This hack can refill your Stratasys 3D printer

[Dan] has his own Stratasys Dimension SST 768 3D printer. It’s a professional grade machine which does an amazing job. But when it comes time to replace the cartridge he has to pay the piper to the tune of $260. He can buy ABS filament for about $50 per kilogram, so he set out to refill his own P400 cartridges.

Respooling the cartridge must be quite easy because he doesn’t describe the process at all. But the physical act of refilling it doesn’t mean you can keep using it. The cartridge and the printer both store usage information that prevents this type of DIY refill; there’s an EEPROM in the cartridge and a log file on the printer’s hard drive. [Dan] pulled the hard drive out and used a Live CD to make an image. He loaded the image in a virtual machine, made some changes to enable SSH and zap the log file at each boot, then loaded the image back onto the printer’s drive. A script that he wrote is able to backup and rewrite the EEPROM chip, which basically rolls back the ‘odometer’ on how much filament has been used.

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Machining cartridge connectors from PCI sockets

[Ed] needed a bunch of edge connectors for video game cartridges. He was unable to source parts for Neo Geo Pocket games and ended up building his own from PCI sockets. But it sounds like this technique would work with other console cartridges as well.

From the picture you can see that this is a bit more involved than just slapping a cartridge into a socket. Because there are multiple steps, and many connectors were needed, [Ed’s] dad lent a hand and built a few jigs to help with the cutting. The first step was to cut off the key and the narrow end of the socket. These NGP cartridges are one-sided, so the socket was cut in half using a board with a dado cut in it as a jig. From there the plastic bits can be cleaned up before pulling out two center pins and cutting a groove to receive the cartridge key. There are also two shoulder cuts that need to be made after trimming the piece to length. The video after the break will walk you through this whole process.

These PCI sockets are versatile. One of our other favorite hacks used them to make SOIC programming clips.

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Drop-in board for NES ROM chip makes cartridge reprogrammable

Here’s the guts from [Dext0rb’s] Super Nintendo cartridge. It’s easy to pick out the dark-colored board which lets him reflash SNES ROMs via USB. We’ve seen this done a number of times, but this is a much cleaner option than hacks that just add a dead-bug-style memory chip.

The board he designed has a double-row of pin headers sized to fit the footprint vacated by the original ROM chip. The board has a mini-USB connector which can be accessed through a hole he cut in the side of the cartridge enclosure. This is in the right place so that you cannot plug it in when it’s being used in the SNES (which would cause damage). The ATmega32u4 chip handles USB connectivity and programs the 32 megabit flash chip which stores the ROM. He’s posted a few articles on the blog portion of his site which you’ll find interesting. We suggest starting with this hardware teaser.

Simple trick for replacing Game Boy cart batteries while retaining game saves

[Adr990] wants to make sure his Game Boy game saves aren’t lost to aging batteries. They’re stored in SRAM with a small coin cell inside the cartridge to keep the memory energized when the game is not being played. But if you pull out the battery in order to replace it the data will be lost in the process. It turns out that you can hot-swap the battery without too much effort. As shown in the video after the break, he disassembled the case of the cartridge, then replaced the battery while the Game Boy is switched on. The edge connector feeds power which will keep the SRAM active while the backup battery is removed. We’re sure this could be done with a bench supply as well, but you’ll need to do your own testing before risking those prized game saves.

The other option is to backup your SRAM before replacing the batteries. We’ve seen an AVR-based cartridge dumper, and also one that uses an Arduino. Both should be able to read and write SRAM data. Continue reading “Simple trick for replacing Game Boy cart batteries while retaining game saves”

Re-manufacturing inkjet cartridges for 3d printing


[Nullset] uses inkjet printer technology for his 3D printing needs. We usually think of hot-plastic printing like the RepRap or Makerbot when we hear about rapid prototyping, but this setup uses a liquid bonding agent to turn powder into a solid structure. Standard inkjet cartridges can be used to precisely place the bonding agent, but it’s hard on the heads and you have to replace them often. [Nullset] is getting pretty good at it, and decided to write a tutorial on the modifications necessary to print with bonding liquid.

At its core, the method injects binder into the cartridge through one port while using a second for drainage. [Nullset] found that the needle fittings used to inflate a basketball work great for this. He drills a couple of holes that the threaded end of the needles fit into. That connection is sealed with some epoxy, and the tubing that delivers the binder is zip-tied to the needles. A bit of purging is necessary to get rid of any old ink, but after the initial flush you’ll be up and running pretty quickly. He figures the whole process can be one in around 10 minutes once you get the hang of it.

Munchausen makes NES a cartridge programmer

What a beautiful image of NES cartridges showing their private parts. These are the raw materials for the Munchausen Flash Cartridge project. A combination of a modified game cartridge and special USB cable makes it possible to program NES cartridges while inside an unmodified console. The cartridge has an added flash chip that is running a bootloader. By connecting a USB-to-NES cable to the second controller port a game image (or custom code image) can be flashed to one of the three game slots on the writable cartridge. The bootloader provides a menu at power-up to select between the three stored images, or can go straight to the previously selected image by holding down A when the console is turned on. There’s even a recovery routine in case of problems. Check out the demo after the break.

One thing we find interesting from the forum thread is a mention that it is technically possible to run code on the NES directly from the PC. That would sure make it easy to perform live chiptunes on NES.

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USB ports hidden inside gaming mouse

[Gigawatts] built a pair of USB ports into his mouse and there’s enough room to plug-in small USB drives and dongles. After seeing Thursday’s storage mouse hack he decided to tip us off about the post.

He started with a Logitech G5 gaming mouse. The wireless version of this mouse has a battery pack, but on the corded version this space is used for a weight cartridge. Since he didn’t really care about that feature he ditched the weights, added a USB hub inside, and positioned the dual ports as seen in the photo. The void is deep enough for the mouse to function normally while hosting medium to small-sized devices. This is a fantastic solution that’s at least as impressive as Apple adding USB ports to a keyboard. We’d love to see it as a factory option.

Update: Video after the break

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