It was great for the first few months but the reality soon checked in I was doing far too much with JBC, my day job and also my young family.

It was also plagued with supply issues, China plain glass was a royal pain in my ass, often oversized, poor quality or just poor service from them which added to the pressure that could have been avoided. I was printing far too many so I decided to outsource the print to a silkscreen factory to up the quality and “speed up” production. I’d like to think it worked but there were still delays for various reasons.

The UV printer is sold and perceived as the ultimate thing for modding, however after owning one, running it and maintaining it. They really aren’t! yes, they are good but the ultimate, not really.

Getting the print to bond to glass was a pain, an extra bottle of primer is needed which is seriously expensive has a shelf life and even then it’s still not bonded as well as silkscreened glass

The printer inks have a short life, same with the primer. Also, these machines are not designed for sitting still, they require constant use if they rest for anything more than 2-3 days the ink lines can clog, print heads can clog so the quality reduces. So that meant I had to print on it, it had to print!

I was working 40hr a week in the day job then with an extra 30hr on JBC. Something had to give and unfortunately, that was me. I was burned out, tired, ratty (more than normal). I was stressed and burned out. I didn’t enjoy modding, printing, working or much of anything really

So the decision was made in August to sell the printer and go back to just being me, a man who makes things in his workshop for fun.

The printer sold early October and it felt like a tonne of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders.

All that being said I did enjoy certain aspects of it, I got the chance to work with 8bitaesthetics and his work on the artist series he put together with Jackie, kiki and Ori. That was a get experience as he is one of the biggest and well-respected modders out there. I hope we will continue to work together where possible in 2020 an beyond.

2019 The year of the Game Boy Color

The Game Boy Color had always been a console that everyone had dreamed about a backlit LCD. BennVenn in 2017 (i think) started to produce the AGS101 ribbon adaptor, it was generally received pretty well but some big YouTubers made a right hack job of installing it and some people wrote it off. WRONGLY!

It was said that I would never close or be a hot glue mess to hold together. However, that made me wanna get it to work even more. I soon figured out a machining operation and with the help of 8bitjay we did a 3d printed bracket. That meant the console would close fully and be screwed together not glued. I showed it around and others started to figure it out esotericmods and bennvenn himself, but they were time-consuming to make and require a huge amount of machining to get it all to work.

It was and still is a great mod. I much prefer the AGS to anything nowadays and I still have the very first one I made for myself.

Early 2019 BennVenn released the FreckleShack, along with Mcwill, MW Embedded and then the Chinese

I was fortunate enough to get a prototype from bennvenn for getting the design for the glass together. It might be a rare museum piece one day as only me and KyleAwsm had them.

that’s was all the beginning of the year now as the end of the year the Chinese have graced us with a full-size IPS LCD version. Here a review on that

Game Boy Color IPS Review

 

The future of Jellybelly Customs

All I can say it’s a fine balance between what I enjoy doing and doing just enough to keep myself happy

I will still be providing glass to you lot, the BennVenn 3″ is due to me any day now. Its been delayed because the factory made a stupid mistake. I plan to have some DMG styles printed in GBC and also GBA version. Also, a new batch of “Light” glass is due for the drop-in LCD mods.

I’m also running JBC as what I want to do or parts I need for my builds, not what others want me to do. If I want it then someone else will want it as well, that kind of motto.

I’m also really enjoying making molds and casting again. Its a process I started way back because I wanted to make some DMG style buttons and also a clear surround for the GBZ I was building at the time. Its a really enjoyable process. I’m hoping I can free some time to make a few videos on the process.

I really, really, really want to get this DMG102 PCB project finished off it’s so close and its gotta happen early next year for sure. (Please don’t hold me to that!)

I’ll still be around for a good while yet, making a hopefully providing stuff to you, if you wanna buy it.

On a personal level, this decade has been a good one. I married my soul mate and have been married 7years, we somehow created a beautiful daughter and kept her alive for 3 years. I also found this hobby which I love so much, and at times this year, I thought I was through with it.

So altho this year has been a thought one in the scheme of things. Overall my decade has been a great one

Thanks for all the support this year and previous. I hope you can support me in 2020 as well.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thanks, Matt

China “Drop In” GBC LCD

China “Drop-In” GBC LCD

First things first… lets clear two things up!

For some reason, people call this the China Drop-In IPS… It is not an IPS LCD it’s the same as the other “drop-in” LCDs. Please stop calling it that. Especially now there is an actually IPS version out there.

This is not a clone or a copy of others out there in my opinion. It was released and showed off at a very similar time to the FreckleShack by Ben, Mcwills and also MidWest Embedded LCD mods. It was shown on a post on The Retro Future Community page in late May by a member call Nic Chen. It also had some of its own unique features so I wouldn’t consider it either a clone or a copy.

This has possibly been the most developed kit on the market to date, whether this is to do with the original maker themselves or weather “other” china developers have gotten involved, ran with the idea and built on it.

History Time:

  • Late May 2019 Showcased on facebook (Game Boy Color version)
  • Mid June 2019 Released (Game Boy Color version)
  • Neo Geo Pocket Color version
  • Game Boy Pocket version
  • Original Game boy Version
  • Game Boy Color maybe AIO version

So we seem to now be on an AIO version with different ribbon adaptors to suit 4 different consoles. Also, comes with a touch sensor on a ribbon rather than wire type like the v1 had.

What’s in the box:

  • Ribbon adaptor
  • PCB
  • LCD
  • Insulation tape (sometimes)
  • Foam Pad (sometimes)
  • Glass Lens (optional from some stores)

The Install:

These are by far the simplest out there to install, it generally requires ZERO cutting or trimming and Zero soldering. However, I do like to trim a small area of the shell to allow the LCD ribbon to bend easier without being trapped. Just an OCD thing really.

The install is made easier with the addition of some, Kapton Tape and some LCD spacers the spacers I sell are only good for my glass only, not the china glass. However, these are not 100% required if you wanna align with some hot glue or even 3d print your own brackets.

I do like to add a touch of hot glue to the rear of the brackets and LCD, this will just stop things from moving over time and also help when putting it together. Keep things where they should be.

Another thing is because the front metal housing around the LCD has been removed it can suffer from some light bleed. You can fit an optional Light bleed mask. This acts light the metal housing does in blocking as much light as possible.

The Glass:

These kits are often sold with glass from china, depending on your store depends on the quality you get, some have the “light” logo some don’t.

The logo tends to be lower within the border. Also, the “light” glass I’ve seen some poorly printed ones at first but they do seem to be getting better with time.

Also, the viewing window is the exact same size as the LCD image. This is ok-ish but not ideal. The issue is about the viewing angle as the Lens and LCD are distanced around 2.5mm apart. This causes the image to be cut off depending on the angle you hold the system at or where you hold it most comfortably.

My glass has a slightly larger viewing window than the LCD image to hopefully help have the whole of the image in the view no matter what angle you hold it.

Hopefully, this image might explain a little more as to why?

To some, it doesn’t matter but I prefer it this way.

The Tests:

So overall this thing is super efficient, its the best I’ve tested so far!

Here are all the brightness levels on when the console is powered on. The last one in the row of figures is BennVenn FreckleShack v2. Games will add to these consumption figures.

The graph shows that the brightness has little effect on the consumption of the LCD mod inside the console. Keep this in your mind that a standard original fresh from the factory console only consumes on average 45mA. So this thing is really good at what it does. The graph has the Original Console test on there for reference.

Now there is some info out there that this screen does suffer from a dropped frame every so often, now I’ve not personally seen this or seen anything going on while I’ve played mine. However, some people have mentioned that in certain games this can be seen. So I thought I was worth mentioning

Conclusion:

What do I think?

Well for ease of install, availability, what seems like a constant development, it needs no shell modding, no soldering, even comes with glass sometimes, the price is good, it’s getting cheaper slowly and it’s always available from China stores or resellers here in the Uk or US. Which are all positives?

Overall I’m really happy and surprised with the China drop-in kit, I was expecting to tear this thing apart and tell you how terrible it is, but I can’t think of anything remotely negative to say about it in its Game Boy Color version. I don’t agree with this LCD in the GBP and also DMG versions recently available, the LCD is tiny and way too small in those consoles around 6mm overall in each direction so those mods aren’t for me.

China is often tarnished with the same brush, its a clone, its stolen, its a copy, its an imitation and in my opinion this really isn’t the case with this. It was released at a similar time, uses the same LCD, but it was clearly done by someone that knows what they were doing and is different in many ways.

Some fractions of the community are avid Mcwill or BennVenn fans and I will have to admit, I’m a huge BennVenn fan I will always support and purchase his products.

However, credit where credit is due. They did a pretty damn good job with this one!

Hope you’ve found this helpful

Thanks

Game Boy Color IPS LCD

Game Boy Color IPS LCD

2019 has been the year of the COLOR without a doubt. It’s gone from having the AGS101 mod made by BennVenn. To suddenly 4 new “drop-in LCDs”. Now China has come along with the first (other than one on Taobao) full-size IPS LCD version but is it what we have all been praying for….?

What you get in the box:

  • 3.2inch IPS LCD
  • IPS to GBC ribbon adaptor
  • Touch Sense Wire
  • Front adhesive for holding the LCD in place
  • Insulating square for the rear of the LCD

On the face of it, this looks almost identical as the kits that are sold for the Game Boy Advance and SP but with the added touch sensor and a ribbon arranged in an orientation to suit the console its aimed towards and its portrait, not landscape.

I know what your all gonna ask… That’s a huge LCD for the size of the image the color needs? Yes yes, it is! we’ll get back to this later

and there is it. The image measures around 43mm x 38mm similar to the stock image, maybe just a smidge bigger.

The Install:

This isn’t a tutorial on how to install it, others will or have already done a posh video on how to do it, but I will show you a trick or two that some fail to mention like most typical youtube videos

So as you might be able to tell this isn’t going to be a drop-in install at all. In fact the just the opposite. It might get messy so buckle down.

So I dusted off the old GBC jig I made when I had to mill every single GBC shell AGS101 mods which were a royal pain in the ass. So I set about machining the areas that needed it for the LCD to fit. You can do this with some side cutters or a knife but it might take you a while as there is a lot to get rid of.

here is a better view of what you need to remove. Top and bottom of the screen housing, some of the IR port holder thingies and some out of the Dpad housing bit.

As you can see above that’s what you need it to look like to get the LCD installed

Now you can buy some 3d printed spacers from a popular Game Boy retailers to help you install it or download from Thingiverse. I’ll be coming up with a solution shortly to help with that if people would like it.

So I carried on with the build and all was well until I first test fitted a glass lens to find that the LCD image was to low to the suit the glass

This is because of the IR plastic install forces the LCD off the top of the Game Boy shell.

The IR Plastic was forcing it around 2mm lower, but in order for the image to be higher, the LCD needs to sit hard up against the top. This might vary between shells manufactures because they are all a little different. You can see from this image what’s happening:

So that was no good, I needed to tweak it so the LCD could move up. I had to do a bit of creative trimming to the IR port to free up a little room

I had to remove most of the lower and left-hand side to get it to sit right. Leaving the very top so the IR would be held in by the rear half of the shell once fitted

So with the LCD hard against the top, the image is now ok-ish. It could still benefit from a bit more but I can live with it for now.

Other than that the build went ok, I but the back half on and screwed it up and applied a glass lens. I’ve never owned a yellow one till now, plus the yellow on black pops

The Tests:

So images quality as per the Game Boy Advance is really high, it’s 4 to 1 pixel ratio so its super crisp, bright and sharp. I have seen no tearing or frame drops while playing.

Consumption tests of this LCD were nothing short of staggering, for such a large LCD it was really efficient across all of the brightness ranges

The test were all done with no volume and no game, just powered on, Game will obviously bring down the run time a lot.

Run Time is a rough calculation from the average consumption through the range using 1500mAH batteries. Games and Everdrives etc will have a large effect on the run times.

 

My Conclusion

The saying goes:

One step forward and two steps back

Why?

I thought I was finished with having to heavily mod shells to get things to fit. The “drop-in mod” has made the world of GBC easy in 2019, yes the image was a little smaller but does the full-size LCD really mean we have to go back to 2017 shell mods to get things to work? and trimming down the IR is a pain in the ass as well. These LCDs will look iffy in a clear build also, you will see lots of the LCD and also it will suffer from some light bleed around the edges of it. This will be visable through a translucent shell.

The extra modding to the shell all comes from the fact the LCD is so large when it doesn’t have to be, there must be a more suitable size LCD on the market to make things a lot easier.

Another thing that I dislike about the IPS LCD’s is they are a little too good. It’s so sharp and so crisp it almost feels like emulation. Put it this way, it’s like watching a VHS on a 4K TV!

I would really like to see some scanlines added to give the effect of older LCD’s but still retain the quality, this is a really nice feature that Ben and Mcwill have on there Game Gear and Lynx LCDs which I prefer.

but with all that being said, if you a fan of the IPS in the Game Boy Advance and you can only have a full image size Game Boy Color then this is the only mod for you. If the image size is not a problem then I would stick with the “drop-in” mods out there.

Hope you have found this helpful

Thanks

BennVenn 3″ LCD Installation Guide

If you’re here you’ve either bought a BennVenn 3″ LCD already or you’d like to in the future so head on over to his site to buy one when they are in stock BennVenns Store

So this guide is to help you to install the BV3″ LCD with my glass and also the installation bracket. This should hopefully make the install nice and easy and give you a nicely finished console at the end

You’re going to need:

Step 1:

You need to take the shell of your choice, either an aftermarket or original shell. The front half is what will need all of your attention so put the back half to one side.

Take the JBC BV3″ Jig and put it where the lens should live, this will give you a template to show you the perfect amount to cut away for the LCD to be visible but clearance for the glass so you don’t end up seeing plastic.

Use your marker pen, to mark the inside so you know where to cut.

 

 

Remove the jig to unveil your beautiful cut line. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Flip the front shell over, on the image below you will see the high areas that need to be removed flush and smooth with the shell as the LCD will live there, so they need removing. Do this with some flush cutters, craft knife or a Dremel.

Take your time with this stage, and Dremel users don’t go too crazy with it. Them things can get carried away sometimes. Also, try not to slip!

You should end up with something like this:

***JellyBelly’s Top Tip***

Use a marker pen to black the inside edge that you just cut. This helps make things look nice and neat, and the edges less visible when things are all done. You can thank me later!

Step 2:

Disclaimer… You do this at your own risk, take your time and done rush it. A little at a time and don’t cut it all at once.

This is the hardest part of the install really, you need to trim the mounting tabs off the plastic LCD housing. These are not needed and get in the way of the install in a central position.

Take your time doing this, do it a little at a time with your chosen method either side cutters or a dermal, but BE CAREFUL!

Do it in little bits, don’t go in for the kill and cut the whole tab off in one go, Nibble away at it slowly. If you damage your LCD don’t blame me. You’re in charge of your tools and hands so it’s your own fault.

Doing this will mean it fits centrally and also inside the LCD bracket to hold things in

Step 3:

Once done drop you LCD bracket into place like so:

You should then be able to install the LCD inside this bracket, it might be a little bit of a squeeze but will hold it nicely. There is a little vertical movement to adjust the height of the LCD if the fitment is not quite right, this varies on shells, manufacturers and where you bought it from. So a little input from you is needed

Step 4:

Get your buttons and nice clean membranes, and fit them into the shell.

Make sure the tiny wires on the LCD are going toward the center of the shell, like in the image this will help get them out of the way of the membranes and also through the hole they need to be going through in the motherboard.

Put the motherboard over and feed the ribbon and power wires through the hole. The motherboard is a snug fit over the screw post so might need a bit of help over them. This was a China repro shell so it was tight.

Now put all 6 Screws into place, these go through the holes that are circled in white.

Now fire up the soldering iron and solder the power cables as it shows below,

Nice and neat please, a bit of flux and some decent leaded solder. Give it a clean afterward as well, please

Don’t forget the speaker (because I did the first time), this will either need to be off the original doner board or a new one HERE.

***JellyBelly’s Top Tip***

Use a bit of kapton tape as shown below this will help the ribbon fold in the right place when closing up the shell… You can thank me later!

Step 5: The home straight!

Turn the console over and test the LCD, plug this into your rear board and either use batteries or power supply. Hopefully, fingers crossed it should be working. If not….. erm….. its nothing to do with me.

You should see the start-up screen. A little like this.

Next up before we completely assemble the Game Boy, make sure the buttons are working nicely, and that they register buttons presses. Pop a game in and test things just to make sure.

Next, take you Glass lens and remove the center only part of the adhesive, you can lay it on for a test fit to make sure the LCD and glass are positioned correctly. Hopefully!

You should be seeing a nice cental image with an even gap around the edges

If you’re happy with everything its time to reassemble the Game Boy with the rear board and all the screws to hold it together.

Then once assembled make sure everything is nice, clean and dust free. Peel the adhesive off the rear of the glass and apply it to the console. No dust or fingerprints, please!

You are now finished……

Step 6:

Admire and play your handy work

The 3″ Bennvenn LCD really is a nice thing for certain games, Tetris is a blast with it. Some games suffer from a motion blurring effect which is a shame but you can’t have everything.

Hope you found this useful

Thanks

Midwest Embedded GBC LCD Tests

MW Embedded backlit GBC LCD

Another backlit Game Boy Color LCD on the market, mainly in the USA and at the time of checking they don’t ship internationally which is a shame. However, I got my hands on one through a friend of a friend in the states.

Overall it’s similar to the McWill and also the BennVenn, it does require some trimming and some soldering to install it into the shell. Also, it would suit a custom glass screen lens but the LCD metal board has been coloured black from the factory so it doesn’t stand out too much. A good thing about it is that with the soldering you can get brightness adjustment so the test was done at max brightness.

One thing that instantly jumps out at me about this mod is that the PCB seems to include its own power circuit from the chips and LCD. That is a good thing in as it won’t be demanding the power from the GBC just from the batteries. So the GBC can happily work as it is intended to..Hopefully

So I put it under the same tests as the other but only under the powered on tests as we know now that the games just add more strain onto things so we can predict that from the previous tests.

So what’s going on, well it’s almost identical to the Mcwill in its consumption other than the fact the console will stay on longer all the way down to 1.9v which is good, but something is not quite right with it though.

Towards the lower end of the voltage range strange things occur, the mod circuitry demands a huge spike in current, the LCD goes off but the console actually stays on. Why is this?

Hang and buckle in this might get a bit deep.

Behavior like this happens when the power circuitry inductors become over-saturated with current, meaning that it can’t deal with anymore so the current just spikes hard, fast and high. Luckily modern-day IC chips just cut out when this happens and it’s also good that this power spike is only coming from the batteries, not the console itself so will not damage the console. That is why the console remains powered on but the LCD mod loses power.

Overall it’s a nicely done thing and will run for around 4 hours-ish and is on par with the Mcwill 5 hrs ish but BennVenns consumptions are still leaps above the rest.

Again this is still a great mod and nicely done and I’m sure it’s not the last we have seen for the GBC backlight world so when I find more I will stack them all up against each other.

 

Freckle Shack VS Mcwill

Consumption Test

It would now seem that we are in a new age for the Game Boy Color modifications scene, with various new LCD’s out there that are far simpler to install than the AGS101 mod before it. No machining, little to no soldering either which makes it appeal to lots of people

However things are not always as good as they seem. The standard GBC was a work horse ran off 2 AA batteries and lasted for what seems an eternity 20+ hours. The issue with modifying a console is you’re taking something that is designed as intended and asking it to run more than it possibly should.

The classic example of this is the Game Boy Pocket you really need to install a 5v buck boost to power the backlight as the console simply cannot do it on its own reliably. The GBC is no different.

So what am I getting at…..?

Well with these new LCD mods out there people have been quoting (or failing to quote) battery life estimates. With one product description quoting 3hours and other quoting 20hours how do we know?

So I wanted to find out the consumptions of the 2 LCD’s I could get my hands on inside a console, the Freckle Shack and Mcwill

So to start:

2 AA batteries working range is around 3.2v to 1.8v so we will use this for the tests

The test will be carried out using the same motherboard revision a V5

The test will also be carried out with full volume

There will be 4 different conditions used:

  1. Powered on with a genuine Tetris cart in game play
  2. Powered on with a Everdrive X7 playing Tetris rom
  3. Powered on with a ElCheapoSD playing Tetris rom
  4. Powered on (boot up screen) no cartridge

So first up the Standard GBC console

 

As you can see the standard console is an efficient thing drawing 60ma when powered and worst case using an ElCheapo at 170ma. Also uses the full range of the GBC from 3.2v to 1.8v.

Next up the Mcwill LCD modded console:

As you might see in this lot the Mcwill LCD at best this thing draws 190ma and at worst around 380ma but also because of the high current draw the console shuts off early at between 2.2v – 2.4v

Lastly the BennVenn FreckleShack

What can we make of this then, well the FS seems better overall and is comparable to the standard console. At best it draws 80ma and at worst 270ma using a ElCheapoSD and uses the full range of 3.2v to 1.8v.

The next thing is to compare the charts of all 3 of the console to see how the results look next to each other in certain conditions:

Powered on tests

Genuine Tetris

 

Everdrive X7 tests playing Tetris

ElcheapoSD tests playing Tetris

If you’ve stuck around this long then we’re almost done

In summary what I see from the tests is that the FS is similar to the standard console just a higher in consumptions due to the backlit LCD which is understandable, It seems to stay powered on for the full working range of the voltage tests and also doesn’t have huge spikes in milliamps over the range. With a minimum consumption of 80ma and a max of 270ma using the ElCheapoSD.

So what does this all mean, well you will use up every bit of power in the batteries you put in and get the maximum playtime. If we take an average of all the FS consumption data we get 160ma usage which will mean roughly around 12hrs of playtime on 2000mah batteries

The Mcwill is a lot higher with consumption of 190ma at best and 380ma at worst on an Elcheapo. From the data, we get and an average consumption of 286ma which will give around 4.5hrs of playtime partly cause by only being able to use around 70% of the power from the batteries

So what’s best…!

It’s whatever you want from the mod, if you want a VGA output then your only choice is a Mcwill, if you don’t want to remortgage your house for batteries then a Freckle Shack is what you need.

I am very OCD (as you can tell) about things working as efficiently as possible so for me and until someone can show me a good reason I’ll be sticking to the Freckle Shack for my modded consoles as well as the AGS101 mod. To me, the Mcwill high amp level and early console cut out means that the GBC really cant be too happy having to provide the power that the LCD mod is asking for and I don’t like it. I also have zero interest in installing a VGA output, in all the GameGear LCD’s I’ve done over the years I’ve only once installed the VGA option once, so see it as a pointless thing to include. It’s a handheld console so keep it that way.

However, the Freckle Shack does have its downsides.

Early reports from customers are that there are issues with a few games like pokemon pinball, BennVenn goes into more detail over on his facebook page but a new firmware is being worked on that will rectify this. His LCD is also not quite as bright but is this related to the better consumption I would assume so.

Both of these engineers have done an awesome job in bringing these to the market and both have their pros and cons so it’s up to you to decide what you’d like to install. This is not written to discourage you to buy either product both are good in their own way, so use this information with a pinch of salt and make your own decision.