For quite a while now, real life has been has been a crazy ride and it seems to be getting more and more so as time goes on. I recently vacated the longest running actual “Basement” that Downing’s Basement has ever used and am kind of in limbo as to where the next one is going to be set-up. (Basically we’re living in Downing Senior’s basement until the housing market cools down) As a result, most of my hobbies have had their time eaten up, much less giving me the time needed to try anything new.

But, several months ago (maybe even a year ago at this point) I was enticed to start down a path that had been laid out for me many years ago. And that was the path of finally getting into the Wii portable making scene.

Now a little bit of context I think is needed when it comes to what kind of undertaking this project really was. This was much more than the usual N64 portables that I’m usually producing. Because though the projects I’ve done in the past did make use of fairly modern techniques, these kits were very “Next Gen” when it came to what went under the hood.

And when I say that, I mean these were done from the ground up using custom “everything” from enclosure design to operating system and everything in between! So, needless to say, from a creation standpoint, this was well beyond my skillsets to achieve, but fortunately because this was a kit, all I had to do was put it together…Yeah….

So again, as I find myself pressed for time and sanity, I’ll let the video do the explaining, but a final thought is that if nothing else, learning a lesson in humility is still a good lesson learned. However, I am extremely proud of how well this video that explains the process came out.

Again, sorry it’s so long between posts but I do hope you enjoy!

Thanks guys!

Downing

What’s going on guys! Today I’m really excited to announce that on Saturday 4/24 at 8:30PM EST I’ll be joining in on a special livestream with Twitch streamer Noycebru at twitch.tv/noycebru

This has been in the works for a couple months now, but with real talks just happening in the past few weeks. We actually got a chance to sit down and discus some of the specifics of how the stream would work and in our conversations found that we were both very much on the same “life level” and the crossover’s of our hobbies were fascinating to each other!

The fact that he has made robots that you can control in a Twitch chat to actively participate in the stream itself has been a great deal of fun to watch and learn from and I’m excited to find out more!

So that said, I think we’re going to get into some pretty cool conversation and we’ve got loads of questions for each other so I’m looking forward to a really good time with this!

Please join us if you can here at Noycebru’s Twitch Channel at 8:30PM EST! See ya there!

Hard to believe that it’s been nearly 12 years since I started Modding but more specifically since I learned how to solder. Without a doubt it has been one of most useful skills to come from the hobby, even if I’m still not particularly *great* at it. But for all that time and all the projects have come out of the basement, every single one of them had at least some kind of contact with the same soldering iron I got when I started.

The cheap consumer level Weller WLC100 had been an amazing tool for so many years, but as the soldering has become a great deal more complicated, I needed something that was a bit higher end.

The Weller WCL-100 is a consumer/entry level iron that ranges around $40 USD

So after speaking with some fellow modders and community members, it seemed there were two options for high performance, mid-range soldering stations. These being the Hakko FX888D and the KSGER T12. I’d considered both options carefully, but in the end I was impressed with the multiple layers the KSGER had for settings. Instead of just heat up/down option, there was a whole lot of programming options built in that I’m still learning.

The KSGER T12 Soldering Station. Around $90 USD depending on options

Down side to this option though, all you get is the unit, the pen and a few T12 tips. So I had to get a little creative because my work bench doesn’t exactly have a ton of room and sacrificing the extra space for a tip cleaner and holder wasn’t going to be ideal. So I designed a tray and bracket system that keeps everything all in the same footprint as the soldering station itself.

Works pretty well and if you want to print this out for yourself, the STL files can be downloaded HERE

Though, you will need 4, 4-40 x 3/8″ flat head machine screws and hex nuts to mount the brackets and also a pen holder itself. Mine came from the retired Weller station but pretty sure you can find them online somewhere!

There was another issue though in that these T12 tips are about 8″ long each! Which made fitting extra tips in my pull out drawers a little difficult. Fortunately, Greg from Laserbear.net (@collingall on Twitter) had a solution already good to go. This can be found here https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4706907

You will need a size 608 bearing and may possibly need to sand out the recessed hole a bit to get it to fit depending on print settings. It’ll be tight, but it does fit.

There are even more upgrades on the way that should hopefully keep me ahead of the curve and assist with my aging eyes. This whole soldering to vias using 34 AWG wire is really starting to put the strain the eyeballs. So we’ll be making another post when those upgrades arrive!

So I’ll be back with more gear and more completed projects soon enough and until then, happy modding!

There’s always a story behind every project ever completed, and although this one started nearly 2 and a half years ago, I don’t feel that the most relevant side of this project was ever told. This was partially my fault with the original video I made to showcase it, as it really didn’t go into detail at all about what this actually was, why it was (self-proclaimed) the first one in the world and why there are likely to be no more ever made.

Original Video from 2019

So revisiting this after a couple years and having brushed up on my video making skills on the whole, I decided it was time to make the story of this project a bit more relevant.

I realize that many might not understand fully what this is if they’re unfamiliar with gaming consoles in general. But originally, this was a TV based system from the early/mid 1990’s. A system that was required to be plugged into a wall and a TV to actually be played. And the concept of making these old TV based consoles into mobile units is a hobby called “Portablizing” which has been around since the mid 2000’s.

I’ve been part of this online community since 2009 and it has single handedly been the biggest technical influence in my life, teaching me skills ranging from soldering to 3D printing as well as taking me places all over the country for meet-ups and project collaboration.

So when the idea came to me to build this portable unit, I went into it slightly wondering why no one (to my knowledge) had done one before. And I don’t mean simply making a Super Nintendo into a portable version, that had been done loads of times, but why no one had done it in the method I planned on. But…it didn’t take very long to see why I was going down a path that really need not be traveled.

A Flash Cart (like the one pictured above) is a relatively new concept to come about in the past 10 years or so. And its original purpose was to let people use their original console hardware to play any game ROM that was loaded on an SD card. Basically a “One Cartridge To Rule Them All” kind of deal where one would no longer have to get up and put in a new game, they could simply exit to a menu and select another game from there and have their whole collection in one place digitally.

I know this sounds a lot like an Emulator, which if you don’t know is the act of playing a game ROM on a different system, usually a PC or SBC (Single Board Computer) like a Raspberry Pi. This kind of Emulation technology has been around for over 20 years now, but it certainly has its issues when it comes to compatibility and performance with systems post SNES.

This is why Flash Carts are so beneficial because they do not Emulate anything. The games are being dumped just as they would on an original cartridge on original hardware. And for a majority of the portablizing community, there is no replacement for the original.

But…it’s not to say that sentiment should be above the call of reason. And while the Flash Cart suits its purpose as originally intended, making it portable had no logical ground to stand on in comparison to the Emulation alternatives available. So this is kind of the “line” if you will, where Emulation would start to fail and the generation of Flash Carts “after” the SNES makes a whole lot more sense.

Since we’re already on the wrong side of the line here, I just want to touch on the points the new video has made about why this system is probably the only one out there.

#3 – Cost Prohibitive and Complex to Build – This was not a cheap project to take on and truth be told, I probably would not have done it either if the SD2SNES had not been given to me as part of a sponsorship. It’s price tag alone would be enough to justify going the emulation route and that was only about a 3rd of the cost.


#2 – Commercial Options of Portable SNES Already Available – Though they many be of cheaper quality and may not have 100% compatibility, systems like the Supaboy did provide affordable options for taking your original carts on the go.


#1 – Emulators Can Handel SNES with No Playability Issues – But the biggest reason is because current Emulators have not problems what-so-ever with handling the 2D sprites of consoles before the 3D systems like Nintendo 64 came around. And for less than $100 you could have a full blown retro Emulation station for several different systems outside Nintendo. So there really is no value to the average consumer in going this route.

So all in all, this was just what one could call a “passion project” that pushed way past the practicality limits that most would not have pushed past. I don’t regret building it in the least and frankly it’s the only portable I’ve ever made that I’ve actually kept for myself and not been dismantled for parts!

Being a gaming fan pretty much all my life, I suppose this kind of disposal of retro tech and software digs at me a bit. And I mean, I get if you need to trash something because it’s been well used or broken, but the gear found here was neither.

The scene before I even knew what I had

So I suppose that’s what gets me from the standpoint of being a “Retro Console Modder” because for years now many of us have been getting criticized for using original “Retro” tech in our projects. The argument being that once these old units went out of production, their supply became “finite”.

And while I don’t disagree with this statement at all, it overlooks an important aspect that dump finds like these prove. That being, that no matter what, aside from the pieces that end up in museums or die-hard collector’s displays, retro gaming tech is going to end up at the dump at some point.

With that said, yes you can still say what we do is taking one more original piece of hardware out of existence from its original form, but chances are, most of the time the consoles we uses were headed for the junk heap to begin with.

We actively search for the broken/as-is listings for our projects. We don’t want the “pristine”, the “fully functional” or “in-box” lots that really should be put on the collectors shelves. And because of this, through our mods, these systems actually get to live on and can be enjoyed on a whole new level.

I suppose though that since retro tech has been on a big uptick in the past few years the comments like “why would you do this to an original” have been being made by many whom have no idea what is actually involved in console modding but still think because their voice can be heard, their two-cents should buy the pot.

But this all got me wondering how much of this “finite” tech is lost to landfills/E-Waste & Recycling every year. Probably more than I wish to know but less than what we’ll probably be blamed for.

Well, this new WordPress editor is pissing me the hell off. I’m not quite sure what it’s trying to accomplish other than irritating the living shit out of me, but I guess I gotta roll with it for now.

Anyway…so once again, it’s been a few months since my last post and of course 2020 is still bringing the shit storm we’ve all become accustomed too (like this goddamn wordpress editor). But, in the time between the release of Project 15 and now, my wife and I had our 10th wedding anniversary!

Though I thought I did pretty well with my gift, she has once again proved she will always kick my ass in the “thoughtfulness” department and reiterating that she knows I’m just a kid who likes expensive toys.

But all that out of the way, the video above showcases what 7 weeks (but realistically about 60hrs) of video editing yields. This is by no means a typical video for me as it has a lot of elements that I’ve never tried before. Some worked well, others fell flat but that was kind of the point of making a video like this.

There have been tons of unboxing/assembly videos of the new(ish) Prusa Mini 3D printers in the past year, but I really wanted my take on it to be unique. I certainly do think I’ve accomplished that, but whether the end result is a positive remains to be seen. 🙂

But the idea was just to have fun with it, which I can whole heartedly say I very much enjoyed making this video!

I hope you enjoy it, and though I know it’s a bit longer than my average video, it does get better as it goes along!

As always, thank you guys so much for your support with this hobby over the the years!