Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

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 nearly 5 months since this project began, but finally my next generation portable Nintendo 64 has been completed and is ready to ship to my customer! That said, this project is a very special one for many reasons, but mainly for who this was built for. Max Mithzan is a Social Media personality and his presence is well felt in the gaming arenas like Minecraft and several others. He’s been a very cool guy to work with and very understanding as events in my personal life have drastically affected the time I’ve had to work on projects like this.

It’s also been the first project I’ve used my new Form Labs Form 2 SLA 3D Printer which has given me capabilities I never imagined I’d have.

Yes, it was a huge learning curve and my first attempt yielded many failures I will not repeat with future builds, but even then this has become the best system I’ve built to date.

I know the video above isn’t as descriptive as my video’s normally are as far as the technical side of the build, but in this case I really just wanted to show off the unit itself. I’m feeling pretty good about this one and am excited to see what Max has to say about it when it get’s to him next week!

But here are a few pics of the process as it went. I didn’t have the time I normally do to make a build log with full details, but I did take some pics of the case work.

The precision SLA provided made me think of case design in a whole new light. But its limitations soon made themselves apparent.

 

But the detail I was able to achieve is far beyond what I could have hoped for.

 

Combined with FDM 3D printing for the large front and back plates as well as the cart cover, I was able to make a very highly detailed and structural enclosure for this system.

 

It still required a lot of filling, sanding and priming to make it look like a single piece, so the time saving was marginal at best, but again, the detail was far above the standard.

Primed with the C-Button Decal

Painted and ready for the next step

But once the SLA decals were in place, it became clear how much of an asset this printer was going to be.

 

Things really got driven home though when the custom 3D printed buttons and D-Pad were put into the mix and functionality met with aesthetics on a new level for me.

and the Mithzan 64 was born!

So I hope you enjoy this video as it’s defiantly been a landmark project for me and it’ll be interesting in the next few weeks to see where this will go after he gets it! I love it so much I hate to see it ship out, but I’ll be just as happy to see it in its new owner’s hands!

 

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Rhea Grace Downing, 3-3-2017, 6Lbs 14oz, 19″ Long

So Friday was a hellofaday as my wife and I welcomed our second child into this world, little baby Rhea! (Ray-Ah) Yes, I’d known she was on the way for quite some time now, but you’re never prepared for the phone call that today is that day. I went into work early on Friday, March 3rd around 6:45 AM to help with a big job and at 8:10 the call came that it was time to go to the hospital and as it turned out, it wasn’t a moment too soon. We arrived at the hospital (which is an hour away from where we live) and were officially admitted at 10:07 AM. At 10:41 AM she was in my wife’s arms on the bed….a window of 31 minutes. I mean god damn…this baby girl wasn’t fuckin’ around.

All things considered, this was as good as anyone could have hoped for and we are again blessed with another beautiful and healthy baby which makes all these hobby creations seem the pale in comparison.

That said…yes, what’s going on with the projects? Well for the last several months now I’ve been working on an N64p commission which is finally finishing up. This took way longer and had more problems than any other I’ve done to date because I tried utilizing my new Form 2 to test it’s limits. I’ll never again do a 3D printed portable the way I did this one, but the learning curve was worth it and once this project is closed up and completed, it’ll still be one of my finer works and for good reason.

But more on that when it comes time and on the subject of time…suddenly now I’m realizing I’m going to have next to none with two kids and a full time job. Simply put, once these couple of projects finish up, I’m not going to have the time to do any full-blown, from-the-ground-up portables anymore…not that I’ve done anything new in quite some time anyway. But I’ll be changing the commissions page a bit to gear toward the N64 almost exclusively as I’ve got pretty much everything already down to turn them around fairly quickly now which for awhile will be the only thing I have time to really work with.

So yes, I’ve got a couple fun projects that will be released soon and hopefully another started before the end of the month. Lotsa work to do between then but at least I can say I’m not bored!

So what happens when your full time employment disappears and for a little over a month you are a stay-at-home Dad like I’ve been? You stay busier than ever and build really cool shit!

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I gotta say that as far as my modding goes, this has been the most productive and fun month since the days of the Cross Plane and it feels good to have the time again to be doing this. That said though, my new full time job will be starting up Wednesday, but it’s much much closer to home than my last one and I’m finally out of Corporate America which had been digging at me for years. So now I won’t come home hating my life nor will I be spending two hours of my day in the car just to get there and back. Time to mod will be less than it has been, but there will be more of it than there was for certain!

Also, once this project pictured above is completed (look for a dedicated post about that in the coming week), I’ll be starting on a new N64p Commission for You Tube & Twitter personality, Mithzan. This will most likely be the highest profile system I’ve ever done and I’ve taken steps to insure it will be the best work of mine to date. What those steps are I cannot say just yet, but shortly you will see a big upgrade to the capabilities of DB. Some exciting stuff coming down the road here very soon!