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 » Tue Jun 26, 2007 3:29 am

Ok, only took about 3 minutes.

Pry the metal heatsink blocks from the N64 mobo with a screwdriver - carefully twist the screwdriver (use care)

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Remove the backing from the heatsinks, and gently press the heatsinks in place (4 per processor - just the right size to cover the processors!)

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? I also put heatsinks (2) onto the memory expansion card, held the fan over the heatsinks, fired up the N64, didn't work (PSone screen flicked on and off). Turned off the system, put the jumper pak back in, worked fine.

? Anyone know why this happened? It would be nice to use the memory expansion instead of the jumper pak if possible; however to keep this card cool, the fan needs to be raised, which would make the end case bigger. (trade-off). Alternative is to relocate this too, that looks harder than moving the cartridge slot however (and no point if it doesn't work anyway!).

? With a smaller screen (PSone), would you really see much graphical improvements with the memory expansion, or is this really beneficial more for television sets? I know some games will not run with the jumper pak, however the fan can sit directly on top of the heatsinks (as per pic) - so end case smaller. N64 will keep cooler too.

Anyway, system working. Fan sits directly on top of the heatsinks (max airflow, minimum height) - fan blades do not get in the way of the heatsinks. Left it running for a few minutes, no glitches. I will secure the heatsinks (better safe than sorry) via cables as marshallh suggested. Onto next step now.

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Next step will be trying for RGB output (the serial of this N64 mobo is NUP13xxxx, so should (hopefully) be ok for RGB). Composite is ok, but the words on the screen in the game are not crisp, and there is a little fuzzyness on the images (it is composite after all).

? Is it worth putting a couple of heatsinks on the other processors on the N64 mobo, or is this a waste of time (only worth it if they generate a fair bit of heat)?

Would appreciate comments, especially in regards to the ? sections please!
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Post by marshallh » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:27 am

You only need 3 heatsinks on the mobo.

Expansion pak doesn't affect game graphics at all directly. The game has to be programmed to use it (most aren't). Make sure you didn't put it in backwards.

Best cooling setup - make your enclosure airtight. Put a fan on the left side blowing OUT. on the other side drill some holes. The air will be drawn over the heatsinks and out the side.

Make sure your heatsink fan is blowing AWAY from the heatsink. Much more efficient.

If you do a cart relocation again, use wire-wrapping wire or cut open a parallel cable and use those wires.
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Post by Life of Brian » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:58 am

Your documentation so far is awesome and inspiring. Keep it up and I wish you the best of luck. I'll definitely be referencing this thread when I get around to an N64 project of my own.
dragonhead wrote:sweet. ive spent a third of my life on benheck!
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Post by bacteria » Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:15 am

Thanks guys!

marshallh
- yes, some games don't need it, but they should still run anyway. Yes, the memory expansion pack was pit in the right way round (same way as the jumper pak. I guess a good option is to try it in another N64 (I have 1 un-tampered with N64 remaining) and see if it works on that unit - if not, perhaps the circuit died.

Good thoughts about airflow, sensible. The design I am using has to have the fan either where it is on the pic, or to the right of it. I ma using a large fan as it is very quiet (silent), tiny fans make a racket. Yes, thinking about it, if I have the fan on the other side, over the chips, I can use the top of the heatsinks as a base to mount a home-made cartridge holder for the cart... holes under the cart slot for air to come in... yes, good idea; thanks.

The IDE cable was an old parallel cable - one which connected from a computer mobo to the hard disk variety. Easy to use, flexible, make good contacts - downsides are that they are fiddly to solder and the cable inside them can easily break, if you separate the wires first as I did (to keep it all flexible).

Great, only 3 heatsinks needed; done then. I just need to secure them by the method you mentioned before (to stop them falling off).

joedog86 - Thanks for the kind comments, appreciated. I am very pleased you like them so far and find it "awesome and inspiring". I trawled through all the topics in the forum relating to the N64, most of the pics people put up no longer work. My intention was to try and make an easy to follow how-to-guide so anyone could "have a go". Doing this guide as I am going along, which also means any mistakes will be documented, and worked around too. Hopefully, a mod will make this a "sticky" in due course! :P
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Post by timmeh87 » Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:17 pm

The memory expansion has trouble sometimes. I dont know exactly what it is, but try turning the system on and off a few times and readjusting it, etc. before you give up.

Those are pretty slick looking heatsinks :P. If you can make them have decent thermal contact (ie use a thermal epoxy compound) you might not really need a fan (or such a big fan). or you could just run that one slower.
Man, I wish I had one of those laser thermometers...

By the way, bacteria - now that the wiki is (almost) up, you can have your own page if you want. Somewhere in the n64 tech section. You can just cut+paste most of this, its definitely worth saving.

We used to have daguuy's guide too but thats all gone now... :cry:
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Post by ghosstt » Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:26 pm

yes, bacteria, once i start on my n64p, ill be here every step to get help. :lol:

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Post by bacteria » Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:55 am

timmeh87 - ok, I will try what you suggest with the memory expansion board. I will first check it is ok in an unmodded N64, then I know it is fine. It would be nice to be able to use this extra memory if I can, so I can then play every game for the N64 via my portable.

The back of the heatsinks is a peel-off strip, which according to the Thermaltake is the thermal adhesive, it looks like double-sided sticky tape and had weak adhesion to a processor, so I am either 1) going to strap a strand of wire 4 ways across each heatsink pack to keep them fully in place, or 2) use a piece of metal thin enough to go between a groove in the heatsink, across two heatsinks, then secure that to the N64 board (either method would stop the ends of the heatsinks lifting off the processor). Will again show pics with my chosen method installed. Advantage of this for me, rather than using a thermal epoxy compound is 1) I don't have thermal compound, so yet more cost, and 2) if this N64 fries during the modding, or in the future, I can easily re-use the existing heatsinks - if they were stuck on the processor it would be far harder to re-cycle them.

Wiki - great, I would definitely like to be included in this. As you say, I can cut and paste all the relevant parts into the Wiki. I will also use the part from my other topic about the car adapter (it was designed for a Sony minidisc player), and, to keep things complete, the 5v line to the PSone screen. May as well cover the bases! Best I wait until the project is completed for this though; perhaps someone could reserve a space on the Wiki for me?? Assuming nothing fries, my N64p project could be completed, apart from the case, in a matter of days (depending on time I have available) - then work on the case can start. The case will take a fair while to make, I may need to experiment with different joysticks; I will need to make a case from scratch - quite a long process.

I will be using two layers of wood - one will be 4-6mm MDF for strength, and a 1mm layer of smooth wood for the top layer (so I get a nice smooth surface). The idea is that, for example, I cut out the full size of the PSone LED screen into the 6mm board, and stick it to the top (1mm) board with double sided sticky tape, which is cut-out the same size as the actual screen size (you don't see the silver surround then, and the PSone screen is mounted flush). I don't have plastic moulding facilities, so wood seems logical, especially 1) as there is no chance of it melting with any heat from the N64, and 2) is very strong, which makes it ideal for mounting the cartridge slot very securely.

ghosstt
- :D . Great!
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Post by bacteria » Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:30 am

Right, RGB mod as promised (this is a PAL N64 by the way). RGB on the N64 is a bit better than composite, certainly noticeable, but not as dramatic an improvement as the GBA mod I did.

Wiring diagram for RGB (rear of N64 board). This pic will be updated later with audio connectors, not at the moment though - the connections shown are for video.

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Once you have tested this and know it works
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(screen a bit dusty!)

Proceed to remove the plug, as it is big and not needed anymore. I did pull it off my dead mobo fine, lots courage on this one, so removed it more carefully! Dremel off the front connectors, and bend each bin back and forth until it breaks off.

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Dremel off the unit (from rear)

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Bend off the connectors with pliers
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Make sure all bits of metal are off the motherboard!!

Finished:

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Test unit, should boot up fine as before!
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Post by bacteria » Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:52 pm

A bit more of an update. Couldn't sleep, so got back onto project!

The heatsinks seem to have stuck well to the processors, presumably the heat from the processors formed the strong bond. I don't think I need to restrain the heatsinks with wires as marshallh had suggested.

I have several N64 controllers, and two third party ones, so using one of these for the mod.

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Opened it up, as you do.

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A few interesting things to note:

1) Uses a pot for the joystick (as expected).
2) the 3 wires to connect the controller to the N64 are very visible and easy to re-direct.
3) The wires on the joystick are easy to extend (just wires!).
4) Traces are easy to follow, end in nice and easy solder joints.
5) Joystick is less high than the official one, might save having to use a joystick from a GameCube to replace it.

The top of the joystick comes off, nice flat surface underneath - easy to glue in place! I need to clean the gunk off the joystick, then dremel the top part of the joystick so it pertrudes over the top of the base a bit, and can be mounted vertically properly in case (the top, as per usual, is curved as standard). Joystick is 17mm high (excluding cap, which I may reduce in size), needs just under 20mm to operate properly.

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I need to relocate the memory/rumble cart on the controller, there are 32 solder points under the mobo (one per pin), I have a spare similar board from a dead N64 controller board; all I need to do is solder wire 1-1, 2-2 etc; locate the second memory/rumble cart somewhere more convenient.

I plan to actually wire two such memory/rumble carts together in parallel, one for a memory pack (1mb) and the other for a rumble pack. Research seems to indicate that the Tremor Plus Pack (both features) basically only changes the power from the memory pack to the rumble pack, effectively swapping between both (user presses a switch manually to do this, it isn't automatic). Both items use 3v (I opened them up), so I can connect both to my car adapter (3v output), and use a 3 way switch (off/memory/rumble). The rumble pack can be relocated (only 2 wires) near the joystick for best effect. Games like Doom 64 need the memory pack, and want the rumble pack; so rather than swapping these (not easy in a sealed case!), just flip a switch!


Incidentally, I tried to get the 4b memory expansion pack working instead of the jumper pak, refused to work, so back to jumper pak. Only affects a small number of games anyway I would play (eg Zelda mask, DK64), and makes the end case smaller as the jumper pak is smaller and I don't have to give the heatsinks on the memory expansion space (the jumper pak doesn't need any, so no problem). I can live with this, although it would have been nice to use the expansion pack instead (more complete). Why are the memory expansion packs so temprimental?!
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Post by Bass Creator » Thu Jun 28, 2007 10:26 am

u gonna sell this?
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Post by bacteria » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:14 am

Bass Creator - no, not selling it, mine! (thanks for the compliment!). If I was to make one for someone, it would cost a lot of money otherwise wouldn't be worth the time and financial outlay involved in this project (ie several hundreds of pounds).

Just for fun, I will try to estimate the cost of the project at the end. It will also help people decide if they want to do such a project themselves, and can afford the cost of doing it.

Lots of work left to do on this project, but it is coming along nicely. I will add more posts as things develop and I have news to report on the project.

Thanks!
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Post by bacteria » Sun Jul 01, 2007 3:45 pm

Ok, I plan to do some more work in the morning, more and Wednesday and a load on Thursday; so should be able to get more posting done then. Just doing some more research at the moment for the project.

I read on one of the other topics that it might be that the Expansion Pack isn't working (but the Jumper Pak is) because the Expansion Pack needs more amps. No idea if this is right.

What I have learnt is that:

1) Some games require both memory pack and rumble pack so you need to have both features built in

2) The Expansion Pack only is needed for Perfect Dark, Donkey Kong 42 and Zelda Mask; other games only give minor improvements. Basically, given the extra issues (heat, size, etc) there seems little benefit with using the Expansion Pack; may as well just use the Jumper Pak and have done with it.

3) Jury is out about the D-pad. Some people seem to say that some games need it, however frankly I don't see it as necessary (anyone disagree?). I have not used it on the N64 or GameCube, always use the joystick. If no-one can come up with a good reason to use a D-pad for the N64, or a game which really needs it, I may not put one in. (comments?).

4) Some mods don't use the left shoulder, right shoulder and Z button; however there are a number of games which need them all. Makes sense to have them all in a mod. (mine will).
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Post by khaag » Sun Jul 01, 2007 4:09 pm

I've never heard of any games needing the rumble pak.

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Post by bacteria » Sun Jul 01, 2007 4:22 pm

Zelda: Ornica of time (or however it is spelt) needs it. Quite a few games have the "built for rumble pack" logo on them to add effects. The Zelda game (apparently) is impossible to play without it as you can't find things in the game without this feature. I thought, I may as well put the rumble pack into the unit, unless it causes problems.
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Post by Twisted Warthog » Sun Jul 01, 2007 4:58 pm

I beat Zelda Ocarina Of Time countless times without the rumble pak the only game i ever did play with the rumble pack was StarFox 64.

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