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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Gump-in-space
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Post by Gump-in-space » Sun Jul 01, 2007 5:11 pm

I disagree! The D-pad is needed for games that require you to do button combos. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1-3 are good examples because they are impossible to play withouth the D-pad. There's a big differnce between hitting C Right + Left and C Right + Left up and if you don't have the D-pad these combinations are impossible to tell the diference for.
Gamelver wrote:aw, I thought they were gonna be Gameboys inside the bricks :P.

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bacteria
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Post by bacteria » Mon Jul 02, 2007 1:46 am

"The D-pad is needed for games that require you to do button combos."

Ok, I don't play beat-em-up fighter games or Tony Hanks. What else needs the D-pad, either in a major or minor way please? Jury is still out!

If I can incorporate one, I may as well, but if it could only go in a place which would be less easy to use, then it only makes sense to put it into the console if it is useful. One space consideration I have is that I like to use better quality speakers = larger footprint; this may or may not make a compromise. The bottom line when playing games is that you need the screen to be nice, the buttons in the right places and responsive and good audio; everything else is what you need to do to achieve this.

About to start experimenting with the controller now, hoping to give more of an update later.

On a different note, I found two cheap sources for speakers - one is the cheap shops who provide MP3 type speakers (cost about £4), open them up, use part of the case for the mod; and you get two speakers too. Another source is charity shops - found the ones below for £1.50 the other day. 50mm speakers. If you buy them (speakers only) from somewhere like Maplin, they cost £2.50 each (£5 for two) plus postage!

Harder to mount, but much better audio quality than the PSone speakers. I used similar ones in my BigBoy Advance project; although I plan to keep my N64p project far slimmer.

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The other alternative I have for speakers; the GBA uses tiny speakers, they have quite good sound; I have 2 or 3 of these about; might be worth experimenting with...
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Post by bacteria » Mon Jul 02, 2007 3:28 am

Time for some updates. As stated as while back, I will post everything as the project unfolds, errors or successes.

The expansion slot for the rumble pack / memory card is in an awkward place, is too tall on the controller mobo to leave it where it is.

Precautions first - when dremelling mobos, plastic or metal, it is very wise to wear goggles. I had a tiny shard of plastic getting up the goggles into my eye, fortunately no problem, but it just shows the importance of wearing one of these!

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Here is the expansion slot on the controller mobo:

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Use a small screwdriver and lift the tabs (by the screwdriver in pic, there are 4 of them). You can then release the metal surround.

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And then lift the metal surround off:

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Dremel the remaining block down to a safe level (I use a diamond sideways cutter)

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Next stage is we need to add a replacement to be located somewhere convenient in the final case. I intend to use two of these, one for the Rumble and one for the memory. Both items use 3v, so can be connected to the 3v output from the car adapter for power. Using a switch to select which gets power, will be the same as plugging in one item and removing the other one. If space becomes too much of an issue, I may do without the Rumble, but at this stage I will assume I use it.

I had an old N64 controller mobo lying about from ages ago, when I wanted the rubbers and D-pad top for something else I made, so I only need to destroy one more of my controllers and not two (it always pays to keep parts!). Dremelled the slot off, so I can solder the wires to the contacts:

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(slight sideline) - The cards:

Rumble pack: this is the easiest way to remove those pesky screws - diamond side cutter attachment on my dremel - makes a nice standard straight slot which makes it easy for a standard screwdriver to remove. (I have a proper larger one to remove the N64 case itself, as these screws are very recessed).

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The interesting part of the rumble pack (2 views):

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I opened two memory packs I have; one is 1mb Scoot, the other is probably only 256k (is this right, no markings on the memory pack). The Scoot has a tact switch on it, no idea what that is for (anyone know?)

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I now need to get on with some soldering, back later!
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Post by bacteria » Mon Jul 02, 2007 4:24 am

Rumble Pack - I knew it worked on the principle of an unevenly balanced motor, which jots about. The motor from the N64 Rumble Pack is rather tall - compare it to the one from a rumble GameCube controller (I hacked up ages ago):

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Quite a difference. Makes sense to therefore use the motor from the GameCube for this. Comparisons of height: GameCube one (if you dremel off the top shaft) 12mm, the N64 one: 24mm, and it needs an extra 1-2mm to spin properly.

It appears that the GameCube one has the inbalance built in, whereas the N64 one uses the half metal block on the top of the motor to make it badly balanced. Bottom line is that the N64 one is too tall, the GameCube one is fine. Hot glue it in place, near the joystick, and it should be ok! (although this might take away the space for the D-pad potentially - this is why I need to know if the D-pad is important, I personally haven't found it that useful, but I have bought a stack of cheap N64 games recently from E-bay, perhaps they need it?
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Post by twilightprincess » Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:49 am

The tact switch on the memory pak could be for reseting memory. Oh and nice work so far, seems so complex maybe I shouldn't be making a n64p :shock: . But while I do, this will be a great reference. Keep us updated.

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Post by bacteria » Mon Jul 02, 2007 6:37 am

twilightprincess wrote:The tact switch on the memory pak could be for reseting memory. Oh and nice work so far, seems so complex maybe I shouldn't be making a n64p :shock: . But while I do, this will be a great reference. Keep us updated.
Resetting memory, ok, seems logical. Have to hope it is that unless anyone knows differently (I couldn't find anything on the web about it). The Scoot card (1mb) is 4 times bigger than standard saving cartridges. An article I read on a Wiki was saying that it gets this extra memory working on the N64 by compression, and that only third party memory cards did it.

Thanks for the comments. It isn't complex, I am doing the guide as baby steps so anyone should be able to follow it. If I hadn't been a muppet with my first N64 board, there is no reason I should have fried it.

No reason you shouldn't make an N64p yourself; follow my guide!

So far the components you need to get to this stage are (the way I have done it anyway):

* N64 (actually 2, expect to fry one!), and Jumper Pak.
* Parallel (IDE) cable from computers.
* Soldering iron, desoldering pump, solder, desolder braid.
* Dremel, diamond sideways cutter (makes it like a mini ankle grinder!).
* Screwdrivers, inc preferably the official one to get the N64 case screws off.
* Heatsinks - use similar ones to the ones I have (recommended) or old computer ones if you have any (you will also need thermal paste if you do).
* Hot glue and hot glue-gun.
* 3 controllers, any type, at least one as a third party one.
* GameCube controller (with rumble).
* PSone screen
* PSU - comes with the PSone screen. You also need the power-in plug from the PSone.
* Fan (computer). I am using a 60mm one, you can go up to 90mm if you want to (at a push), 80mm fine. The smaller fan you get, the more noise. The N64 cartridges take a fair space anyway, so a 60mm fan (25mm thick) is ok. The important thing is its quietness. "Silent" fans are quoted from about 8.9dB - 32dB; 32dB is not quiet, you need as quiet as you can get it. Mine is rated at 8.9dB.
* Car adapter (one designed for a Sony Minidisk or similar is fine. At least 1amp, 3.3v. OR you can use the TI board with the resister and capacitor.
* Electrical tape.
* Scissors, craft knife, pliers.
* Memory Pack (optional but recommended) and a Rumble Pack (optional).
* Coloured soft and flexible wires. The computer parallel cable (as above) is great for relocating the cartridge slot and memory/rumble pack; but you also need coloured flexible wires. You have some from the controller cables (red, white, black), 6 (I believe it is 6) from the NES cable; this should be sufficient.

You will also need (coming up):

* NES contoller (a good idea for the D-pad if you use one).
* Speakers (you choose, if not, use the PSone speakers).
* case - see later notes!! This will be the more intensive stage for me!!
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Post by bacteria » Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:11 am

I am working night shift tonight, so need to go to bed now to get a kip before work.

Made good start on the soldering, done the first of four rows. Each row will get a bit harder to solder due to the wires getting in the way. Using parallel (IDE) cable, stripped, as I did before with the cartridge slot. Lots of cables; the connector takes 32 connections, so I am having to solder to 96 places!

Once finished, I will check each connection with my multimeter, then hot-glue it all together.

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I aim to do the rest of this tomorrow, before I sleep (before 2nd and last night shift this cycle); then back to project for part of Wednesday...
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Post by vskid » Mon Jul 02, 2007 2:53 pm

bacteria wrote:"The D-pad is needed for games that require you to do button combos."

Ok, I don't play beat-em-up fighter games or Tony Hanks. What else needs the D-pad, either in a major or minor way please? Jury is still out!
I think a couple Pokemon Stadium mini games need the d-pad.

And about the goggles when dremelling, a breathing-filter-mask-thing is also good to have, since most of the stuff is bad to inhale.

And very nice documentation, you could easily make the info in this thread into a N64p guide.
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Post by So Many Kinds of Bagels » Mon Jul 02, 2007 6:56 pm

Most professional thread and description of assembly ever.
:D Lookin' amazing.

Yea. That's right. Italics. :)
Valve is the best company.

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Post by bacteria » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:24 am

vskid - Ok, I will incorporate a D-pad into my mod, space permitting. (depends on the speakers). Whether I benefit from incorporating a D-pad or not, it will make it "complete". Irrespectively, I will incorporate the left and right shoulder buttons and the Z button. I like Mario Party, these need them.

So Many Kinds of Bagels - Very kind of you, thanks! Please keep viewing this topic everyone, plenty more to add yet!! It is constantly evolving!
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Post by bacteria » Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:20 am


Tiny update:


Been spending a while doing the soldering. Basically, soldering two wires to the controller and feeding a wire from it to each of the two ports meant that there were too many wires and there was too much chance that a wire would break free. There is also a probability that the case might have to be bigger (lots of wires), and also have to forgo the D-pad potentially.

I think on reflection, it makes sense to forgo the rumble pack and just have the memory pack (and keep the D-pad). There is no way to know if the rumble pack will work well anyway in a modded case, so it could have been a pile of effort for little benefit potentially.

Thinking about it, rumble is usually an unwanted diversion anyway. Is there any game that refuses to run without the rumble pack? My thoughts are that there aren't. You do need the memory pack for some games however. Comments?
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Post by timmeh87 » Tue Jul 03, 2007 6:33 am

I hate the rumble pack and never use it. I have never had a game tell me I needed to put one in, or otherwise heard of that happening. You should be fine without it.

Games do require a memory pack sometimes though. Not much, as most can save to their cart.
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Post by marshallh » Tue Jul 03, 2007 7:48 am

The tact switch on the memory card is to cycle through the 4 banks of 256kbit storage. Basically, you have 4 seperate card built-in. A lot of 3rd party PSone cards work the same way.
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Post by bacteria » Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:16 pm

timmeh87 - Great, that confirms it. I must confess, there were some games I loved on the N64, but because it is a hassle to set it up to play it on a tv, I don't tend to bother. This is one of the reasons I am making this portable; so it is easy to just pick up the unit and play a game, rather than untangle wires, link it up to the television, plug it all in, and put everything away later. The N64 has some great games!

I had thought I could splice each wire for the rumble pack attachment from the trailing wires, but as you say, not worth the effort!

marshallh - Excellent, now it makes sense! I can easily hook up a tiny tact switch on my portable to the switch on the memory card incase I need it. Thanks!
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Post by bacteria » Wed Jul 04, 2007 6:38 am

Time for some updates.

This is the reason I posted about only using one slot instead of two. This many wires, so closely together, makes it far too easy for wires to dislodge, and of course, this also adds to the final height of the case.

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Anyway, pulled all the wires off and started again.

To keep the height of the wires as low as I could, I wired two of the four rows as standard, separating each row with electrical tape to stop any rogue connections. The last two rows I fed the wires carefully between the remaining pins, it wasn't easy.

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I then covered the area with electrical tape.

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Incidentally, I found the easiest way to strip IDE cables, was to cut the lengths in sets of 8 wires, strip with wire strippers, then separate each wire.

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I then folded the cabling under the controller, there is a nice recess where the port can be located.

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Onto modding the joystick:

I feed the joystick by cutting the six wires to it (in half). I then removed the joystick cap and lowered the blob bead which keeps the joystick in place on the shaft by using a pair of pliers and banging with a hammer. I did this so I don't damage the joystick when doing the rest of this proceedure. Demmeled the top of the joystick, placed the assembly on top of the joystick, outlined where it met the top of the joystick assembly and started to dremel along this line to remove it.

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In two parts:

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and the top bit discarded:

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Time for the dremel again! Sand down the plastic, so it is nice and level with the top of the joystick assembly:

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Hammer the bead back along the shaft, as it was before:

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Completed, ready to glue the base to the joystick base (will do this a bit later).

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Now this is done, I soldered long wires to the joystick wires (all 6) to extend them.

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Connected everything, added the memory pack in the slot. All ok:

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I seem to have wired the memory pack the wrong way around, seem to have fried the memory cards I had, need to buy another one now (and rewire the port!) Fortunately, that is all that seems to have damaged.

The joystick works fine by the way!
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