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!

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!