Part II – Preparing The Components and Optional Casework

PLEASE NOTE: This section is under revision as the final version of the kit casings have changed a bit. The process to assemble is pretty much the same though.

Part II will be covering the preparation of all the components and assembling them into the casing so that they are ready to wire. This is a very long section, but depending on how far you want to go in terms of case work, this could be a very quick part of the project or the longest. I do encourage those that have the interest in this kit to begin with to take some additional time and work the casing a bit to make it something you will be proud of. Casework is just as much a learned skill as the technical side and really can add to the “WOW” factor for any project, so it’s certainly worth the effort in the end.

Following these next steps will get you ready to start wiring the system.

  • Assembling The Case Components
  • Filling, Sanding, Painting & Sealing (optional)
  • Preparing The Screen
  • Preparing The N64 Mother Board
  • Preparing The Buttons, D-Pad & Tact Board PCBs
  • Front and Back Face Assemblies

  • Assembling The Case Components

The kit casing has been printed in 5 different main parts and 2 different sets of mounting brackets.

The Casing portion of the kit includes:

1 – FRONT FACE BRACKET

1 – BACK FACE BRACKET

1 – FRONT FACE PLATE

1 – BACK FACE PLATE

1 – CART COVER

2 – CART SLOT MOUNTING BRACKETS

8 – MOUNTING TABS


 Adhering the Back Face Plate to the Back Face Bracket

My adhesive of choice, Goop is great because once it sets, it does not let go! It also dries flexible which means it has a great deal of give before it breaks unlike others like superglue. You don’t have to use this and super glues or epoxy will do the job but this adhesive is cheap enough and found at any hardware store or big box store.

You’ll first want to start by assembling the Back Face Bracket and Back Face Plate. NOTE: It’s important that you assemble the case in this order because it will make putting the Mounting Tabs in place much easier.

Fit the Back Face Bracket over the Back Face Plate

Making sure the Back Face Plate is flush in the Bracket, apply the adhesive around the whole inner perimeter of the case half.

Once complete, set aside for at least an hour (if using Goop) to allow for the adhesive to set. While this dries we can start on preparing the Mounting Tabs and mounting them to the Front Face.


Adhering the Mounting Brackets

There are 8 mounting tabs included as well as 8 #2-56 square nuts in the hardware packet. The first step is to insert the square nuts into the nut traps on the mounting tabs.

Using a wide flat head screwdriver, line up and firmly press the nut into the nut trap. Depending on how tight the fit is, you may wish to secure the nut in place with a little Goop or Super Glue, but just be sure not to get any over the nut threads.

When all the nuts are secured we can move on to mounting them.

You will now need 8 of the #2-56 x 1/4″ Flat Head Machine Screws included in the hardware packet.

If the Back Face Bracket and Plate are dry, you can start screwing the mounting tabs to the Back Face Bracket. Make sure the tabs are as level as possible.

Repeat the process for the remaining tabs all around the case half.

Once the case looks like this, we can move on to mounting the Front Face Bracket to the mounting tabs.


Adhering the Mounting Tabs to the Front Face Bracket

Another reason I love Goop, it allows some time to be worked before it hardens too much. That is useful on this step in particular. Apply a small amount of adhesive on each Mounting Tab cutout on the Front Face Bracket, BUT BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET ANY ADHESIVE ABOVE THE RECESS LINE WHERE THE FRONT FACE PLATE WILL SIT.

Now carefully fit the Front Face Bracket over the Back Face, making sure none of the adhesive gets pushed above the recess line or bleeds down to the Back Face Bracket.

Give the tabs a good press against the Front Face Bracket and make sure they are straight as possible.

Now secure all of them in place with a top coating of adhesive, AGAIN MAKING SURE NO ADHESIVE GOES ABOVE THE RECESS LINE OR BLEEDS DOWN TO THE BACK FACE BRACKET.

As before, you’re going to want to let this sit just like this for about an hour to make sure the adhesive has cured.

After the adhesive has set, remove the screws from the Back Face Bracket.

Remove the Front Face Bracket from the Back Face.

Now we have a completed Front Face Bracket and now is time to mount the Front Face Plate.


Adhering the Front Face Plate to The Front Face Bracket

Repeating the same process as the Back Face/Plate assembly, flush up the Front Face Plate with the Front Face Bracket and start the adhesion process.

As before, make sure to do the whole inner perimeter as well as beefing up the mounting tabs if they appear to be a bit loose. Be careful not to get adhesive into the screen recess or button holes as it will be a pain to fix after it dries!

Again, let this dry for a good hour but after that, the case should be ready for the next step!


Adhering The Speaker Covers and C-Button Cover

NOTE!!! If you wish to do any kind of finish work to the casing, “DO NOT ” do these steps until “AFTER” the initial filling, sanding and priming has been completed! Skip ahead to the Filling, Sanding, Painting & Sealing section of the guide and come back to this part after that has been completed!

These covers and decals are SLA 3D printed and though the quality and detail are far superior to what one could get from a standard FDM printer, they will still require a bit of finish work to clean them up and make sure they fit properly.

Tiny burrs are left after the supports that are printed with the part are broken off. These will need to be sanded down carefully as the resin is very susceptible to abrasion and it is very easy to sand down too far. 120 to 240 grit sandpaper is recommended to for these steps.

Once the Speaker Covers have been de-burred, carefully press them into place on the Front Face of the casing. Depending on the print, these may fit sung or have a bit of play. Either way, we will need to line them up.

Roughly line up the speaker covers to your liking. I prefer to place them at alternating angles with the center line pointing towards the bottom left and right corners of the screen respectively.

Once again, another benefit of Goop’s longer cure time, after you’ve applied it, you have the chance to make sure the speaker covers are properly lined up and are flush in the casing.

As before, hit the entire perimeter with the adhesive, but make sure any that spills into the recess are cleaned out as the speakers will need to sit in that recess and adhesive that dries in there will not allow them to sit properly.

Once both speaker covers are placed and adhered, let sit for for an hour to cure.

 

Again, this step is being done as an example but if you plan to do any kind of finishing to your casing, it’s far easier to these steps after the initial filling and sanding have been completed.


This is one of the new revisions of the final kit. Adhering the C-Cover is a great deal easier now, all you have to do line up the 4 pins with the 4 holes on the front face of the casing.

Updated version of the C-Cover that will be included with the kits. The casing now has 4 mounting holes that line up with the 4 prongs on the new C-Cover. This makes the process a great deal easier than the process listed below. 

 

The 4 mounting holes match up with the 4 pins on the C-Cover. You may need to ream out the holes a bit depending on the quality of the 3D print as far as the casing is concerned. You should still use a tiny bit of super glue to hold the face down as well. 

 

Same as the speaker covers, the C-Cover decal will need to be carefully sanded down to remove the burrs left by the supports. Be particularly careful with this step as this cover is very thin at the edges and is very easy to mess up by sanding too far.

It is imperative with this step that you get the back perfectly smooth because this will sit directly on top of the front face.

For this particular step I would recommend a liquid super glue only because it will dry with a very low layer height. By this I mean because the Goop’s viscosity is so thick, the decal will actually lift and dry off the casing itself which isn’t ideal. Super Glue will dry flush to the casing, but… you have all of about 5 seconds to get it placed correctly. If you don’t get it right in that 5 seconds, you could end up with some real problems. This is on the list for a redesign for future models that will take the guess work out of getting this cover on correctly. But for now, read on!

This is a rather tricky part of the process and I’ve found that the best way to line up the decal correctly is to take one of the SLA 3D Printed C-buttons and hold it place while you apply the decal. Applying the Super Glue with a couple dots in the center and a dot at the diagonal mid-points between the button holes will give a strong enough hold for the decal. Just don’t go overboard and get the glue in the buttons holes or glue your spacer button to the case!

This attempt came out acceptable as the C was not completely straight, but the button holes lined up correctly with the casing which is the primary concern. This is the last of the SLA casing parts for the Front Face of the casing. The next step is adhering the top heat vent on the Back Face.


Fastening the Cart Slot Mounting Brackets

For this step, you will need the two Cart Slot Mounting Brackets, (2) #2-56 x 3/16″ screws, (2) square nuts and a fine tipped Phillips screw driver.

Insert the screw into the hole at the base of the bracket and if need be, push all the way through with the screw driver.

Make sure the screw is pushed through as far as it can go.

Now place the bracket on the Back Face Plate and push the screw through the hole as shown.

Place a square nut into the recess on the back side and over the screw.

You will need to apply pressure to the nut while pressing down on the screw while you tighten. Snug up the bracket but do not tighten fully as we’ll be doing that once the cart slot itself is installed.

Repeat these steps for the other bracket.

Done


  • Filling, Sanding, Painting & Sealing (optional)

Although this guide was written over 5 years ago and doesn’t really get into detail about 3D printed enclosures in general, the Painting and Finishing section are still relevant to this project. Again, filling, sanding and painting is going to add a substantial amount of time to the process, but it’s really what allows your project to shine in the end. But, if you just want a working portable N64, you’re free to skip this part.

Cover

 


  • Preparing The Screen

The screen of choice is a 5″ 640 x 480 4:3 composite display. Though they are more expensive than the 16:9 backup screens from eBay, they are a manufacture direct product which are more reliable, there is no screen stretching and they have a VGA option which for more seasoned hackers could have benefits in the future.

Note: The pics shown are for an older model screen/PCB which are no longer included in the kit but the mounting process is the same. The wiring section will contain details for the new screens.

 

Remove the LCD panel from the packaging and inspect.

Attache the driver PCB to the FFC cable and secure to the back of the LCD with a bit of hot glue.

(Optional) Removing the plastic screen protector will make the screen fit better in the casing but means you have to be very careful working on the project from then on as the screen is quite delicate.

Fit the screen into the recess cut on the front face.

Tack the screen in place with a few drops of Goop on the edges.

Then hit the corners and as much of the perimeter as you can without getting the Goop in any other button holes or recesses.

The screen should center up nicely with not silver edges showing. Make sure you leave enough time for the Goop to cure fully before adding any other components.


Installing The Speakers

A pretty straight forward process to adhere, remove the two speakers from the package.

Place them in the recess of the speaker cover and align the speakers so the solder tabs are perpendicular with the bottom edge of the casing. This will help with wiring later.

Goop all the way around the perimeter.

Once cured, this should be done and ready to move on to the next step.

 


  • Preparing The N64 Mother Board

Removing the Cart Slot

Removing the DD Slot

Removing The Controller Port, LED & Heat Sink Brackets

Trimming The Motherboard

This is a very minimal and risk free trim which will allow the board to fit in the casing with minimal rewiring. Keeping to the outside (waste side) of this red line will assure no damage is done to you board. Just be careful on the bottom and right edges of the board as they are quite close to traces and components that could be cut if you get much closer than the line.

I use a CNC machine for my cuts, but this is not needed and a Dremel with a cut wheel and a little sanding after will work just fine as well.

Heat Sinking

20160330_194043

An important step is making sure the RAM, CPU and RCP chips are properly heat sunk to avoid performance issues once the casing is closed up. I’ve found these copper heat sinks to be very effective and have a self adhesive backing that you can just peel and stick. However, the adhesive is less than reliable. So using a thermal compound adhesive like Arctic Silver is a good bonding agent that is thermally conductive to let the heat pass through it to the heat sinks. Alternatively, if you have some “Goop”, laying the heat sinks flat on the chip with the stock adhesive and coating the edges around the perimeter of the heat sinks to the top face of the chip will work too. Just don’t coat the chip in “Goop” as that will kill your board.

 


  • Preparing The Buttons, D-Pad & Tact Board PCBs

All the control buttons will use TL-9000 soft tipped tacts to give that squishy, natural feel from all the original controllers. The screen and audio tact boards will be the traditional “click” tacts. Populating the boards is as easy putting the tact switch through the footprint on the board and depending on if you’re using the 3D printed version or manufactured, soldering the leads to the back solder pads.

3D PRINTABLE TACT BOARDS DOWNLOAD

The TL-9000 Soft-Tipped Tact Switch is a great analog for the original feel of the N64 controller. These have no “click” when pressed and take close to the same amount of pressure to actuate as the rubber contact pads of the original controllers.

This tact board example is of a manufactured PCB, but some kits will have 3D printed versions as well. Still, the process of populating the boards is the same.


  • Front and Back Face Assemblies

The next portion shows the recommended order in which to install all your populated components to make up the respective case halves and get them ready to wire. This should hopefully be a pretty straight forward process as all the components should fit in place correctly.

 

Installing the D-Pad

The D-Pad is a straight forward installation process.

Take the D-Pad and set it in place as shown.

Make sure you’ve populated the PCB or the 3D Printed tact board with the soft-tipped tact switches.

Place the PCB on top of the standoffs.

You’ll need 4 of the #2 x 3/16″ Sheet Metal Screws.

Screw the board to the stand offs.

Test the feel of the D-Pad making sure that it doesn’t feel too tight. If it is, back off the screws slightly to allow more room for the D-Pad to press and release.

 


Installing the Control Stick Assembly

This assembly will come in three parts, the PCB, the pot and the cap. The PCB for the control stick is dual sided. Because the stick is going to be on the left, placing the pot on the side of the board that says RSY & RSX is required as show to line up properly. When the board is mounted, the LSY & LSX solder pads will display.

After the Pot has been soldered in place and the cap placed on the pot, you will need (4) of the #2 x 3/16″ sheet metal screws for mounting.

Screw the board to the 4 standoffs.

Inspect to make sure the cap lines up evenly with the hole in the case.

 


Installing the Volume & Screen Tact Board

As before, the kit may contain a manufactured PCB or a 3D printed version. The process is the same, however you will be using the (6) black 5mm “click” tacts that were included in the Tact Switch Kit.

Again using (3) of the #2 x 3/16″ Sheet Metal Screws, secure the board in place.

 


Installing the B-A-C Buttons

The same process as before, install the buttons into their respective hole, making sure they are oriented correctly.

The mounting holes on this PCB or 3D Printed board are different though. They are ob-longed to provide a fair bit of fine adjustment to make sure all the buttons press the way they are supposed to. Sung up the screws, but only after a quick inspection and pressing of the buttons have turned out satisfactory, then tighten.

 


Installing the Audio Amp Assembly

The audio amp is a simple install.

You will need (2) of the #0 x 3/16″ sheet metal screws for mounting.

Insert the audio jack into the hole on the bottom half of the Front Face Bracket.

Secure with the (2) screws.

NOTE: Though it’s not shown in this picture, it is a good idea to pre-wire the left speaker as getting to the solder points is a bit of a challenge once the amp is screwed into place.

 


Installing the R/L/Z Buttons

The R/L/Z manufactured PCBs are also double sided and the 3D printed version just needs to be flipped over. Same as before, populate the boards with (2) soft-tipped tact switches each.

Place the R/L & Z buttons in their respective spots.

Then using (2) #2 x 3/16″ Sheet Metal Screws, screw the PCBs to the standoffs. Please note that some kits may require a thin spacer between the PCB and the standoff (a #2 washer for example) if the buttons feel a bit tight. This was a new design change that hadn’t been fine tuned yet but has been corrected for all future kits.


Installing the Voltage Regulator

Again a very straight forward process, this mounts the 3.3V regulator needed for the 12V/7.4v lines that feed the main power to the N64.

 

You will need (2) of the #0 x 3/16″ Sheet Metal Screws to mount.

 

Place the regulator board on top of the standoffs above the vent. Make sure the voltage input/output side of the regulator [marked O I] are facing toward the center of the system. Secure with the two screws and mounting this component will be complete.

 


Installing the Battery Charger PCB

 


Once the two case halves have been assembled, we can then move on too Part III of the guide, Power & Cart Slot Wiring.