The SNES Box Go: Perhaps A First for Console Modding

Posted: 01/22/2019 in Uncategorized

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!

 

Comments
  1. […] via The SNES Box Go: Perhaps A First for Console Modding — Downing’s Basement […]

  2. […] Handheld consoles have to make a lot of design choices that their TV connected brethren don’t have to worry about. Battery life is important, as is screen visibility, and the games can’t be too bulky or unwieldy if you’re going to be carrying them around all day. [Chris] is no stranger to building handheld versions of home consoles, and took a few of these lessons on board in his latest portable SNES build. […]

  3. […] Handheld consoles have to make a lot of design choices that their TV connected brethren don’t have to worry about. Battery life is important, as is screen visibility, and the games can’t be too bulky or unwieldy if you’re going to be carrying them around all day. [Chris] is no stranger to building handheld versions of home consoles, and took a few of these lessons on board in his latest portable SNES build. […]

  4. […] Handheld consoles have to make a lot of design choices that their TV connected brethren don’t have to worry about. Battery life is important, as is screen visibility, and the games can’t be too bulky or unwieldy if you’re going to be carrying them around all day. [Chris] is no stranger to building handheld versions of home consoles, and took a few of these lessons on board in his latest portable SNES build. […]

  5. […] Handheld consoles have to make a lot of design choices that their TV connected brethren don’t have to worry about. Battery life is important, as is screen visibility, and the games can’t be too bulky or unwieldy if you’re going to be carrying them around all day. [Chris] is no stranger to building handheld versions of home consoles, and took a few of these lessons on board in his latest portable SNES build. […]

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