Hardware

Hardware Features and Issues of the Game Pie Advance (GPA)

  • General
    • The GPA circuit board is designed to fit inside of an original or reproduction GBA shell.
      • It will take some modification to the shell to perform this install.  If you are handy with an Xacto style hobby knife, this should not be difficult.
      • The circuit board will come assembled, but some “external” components will require some basic soldering.
    • The MicroSD card on the Raspberry Pi Zero is in a place that is not readily accessible.
      • To remove the SD card, you must open the shell or, if you were so inclined, you could hook the MicroSD card up on an extension ribbon cable and place it in a more accessible location.
    • Full access to the Raspberry Pi 40-pin header is included as solder points on the circuit board.
      • Feel free to add to or modify any of the GPIO connections.
  • Batteries
    • The GPA v2 is being designed to use rechargeable lithium cells such as this The GPA v2 is being designed to use rechargeable lithium cells such as a the thin rectangular 3.7v lithium ion polymer battery cells or 14500 cells in parallel.
      • 14500 cells are the same size as the AA batteries that fit perfectly in the GBA shell.
    • The GPA v1 relied on 2 14500 lithium cells in series.  This 14500 battery life is only about 1.5 hours in our testing.
      • When the batteries get low, the audio usually cuts out and then the system will just die.
      • You can usually plug in the Pi to a MicroUSB power source to keep it running.
      • Another option would be to use a USB power cell (like people use to charge their phone on the go) and just plug it into the Pi’s MicroUSB socket.
      • If you are a modder/hacker type, you could easily mod this to use a different battery. One of our design decisions was to keep the AA battery compartment, so we chose batteries that fit inside of it.
      • Even though this uses 14500 batteries that are rechargeable, the GPA v1 does not charge them. You may want extra batteries or to just run this from a USB power source.
  • Power Management
    • To boot the GPA, you must hold the power “button” in the on position until the LED comes on. Then Linux will take over and you can let go.
    • While booting, the built-in screen is blank for quite a while. The HDMI has video immediately.
    • To shut down the GPA, you must hold the power “button” until the LED turns off.  This will tell the Raspberry Pi to do a safe shutdown.  Once shut down, the connection from the battery to the Pi will be disconnected.
    • If the Pi is being powered directly via USB (through a USB hub back-powering the Pi for example) the GPA will not be able to turn on/off power to the Pi.
  • Buttons
    • The main circuit board has no room for the rubber membranes required to add X and Y buttons that have the native feel of the original A and B buttons.
    • On GPA v2, we are attempting to design in an option that allows builders to add a X/Y sub-PCB.  The way we have added X/Y buttons on our in-house build uses tactile buttons that do not look and feel the same as the A/B (rubber membrane) buttons.
  • LCD
    • The included LCD is a 320×240 panel (actually 240×320 set on its side) used in SPI mode.
    • The GPA uses FBCP to clone the HDMI output to the LCD.
      • This allows you to hot plug/unplug the HDMI at any time and play on either or both the LCD and HDMI.
      • There is some diagonal tearing on the screen at times. This is most apparent when a menu or game fades in/out.  This is due to the screen being 240×320 laid sideways and viewed as 320×240.
    • The HDMI output is set to a fixed resolution (that can be changed if need be).
      • The HDMI will not detect your monitor, as it is assumed you will usually play without HDMI connected (and the system needs to boot to a known state to clone the output to LCD).
  • Audio
    • The GPA comes with a single mono speaker sized to fit inside the speaker compartment of the shell.  There is an amplifier that drives this speaker.
    • The headphone jack will disable the speaker (when a headphone plug is inserted) and give unamplified stereo sound to the headphones.