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!

 

 

IMAG1728

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!

IMAG1614_1

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!

 

IMAG1557For the past 3 or 4 years now, the Raspberry Pi has been a huge asset to the maker communities across the world. Within the past couple of months, a new, more powerful version of the Pi has come to market and I felt it was time to get my hands one.

For those who don’t know, the Raspberry Pi is basically a mini Lynx based computer system that is about the size of a credit card with a decent amount of power to run basic programs for a variety of different applications. One of those applications that holds great interest to me since it first came out though was its ability to run retro gaming emulators, which of course then transitioned into a portable gaming system.

The only downside was that the emulation was limited to about the Super Nintendo and prior consoles due to it’s hardware limits. But now, the Pi 2 is on the market with 6X the speed of the original and 2X the RAM. This has made it capable of running PS1 and N64 games at full speed which has now peaked my interest. And the best part, the system itself is only $35.

But, this of course is going to have its learning curves. I’ve never even used Lynx and there is a fair amount of coding that has to go into place to make this work as a portable system, but tutorials are vast on You Tube and the only issue I see is going to have the time to do it. I’ve just about completed the N64 portable commission (hopefully closing it up this weekend) and after that is complete, I have to finish off my OUYA project. So it’s most likely going to take some time before I get to this, but I really do want to see how something like this would come out and the designs are already being made for it.

So maybe by the end of the year I can start to play around with this, but at this pace I don’t really know how long it’s going to take to get to it. But at least I’ve got the idea in place and we’ll see how she turns out when it happens.