So i recently finished my latest project. I've made a few portables in the past from an Xbox 360 laptop to a Raspberry Pi based Gameboy DMG mod. I can say without a doubt that this is by far my favorite project to date and i know ill be spending countless hours on it in my spare time.
I want to start by giving a huge thanks to Downing as this project wouldve taken a completely different route had he not provided me with his STL files for the project. A link to the STL files can be found here
The build process
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After testing the system, i started off by removing the cartridge connector as shown above.
Next which was by far the most tedious part, which involved cutting to length, stripping, and soldering 48 wires to each pin on the cartridge connector.
Rewiring the cartridge connector to the motherboard.
The cartridge fits nicely on top of the motherboard.
Hooking everything back up and testing the rewired cartridge connector.
Easily the scariest part, taking a dremel cutting wheel to a Nintendo 64 motherboard. Fortunately after chopping the motherboard down to size, everything still worked flawlessly.
For the case printing i used PLA so as not to cause any unexpected parts warping. Once everything was finished printing i got to work on the internals.
Shown in this image is the custom controller PCB which was made to replace the N64's huge joystick assembly with an Xbox 360 controllers joystick and cap, as well as a custom relocation board for the power led and numerous tactile switches.
A custom audio amp by RDC was used to control the audio via the tactile switches on the front of the case.
Breaking apart and wiring up the N64 memory card.
Next was to wire up the N64 memory card to the custom N64 controller pcb which was created by RDC (It is essentially a tiny N64 controller using OEM hardware components)
Finding the perfect place to mount all of the internals. (Very appealing to the eye if you ask me)
Its worth noting here that i dont have the required equipment to custom CNC mill a PCB as Downing does so i did the next best thing, which was to 3D print some custom "PCBs" if you will, to mount the various rubber tactile switches for the controller buttons.
Trying my best to keep everything nice and tidy.
Wiring the 3 controller connections to the front faceplate. (For testing purposes)
Next was to wire the power to the motherboard and test out the front faceplate.
Shown above is the motherboard mounted to the bottom half of the case as well as the batteries, charging board, charging connector, switch, and drop down regulator. (The system is running on 7.4 volts which is then dropped down to 3.3 volts to supply power to the 3.3 volt rail on the motherboard.) Custom "PCBs" had to be printed for the L, R, and dual Z buttons on the rear of the case.
Cartridge connector mounted to the rear of the case. Downing also forgot a few pieces in his project which i had to create from scratch, those would be the rear buttons and the dpad which were both 3D printed
The project is nearly finished at this point. Only a few more things to do. (The screen protector tab is a different color here as i decided to replace the screen last minute to remove the black borders around the screen. Not a big deal to most but i knew it would get on my nerves after a while.)
I initially wanted to paint the case, however after giving some thought to it i knew i wanted it to stand out from others. I got together with a friend of mine who works with vinyl and showed him the project. We put our heads together and came up with a pretty neat almost sticker bomb like theme for the case that we made a mock up of (Shown above). We took some measurements, then more measures, followed by even more measurements, then maybe 5 or so prints later we had a pretty nicely fit and finished vinyl decal.
Finally, the finished product! There's not many feelings that can compare to a finished project coming to fruition. It was a lengthy process but the time and work invested into the project was well worth the end result.
And finally a demonstration of the finished project
I would like to end this with a few notes that arent mentioned in the video.
I've wanted to make one of these for about 6 years now but the main thing holding me back was the case fabrication. Fortunately Downing was kind enough to release the stl files for for this case. After reviewing the video it in no way compares to how the screen looks in person. In the video its picking up a ton of distortion (for lack of a better word) on camera that isnt visible in person. The battery life of the portable lasts roughly 3 and half to 4 hours (Im sure this will go down as the battery degrades from normal usage). Another thing that isnt mentioned in the video is that the screen size can be switched in the menu settings from 16:9 to 4:3.
Downing also put together an interesting blog post of his take on my build which can be found here.