Retrosix is an innovator in the retro gaming scene. They have released a number of products to bring your outdated hardware into modern times. I have installed their products on many of my systems, so follow along with this Gameboy DMG CleanAmp installation to get a detailed explanation of the entire process.
The CleanAmp v1.1 is the updated and revised version of the original CleanAmp. It is a tiny and efficient class D amplifier that replaces the old under-performing and power hungry speaker in your old Gameboy. It is made with a universal fit to be able to install inside a Gameboy DMG, Gameboy Pocket, Gameboy Color, or Gameboy Advance. With moderate soldering skills this modification can be easily installed. The part that some people seem to have troubles with is the small size of the solder pads. The board itself measures roughly a half inch square so there is not a lot of room for all the components. The good thing is that version 1.1 moves some components around to enlarge the solder pads. I have installed a number of these in both versions and I can honestly say that the new revision is much easier to solder than the first! Below you can see both versions. Version 1 is on the left, and version 1.1 is on the right.
For this install, there are a few items and tools I would definitely recommend you have. The following are what I personally use.
iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit – Repair Kit
Hakko FX888D Digital Soldering Station
28 AWG Magnet Wire – Enameled Copper Wire
High Temperature Heat Resistant Tape – No Residue
60/40 Tin Lead Solder With Rosin Core For Electrical Soldering
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The iFixit toolkit is the kit I use for all my builds and teardowns. It contains everything I have ever needed. It is always on my repair desk! The Hakko soldering station is incredible! The adjustable temperature comes in handy for various soldering jobs. The rest on the list are just recommendations, you can definitely swap all this out for other items you prefer. I use magnet wire for small jobs like this as it is flexible, durable, heat resistant, and small enough for this tiny board.
I won’t bore you with a duplicate post of disassembling the Gameboy. If you are unsure of how to take apart an original Gameboy, make sure you review my previous post where I do a teardown and analysis of an original Gameboy DMG. When following that disassembly, you only need to worry about the rear half of the Gameboy. The best part, you do not even need to remove the motherboard from the rear shell.
This install is pretty straight forward. I start by soldering lengths of wire onto the amplifier board. If using the magnet wire, you need to melt the ends of the epoxy so you can get to the bare wire. I do this with my iron set to 400˚. I then turn my iron down to 315˚ to melt small amounts of solder to each pad on the amplifier. This eases the process of soldering the wires directly to the board. Remember to tin your wire ends!
Once your amplifier board is ready with all the wires attached, you can attach the board to your Gameboy with a small dab of hot glue. I then run the wires where they need to be, and cut them to length. Then melt the epoxy on the wire ends, and tin the tips!
Solder each wire to the appropriate pin on the Gameboy motherboard. The two red wires above go to the speaker. I attach these wires to the wires that come pre-installed on the speaker with a simple lap solder joint and cover each joint with a bit of shrink tubing.
To position the speaker, line it up with the speaker cutout on the front shell and then glue it to the rear shell with a small dab of hot glue. Before reassembling the Gameboy, I put a strip of kapton tape over the amplifier so it’s joints and components don’t short on the front LCD board when assembled. The tape can also be used to hold down excess wires to keep them in place.
Well there you have it. Your Gameboy DMG CleanAmp install is complete! You now have an extra efficient class D amplifier and will definitely be blown away by the loud volume and the crisp audio packed in the CleanAmp v1.1 by Retrosix.
Stay tuned for future write-ups detailing the CleanAmp install in other types of Gameboys! Feel free to comment any install questions you may have and I will be sure to help you through them.