Modding a speech-controlled Game Boy Advance

Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance (ゲームボーイアドバンス), or GBA, is a 32-bit handheld video game console. The successor to the Game Boy Color, the console was launched way back in 2011, giving Makers like Chanudn plenty of time to come up with various mods for the unit.

Indeed, Chanudn recently debuted a slick speech-controlled GBA on Instructables. The basic idea? Players say the name of a button (left, A, start, etc.) and the GBA responds as if the button had been physically pressed.

So, how does it work?

“You say a word into a small microphone (let’s assume you say ‘start’) – and this signal is sent from the microphone to the computer through the [Atmel-based] Arduino Uno (ATmega328 MCU). The speech recognition software BitVoicer sees that ‘start’ is a word it’s supposed to respond to and sends the Arduino the string ‘start’,” Chanudn explained in his Instructables post.

“The Arduino receives the string and sets the voltage of one digital output pin to HIGH and the rest to LOW. The pin set to HIGH is connected to a relay that is in turn connected to two metal pads on the GBA circuit board that correspond to the start button. Since the pin is set to HIGH the relay switches states, making the two metal pads electrically connected. This electrical connection is what happens when you usually press GBA buttons, so the GBA responds as if the start button was pressed.”

Aside from the Arduino Uno, key project components include:


PC with BitVoicer speech recognition software
7 relays
  • Two 8-pin female headers
  • Two 6-pin female headers
  • Adafruit’s microphone amp
4 IC sockets
  • Perfboard

“This is a project I worked on for my electronics class at Pomona College. Thanks to Professor Dwight Whitaker and Tony Grigsby for their help and guidance – and credit to Jonathan Wong for the idea for this project,” Chanudn added.

Interested in learning more about the speech-controlled Game Boy Advance? You can check out the project’s official Instructables page here.

1 thought on “Modding a speech-controlled Game Boy Advance

  1. Pingback: Paying homage to the “Father of Video Games” Maker style | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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