Posts Tagged ‘commissions’

Sorry it’s been a couple months in between posts. It’s been exceptionally busy these past couple of months but as far as modding and projects are concerned, there’s been a lot of waiting.

First off, the most exciting news is I’ve taken on another commission that started a couple weeks ago. This will be an NTSC Super Nintendo Portable, going over to a buyer in the UK. Yes, UK and NTSC…dunno why, but that’s what he wanted. Now some of you know that after the last shipping fiasco for the N64p that I shipped to the UK back in July, I had sworn I’d never do that again (cost almost $700 to get it there), but the buyer and I have made an agreement and hopefully nothing goes wrong in transit. But anyway, this will be a new project for me as I’ve never done and SNES portable before, though it already looks to be simpler than the N64s. But, I’m also going to try something else new that I’ve never done and that’s to make a portable that will output RGB to the display. For those who don’t know, RGB is an output method that has three different channels that the system outputs to the display, Red, Green & Blue which are then mixed together at the pixel level to make the desired color. This is a far superior method to the standard Composite output which just takes an output signal and mashes it all together through one line, which creates blurry edges and sort of washed out colors.

The way I plan to do this is using a SCRART to HDMI upscaler and use a 5.6″ 640 x 480 display and see if I can get that to work. It’s a lot of extra hardware to cram into a portable, but if it works, the crisp display image will be well worth the extra costs and learning curve. If you want more info on how RGB works in retro consoles, check out the link below and give Bob a like as he’s put an extreme amount of time into his site and the info there is amazingly useful.

The other project I’m working on is another portable N64. This is just kind of a side project but there is going to be a bit of a twist to this one as it’s not going to be a standard N64p. I was going to try and RGB mod this one as well, but the case work was already done as far as the 3D printing was concerned and for what it’s going to be, I really didn’t need to front the additional costs to implement that. But until I get a little bit further into the project, I’m gonna keep this one sealed until I’m ready to show it off!

That being said, I’ve also been working on upgrading my two primary means of case making, i.e. my 3D Printer and my new CNC Machine.

First, my 3D printer has been great for the nearly the full year that I’ve had it. But over the past few weeks, I had been extremely frustrated with it as no matter what I did, the prints I would make would all break loose from the build plate. After more than a dozen failed attempts at printing the N64p case that I’ve been working on, I finally threw the white flag and went searching for answers on the Internet.

My first attempt to help fix the printer was to upgrade the firmware. I had never done it and I couldn’t get the system to print over USB and my readings told me that upgrading the firmware was the way to go. So I found the most updated version of the FlashPrint software and the latest firmware. I installed it and…. bricked the entire system. (Grumble) Turns out I have an older version of the Dreamer and the latest update as I found out the hard way, would kill the system. Only by downgrading to the 1.3V of FlashPrint and the firmware that came with it and through a very odd process to re-install it, was I able to get the system running again. I found the last known version of the firmware that wouldn’t turn my printer into a paperweight and it started working great and I could then use my PC to send directly over USB. But, this still did not fix the lifting issue and I was getting even more frustrated.

So I went looking some more and I had known for a long time that people printing with PLA were having great success using glass print beds. I too had known this first hand as my friend Jon (Hailrazer) Jandran did so on his Makerbot and the results were beautiful.

That’s when I came across Makersome.com, a 3D printing store/community based in California that offers great advice and solutions to 3D printer people everywhere, that had a glass bed kit for the Dreamer. For $40 I was willing to give it a try. It came in earlier this week and with a free Saturday, I decided to break it in. I just have to tell you that the results are nothing short of fantastic! As we speak, the printer is working on the last piece of the N64p casing. 4 print jobs, 4 completions with 0 lifting. I mean these corner have always lifted a bit on every project I’ve done, but using this glass print bed, they match up as if they had been sanded flat. Very very pleased with this investment. So if you are into 3D printing as well have a FlashForge Dreamer or Creator Pro, check out their kit upgrades at Makersome.com Makersome-Logo-FINAL-No-tag-300x59

Lastly, my CNC is under a new upgrade process as well. Even though it was brand new and I love the machine itself, the Chinese have a way keeping costs down which can lead to some questionable results with the final product. In this case, the lack of power with the controller hardware. This is a decent sized machine that pulls some pretty heavy components of it. Though the stepper motors are more than capable of doing the job, the controller that drives them are not. This has been one of the biggest complaints out on the CNC Forums when these machines are concerned. So after I posted a video of the unboxing and my issues, a You Tube user was kind enough to guide me in the direction of a decent upgrade for relatively low money. Long story short, I received in 3 new industrial stepper drivers which I’m in the process of swapping out. I’ve had to take it slow though as I’m not 100% sure what I’m doing with them and just have to make sure I don’t screw anything up. But hopefully once this is complete, I’ll have a machine that can be used to it’s full potential.

So yeah, that’s what I’ve got going on! Like I said, busy as hell, but a lot of down time waiting for parts and materials to come in the mail. Hopefully updates will be a bit more frequent now that I have some real projects going again and we’ll see how these new endeavors pan out!

Northwood-N64p-Full Body Assembly

Yup, no sooner did I finish of my first portable N64 commission and ship it off did another come down the pipeline! Never have I had two such similar projects happen so close in time frame and it’s yielding some very cool improvements.

Essentially this is a duplicate of the N64p I finished off last month, but taking everything I learned from the first version and perfecting it the second time around. There are a few key differences in this one though that required a bit of extra design work, but it will be well worth the effort in the final project.

There are two big differences with this one. First, the screen is a completely different model than the other version. This is a wide screen 16:9 default ratio, however it does have an option to be 4:3 if the user wishes. I decided to go with for a few reasons, but the main reasons were picture quality and size. In my opinion, this screen is sharper than what I used last time as far as composite input goes and the thin profile and smaller driver board make this much easier to work with.

The second difference is that my buyer in this case is based in the UK. This presented a problem at first because the UK and Europe use a different region code than the US. US uses NTSC for it’s format which is basically just a different hertz rating based on the electrical systems we use. NTSC is 60Hz and PAL is only 50Hz. So, this meant I had to use PAL hardware for the N64 as well as needing a few PAL games to test the system on. I also had to get a 220 to 110 transformer so he could use the battery charger that is specific to the batteries that are going in the thing. So although this one was very much the same, it had it’s share of “firsts” that I had to overcome. Fortunately they weren’t that difficult to get over.

Additional improvements also include:

– Better ventilation for the regulator and system as a whole with a new vent panel cut into the top and a vent in the back.
– Relocated headphone switch which has been moved to the face of unit instead of on the bottom where it could be accidentally pressed.
– Custom home cut PCBs for the buttons, d-pad, headphone switch and power jacks.
– PLA material for the 3D printed body and face of the casing instead ABS to prevent warping.
– Custom brackets for all loose components like the audio amp and regulator for more secure mounting and less wire stress.

So I’m pretty excited to see how this one is going to turn out and so far progress has been very quick and efficient. Time is still an issue as I don’t have much of it to dedicate, but at least when I do put the time in, it goes further. I should have most of the case parts finished off this week and then I’ll be able to start the fun part of sanding and painting and after that gets done I’ll start posting some progress pics! I’m excited to see how this one comes out!

On the heels of the Cross Plane KickStarter, I’ve been hard at work on a couple of side projects that of course have been taking up a lot of the down time that I’ve currently had while waiting for a few new job opportunities to come through.

The Nimbus III

My first portable N64 since 2011’s Nimbus II portable. This one is nice because it takes a lot of the design and 3D printing knowledge I received from doing the Cross Plane project. The casing is all 3D printed, complete with screw holes in the back and the face was CNC’d to compensate of the somewhat irregular holes the 3D printer can make. What’s unique about this build as well is that it will have the option for a wireless Audio/Video transmission to the TV.  The back half of the casing just came in today so in the next couple of weeks I’ll start the painting and assembly process of the main unit.

Pictured below is the receiver unit for the N64 as well as the three play plug in so up to 4 players can be playing off the portable at any given time. Two USB ports on the bottom of the Nimbus allow for a quick connection to the receiver unit if multi-player is wanted.  There is a work log on MBB started for this for more info.

The AG-85 PlayStation 2 A/V Controller

This was a side project to my side project as I had to wait a fair bit of time for the back half of the N64. But no worries, this was just as fun. This is essentially the same thing as my SNES-001 Advance II that I built last year, only of course, for PlayStation 2 and One. This is fully wired and connects to the same breakout box that the original Cross Plane (Cross Plane Retro) used. This is about 90% complete and I ran into some issue yesterday while testing so I’m not sure exactly when this is going to be finished. But all this was made up of parts I already had lying around. The only thing I had to buy were the speakers. Again though, this has been a fun project and I hope I can get it working before too long! Again, a build log for more info!

The Cross Plane: A One-Off Commission

That’s right, one more Cross Plane is being built at the moment for a customer who really really wanted one! This is going to be a far superior to our prototypes as I’ve made adjustments to both the casing and location of the HDMI receiver as well as to the internal circuit boards and just general location of things.  It should be pretty cool to find out just “how” superior to the prototype it will be but just tackling some of the key issues of the CP’s first run, I think this is going to be leaps above the first version.

Right now I’m just waiting for parts to roll in and will be making a post on MBB for an actual work log. I think people will love to see what goes into making one of these and since we aren’t going to produce it, might as well show it off!

So stay tuned, there will be more to come in the future here very shortly and I’ll keep you updated as frequently as I can!

Case #2 for [Gman] is almost done. Unlike the last case, this one was done up from scratch. Though I love vacuum forming and making these from nothing more than a block of wood, the whole process is a great deal more time consuming. With that said, this is probably one of the best vacuum formed casings I’ve made to date and I’m quite proud with not only the form but the quality of the cuts and general layout.

Most will notice right away that this resembles the [Wii U] controller. That was the point, however now a Game Cube portable is going to be stuffed into it! And I say stuffed because apparently the commissioner is going to be putting the whole original disc drive into it as opposed to the now standard [WiiKey Fusion] mod chips that allow people to play ROMs of their games via SD card. But it should be interesting to see the progress on in the near future!

Got a few more jobs to finish up and then in the next couple of weeks the meet-up so things are about to get crazy busy! Loving every second of it though and can’t wait!

So last month my buddy [SS] set me up with another case cutting job for another commission of his. This time a portable Wii Laptop, which would be made up of 2 [Poly Case] casings, the ZN45 for the base and the ZN40 for the screen. I finished these up early this week and he just received them today and was very pleased! Though I don’t take credit for the design as his friend [Beta] did all the CAD work, the cut job was still a lot of work, but was quite fun.

Now this would have been done a lot sooner had I not decided to tare apart my whole CNC control system and be down for two weeks because of one damn wire being in the wrong spot, but it is what it is and all is good for now!

So I look forward to see these projects of his put these casings to good use. They should be pretty cool any way so I will wait patiently and report on them when I see them!

Sorry again for nearly another 10 days between posts. I’ve been sick, busy and making a lot of progress all at the same time. Still fine tuning the skills of the basic CNC work, but as you can tell I’m starting to get the hang of it. What would have taken hours to do, now cuts out in a matter of minutes, however the free time is eaten up by the design work that is required. I’ve come to realize that what will make you good and fast at cutting is how intimate your knowledge with CAD is. It’s getting there, but still has a ways to go.

The above pic is the case I cut today for Nintendork from the MBB forums. Though I’m not sure if this is the case I’ll send because of the fact that I messed up a bit with the D-pad and had to FrankenCase in a replacement because I of it. This has caused a lot of sanding and I think I might just order in another case and save this one for a different project. Still deciding but we’ll see how the finished product looks and if it’s no good than I’ll get another case for it.

I’ve also made a lot of progress with Tchay’s casings and the first one will be on it’s way to Hollywood CA, on Tuesday.

All in all that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing but there is a lot more on the way so stay tuned.