Bacteria's N64/GBA combined portable - Nintendo 64 Advance

Includes but not limited to: SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, PlayStation 1, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, Game Gear and I guess the Virtual Boy.

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bacteria
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Post by bacteria » Thu Aug 09, 2007 4:03 am

Thanks for the suggestions guys, however the solution was far, far easier. I had been confused because there was no logical reason what I wanted to do wasn't working - I knew the answer had to be simple, and it looks like it was. :oops: This lost me several days of work to resolve - isn't it always the case; you can't always see for looking (as the expression goes).

SUCCESS - solved problem


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I had two issues to address:

1) I stupidly wired a wire to the PSone screen (power) to both the N64 and the GBA switch - of course, this made a short, and explains part of my earlier problem. :oops:

2) I wired the Select wires onto opposite ends of the tact switch (only one I did like this), so effectively permanent contact was made. As the Select button isn't used much, it has no visible effect - but of course the GBA was identifying a button being pressed, so ignored whatever else I pressed. :oops:

Oh well, problems solved now. I have just played a bit of my favourite game of all time, Super Mario Yoshi's Island, as it uses all the buttons in gameplay - works fine.

The buttons I made earlier, work really well, feel nice to use. I have however decided to remake them to make them smaller so they are easier to fit in the case (they were ok, this will make them better). I will also make the gap between the contacts 2mm instead of 1mm, so there is no play in the contacts after a lot of use. I don't really want to have to open the system up to do repairs later, if I can avoid the issue at this stage.

At least I know I can make a dual system now, and resolved the problem I had - a couple of silly wiring errors - easy to do when you keep "improving" a system and keep wiring/re-wiring it up.
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bacteria
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Post by bacteria » Thu Aug 09, 2007 5:04 am

Remade one of the buttons (2 more to make again) - making them with foil 2mm apart now, folded about 2mm of the foil onto the top of the foam pad under the button to stop any chance of the foil getting too close to the bottom contact, double stapled the wires in place, criss-crossed them increasing their durability, reduced the overall size from 60mm to 47mm and made the mounting board at the base double-thick for strength.

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The circle on the top one is where the button used to sit.

I have run out of time today, tomorrow I will make the other two buttons, connect them, test the contacts, then connect them to the N64 and re-test.

I have given a pic below of the WIP as it is at the moment - the GBA and GBA Transformer will be put on top of each other, separated by tape to stop a short, and placed on the side of the N64 mobo - I have put electrical tape in place, so there is no short. When in place, the GBA system sticks out about 80-82mm, which is fine as I have allowed 85mm so I have good handhold on the console (see earlier postings). It is not together at the moment as I am still completing the work. I also need to finish how I will use the power-in buttons effectively (simple job).

At the moment, the two batteries for the GBA mobo are used when I am testing the system, they will of course be wired in properly in due course. The GBA mobo hardly uses any power and two quality AA's will last ages. I also need to wire up the sound from the GBA to the PSone, again, quite simple. In the pic you see the two D-pads - now I have found the problem I had, and have solved it, there is every chance I can run both systems off one D-pad - don't see why not. Project back and running again, which is nice.

BTW - I didn't fry the GBA mobo before, in fact, this is the mobo I had been using, so all is well.

There are a number of things in the pic which don't need to be there - typical WIP clutter! :wink:

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As you might have noticed, the N64 is rested on the mounted board backing I completed a while back; that side is completed after all, and non-conductive. On the side of the mobo will sit part of the GBA boards; on the top will be the fan, stuck onto mounting board topping, with the PSone mobo and screen on top. I will cover this later.

Still lots of work to do, of course. I am getting a lot of fun with this project.
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Post by Master of Portables » Thu Aug 09, 2007 9:09 am

Looking good so far. I'll just have to wait and see how the case turns out... :D
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Post by bacteria » Thu Aug 09, 2007 9:37 am

Thanks.

I was contimplating having the case in black, but haven't decided yet; I might go for a dark grey. As I intend to paint the reverse side of a clear PVC sheet, it will appear quite shiny and glossy; with some areas around the edge as matt or semi-glossy as a contrast. I am not sure if I need to change the button colours or leave as they are; I will wait until I am at that stage to decide how it looks best. It is fun to experiment!

I will try and make the case as symetrical as possible, and as small as is reasonable and usable comfortably.
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Post by bacteria » Fri Aug 10, 2007 4:13 am

Rigging things up still, and will take a while longer to complete. I am in no rush after all, and anyway, time is running out for me again today.

One of the features of the GBA M3 flashcard is that it allows you to access a menu wherever you are in a game so you can save or load game progress whenever you want. The way you do this is to press Right Shoulder + Left Shoulder + A + B at the same time. This was difficult on to achieve on my last project, and wasn't that easy to perform on a GBA SP I used to have. This is why I am having a GBA Menu button. This needs the 4 wires (as detailed above) connected to one ground to make the contact. Unfortunately, these wires need to be separated normally, otherwise pressing any of these four buttons when you are in a game completes the circuit for all four buttons so you end up in the time; if you press any of these buttons then, it thinks you pressed the A button and proceeds to save and overwrite your last save game!

The way around this is to have a button with 4 separate inputs and one ground output - complete the circuit and you get the menu; as is, no circuit so no conflict.

The pic below shows a couple of buttons I had to make (as detailed in previous post), and the new one at the bottom. The indents are from testing on the multimeter that all is ok.

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And a pic of the completed one...

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Button works fine.
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Post by bacteria » Fri Aug 10, 2007 2:58 pm

I connected the buttons to the GBA part of the system earlier today, all worked fine, as did the GBA menu button (the one shown above). Needs more testing, but all looks fine. Happy so far!

I will get pockets of time to update my project over the next few days, so I may be able to some some updates, but probably not too many (my wife has taken some days off with me, so I will be spending time with her).
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Post by bacteria » Sat Aug 11, 2007 4:01 am

One more thing I will be doing with the GBA (once full testing is completed of course) is to relocate the cart slot on the GBA. The way the GBA mobo and Transverter will be placed in the case is going to have to be at an angle, and it would be hard to get to the SD card in the flashcard if I want to change any games or data on the card, especially as there will be lots of wiring around the SD card area. I could desolder the cart slot from the working GBA mobo and relocate this, but I have an old mobo I damaged several months ago and is dead, so I will dremel off the cart slot from the old board and just wire each connection for the cart slot to the corresponding solder points on the working GBA mobo; no different than doing it with the N64 cart slot after all.

I will then mount the relocated GBA cart slot against the side (probably on the top of the case) so I can pop out/in the SD card. This will be much more professional.
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Post by bacteria » Sat Aug 11, 2007 5:56 pm

I had time to dremel off the cart slot from the old and dead GBA mobo in preparation:

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Nice and easy, clearly labeled! I can dremel off the sides too, no problem.
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Post by bacteria » Mon Aug 13, 2007 3:15 am

Snatched an hour and a half and used it for this project today, to do some work on it and blog it:


The pic below shows the Start, A and B buttons, both sides connected (one to the N64 one to the GBA mobos). I hadn't done this before; tested, all fine.

The mobo on the top left is the GBA Transverter, the middle is the GBA.

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I need to hook up the speakers to the GBA as next job, after which I can get on with the GBA cart relocation.

Pic of a game playing:

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And a bigger one of it - the GBA games are lower resolution than the N64 ones, however I am more interested in gameplay, so if a game is a little blocky, it is not a problem - you barely notice anyway during gameplay. Image below is from RGB of course - there is a big difference between RGB and composite on the GBA system.

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A got all the buttons working fine, as expected; however one problem I have is that if I connect the wires from the GBA D-pad to the N64's one, then buttons don't work when you press them on the GBA. This has to be down to the N64 controller circuitry as the N64 has no power in it at all at the moment. The ground (common) wire is fine, but the up,down,left, right are not. This is the problem I had before with the Start, A and B buttons, which is why I made my own ones (which work great BTW).

I can't do this for the D-pad of course, I need switches (4).

The midi switches I am using are small, I need to hook up 3 of them together and basically hot glue a strip of plastic to make a longer switch. Each switch is 8mm wide, so three switches together are 24mm wide, which is no issue (the case is wider than that).

The wiring will be as follows:

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Switch all switches together to alternate between GBA and N64 systems.

Red = 7.5v for N64
Medium red = 7.5v for GBA
Pink = 3v for GBA
Green ones = switch between GBA and N64 for the four D-pad wires.
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Post by G-force » Mon Aug 13, 2007 5:51 am

Asterix FTW! Didn't know they had a game out, I gotta look into that.

Love the out-of-the-box methods you're using to make this thing. I think this is going to be a very cool mod.

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Post by bacteria » Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:54 am

Not familiar with "FTW" - what does that stand for please?

There are two or three Asterix games on the GBA - not great, but worth a go. I personally love some of the old arcade versions they did on the GBA, plus the various Mario games, Advance Wars, Bust a Move (Ross Prince's freeware one), etc. I have quite a few GBA games on the flashcart - all the ones I deem as "quality" - fit on an SD card, so easy to use. I also have nearly 70 x N64 original carts; most of the ones available on PAL. This will be quite a games system when finished! :) Even if I get bored playing a couple of N64 games I take with me to work, I can play games from a large collection of my GBA ones.

Thank you for your kind comments. Out of interest, has anyone else made a dual console system before (if so, what?); and has anyone else made their own button switches as a consequence - or is this a "unique" project?
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Post by ghosstt » Mon Aug 13, 2007 8:05 am

bacteria wrote:Not familiar with "FTW" - what does that stand for please?
for the win

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Post by bacteria » Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:28 pm

Thanks for clearing that up, "for the win" - I presume it is an American expression (we have many too in the UK!). 8)
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Post by schmellyfart » Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:46 pm

lol I'm pretty sure its an internet expression :D

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Post by ShockSlayer » Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:56 pm

schmellyfart wrote:lol I'm pretty sure its an internet expression :D
Yeah....Didnt work too well with the real world.

I kinda knew the tact problem would come up.

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