Monday, August 26, 2013

Laser Experiment: Gameboy Color

I was cleaning my closet the other day, and came across a pile of old handheld video games, including a Neo Geo Pocket Color, a few Gameboy Colors, a Gameboy Advance SP, a Zipit Z2, and a Gameboy Pocket. They called out to me, "Engrave usssss!" Ok, well maybe they didn't, but when you have a laser in your workshop you'll want to stick just about everything you own into it at some point. Sometimes this goes horribly awry, but today it went very very well.

I selected the yellow Gameboy Color as my first victim because it was in the worst shape of the bunch, and I wouldn't feel bad if I killed it. I opened it up, removed the electronics, and put the faceplate into the flatbed scanner to make a picture of it. Why a scanner? Because then I will get a perfectly flat image of the front of the Gameboy which is also perfectly to scale. No measuring required! I did have to rotate the image a bit to make it perfectly vertical though, and double checked that my digital image measured the same as the real Gameboy with a ruler, and it seemed spot on.

I put that image into MyPaint, made a new layer, and went crazy. This was the result:

From there I was able to import that into Inkscape and create a vector pattern with alignment marks on the corners. It looked like this:

To get the engraving to line up on the Gameboy Color, I first taped a piece of old printer paper to the bed of the machine with masking tape, then I put the plastic front piece on top of the paper and set the focus for the plastic part. Then I removed the plastic part and ran the engraving at 250DPI and 25% power for a fast marking onto the paper which I could use to line up the plastic part. It was out of focus, but more than adequate to ensure proper alignment. Then I just popped the faceplate back in, and ran the pattern a second time at 100% power, and it was ready!

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