The entrance to my portablizing career was like many others, more of a crash course of “what the hell did I get myself into” kind of entrance. Though the idea of it at the time was absolutely mind-altering, my experiences in electronics were next to none, other than replacing a 3 prong power plug on an extension cord. Soldering was a scary idea to me, thinking that electronics were far to complicated for my relatively simple mind I had conditioned myself too.
However, after seeing some pictures of the “Darth 64“, (who now friend and fellow moderator on the MBB forums Hailrazer had put out a little over a year prior) I told myself I was just going to do it! How was another problem entirely, but the basic concept to completing any task given is the right mental attitude and a perseverance to back that attitude up. Sometimes I have it, other times I don’t, but this was something I really really wanted to learn and to create.
Thus began the process, but as opposed to my normal creative procedure, I knew I was going to have to do a lot of research! Aside from the number of posts on Engadget and other tech sites about this, I needed to figure out how this process worked from the inside and the tools I was going to need to accomplish it.
Picture if you will, one who has never laid eyes on a circuit board before and tried to understand it, and this is what I saw. Granted the technology used here was from back in the mid 90’s, but that still did not make it any less complicated to virgin eyes.
I realized then that I was going to be in great need of some additional support, both online and in person. But trying to figure this out on my own was a losing battle because when it came down to it, really I didn’t know enough to even figure out where I was supposed to start. So hitting the books became an essential fact of life.
Though I see now that power is a pretty simple thing, it’s the ways in which it’s filter, funneled, regulated, stepped-up, stepped-down, resisted and converted that makes for the head scratches and chin-in-hand moments of blank confusion. There were plenty of these moments as well, but the second you figure one problem out, the excitement is beyond words and the drive to push on is given another crank!
And that’s how it was for over a half year! Of course, the nature of a hobby is something to do in you spare time, for which I had a fair amount, but progress was slow because not only was I attempting the electronics aspect of the project, but I was jumping into a whole new fire when I opted to make my own casing for these electronics I knew nothing about!
And on the heels of a DIY video about vacuum forming, I fitted together a crude yet impressive looking first attempt of a vacuum forming machine. For those not sure what vacuum forming is all about, it’s basically heating up a sheet of plastic, (in my case Polystyrene) to it’s flexible melting temperature and laying over a mold of some sort, wood or clay mostly, and having a suction from the bottom pull the hot plastic over the top and take the form of the mold beneath it.
Well in an attempt to make a long story short, the first model did not work quite well (at all really) due to some fundamental oversights in how heat works. An eventual redesign did in fact make for a much easier time with these cases, but it took several….several attempts to get the formula workable. More on that in the “New Vacuum Former” section.
As time went on, things began to get to the point of actual playability. Lots of changes and lots of back tracking were constant, but for
every step back, there were two, sometimes three steps forward. The day when power was connected and I saw that Mario 64 screen boot
up I was thrilled! I’d done it! Now I just needed to close it up!
Though I still had several ascetic issues that needed attention, the fact was that I now had a fully functional, homemade portable system that I could call my own! This was fantastic to me and even in all it’s eternal ugliness, I was still quit proud of my achievement!
I had set my mind to something, brought it into reality and could now join the community ranks as someone other than “Noob”.
Though this mod does not exist anymore, my first trial by fire mod was completed. I even sold it for awhile for $200 bucks to a friend! However, I sort of bought it back by trading my second portable for this one so I could salvage some parts! But regardless, it was proven that by setting your mind to a task, it may take time, but eventually you’ll get there and it will be so much easier the next time around when it comes to basic concepts. However, I find myself always pushing the boundaries when it comes to my projects, otherwise the potential to get bored is high!