How do I install a backlight LED in a Gameboy Advance?
I bought my son a Gameboy Advance only to be disappointed that it does not have backlighting as newer Gameboys do. There is also no contrast control on a Gameboy Advance so in some lighting conditions it is almost impossible to see the screen. I've heard that there is a way to install a white LED on a Game Boy Advance to provide internal backlighting. I'd love a step-by-step how-to.
There is an aftermarket kit around called Afterburner. It is a frontlight based on a few white LED light strips. However, it involves almost completely dismantling the GBA to install it, a 30 percent reduction in battery life, a washed out and trapezoidal-shaped shadow effect on the display (because it's a frontlight, not a backlight, and it's not originally designed for the system, respectively), and requires some soldering. It's even hard to find one now, because the company that manufactured them has gone under from some legal something-or-other. Of course, you can always get something like these, which just plugs into the EXT port in the GBA and draws power from it to run an LED, which shines at the screen. Simple.
I suppose you can make one if you had the components and skill, but I would advise against it and just get an SP, especially the backlit model (does "Now with a BRIGHTER backlit screen!" ring a bell?), as it is much better than the frontlit one. SP's are only about $40 used nowadays, as opposed to their retail $100; I don't see why you got the original GBA. If you don't plan on doing anything GBA specific, such as GameCube linking or playing Gameboy Color/original Gameboy games on it, you can even go and get a DS Lite/DS-i and effectively get twice the library of games (not the DS-XL, that does not have a Gameby slot.) I would suggest the Micro, but I hate that thing with its tiny screen and its cheep faceplates.
Don't listen to these guys. The Advance rules those other handhelds.
Here is a link to somebody's guide to backlighting it. It's a little vague as there are no pictures and there is no mention of the shiny stuff behind the screen.
You will also want to get a special tri-wing or 'Y' type screwdriver if you don't already have one. they are pretty cheap on ebay and other websites, just Google for 'GBA screwdriver' or something.
I haven't backlit mine yet and I am waiting for my screwdriver so I can open the thing, so I am not sure exactly what to do yet. There is a lot of talk on the internet saying it can't be done, but I think it's just hearsay, as nobody seems to be able to explain exactly why.
I think you can also get a backlit SP, take it's screen out and install it into the GBA, but I am not sure.
If I succeed, I will definately make an instructable and put a comment here.