Dismantling (No E!) of the GBA

My model 3 GBA was purchased used for a great price. The downside, and secretive reason behind it’s good price, was a 1″ long scratch on the top left corner of the screen. I’m admittedly prissy when it comes to the integrity of the screens I use, which meant my affection for the “new” GBA was sorely lacking. Once again, just like Batman does once a month on comic day, Ebay came to my rescue. A replacement screen was found and purchased for no more than $5. The only thing left to do was install the crystal clear screen into my now dusty GBA.

I needed a few things for this task, which I luckily already purchased:

A Triwing Screwdriver for opening up the GBA with
A set of jewelers screwdrivers (needed for the small screw size)
Tweezers
Replacement GBA screen

While it isn’t necessary to open the bottom up, I will still post how to go about doing so. No point getting half of the job done when I can get some great pics of the handheld’s inner workings.

Kicking this project off is simply executed by unscrewing the 4 corners with the tri-wing driver, and then opening/removing the battery. Another screw, which also needs to come out, should be underneath where the battery was.

Once all of the screws are out, use liberal force to pull the back cover off, which should reveal the underside of the main board. Pretty neat, isn’t it? This is where the hard part comes in though. A sturdy hand is very important, because any hard movement with a screwdriver could slice a trace, rendering your GBA completely faulty.

There are 3 small screws placed in triangular formation on the board. They need to come off if you are planning on taking the board out. Using the jewelers screwdrivers, and the tweezers, slowly and carefully work the screws out. Once removed, the board should flip over with ease, opening the underside of the control panel parts.


The lcd connector ribbon is somewhat snug too, and should not be reefed on. DO NOT TAKE IT OUT! It is almost impossible to put the ribbon back into the slot due to the awkward placement of the port. In all honesty, the bottom shouldn’t ever be taken apart unless you run into speaker, or button problems. Cleaning the underside of the button cover doesn’t involve separating the screen, and should only be done with a light amount of rubbing alcohol.

Now we start on the real meat of the project: Taking apart the screen. Using your jewelers screwdrivers, preferably a flat-head, pry off the rubber stoppers located on the face side of the LCD screen. On some models there are 6, while on others, including mine, there are 5. Don’t go wreaking them ether, because they need to go back in once we’re done. You can leave them off, but it makes the GBA look like ass. Once pulled, you will have to unscrew the lcd through the newly revealed holes, which should allow access to the actual LCD components.

Thar she blows mates! Not really much to the damn thing, is there?

The old screen is held on with an adhesive. Getting the screen off is a simple matter of using elbow grease and a bit of patience. The adhesive stays on the actual screen once the cover is removed as well, meaning you don’t need to apply anything new. This next part entails some sensitivity, and almost zen-like workmanship. No dust can get on the actual screen, nor can there be any finger prints. If the screen gets dirty, you’re f____d. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, go directly to sh*tty GBA-ville. Placing the new screen is pretty simple with the right eye. Just line up the edges of the cover with the outer edges of the actual screen, and you should be fine. It won’t close if it’s crooked, which is somewhat relieving as you will always end up with a perfect fit; It just might take you 6 or 7 tries to get it right.

The task complete, and with piles of games to play, this GBA needs reassembly in quick order. The process is, once again, very simple to complete. A couple screws, careful hands, and 10 minutes of time is more than enough to put the GBA back together. Once finished, the screen looks as good as new – A status I wish all of my hand-held consoles could affiliate with.

Doesn’t the model 3 look great? I love that big back lit screen way more than the other GBA models. This project was definitely worth the effort, especially considering what the end cost was. I’m thinking, screen included, this whole thing cost $15.

Not too shabby if you ask me!


Now, if only I could fix PSP this easy!

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2 Responses to “Dismantling (No E!) of the GBA”

  1. Neat post but, uh, unless there’s an ‘e’ in “dismantling”, in Canada, well…you know…

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