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, 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-Logo-FINAL-No-tag-300x59

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!

So after about 3 weeks of work, my 2nd N64 Portable Commission is now complete! As I’ve said several times before, this is the fastest build I’ve ever done and damn near the most well made and put together save the Cross Plane.

I’m very proud of this one as it was a medley of several different fabrication methods that all came together to make this what it became. On top of this, it also was a project that had a few “firsts” involved in it, the big one being that since the buyer of this is in the UK, I had to use a PAL system and take their difference in home power output into consideration. Though not a difficult hurdle, I had to find a PAL system with PAL games and also had to get a power converter to send to him so he can plug in the charger and the wall power.

System Specs:

PAL N64 Base System Trimmed w/Expansion Pak and Hardwired Memory Card
Custom 3D Printed and CNC cut casing
5″ 16:9 TFT Display with 4:3 Option
2 –  3.7v 5000mAh Li-Po Batteries in series for 7.4v output and approx 4hrs of battery life.
2 – 25mm Mylar Speakers & 3.5mm Headphone Jack w/manual switch
Custom Audio Amp by RDC
Battery & Wall Power with charge and play circuit
Standard N64 Button Config with Dual Z buttons
Custom Milled PCBs for the main buttons

As I said before, this system was built using several different fabrication methods, the two most prevalent being 3d Printing and CNC machining. This used the case making method I like to call “Plate & Bracket” which is a modular approach to case making that I’ve been implementing for the last few projects. Essentially this is just like it says, rather than printing a full case half with the edges and face all in one, I’ve found that printing edge brackets and using a separate face plate that is attached to them, the fail rate of the print drops dramatically and it adds a bit more flexibility to the build process.

Another thing I’m fond of is using 3D Printing & CNC to give the best quality finishing of any openings in the 3D Printed Face Plates. Though it may be possible to get a perfect circle out of a 3D printer, I’ve yet to be able to master it. This is why when I print the face plates, they look a bit odd, but that’s because they are printed with the intention of being milled after the fact. The clean results just can’t be beat if it were left to 3D printing alone.

After Being Filled & Milled

I will say though, I’m not a fan of PLA’s milling properties. While it prints nice with fewer failures than ABS, when milling it has to be watched constantly because even with a single flute endmill, the melting point is so low and it cools so quick, it makes a gunky mess that can ruin a work piece and tool. In the future I’ll just be printing face plates with ABS.

The case halves were then primed with a filler/sandable primer and finished off with a textured spray paint which I found covers the imperfections of 3D printing quite well.

I did a few extra steps on this one to make sure the quality was where it needed to be which included milling my own PCBs. This added a great deal of strength to the system but also reduced the number of ground wires I was going to need to use freeing up a little bit of space. I had to modify that tact board for the screen though as all those on a single ground didn’t work so hot. I had on button that when I pressed it, the LED would turn on…yeah, something wasn’t right there. hehe

The layout on the inside because of this was very clean for a homebrew project and hopefully sturdy enough that it will not have to come back! This pic doesn’t show the batteries installed but they sat right on top of the N64.

Batteries wired up with protection circuit.

Soooo, yeah, this is my latest commission and after some more play testing to make sure it holds up I’ll be shipping it across the pond and be moving on to my next project. I’ve got several started and almost completed projects in the wings that I look forward to getting back to so stay tuned for that!




So with the absence of the MBB forums, my new build logs had to move to another location. I’ve been a member on the Mod Retro forums for quite a few years now but was never super active over there. However, I’d joined a group over there with some of the mods and admins and will be helping them build up an advanced modding section which will tackle subjects like CNC  milling, custom PCBs and 3D Printing.

To help that along, I stared up a build log over there today that showcases, or rather, touches upon examples of said techniques and I’ll be using this thread as a stepping stone for more detailed tutorials.

But that’s down the road as I have to concentrate on this commission, which I have to say is probably my finest work to date, not just with aesthetics, but also the way the system has been built and how solid it really feels. Very happy with this one on the second time around.

So anyway, here is the link! Hope you enjoy!

Mod Retro Build Log

18 years…18 years since a life changing experience was first laid on me at my friends house. I was never much of a PlayStation fan, owing to my Nintendo roots that went deep, but once I got sucked into the story line and game play that was Final Fantasy VII, I like millions of others wanted a PlayStation just for this one title.

In case you didn’t guess, this game has had a profound effect on my life, raking up well over 500 hours of play over the years and becoming my internet persona. With that being said, for years now I’ve looked into ways to update and change the game play to a more modern experience. A few years ago I stumbled upon a community that did just that, taking the PC version of the game and replacing the graphics with high-def and modern characters and of course I had to make a post about it.

Well three years since then, all of the sudden, my site started getting tons of hits on a page that I didn’t have a link too. And that’s because at E3 a couple days ago, Square Enix announced that the dream that millions have been waiting for has finally come true! A Final Fantasy VII Remake is now in production for the PS4!!!

Lets just say…well no lets not, just let it soak in that this could either be the biggest win in two decades or the biggest disappointment since Episode 1-3. But if it’s the first, than I guess I’d better start saving up for a PS4, even though this has probably a good two or three years to go before it hits the market. Time will tell, but I will be watching this with great interest over the next few years.

Northwood-N64p-Full Body Assembly

Yup, no sooner did I finish of my first portable N64 commission and ship it off did another come down the pipeline! Never have I had two such similar projects happen so close in time frame and it’s yielding some very cool improvements.

Essentially this is a duplicate of the N64p I finished off last month, but taking everything I learned from the first version and perfecting it the second time around. There are a few key differences in this one though that required a bit of extra design work, but it will be well worth the effort in the final project.

There are two big differences with this one. First, the screen is a completely different model than the other version. This is a wide screen 16:9 default ratio, however it does have an option to be 4:3 if the user wishes. I decided to go with for a few reasons, but the main reasons were picture quality and size. In my opinion, this screen is sharper than what I used last time as far as composite input goes and the thin profile and smaller driver board make this much easier to work with.

The second difference is that my buyer in this case is based in the UK. This presented a problem at first because the UK and Europe use a different region code than the US. US uses NTSC for it’s format which is basically just a different hertz rating based on the electrical systems we use. NTSC is 60Hz and PAL is only 50Hz. So, this meant I had to use PAL hardware for the N64 as well as needing a few PAL games to test the system on. I also had to get a 220 to 110 transformer so he could use the battery charger that is specific to the batteries that are going in the thing. So although this one was very much the same, it had it’s share of “firsts” that I had to overcome. Fortunately they weren’t that difficult to get over.

Additional improvements also include:

– Better ventilation for the regulator and system as a whole with a new vent panel cut into the top and a vent in the back.
– Relocated headphone switch which has been moved to the face of unit instead of on the bottom where it could be accidentally pressed.
– Custom home cut PCBs for the buttons, d-pad, headphone switch and power jacks.
– PLA material for the 3D printed body and face of the casing instead ABS to prevent warping.
– Custom brackets for all loose components like the audio amp and regulator for more secure mounting and less wire stress.

So I’m pretty excited to see how this one is going to turn out and so far progress has been very quick and efficient. Time is still an issue as I don’t have much of it to dedicate, but at least when I do put the time in, it goes further. I should have most of the case parts finished off this week and then I’ll be able to start the fun part of sanding and painting and after that gets done I’ll start posting some progress pics! I’m excited to see how this one comes out!


Alright after about 5 months of working off an on  with this project as time allowed, my first portable in a year is complete.

A commission I took at the end of last year, I was finally able to get this guy done and will be shipping out the buyer next week. This is a very basic N64 as far as portables go, but it still did have it’s issues and took a bit longer to fix than anticipated.

System Specs.

5″ TFT LCD Display
2 – 2mm Mylar Speakers
Custom Audio Amp by RDC
2 – 3.7v 5000mAh Li-Po Batteries in Series for 7.4v Output
Standard N64 Motherboard with heavy trim
Expansion Pak
Hardwired Memory Pak
Custom 3D Printed and CNC Machined Enclosure
3.5mm Headphone Jack with Manual On/Off
Dual Power Circuit for Wall and Battery Power

All in all I’m happy with this though the casing issues did irritate me to no end. But the custom audio amp (by RDC), the two seperate power circuits for wall power and battery power and the modular case style were all new techniques/items that I’ve never done before and with the next project I’ll be able to improve on the ideas and their usages.

I didn’t do up a build log for this one but I might do up a couple of posts on the modular case building technique I used as I think that could be pretty helpful for other case makers and portablizers.

So the next project is to finish off my OUYA portable that I’m about 3/4 of the way complete. That one should be fun once it’s complete. So until we meet again, enjoy the video!