Sorry it’s been a couple months in between posts. It’s been exceptionally busy these past couple of months but as far as modding and projects are concerned, there’s been a lot of waiting.
First off, the most exciting news is I’ve taken on another commission that started a couple weeks ago. This will be an NTSC Super Nintendo Portable, going over to a buyer in the UK. Yes, UK and NTSC…dunno why, but that’s what he wanted. Now some of you know that after the last shipping fiasco for the N64p that I shipped to the UK back in July, I had sworn I’d never do that again (cost almost $700 to get it there), but the buyer and I have made an agreement and hopefully nothing goes wrong in transit. But anyway, this will be a new project for me as I’ve never done and SNES portable before, though it already looks to be simpler than the N64s. But, I’m also going to try something else new that I’ve never done and that’s to make a portable that will output RGB to the display. For those who don’t know, RGB is an output method that has three different channels that the system outputs to the display, Red, Green & Blue which are then mixed together at the pixel level to make the desired color. This is a far superior method to the standard Composite output which just takes an output signal and mashes it all together through one line, which creates blurry edges and sort of washed out colors.
The way I plan to do this is using a SCRART to HDMI upscaler and use a 5.6″ 640 x 480 display and see if I can get that to work. It’s a lot of extra hardware to cram into a portable, but if it works, the crisp display image will be well worth the extra costs and learning curve. If you want more info on how RGB works in retro consoles, check out the link below and give Bob a like as he’s put an extreme amount of time into his site and the info there is amazingly useful.
The other project I’m working on is another portable N64. This is just kind of a side project but there is going to be a bit of a twist to this one as it’s not going to be a standard N64p. I was going to try and RGB mod this one as well, but the case work was already done as far as the 3D printing was concerned and for what it’s going to be, I really didn’t need to front the additional costs to implement that. But until I get a little bit further into the project, I’m gonna keep this one sealed until I’m ready to show it off!
That being said, I’ve also been working on upgrading my two primary means of case making, i.e. my 3D Printer and my new CNC Machine.
First, my 3D printer has been great for the nearly the full year that I’ve had it. But over the past few weeks, I had been extremely frustrated with it as no matter what I did, the prints I would make would all break loose from the build plate. After more than a dozen failed attempts at printing the N64p case that I’ve been working on, I finally threw the white flag and went searching for answers on the Internet.
My first attempt to help fix the printer was to upgrade the firmware. I had never done it and I couldn’t get the system to print over USB and my readings told me that upgrading the firmware was the way to go. So I found the most updated version of the FlashPrint software and the latest firmware. I installed it and…. bricked the entire system. (Grumble) Turns out I have an older version of the Dreamer and the latest update as I found out the hard way, would kill the system. Only by downgrading to the 1.3V of FlashPrint and the firmware that came with it and through a very odd process to re-install it, was I able to get the system running again. I found the last known version of the firmware that wouldn’t turn my printer into a paperweight and it started working great and I could then use my PC to send directly over USB. But, this still did not fix the lifting issue and I was getting even more frustrated.
So I went looking some more and I had known for a long time that people printing with PLA were having great success using glass print beds. I too had known this first hand as my friend Jon (Hailrazer) Jandran did so on his Makerbot and the results were beautiful.
That’s when I came across Makersome.com, a 3D printing store/community based in California that offers great advice and solutions to 3D printer people everywhere, that had a glass bed kit for the Dreamer. For $40 I was willing to give it a try. It came in earlier this week and with a free Saturday, I decided to break it in. I just have to tell you that the results are nothing short of fantastic! As we speak, the printer is working on the last piece of the N64p casing. 4 print jobs, 4 completions with 0 lifting. I mean these corner have always lifted a bit on every project I’ve done, but using this glass print bed, they match up as if they had been sanded flat. Very very pleased with this investment. So if you are into 3D printing as well have a FlashForge Dreamer or Creator Pro, check out their kit upgrades at Makersome.com
Lastly, my CNC is under a new upgrade process as well. Even though it was brand new and I love the machine itself, the Chinese have a way keeping costs down which can lead to some questionable results with the final product. In this case, the lack of power with the controller hardware. This is a decent sized machine that pulls some pretty heavy components of it. Though the stepper motors are more than capable of doing the job, the controller that drives them are not. This has been one of the biggest complaints out on the CNC Forums when these machines are concerned. So after I posted a video of the unboxing and my issues, a You Tube user was kind enough to guide me in the direction of a decent upgrade for relatively low money. Long story short, I received in 3 new industrial stepper drivers which I’m in the process of swapping out. I’ve had to take it slow though as I’m not 100% sure what I’m doing with them and just have to make sure I don’t screw anything up. But hopefully once this is complete, I’ll have a machine that can be used to it’s full potential.
So yeah, that’s what I’ve got going on! Like I said, busy as hell, but a lot of down time waiting for parts and materials to come in the mail. Hopefully updates will be a bit more frequent now that I have some real projects going again and we’ll see how these new endeavors pan out!