Times like these are few and far between, when a project manages to come full circle and is then sent off to start another circuit.

The SG-N64 was a unique project in its own right, mostly in the sense that there was a guy dumb enough to build a portable system out of original hardware and limit it to a single game. Call it a passion project (which it was), but it still had no practicality in doing so. Still, the project found a following and even a few years after its release is still one of my more popular videos.

Now, a few weeks ago this system had been purchased by someone on eBay, and said someone somehow found my contact info which he described a new plan for the old console. The idea was to take this “Single-Game N64” system and turn into an “Every-Game N64” via the use of an Everdrive. Now granted this goes against everything this system was built for, I said yes because really it was no longer my call and it was something I hadn’t tried before.

I just found the irony perfect that with all the portables I’ve made and sent out, the first one to come back requesting this kind of mod to play “all”, was the unit designed to play only “one”!

Aside from this, the project was going to be a slight challenge because taking a scaled back system tailored to run a single game was going to take some serious tweaking to play the entire library of N64 games. But, as it turned out, the mods were fairly easy to implement and an old project got a fresh start with some pretty badass improvements!

Hopefully the buyer will be as happy with the results as I am! The video explains the fine details!

Where ya been Downing? That’s certainly something I hear more often than not, but with only a single post nearly every few months, it’s not hard to understand why. Granted I’m more active over on Twitter these days, if you don’t follow me there, then you’re right to think I fell into a black hole! Yet it’s not been all that dark and some very new projects have been in the works which have been leading me down a whole new rabbit hole which could hopefully lead to more exciting projects down the line.

The new (to me) “Tough Resin” curing under the UV lamps.

First off, I finally got a hold of some of Formlab’s “Tough Resin” for my Form 2 3D Printer. I’ve been eyeing this for quite a long time because the nature of most of the parts I print with it either will have to endure a lot of physical contact (buttons, dpads, etc…), or more importantly, have very thin-walled features which I found were very subject to warping using their standard resins. This is also a transparent material which has both cool advantages as far as aesthetics go, but can also present new challenges in the same respect.

I also sold off the N64p I brought with me to MGC. It had unfortunately taken a bit of a beating cosmetic wise from the many hands that played it there so it needed a bit of work. So though I attempted to re-finish the blemishes, the attempt didn’t work out too well. So I decided to make a bit of an edge guard with the N64 logo front and center. I think it came out decent and it did its job quite well. Though I will miss this portable for sure, it was time to send it on to someone who would get more enjoyment out of it in it’s finished state!

Lastly, for the past couple months I’ve been working on a new “ground up” project that I’ve not yet attempted. Though I don’t have much in the way of details to release, I can tell you it’s “not” a Nintendo 64! Until I get further than the case work I don’t have a lot of really want to share, other than from a design standpoint it’s been a lot fun to produce. And to add some perspective, the speaker covers on the pic below and above are the same size.

I’d like to say it won’t be another 3 months before the next post, but I can’t . These projects are being done as the time allows and posts being made with the time allowed after the projects so yeah… But for now, it’s past my bed time and work calls early tomorrow!

So it’s been a little over a year since receiving my Ultra VGA conversion boards from Marshall and I was finally able to make use of one of them in my latest portable project a couple weeks ago. I’d been reluctant to try this mainly because of the fine solder work that it would require function. But after meeting Marshall at MGC and doing a bit more research into the process, I decided to give it a go with my latest portable.

Marshall was kind enough to send me two of the flex cables he sends with his Ultra HDMI upgrade kits which uses a similar user interface. So with this in hand, I at first thought the trickiest part of the install was going to be finding room for the VGA board itself inside the portable, but since the revisions with the new battery charger and smaller power switch, the board found a nice place to sit like it was meant for it. The challenge then became wiring the flex cable to the small RCP pins on the N64 itself. Though I’ve done fine soldering before, this was a bitch and required use of soldering techniques I’m not so practiced in. But, after torching the first cable, the second attempt went much smoother and with the Ultra VGA’s built-in “self-test” function, it told me which pins I’d missed or shorted, which after addressing then worked perfectly!

All in all I think the mod was worth the effort, though there is such a thing as “too clean” because being able to see every single pixel color so vividly on such an old console, pixelation becomes apparent. But honestly that’s fairly minor. What I’m now really interested in is building a portable N64 with a 7″ HDMI screen and using his Ultra HDMI mod in 720p. We’ll see if time and money allow for that to happen at some point but it has made it to the potential project list!

MGC 2018 Recap

Posted: 04/30/2018 in General News

What a weekend! As my first experience at any sort of gaming/hacking convention I had a great time meeting up with old friends, meeting new ones and getting the chance to meet some of the veterans of the portablizing  community! I really wasn’t sure what to expect going into the event, but Noah, Shockslayer and a few others from the BitBuilt forums arranged a nice area for us which worked out nicely.  The event itself also seemed well organized for it being in at a new venue. Most people I spoke with who had been going to MGC for years said it was a huge improvement over the hotel lobbies of the past.

The “Clipboard64” was perhaps my most favorite display in the BitBuilt room. Marshall’s work has been some of the most amazing when it comes to the N64 and this did not disappoint! 

The one downfall to the event though is that it takes place in Milwaukee in mid April. Now normally this would be a beautiful time of year, but I had to drag my crazy ass New England weather with me and for the most part, it was shit. My flight into Baltimore and then into Manchester actually got cancelled on Saturday the day before I was supposed to leave. I was able to get another direct flight, however that was into Boston which meant I had to get from Boston to Manchester somehow.  But that didn’t matter as much as getting back to the east coast which on Sunday morning looked like it was going to be an impossible task as it took a turn for the worst and climate turned from wind and rain, to sleet and ice. However the flight remained on time and Noah was kind enough to brave the storm and drive me to the airport.

We boarded on time, but were told we were getting de-iced which took the better part of an hour because there was a plane ahead of us. We were then told we were racing the clock because the weather was getting even worse and the airport was going to be shut down. From my understanding, our plane was one of the last two to take off from the Southwest terminal before they closed MKE, and several of my friends ended up having to spend another night in Milwaukee.

As I said in the video, meeting Marshall and Ben Heck were two big highlights of the trip.

 

And this little Mario enjoyed playing Mario 64 for quite awhile. Even though the graphics to him were a bit “blocky”. hahaha! Kid, you’re six, that game is 22. It still held up though!

But all in all I had an awesome time and look forward to hopefully making this an annual event, though kids and real life made this a stretch. If it’s planned for enough in advance it’s certainly a possibility, though I really don’t like the wild card that is the weather when it comes to flights! Is what it is though and ya gotta take the good with the bad!

It is with great excitement to announce that everything is set for my first trip to the Midwest Gaming Classic in a little less than a week! The exploded view display of the kit and the finished portable have been boxed up and shipped to a fellow modder from the Bitbuilt forums who’ll be making the drive there and spare me a TSA hassle.

What a ride it’s been getting these systems as far as they have come and the places this hobby still continues to take me. Looking forward to meeting up with some old modding friends as well as meeting several other members of the forums I’ve yet to meet.

It will also be a good chance to get a feel for the kind of interest this could have on the general public and other modders who might want to give it a go. I don’t anticipate a great deal, but it should be educational regardless and I will hopefully be posting a video compilation of my time there.

As for the completed portable itself, there were a few firsts in this one as well, most notably the custom battery charger which eliminated the need for two different power jacks (one for wall power and one for the battery charger) and the new custom controller board which utilized an FRAM chip which effectively replaced the need to wire up a standard memory card. Another big thanks to RDC for doing those up for me!

There were a few other small changes to make the layout a bit cleaner and I am very happy with how this one turned out. The paint work is also one of my cleaner attempts and the 3D printed stand for it made it present nicely.

Again, I’ll be making a post about the experience at MGC and updates on the kit interest! Talk with you then!

 

It’s been 10 years since I first got into the hobby of console modding and for a long time now, I’ve wanted to go to an event like MGC or PAX East. Never really had the time or money to make it happen though, but this year things seem to have fallen into place and I will be attending the 2018 Midwest Gaming Classic, April 13th – 15th in Milwaukee, WI. It’ll be my first time ever making a trip to the Mid-West and I will be meeting up with several other modders from the BitBuilt Forums who will be showcasing some very cool projects!

I don’t really know what to expect or how the process works when it comes to doing a showcase, but I will be bringing a small 3D display I’ve been working on that shows off all the details of the new Portable Nintendo 64 Kits I hope to make available. This will allow those who might have interest to get a better look at how the project would go together and also serve as an interest gauge so I can find out what level of actual interest there really is. But if nothing else, the experience of being able to “Geek Out” with others in person for a change will be a fun experience.

Building The Display

The display itself was actually quite the project in its own right. Basically just a sliding frame that holds each of the 4 case components which have all the parts already mounted in place. Made up entirely of custom designed and 3D printed parts and #4-40 hardware. There are 8 knobs on 4 sliding carriages, mounted on 2 rails supported by 3 legs. This holds each case component so they can be rotated and moved back and forth so everything on the inside can be seen.

The Completed Display Frame

The first version of the “duck” clamp before I realized I needed a bigger bill. These were two separate parts joined together with #4-40 nuts and machine screws.

The duck army grew!

The rails were then attached to the legs and the duck clamps attached to the rails. The rails also ended up being changed out for a version that had 4 slots (one for each duck) instead of 1 big slot because it was too flimsy.

The duck was also modified with a larger bill and a nut trap to make single handed loosening/tightening possible.

The last step was printing 8 knobs and gluing in a #4-40 hex bolt in place to use for the tension knobs. This worked surprisingly well.

When it was time for it all to come together, I was very happy with the results! For getting a general idea of what goes into these systems, a 3D Exploded View lets people get a very good idea of what goes into the process.

Leaving as little to the imagination as possible in this case is a key feature.

I’ll still be making tweaks to this before April arrives but for the most part I’m happy with it.

Building A Finished Version of The Kit on Display

That being said, I’m also about 80% complete of another N64 Portable which I hope to show off right next to this as an example of what the finished product can look like. This one also includes some of the biggest revisions to the design that have been done yet, including a new power system which ditches the 2 power ports and utilizes a custom battery charger/adapter as well as a new version of the Mini Controller board which has a built in memory card!

Yes it’s stuff that most people aren’t going to see or know about, but when it comes to building one, these improvements take tons of time and wiring out of the equation. And this one happens to be one of the prettiest finishing jobs I’ve done so far. Can’t believe I’d never done any kind of wet sanding before and here it makes all the difference! It’s a beautiful thing! Hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll have a video of both side by side as a glimpse of what MGC may look like at the BitBuilt table in April!

The Front Face Assembly looking sharp!