Freckle Shack VS Mcwill

Posted by jellybellyadmin 28/04/2019 5 Comment(s)

Consumption Test


It would now seem that we are in a new age of Game Boy Color modifications, 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. These both make it appeal to lots of people old and new to the modding world


However, things are not always as good as they seem. The standard GBC was a workhorse, it 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 from Nintendo and asking it to run more than it possibly should do. The GBC nowadays is also known for having a rather poor DC converter to todays standards, suffers from old capacitors and failing sound problems.


The classic example of overpowering a console is the Game Boy Pocket as you really need to install a 5-volt buck-boost converter 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 or tests results. With one product description quoting 3 hours and other quoting 20 hours under certain conditions which is right?


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


So some information to begin with:

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 gameplay
  2. Powered on with an Everdrive X7 playing Tetris rom
  3. Powered on with an ElCheapoSD playing Tetris rom
  4. Powered on (boot up screen) no cartridge


So first up the Standard GBC console

Genuine Tetris

Everdrive X7

running tetris


running tetris

Powered on


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

Genuine Tetris

Everdrive X7

running tetris


running tetris

Powered on


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


Lastly the BennVenn FreckleShack

Genuine Tetris

Everdrive X7

running tetris


running tetris

Powered on


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 an ElCheapoSD and uses the full range of 3.2v to 1.8v


The next this is to compare the charts of all 3 of the console to see how the results compare to each other in under 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 play time. If we take an average of all the FS consumption data we get 160ma usage which will mean roughly around 12hrs of play time on 2000mah batteries


The Mcwill is a lot higher with consumption of 190ma at best and 380ma at worse on an El cheapo. From the data, we get an average consumption of 286ma which will give around 4.5hrs of play time 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 cannot be too happy having to provide the extra power that the LCD mod is asking for and I don’t like it. The GBC DC converter becomes highly inefficient at the high current draw which shows in the charts, and with some GBC spec sheets out there showing it has a 500ma fuse inside the console the Mcwill and an Everdrive type cart is getting seriously close to this when it is reading and writing. Which is not ideal!


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 so see it as a pointless thing to include. It’s a handheld console so keep it that way.


However, the Freckle Shack did 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 don’t know. This was fix after BennVenn halted shipment to produce and new firmware so the problem is all resolved


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! 


I also have an MD Enterprises LCD on the way so once I have this is will update everything



I carried out the test as fairly as possible to compare the two produces on the market in real playing situations

5 Comment(s)

07/05/2019, 01:34:39 AM

This is a very well written post. Thanks for the details information. I'm just getting into this type of portable mods and really love all the info as I learn. Your passion for details is well noted and recognized as well as appreciated!

07/05/2019, 07:01:37 PM

Will you expand this test to include the dropin Alternative by Midwest Embedded also?

08/05/2019, 02:43:37 PM

Yea we have one on route for testing

10/05/2019, 07:25:31 AM,

I think the table for Freckle Shack is wrong, it's the same as the vanilla GBC one. The graphs are correct though. ;)

Jellybelly Customs:
10/05/2019, 03:09:14 PM

Good spot. All changed now

03/07/2019, 05:53:27 PM

What version of the ElCheapo did you use? 2.2?

21/10/2019, 08:13:01 PM

Could the voltage dropoff in the McWill screen be explained as a safety feature to prevent unprotected li-ion and IMR 10440 batteries from being over-discharged by the screen? These types of batteries are recommended for the McWill charging mod, and I assume they would be ruined if discharged below 2.0V

21/10/2019, 08:23:57 PM

EDIT: 14500* batteries

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