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Sega Game Gear RGB, Composite, S-Video Out Mod with LCD Upgrade

October 18, 2013

So there I was, scouring YouTube for cool retro game mods, when I stumbled upon a guy who had upgraded the LCD in his Game Gear. He was running full screen games on it and I thought it looked amazing! Then I saw his Game Gear outputting video to his TV. “Holy crap!”, I thought. I couldn’t wait to start buying all of the parts to do it myself. I kept looking for links or comments on how to do it. Nothing. The previous commenters were begging for some guidance but the modder never responded to anyone. This annoyed the hell out of me so I went on a mission to figure it out and write this guide.

First of all, you are not going to be able to get full screen video from Game Gear games through composite, RGB, or S-video. This means that an upgraded 3.5″ LCD screen (composite) will not display Game Gear games in full screen. You can, however, run full screen Master System games to all video outputs (which is what that modder showed on YouTube) assuming you have the SMS converter for the Game Gear. Check out my YouTube video if you want to see how it will turn out.

This guide is assuming you have already replaced the capacitors in your Game Gear. If you have not, read this guide first.

Part 1 – GGTV Board

In order to get video out of the Game Gear and/or upgrade the LCD you need a GGTV board. The Game Gear TV out project has been in the works since the early 2000s. There were a bunch of people involved in this but, from what I gather, the main contributors were Victor Kemp, Xavier, and eviltim (Tim Worthington). These guys did all of the hard work for us making this mod pretty straightforward.

You have two options: you can build the board or buy the board. Both of these links take you to to eviltim’s site. He sells them directly. I recommend you buy the board as it will be much cleaner and will be the most up to date design.

I’m not going to go over the installation of this board as it is covered in those links but here are a few notes…

  • On Tim’s page where he says “It’s important to keep the PIXEL CLOCK wire as far away from all the other wires as possible,” he means it. Do everything you can to keep this wire away from the other wires. If you have Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, use it as your test game. While all other games ran fine, this one had all kinds of issues until I moved that wire farther away. In the end I even smothered it in hot glue hoping to help isolate it.
  • I ran H-Sync off of the chip because it was easier for me to solder.
  • I hot glued most of the smaller soldering points after soldering it.

Part 2 – Video Out

Most of the Game Gears I saw that had the video out mod had DB-9 connectors, RCA jacks, and S-Video connectors popping out all over the place. I didn’t like the way it looked so I chose to use the Ext. port instead. Doing it this way renders the port useless for any multiplayer gaming (the last multiplayer game I played on my Game Gear was… never!). I think using the Ext. port is the easiest method and looks the best. You will need a link cable or a SMS 2 player adapter cable if using this method.

– Extension Port Method for Video Out

The first thing you need to do is to take your link cable and cut it in half. If using the SMS 2 player adapter cable, you can cut the DB-9 end off or connect another cable with a DB-9 female connecter and cut that cable instead (the shorter the cable, the better the video will look). I didn’t want to destroy my 2 player cable so I used an old cable with a DB-9 connector to cut.

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Once the cable is cut, connect it to the Game Gear, strip the wires at the end, and check continuity from the following points on the Game Gear to determine what wires you want to use. Ground will remain as ground in your cable.

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - Ext Port Solder Points

If you want to run RGB (SCART) out then you will need 5 wires plus a ground. Composite out will only need 1 wire and a ground. S-Video out requires 2 wires and a ground. I recommend getting audio out externally (through the headphone jack) as it is prone to hum if it’s too close to the video signals and will leave you more room inside the Game Gear. For my project I wanted RGB out and S-Video out while using composite for the LCD upgrade.

Once you have decided what wire will be what (it is a good idea to write it down), you will need to cut these traces on the Game Gear board (this is what disables any multiplayer capability).

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - CUT TRACES 1

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - CUT TRACES 2

Now solder the wires internally from the points you chose to the GGTV board while keeping in mind the routing of them to ensure proper case closure. RGB needs R, G, B (I highly recommend you use shielded wire for R,G, and B), C-Sync, and +5 VDC. S-Video Needs Chroma and Luma connected. It is a good idea to cut the video wires the same length. I had to go back and use shielded video cable for the internal R, G, and B wires because it looked awful without it. I ran the unshielded S-Video wire (I ran out of room for more shielded wire) around the outside hoping to avoid most of the interference from the board.

If you don’t like the idea of losing functionality of the Ext. port then you will have to buy the connector of your choice, drill/cut a spot for it in your Game Gear, and hook it up to your GGTV board.

Okay. The Game Gear itself is ready to output video. Now you just need the proper connector on the other end of your cable. Some TVs support RGB through male RCA jacks. Most do not. You will most likely need a SCART connecter/cable. If you live in a country where SCART isn’t a standard you will also need a SCART to HDMI or SCART to Component Converter. A SCART connector requires a 220uF capacitor on the pin 20 (C-Sync). R is pin 15, G is pin 11, B is pin 7, and pin 21 is the actual connector so use it as your ground. You will also need a 180 ohm resistor between pins 8 and 16 with +5 VDC going to pin 8.

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - SCART PIN OUT

Test your video out before moving on.

Part 3 – LCD Upgrade

Some may not consider this an upgrade, as you are getting a smaller picture on it for Game Gear games, but if your LCD is ruined or looks awful then you don’t have much of a choice. I actually prefer the smaller, more vibrant screen over the original, washed out screen. If you plan on using mainly Sega Master System games on it then an upgraded LCD is a must have. Anyway, if you are doing the LCD upgrade then read on. If not, congratulations! You are finished!

WP_20131017_017

I’m going to make this super easy for you. Buy your favorite 3.5″ LCD. This is currently my favorite (shown above). Power it by using the unregulated voltage point on the GGTV board , ground it to the GGTV board, and run the composite wire (I used shielded cable) to the GGTV board. The following picture shows the points I’m talking about (your board should be in your Game Gear at this point). Now test it. Yes, it was that easy!

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - LCD Wiring

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If it worked fine then go ahead and grab your razor blade or X-Acto knife. I had to cut/trim these points to make it fit properly:

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - CUT HERE

Once you see that it fits it is a good idea to run a game with colored borders to center it perfectly. Again, Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble is what I used. If you plan on using mainly Sega Master System games then run a SMS game for this part. They run closer to the right side of the screen for some reason. Anyway, grab your hot glue gun, center it up, and glue it sparingly. Large globs of glue will cause the board to not fit properly. I kept the game and LCD on while gluing it so I could make minor adjustments as the glue dried.

GGTV OUT LCD MOD - LCD SCREENSHOT

Now make sure it all works. Check video out, LCD, sound, etc. Put it back together (I had to cut some glue away for the case to close properly). Test it again before screwing it together.

WP_20131020_014

If it works, pat yourself on the back. You did it! Now go brag to your friends and make YouTube videos showing how awesome you are.

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If you are overwhelmed by this mod but still want it done, contact me for pricing and options.

We will NOT be doing these on commission anymore. They will be sold directly through the store from time to time. If you are interested in purchasing one, like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter. Updates will be posted there with more information on when they will be available.

From → Game Gear, Mods, Sega

10 Comments
  1. matt permalink

    That’s amazing, I’m interested in the mod for sure

    • Thanks! Click the “Get a Quote” link if you would like me to do one of these for you.

  2. chad permalink

    why does sonic look so small yet the final picture looks full screen?

    • I was trying to show the difference between Game Gear games and Sega Master System games. Game Gear games run small with this mod while Master System games run at the normal size. There is no way around it as of yet.

      • geooorge permalink

        Well, when i swiftly pull a game gear cartridge out with the unit on, i can clearly see that the game gear is changing resolutions from GG mode to SMS mode. Image gets smaller (and game crashes of course.) But if i put the game back in, the screen goes back to GG standards. So could it be that there’s a software check or perhaps a pin sense mechanism?

      • There is a pin on the cartridge that tells the GG weather or not there is a GG game or a SMS game inserted. Tricking it into thinking a SMS game is inserted while playing a GG game will not make it full screen. This is due to the fact that SMS games (256×192) are being downscaled to 160×144 in order to be played on the GG.

  3. Zack permalink

    Hello,

    I’m assuming since the new vesion of the GGTV has been released the screen issue has been resolved correct?

  4. GohanX permalink

    I just did this mod and it worked great, but one thing I would add is that the LCD screen that is recommended will not run under battery power as is, but if you do the power blinking fix that is listed under Nomad mods it works great. Thanks for the tips!

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