Miniaturizing the Game Boy Camera

A more pocketable Game Boy Camera with some nifty new features.

The Game Boy Camera hit the market in 1998 and was the first opportunity many people had to experience digital photography. Though the quality was very poor — even by the digital photography standards of the time — the $49.95 price tag made this very accessible. There has been a renewed interest in the Game Boy Camera in recent years as today’s photographers seek novel experiences, which has made one issue quite apparent: the Game Boy Camera is bulky. To replicate the experience in a more pocketable form, Little Mod Shop built this Game Boy Camera Mini.

This is a design created by Christopher Graves, who specializes in Game Boy Camera photography and mods. But while Graves did amazing work on the engineering and even published some great written guides, they haven’t made any videos about the Game Boy Camera Mini. So Little Mod Shop performed the mod (with help from Graves) and recorded the whole process.

The Game Boy Camera Mini has almost all of the same hardware as the standard Game Boy Camera, but with a fixed (instead of pivoting) lens. That eliminates the need for the chunky protruding lens, so the entire Game Boy Camera Mini is the same size as a regular cartridge. Shooting with this is a lot like taking a photo with the rear-facing camera on a smartphone, so it is a familiar experience.

As Little Mod Shop demonstrates, this project requires a functional donor Game Boy Camera. The Game Boy Camera Mini has its own redesigned PCB, but the user has to populate that with some of the original components, such as the CMOS image sensor. After carefully desoldering those, they can be soldered onto the new PCB.

The new PCB does contain a 2MB flash chip and 1MB FRAM chip, which provide some new functionality. First, the Game Boy Camera Mini can accept custom ROMs that have additional features. Little Mod Shop used a GBxCart RW to flash a ROM that gives the user full manual control over the camera and even alternate color palettes. There is also additional storage for more photos and even a switch to swap between ROMs on the fly. Captured photos can be copied to a PC (without the need for a Game Boy Printer) using the same GBxCart RW.

The final step is to 3D-print the enclosure. Little Mod Shop recommends resin printing if possible, but FDM printing will work in a pinch. The latter allows for the use of heat-set inserts, so it might even be more desirable for some. And Graves provides a printable label to polish things off.

If you want a more compact Game Boy Camera that pairs perfectly with a Game Boy Color, this is the project for you.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist. Check out my YouTube channel: Serial Hobbyism
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