Headed to MGC 2023!

Posted: 02/12/2023 in Uncategorized

It’s coming up on that time of year again and for the first time ever, I’m making it out to two consecutive Midwest Gaming Classics in a row! I had such a blast last year and it would be so cool if I could do this annually but it is quite a haul and quite expensive for just the weekend. But getting to hang with my modding buddies like this really is worth it and gives me the chance to meet even more amazingly talented people.

That said, I’ll also be presenting again on the Bonus Stage, which last year was hosted by the awesome guys at “Hair of the Dogcast”. I learned a lot about what to expect for crowd and environment and this year will be tailoring the presentation to that. The main difference though is that I will not be solo presenting and talking to a room of roaming people who really were not paying attention. I will be joined on the stage by this year’s Bonus Stage host, Seth, from the TigerChainsaw You Tube channel.

Seth will be taking over for the Hair of the Dogcast crew this year as they could not make the show because they had to be good friends or something… But that’s ok, because they have been working with Seth to make sure the stage is run as smoothly as possible and from checking out Seth’s You Tube, I look forward to working with him!

So as I mentioned, unlike last year where I just monologued a story to a very passive crowd, this year I’ll be actually engaging with Seth about the early history of console modding. So I’m looking forward to this a great deal in many ways! And the stage is actually going to be located in a higher traffic area right next to the food court.

I’ll of course have a report on how this whole experience plays out but its already shaping up to be an amazing time! More to come soon!

As I sit here on a Thursday morning in mid-November, suddenly with a ton of unexpected free time thanks to a nearly undetectable trace of Covid, I came to realize it’s been 7 months since I last posted anything! This really got me thinking…what has kept me so busy that I haven’t had the time to make even a small update post, but it didn’t take much before I realized the better question to ask was what “didn’t” happen!

Since MGC, life has just been one big run-on sentence with the only break being “and then”…and then right into the next part! The pace is something akin to boot camp where once a chance to catch a breath happens, the program is over and you’re left dazed, broken and left in awe that 6 months of your life just disappeared.

In kind of a demented way, I’m thankful I came down with the “Rona” because it’s forced me to slow down, take time to myself and allows me to take the extra time to catch up on the blog and other things that haven’t just been pushed to the back burner, they’ve been put back in the fridge.

Big Changes Since MGC

DOOM Themed Air Hockey Table

So as far as projects go, after I got done with the Tiger Boy Advance, I started on a new project that I’d never done before. Wanting to get away from portables for a little bit, I decided I wanted to try and make a mini table top game, as for Christmas last year, I was gifted a very small, very cheap Air Hockey table from a drug store end cap. To my surprise though, the kids loved it and that’s when I decided to make my own!

This will eventually be getting its own video down the road once completed and all the details will be included in it, but lets just say this project has been quite the undertaking.

The table functions as an air hockey table, but still needs the score board and lots of programming!

Since I started work at MegaPrint, I have had full access their 4′ x 8′ CNC Router as well limitless scrap material of all kinds, as well as their full custom digital printing capabilities. This in turn allowed me to design and produce a fully working 2ft x 3ft table complete with LED backlighting!

We unfortunately ended up having to move before the rest of the project could be completed which includes some very cool LED programming as well as custom scoreboards and game modes, but I hope by early next year I might be able to get this back on track!

New House – No Basement!

So by far, July 1st was the biggest change of the year as we finally got into our own place after nearly a year of crashing in my parent’s basement. And without a doubt, this is the most beautiful place we’ve ever lived and it’s only a mile from my parents house at that which is huge. Actually, funny story, my parents lived in this house for a short time while their new house was being constructed back in 2017. After they moved out it was sold and completely renovated from the ground up into what it is today which if you looked at it, you wouldn’t believe it was the same place.

That aside though, the biggest downside to me (aside from the rent being insanely expensive) is that there is no basement and no spare office. Right now I’m set up in the Den which suffices for a retro gaming area and my main PC set-up, but I have no workshop aside from an unheated set-up in the garage, and my 3D printers have taken up residence at MegaPrint, but that has been actually pretty helpful!

So needless to say, projects like the Air Hockey Table have been put on an indefinite hold until I can figure out some kind of workshop area.

2nd TV and Retro Station in the Den.

Steam Deck

And as if I needed some other kind of distraction to stop me from working on older projects, about three weeks after we moved in, I got an email from Steam, saying that after over a year on reserve, my Steam Deck was finally ready! And though I was happy about this, I had totally forgotten that I’d even put a deposit on this! This also led to the question of “how much am I really going to use this?”, much to the point that for nearly two weeks after I got it I debated on breaking the seal and just flipping it.

But the curiosity ended up winning out and I was not disappointed in the least by the decision. Though I can’t say that I’ve been using it to its potential, as all I’ve done with it really is play the PC port of Final Fantasy VII, the time I have put into it has been a great deal of fun.

My main issue is that I don’t travel enough where I would find this beneficial to take my mind off the trip. Truth be told, 90% of its use has been sitting in the same chair that’s right in front of my PC anyway. So I’m kinda in the same boat as I was when I was debating on opening it in the first place and now that there’s no lead time on them, the window to flip for a profit has vanished. But, new events that were going to require travel were right around the corner so maybe it was going to start getting the use it deserved.

Just before cutting the seal. It stayed like this for nearly two weeks after it finally came in!

Kid’s Athletics

So as the Summer transitioned into the fall, my son started up flag football. Unbeknownst to me however, I did not know that the weekend game schedule was going to take us to all points of the state for 8AM games! This effectively killed off any hope of weekend progress for anything from September through October. And though I’m glad we did it, the time commitment was killer. Not to mention October is always an extremely busy month due to the number of Birthdays that are needed to be celebrated, but it wasn’t just any birthday this year, no no. This year I was hitting the big 4-0 and though I thought I did a pretty good job for my wife’s 40th that happened back in January, she was not going to be outdone and man did she deliver!

It really was a lot of fun to watch him progress over the course of two months. Looking forward to next year.

40th Birthday

So all I can really say here is that my wife knows me well! I mean she did a very good job of nearly convincing me that bringing my brother and his family up from Baltimore as a surprise was the surprise and after he and my brother-in-law took me out leaf peeping up in the North Woods of New Hampshire (I live there anyway, but ya know) and a few drinks, I certainly was not expecting what was parked at the house when we rolled in!

I’m not sure how in all my years of gaming did I not know this was a thing…literally a full pull behind trailer loaded with video games parked right outside my own house! And it wasn’t just that, but the fact she got nearly our whole core group of people together as well just made for one amazing afternoon!

New Dog

And the most recent event, we now have a new 4 legged member of the family, Maverick! He’s 3 month old French Bulldog and is probably the cutest animal I’ve ever seen! And though we weren’t planning on getting a new pup, it’s been over a year since we had to put our 14 year old lab down, and now that we’re finally in our own place, it was time to fill that gap.

Look at that face!

So that is probably the most abridged way of covering the past 7 months, but it of course was far more hectic than I’m making it out to sound. There have been a ton of ups and downs, loads of stress and lots of uncertainty both at home and around the world…but I just have to remember to take it a day at a time and now that I’ve got a few days in a row where I don’t have to worry about the normal world, I can catch back up on a lot of projects that I’ve been slacking on.

I hope to be making more posts in the future, but again, can’t guarantee it as I’m sure as soon as this small Covid break is over, I’ll be right back in the same routine as before. We shall see though! Hope you enjoyed catching up as much as I have! Till next time!

The Midwest Gaming Classic. What an amazing experience this was the first time I went, which was back in 2018. And since that time, there seems to have been road block after road block to keep me from going back. But provided the piolets don’t quit and the nukes don’t fly within the next two weeks, I’ll finally be making it back!

Most don’t know that back in 2020, I was going to make my return to MGC as 2019 I had to miss due to my younger brother getting married. Little did we know that a few months later, the world would freaking stop. This turned out to be a pretty large bummer though because not only was I going to be returning to MGC, but I’d spent months preparing for an actual Panel about the history of portable console making and the goddamned rug was pulled right out from underneath me with the cancellation of the convention.

And what a freaking mess that followed and continues to unfold even today.

But if all goes well, not only will I finally be making it back to MGC this year, but the panel that seemed like it would be lost is finally scheduled to happen!

And not only will I be presenting on Saturday, 4/30 @ 4PM, but for the time before and after, I’ll have a seat at the BitBuilt Experience table along side friends and fellow modders like GMAN, Shank and CrashBash! So needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to that weekend!

Immediately following my panel, Ben Heck will be taking the stage with perhaps a continuation of the topic! So there should be some pretty interesting stuff happening on the Bonus Stage in that time frame!

The other thing that happened earlier this month was an awesome video posted by You Tuber C4ETech, who I had let borrow my G-Boy Wii Stoned for a test review. This process actually started almost 2 years ago as when he reached out to me, the portable wasn’t even finished yet!

After I completed it and finished my video on it, I sent it on it’s long journey to Dubai, where it stayed for nearly 6 months! But that was fine with me, because his videos about it did me some very nice favors with my You Tube Subscriber count, hitting over 250+ in one day, now over 350 at the time of this writing and still climbing.
So that was very cool and I’ll give a link to both his videos (two different languages) below.

That all said, I’m sure I’ll be making another post after my return and I plan on making a video of the presentation, so wish me luck there!

English Version
Tamil Version
Modified Base Mount for Acer Predator XB273K Monitor

So I decided to treat myself to a late Christmas present this month and picked up a monitor that I had been doing lots of research on for the past few months. And for the price point, the Acer Predator XB273K was toping charts all over the place. The one big complaint though, the base, and it didn’t take very long to figure out why. So knowing this ahead of time, I started to brainstorm on ways I could fix this somewhat invasive base.

So after a few hours I had a design I was ready to test out, but of course, when I took the base off, the arm of the monitor itself had a metal sub-base that had 3 extrusions for whatever reason. So, back to Solidworks to figure out how to recess out the piece to make up for that.

But once I figured that out, all was good!

So it wasn’t very long after I had it installed, I shared the project over on a couple groups on Facebook and got quite the response to it. Most were great and many wanted this for their monitors as well, but others had some feedback that addressed some legit concerns.

So I made a V2 that put 3 recessed hex bolts in the base, under those extrusions so that if one wishes to drill holes though their desk, the can bolt directly too it and not have to worry about the clamp at all.

And the best part, those STL files can be found here:

And though I shouldn’t have to say this, downloading and use of this mod is done at your own risk, but here are some guidelines!

You will need to pick up some M6 Hardware and depending on which method you use to mount will affect what hardware you need. Also, both methods use the included screw on the original monitor base to mount, so don’t lose that!

The Clamp Method (V1) – Depending on how thick your table top is, you will need:
2 – M6 1.0 x 35 to 50mm Pan Head Machine Screws (PHMS) for the main clamp screws
1 – M6 1.0 x 25mm PHMS for the Retention Screw
3 – M6 1.0 Hex Nuts

The Hex Nuts fit very tightly. I found that wide mouth pliers do a great job forcing them in evenly. Alternately you can thread a screw through the back and keep tightening the nut until it pulls into the recess. (That’s an old Prusa trick) Mount the base to the monitor arm and carefully screw the mount plate to the base and then the retention screw to the table. Also, you will need at least a 1.5″ lip on the back of your table for the clamp and retention screw to hold properly.

The Screw Down Method (V2) – Because there would be no way to get a screw driver to stop the screw from spinning when the nut is put on, this version is going to require alternate hardware.
3 – M6 1.0 x 35 to 50mm Hex Cap Screws (HCS)
3 – M6 1.0 Hex Nuts
3 – M6 1.0 Washers

To mount, first you will have to drill 3 holes in your desk. You can use the base as a template.
Then you will have to feed the HCS through the base before you mount the base to the monitor stand. Once that is mounted, feed the screws through the holes on the desk and tighten down from the bottom.

So as you can see, this mount is a HUGE space saver and I’ve now got my desk back!

As a note, I have not personally used V2 yet because I don’t have interest in drilling into my table. So if there is any feedback on this, please let me know so I can make adjustments.

But, hope you enjoy!

The Tiger Boy Advance

Posted: 01/01/2022 in Uncategorized

It’s hard to believe it’s been over 30 years since the release of the Nintendo Gameboy. And truth be told, I can’t remember a time that I wanted something so badly up until the release of the N64. The difference though between being 8 and 14 was huge and because I was able to work and save up money meant I was also able to score an N64 on release day. This was not the case with the Gameboy and the ever so familiar “It’s this or nothing” ultimatum was in play for the only other affordable portable gaming option, The Tiger Electronics Handhelds. YUCK….!

Of course back then you didn’t complain. It was at least, something, that you could take with you in the car or play in your room if the TV was occupied.

But for me, I never really stopped resenting these Tiger Handhelds, or at least my inability to even be able to work towards getting what I really wanted. And this is where times have changed! I’ve got some money, got some skills but more importantly I’ve got issues…which lead to ambition…which lead to making a concept that not only looks cool, functions well and plays better than all the original hardware that went into it, but finally connected the outline of disappointment with something that (had this existed at the time) would have been the most amazing portable experience ever!

So, that was the “Dramatic” version and truth be told, this idea didn’t even pop into my head until after I bought one of those IPS screen and battery upgrades for my Gameboy Advance. But, just like with any idea I decide to go forward with, the rabbit hole turned into a Hell-Portal and suddenly I was in Knee-Deep in it again!

So I’m not going to get into much detail here about the build because the video above does most of the explaining, but for what looked like was going to be kind of a simple project, turned into a nightmare on on a very basic level. But what was even better than that was the fact that said video took more time to make than the damn project itself!

But I guess that’s where I’ve been going lately as I’ve really been trying to increase the content quality of my videos for the past couple of years now. Problem is, the amount of time they take to make is mind-numbing, especially when considering how little time I really have with this still being a “hobby”.

But it’s so worth it when when you can look back and say, “I made all of this!”, even if that means there’s only one or two projects/videos a year.

And as the portfolio increases and the list of projects grow larger, I have to remember that perspective is key. In most projects, I’ve done a majority of the work myself, sometimes calling on friends for PCB help or coding. But all the design, printing, painting, assembly, wiring and testing has all been me. Lots of different hats to wear for sure, but then add on the video side of things and we’ve got a whole new ball pit to play in.

And it’s a funny retrospective look on this because up until about 5 years ago, all my videos were made using Window’s Movie Maker. Very basic, but did what I needed to do. It wasn’t until my last job that I had the chance to look and get a bit of self-training on Adobe Premier that things really started to take shape. The complexity and the freedom the program allowed opened all kinds of doors and by picking away at it year after year, the quality increase of output has been gratifying to watch.

5+ years later with the release of the Tiger Boy Advance, I feel I’ve taken a big step forward with my video making process’ and content and really hope to continue this trend with the next project. Who knows when or what that will be, but I hope that it will deliver!

I wish you all a very happy new year and very much appreciate the time put into reading this blog and watching the video! Hope to hear from you soon!

So back in March, I shared a post about some new equipment that the basement had acquired. One of which was a new soldering station and a custom pen holder and tip cleaning tray.

As of last week though, I’m no longer in my own basement and my whole workshop has been reduced to two 6′ plastic folding tables, which goes without saying…sucks. And though this is only a temporary set-up, the need to conserve space has made itself very apparent.

So today after a couple days of work, I finished off a revised Pen/Cleaning tray holder that added a duel solder spool holder at the bottom of the unit which was designed around keeping in roughly the same footprint of the soldering station itself.

All the STL files can be found at the link above for download if you feel so inclined but you will also need a bit more hardware than last time.

Though you no longer need the bottom brackets that held the tray over the station itself, you will need 8 #2 x 3/16″ flat head sheet metal screws for mounting the 4 round legs to the solder holder base and top, as well as 4 #2-56 square nuts and #2-56 x 3/16″ Flat Head Machine Screws to connect the brackets to the tip cleaning tray.

It is certainly a bit more complex and took a great deal more time to make than V1, but when space is a factor, you do what you need too. Hope you find it useful!