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Re-shell your GBA SP


Sep 19th 2012


King's Lynn, Norfolk

MLGX Completionist
MLGX Completionist

posts 301


Post edited 20:47 – Nov 21st 2012 by beefkr10z

I recently posted a thread on how to disassemble & reassemble your old GBA, but since then I've obtained a second hand GBA SP. I knew the unit was in bad shape, so I went on Ebay and ordered a replacement shell and screen lens, and had a go at sprucing up the old console.

 Here's a quick guide on my findings and tips- once again, if you do this, you do this at your own risk, but with a bit of patience you should be able to give your system a new lease of life.

First up, I will say that this was a fair bit trickier than the GBC and GBA, but  it is do-able- just make sure you take note of any bits you remove, and make sure you have plenty of space!

Tools you will need are:

A GBA SP (duh!)

A Tri-wing screwdriver for Nintendo safety screws (around £2 on Ebay)- I will circle these screws RED in any images

A jewellers (or small) cross-head screwdriver- I will circle these screws GREEN in any images

A replacement GBA SP shell- Don't pay more than £5 for this on Ebay

Depending on the quality of the screen, you can also order a replacement lens (again, around £2-£3 on Ebay)


If you notice in the picture above, the replacement shell is very nice. It comes complete with new screws, buttons,and the rubber contacts for the buttons, and even stickers for a serial number plate. You really can replace everything you need on the shell of the system, so as long as your console charges and powers up you are all set.

 First, remove the battery cover by unscrewing the cross-head screw (circled green), and the battery will lift out. Once the battery has been removed, there will be six tri-wing screws (circled red)- One of these is under the space for the battery, so don't miss it. The screws for the four corners are slightly longer than for the other two screws, so be sure to sperate these. The back of the console will lift off, taking the L & R shoulder buttons with it. The power & volume switches will simply lift out.

There are then just three cross-head screws to remove from the circuit board. This will allow you to remove the button surrounds of the console.

As a quick aside, can you see on the underneath of the battery casing there is a little square nut? This is what the battery cover screws into, so take note for when you are reassembling the unit, as you will not be able to re-attach the battery cover without this!

An interesting thing to note is that the speaker (circled blue) is not attached to the circuit board or casing, it simply rests against two contacts- this needs to be lifted out along with it's sponge cover and put safe for later. The lower part of the circuit board will now only be attached to the top half by a flimsy cable for the screen, so be careful when handling. As with all gameboys, the cable is held in place by two tiny brown locking switches (circled in yellow). These simply move forward and allow the cable to slide out without resistance. (for clearer pics, see the GBA thread)

 Now onto the front of the screen. There are five small rubber screw covers that will need to be prised out. They aren''t in too tight, but be careful not to slip and scratch the screen (unless you're replacing the screen lens). Don't worry about ruining the rubber pieces, as there are replacements with the new shell.

 Underneath the rubber pieces, you will see five Tri-wing screws (circled red), which can be removed. the back of the screen casing will now lift away.




Sorry to shout there, but it's important to note the little cross-head screw hiding on the other side of the case, underneath the cable (circled in green). once this is removed, a piece on the hinge will come away. this will then give enough room to remove the screen cable without damaging it. Once removed, the screen will lift away.


This was now the scariest moment for me- replacing the screen lens. Unlike the other Gameboys I''ve refurbished, the lens on the SP is directly attached to the LCD screen, and not the outer case. If you need to do this to your console, the old lens needs to be carefully prised away from the screen (try not to bend the screen if you can), and the new one simply sticks on in place. It's worth trying a dry fit of the parts in the casing first, as the screen can be very easily misaligned, and the last thing you want is a wonky screen in your Gameboy.


 The last major thing to do is to remove the hinges from the old case (circled yellow). These are removed by pressing them from the inside until they pop out (this may take a little force, but again, be careful!).

 As you remove them, note that there is a black hinge on the left side, and a white hinge on the right. they need to go back into the same sides when reassembling- also try to note the orientation of the hinges whilst removing, as they are a pig to get lined up when you put them in the new casing. The ends of the hinges will slide off, and now need to be replaced by the ones from the new shell. If you don''t do this now, you will have to take the reassembled unit apart again to fit them. So do it now. Don''t do what I did. embarassed


It is now time to reassemble the pieces from the new shell. Take your time. Things I learned the hard way whilst reassembling were: If you replaced the screen lens, remove any protective film before screwing the case together. Check that the hinges are aligned properly, so that the screen snaps properly shut but also holds open at the correct angle. Put the cable for the screen in the circuit board fully, and carefully (and preferably before putting in all the buttons- those Start & select buttons are small!). Again, make sure that the square nut is located underneath the battery cover (as mentioned earlier).

Do a test of the machine before fully screwing the case up or reinserting the rubber screen plugs, and be careful whilst applying the stickers to the unit.

Other than that, there''s not a lot more I can tell you. It was a bit more taxing than the GBC or GBA, but the results are well worth the effort. The replacement case looks very good (Having re-shelled a few, now, I have found some cases are better quality than others, some being every bit as good as the Nintendo originals, and some being very close), and if you have a rough -looking unit, it can be made to look spanky & new with a little bit of effort.


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