It was a pretty painful day last month when the once promising Portable N64 commission I was building decided to implode on me. Never had I seen this kind of paint failure before, nor would have ever thought that after 3 weeks of being sealed that this could have even happened. But, regardless of belief, here we are and the paint is still cracking everyday, but is still as smooth as the day the last coat of clear was applied.

One may argue though that this is actually a pretty cool effect, giving it an aged and more rustic tone, but most of the time technology and rustic don’t blend well and in this case it prompted a total redo of the project and “The GoldeN64” became the “iSore 64”.

With this demotion, certain components like the Power Management system and custom controller board were downgraded, making this a battery power only and single player system. But the hits didn’t stop there. The expansion pak was also reverted back the original jumper pak and biggest kicker was I had to downgrade to a V2 of the Mini64 controller board which did not have a built in memory chip, but 32 test points to hard wire a memory card, which however is not done in this system. So the features are pretty bare. But I had to do this because I still need to complete the commission I originally started and those features and components are pretty expensive and low supply.

The video and pics below demonstrate just how nasty this failure was. It was very sad to see it fall so far, but it’s for sale now and perhaps will get picked up by a buyer that can add in the missing features and bring her back to her former glory?

Ebay Link Here

 

I’m not gonna lie, the month of August was a roller coaster in many ways, and though I was hoping to have three projects wrapped up by now, only one ended up being completed. However, it did get topped off in the best way possible in that I got to spend the weekend with fellow modders, Gman, Shank and Jackson. We did a nearly 10hr long live stream and it was great to see how these guys have taken console modding to the next level.

 

The BitBuilt Competition

It was with great sadness that on August 23rd, I was not able to have my contest entry “The eNVega64” completed by the deadline. Though I gave it my best effort, I had a few hardware issues that couldn’t be resolved (my custom controller and charger board specifically) on my own. The issues have since been identified and are in the process of being fixed, but I’m still going to need to track down a flex cable for the Ultra VGA board to avoid having to hand wire to the RCP chip on the N64 mother board. I had also screwed up the cart cover quite a bit because of the mounting tabs not being equal height when they were printed, so I’m redoing that in it’s entirety as well. 

 

 

THE GoldeN64

Just prior to missing the competition deadline, I was met with another failure that took the wind out of my sails in the first place. This was a commission I had been working on since February and although I know now I would have run into the same issues as I did with the eNVega with the controller board and charger board, just before I was about to close it up, the paint on the enclosure began to crack and split underneath the clear coat! I had never seen this before and the bitch was the case had been finished for nearly 3 weeks prior and over night decided to break down. 

Long story short, with how far this system was into production, it was decided that I was just going to start over from scratch with this one for the customer, and flip this one once complete as-is and with fewer features just so I could get some money back to buy the parts needed again to restart this project. The goal was to have it finished off last weekend at the meet-up in Boston on live stream, but that’s when the controller issue made itself apparent and it didn’t end up happening.

Once the components get back to me though, I’ll get back on finishing this up and slap it up on eBay for a mercy sale.

Example of cracks and splits and it’s since gotten worse.

THE BITBUILT MEET-UP – BOSTON EDITION

But, as I said, to top it all off, I had a great time meeting with old modding friends Gman and Shank and getting to meet Jackson for the first time. These kids have taken modding to levels that I could never understand and it was awesome to hang out with them for the weekend. We live streamed for nearly 10hrs Saturday into Monday morning and though I didn’t get my project done, progress was made across the board. The stream was unfortunately taken down though due to copyright of the music we were listening too in the background. Kinda bullshit about that, but Warner Brothers Music certainly cares more about music sales than actual enjoyment with friends and that apparently music is only meant to be heard by the individual who paid for it….yeah….anyway.

What’s really cool though is that Gman lives so close now and that offers up the chances for more meet-ups between us. I dunno if I’ll ever be on the same level, but it’s cool knowing I’ve been a part of it!

I should hopefully have more updates as the projects finish up, and hopefully next month my Form 3 will finally be inhouse after being delayed again. I ordered it in June and now not expected to see it till mid October. But I get it, they make a good product and it’s new. Had the same thing happen to me with my Prusa MK2S a couple years ago, but it was worth the wait.

For a few years now, the guys over at the BitBuilt Forums have been running a summer time portable build-off which has been a lot of fun to watch and see the remarkable projects take form that are a direct result. This year I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring knowing full-well that I’ll be hung out to dry entering a project as antiqued as an N64 portable.

But really, it was more or less about inspiration to get another project rolling and though I’ve done several N64’s in the past, this one will be a first in that it will use an Ultra Everdrive Flashcart to load ROMS (i.e. no game carts needed) and will also use Marshall’s Ultra VGA video mod for the best possible picture using original hardware.

Progress has been steady, most of the parts are in and right now I’m in the process of finishing off the back half of the casing. The first round of filling is done, with lotsa sanding and re-filling in the near future, but hopefully things should start moving quickly once the finish work is out of the way.

It’s kinda funny though, as I entered the contest to get another project rolling, but within just few days of entering that, two N64p kit commissions got booked as well as another full N64p commission…

From dead to crazy just like that. But it’s a good thing all around. I’ll be posting more updates about the contest project over on BB over the next couple months, so feel free to follow along there!

A plastic box with 3 cut-outs is essentially all this needed to be. Really…just a small box, a few cuts and some glue but no…this had to become the most elaborate 3D printed case to enclose 3 freaking connectors and a bit of wire…

I’m not sure what it is that pushes me to this extent to engineer a plastic box I’m sure I could drive over and not break, but whatever the reason this A/V & Controller breakout box for my SNES Box Go is a rugged “Sumbitch”.

Designed as a two-part case held together with mounting tabs and #2-56 hardware, the layout is sturdy and far stronger than it needed to be. Though, with all this strength, its weight is still lighter than I would have liked.

Essentially this is a two part case and utilizes 4 mounting tabs which most of my console cases do. The mounting tabs were glued to the base of the case and then set in place with screws. Very easy to get into should the need ever arise.

Again, this isn’t anything spectacular but was worth a mention and short post. I’ve got a few more projects in the works that are a little more in-depth and possibly a few commissions coming down the pipeline, so hopefully we’ll break this 3 to 4 month post cycle!

Hey guys! I know I know…been another 4 months since I’ve posted anything, but when it comes to time to work on a project or time to work on a blog post, you know which one wins.

That said though, these past 4 months have had me working on a new project that I’d never attempted before, and from what I can tell in my searches across the Internet, no one else has either.

The SNES Box Go is a relatively simple portable Super Nintendo mod, much like the N64 portables I’ve done in the past. The one key difference here is that this is my first time I’ve used a Flashcart in the build to load the games from ROMs instead of the actual cartridge. I’ve had a little experience with Flashcarts where I updated an old system of mine with an Everdrive 64 at the end of last year.

The reason I say this may be a first though is because I have yet to see anyone implement one of these Flashcarts into an SNES portable. Though this isn’t much of a surprise because the cost comparison between needing the original hardware & Flashcart vs an Emulator based system which usually run fine with games older than the N64, probably means this is a first. i.e…this isn’t a practical build for anyone who just wants to “play” retro games as much as it is just a fun project to build for myself.


CORE COMPONENTS

The portable itself is based off an original SNES Jr. model. It was Nintendo’s late revision of the system shortly before the N64 came out and it had a much smaller motherboard that was ideal for making portable. The motherboard was not trimmed at all and fit well in the design.

Don’t freak, the system I had was bought broken off eBay about 5 years ago. I didn’t use a pristine version of this somewhat rare console.

 

The enclosure was designed around the mother board with zero trimming in mind. This actually worked well and ended up being almost the same height as the N64p mods I’ve done in the past. The only thing that was removed from the stock board (aside from the standard controller ports, cart slot, switches, A/V & power jacks) was the 7805 regulator as I swapped it out for a more efficient switching regulator that was installed on the back half of the case.

Of course the next main piece of hardware is the Flashcart itself, which is an SD2SNES by Krikzz who is based in the Ukraine. This is hardware that normally would be in a SNES Cart and then put directly into an SNES like a regular game. The main difference is that the system plays its games from an SD card that’s loaded in the top. So even though it’s playing off ROMs, it’s playing them with zero conversion or compression because they are being processed by the original system hardware. Basically, there’s no emulation taking place, so games run at full speed and the way they were intended originally. There are some exceptions with special chip games that the developers are working on through firmware, but it’s 99% compatible for the most part.

This was my first time wiring up cart slot like this (where the cart was perpendicular to the solder points on the system’s motherboard) so there was a lot of extra wire in my relocation. Didn’t cause any problems though, so I left it as was. Again, casing was designed around these parts so it fit nicely.

 

While on the topic of the Flashcart, I just want to take a second to thank Andy and Stoneage Gamer for sponsoring this project by supplying the SD2SNES! A huge help and I appreciate them coming on the 4 month process of building this! Check em out at STONEAGEGAMER.com They’ve got an amazing operation going on there and I hope to one day visit their store!

 

It’s a bit hard to see but the battery cover has the Stoneage Gamer logo SLA 3D printed in the back of it.

 


MAIN FEATURES

Keeping with my standard build practices, the enclosure is FDM 3D Printed while the buttons and decals (like speaker covers) were printed on the Form 2. Like the N64 portables, the case was printed in several parts and then glued/filled/primed and painted and fastened together to make the casing. 

Though the process was the same, this was without a doubt the most complex casing I’ve designed. Lots of tight tolerances due to the use of the SLA printed buttons as well as traps for the mounting hardware. Didn’t come out perfectly and sanding was a pain due to so many tight edges and seams. But I’m happy with the final outcome.

 

I know I’ve been saying this for nearly 2 years now, but the Form 2 is an amazing piece of equipment. The R & L buttons especially benefited from having this in house as they were far more complex in design than any other button I’ve designed to date.

 

I mean you can even see the L and R printed right into the button!

 

The power circuits are another bright feature as they are fully custom, utilizing both RDCs regulator breakout board for the TI PTH08080WAH as well as his battery charger board which was designed for the flat cell Li-Po batteries used to power the system. The cool thing about that charger board is it allows for the use of any standard 12v 3A power supply instead of the smart changer. Not to mention it’s Play & Charge ability allowing for the whole system to play off wall power as and charge the battery at the same time.

 

The batteries are the standard 3.7v 5000mAh Li-Po cell I pretty much always use, though the expense and shipping prices may be driving me elsewhere soon enough.

 

Standard 5″  640 x 480, 4:3 Aspect Ratio Screen, 28mm Mylar speakers, custom button board PCBs and custom Audio Amp. A new addition though is the 1″ x 1″ SNES controller PCB. This saves from having to trim down and wire to an actual controller board.

 

All wired up aside from the Flashcart. You may notice too there is a USB 3.0 jack. This is used just as a connector to the breakout box that allows for 2nd player and A/V out to a TV.

 

The 3D Printed breakout box inputs the 2nd player controller to the handheld and outputs the A/V to a TV.

 

A modified RCA cable and standard USB 3.0 handle the A/V and P2 controller I/O

 


FINISHING UP

Because this was such a large project and post, there will surly be updates to it as well one more video that dives a bit deeper into the tech and features of the system. 

Until then, thanks for checking this out and I hope to hear your thoughts about the system and process!

 

DOWNLOAD STLs HERE!

Some would say this was a long time coming and truth be told, this should have come a great deal sooner…but knowing what follows when releasing a custom casing designed around custom components, the flood gates that open go far beyond just supplying a design file. This has honestly been the biggest issue I’ve had with making only a partial design public, because inevitably the emails and tweets will come in asking for the rest of the parts, links to the components used and then advice on how to put it all together.

This was one of the exact reasons why the idea of a full kit was put in place years ago and still being worked on today, but of course the interest needed to make it a reality and economical (i.e. needing lots of money for them) is in direct competition with those who just want the case files (i.e. don’t want to pay). It’s kind of like not being able to get out of your own way.

So then it hit me. Meeting halfway at this stage of the game is pointless. The kits won’t succeed unless there are people to buy them, and generating interest to a very limited group willing to pay for the convenience of a kit is even harder.

100’s of hours have gone into revisions of this case design since it first emerged in early 2015. Every detail was built from the ground up, revised, tested and improved with each version. And not just the casing, but the custom components, the addition of SLA printed buttons, decals and covers and even new finishing techniques have made this N64 design my baby of my modding “career”.  Giving it away has just seemed very hard to do, especially knowing that as soon as I did, people would be knocking at the door asking for more.

But things changed a few weeks ago. I sold off a few of the older version cases I had printed a bunch of when I was about to start trying to sell a few kits, and then the design had a major revision on many levels. But as part of the sales agreement, I provided a parts list of the basic components for the customers so they could source on their own. And then suddenly, once that was there I had a resource that anyone could use as a reference.

In turn this lead to a solution that didn’t require a “meeting halfway point”. The older designs still use a majority of the basic components as the current kits do, so using all the custom components that would come with the kit wouldn’t necessarily take away from ones ability to build one with some modification. And let’s face it…modding is about seeing what you can do, not 100% about your end result.

So here it is! The full set of STL files for a complete Legacy version of a Downing Style Portable Nintendo 64! (download here)

 

Alright, so first let’s explain what the “Legacy” casing is.

First and foremost, this is about 3 minor versions behind the current kit version which is why it’s called a “Legacy” version.

Second, what is provided is what you get and you will find it difficult in some cases to find parts that are going to fit properly because in the instance of buttons and decals, they were all custom designed and printed in SLA. You WILL have to hack this case to make make work without these parts, but the Parts List can help you out for most of the off-the-shelf parts that were used. I can provide a set of SLA printed buttons and decals that can make your day easier, but both the resin needed and the time to print carry a cost.

Third, included in this list of STL files are enclosures for 2 custom power supply solutions for this model. One of the big changes between this version and most recent is the custom battery charger PCB which allowed for a single 12V, 3A input to power everything. The Legacy version utilized a standard type A USB jack to use both wall power and battery charger at the same time by using two different sources. One of the enclosures allowed for both the battery charger and standard 12V PSU to be stripped and wired up inside and fed to the system via stand USB cable, and the other was an adapter that took both power supplies and their standard plugs and fed them into unit that way.

USB power adapter. Smaller and easy to wire up, but don’t plug wall power into the battery charger port! (hence why this idea was short lived)

 

The Power Brick. A one and done solution by the wiring of a 12V, 2A  power supply and the smart charger for the Li-Po batteries. An ideal solution for a one-off, but not a kit as this case takes over 8 hours to print on its own!

Aside from the custom battery charger which is included with the current kits, this method is the one I’d recommend, only because when wired up correctly, you do not need to worry about mixing up two different power supplies.

 

Again, though I hope to have a “Legacy” sub-section in the main guide, time is something I have very little of these days and I still have to get the main section fully updated before this is worked on. That said, this means support on these and the techniques used to make them is going to be limited for a time to come. Use this as more of a “general idea” if you do decide to download the files.

I want to again thank everyone for their interest in this and sorry for it taking as long as it has to release a more recent version, but you can at least know now the road blocks that have been in my way for a long time now. I hope you find these useful and a good starting point if you’re just getting into the hobby of console modding!