If reading Hackaday teaches us anything, it’s that there is a subset of hackers who take things like emulator builds a step farther than most. [RetroModder] is very clearly one such hacker. Enter the GamecubePC, which you can read about on Hackaday.io. The GamecubePC is a multi-year project that aims to stuff an entire Windows 10 PC into a GameCube shell while still being able to play Wii and GameCube titles at native resolution and performance.
Although it only takes a spare computer and the Dolphin emulator to make a GameCube and Wii emulator, great attention has been paid to keeping the GameCube at the forefront. Contributing to the illusion is the preservation of the original GameCube power switch and reset buttons by way of custom PCB’s that interface the parts to the mSTX motherboard.
The bottom of the GameCube shell is replaced with a 3D printed base that mounts the motherboard while smartly giving access to the motherboard’s front panel. The minuscule motherboard sports an Intel Core™ i5-7600 with 8GB memory, and SSD storage. Topping off the experience are four functional controller ports that can be switched to be used with the emulator or with PC games too. Surely the GamecubePC will be the subject of many double takes!
Anyone can go out and buy a handheld console, and if you want to be the cool kid on the school bus, you can always ask your parents to take you out to get one. But if you want real street cred that lasts through your adult years, you’ve gotta put something together yourself. [GingerOfMods] has done just that with the Wiiboy Color.
Yes, it’s another home-console-turned-portable, and it’s perfomed with exquisite execution. The Wii motherboard is cut and sliced to the absolute bare minimum, as the aim was to build the entire system to the rough form factor of the original Game Boy Color. Custom PCBs were then used to link the chopped ‘board to peripherals, such as the USB drive used to load games and the circuitry from a Gamecube controller. The screen is a beautiful looking 3.5″ IPS LCD, running at 480p and originally intended for use as an automotive backup camera. Battery life is around 2-3 hours, with a USB-C port included for easy charging. More details are included on the forum build log.
It’s a tidy build, and the 3D printed case, Switch joysticks and DS Lite buttons give it a near-production quality finish. [GingerOfMods] intends to build more for commissions, though expect a hefty price tag given the labor and custom work involved. We’ve seen other portable Wiis before too, like this tightly-packed Kapton-heavy build. Video after the break.
The Wii Mini is a cost-reduced version of Nintendo’s best-selling console, sold near the end of its life with a few features removed such as GameCube backwards compatibility and SD card support. Along with that, in an effort to thwart the jailbreaking that had plagued its big sister Nintendo made it so the NAND memory (where the system is stored) is encrypted and keyed to each device’s Hollywood GPU chip. This defeats methods which modified the storage in order to gain access to the hardware.
That did not stop [DeadlyFoez] from trying anyway, planning out the steps he needed to achieve a hacked Mini unit with the help of a regular Wii donor, already hacked. After dumping both systems’ NANDs and exploring the Wii Mini hardware further, he found a few pleasant surprises. There are test points on the board which allow GameCube controllers to be used with it. There are also SD card connections physically present on the board, but the support was removed from the Mini’s system software.
Say what you will about Nintendo’s little purple lunchbox, the Gamecube, but it was home to many delightful experiences from Super Smash Bros. Melee to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. We now know it was also home to one of the very first Nintendo Wii remotes as well thanks to the recent listing from [Kuriaisu1122] on Yahoo Auctions.
The prototype Wii remote is a wired design and features a proprietary Gamecube controller cable. Notable differences include the two buttons toward the bottom are labeled ‘B’ and ‘A’ respectively. This shows that Nintendo always intended to have players hold the remote sideways in order to play Virtual console games. The large white button next to the directional pad is unlabeled, and along the middle are the traditional ‘Start’ and ‘Select’ labels on either side of ‘Home’. However, these all would go through multiple revisions on the way to the final design. Interestingly there is an Ethernet jack at the base used to connect accessories. That connector would eventually become the often maligned “Nunchuk interface”, but what modder wouldn’t have loved it if that Ethernet port had carried on to the final design?
Much like the “invaluable” Mario Party 6 microphone, the prototype’s IR sensor bar communicates via the Gamecube memory card port. The auction listing featured a photo size comparison of the prototype sensor bar is around four inches wider than the final design. Missing from the prototype Wii remote is the small tinny speaker, but that always seemed like an after thought anyway.
Credence as to the controller’s validity was given in a tweet from WayForward’s James Montagna who said on Twitter, “Wow, it’s the prototype Wii Remote & Nunchuk! I remember seeing these back when it was still known as the Nintendo Revolution!”. Montagna would go on to post photos of the Wii remote from E3 2006 that featured ‘Back’ and ‘Pause’ buttons where the plus and minus buttons would ultimately reside on the final design. These photos of the missing links in the evolution of the Wii remote help fill in the design process at Nintendo. They also further the idea that Nintendo always wanted players to measure each of their new consoles’ processing power in “X number of Gamecubes duct taped together”.
A must-have peripheral for games consoles of the 1980s and 1990s was the light gun. A lens and photo cell mounted in a gun-like plastic case, the console could calculate where on the screen it was pointing when its trigger was pressed by flashing the screen white and sensing the timing at which the on-screen flying spot triggered the photo cell.
Unfortunately light gun games hail from the era of CRT TVs, they do not work with modern LCDs as my colleague [Will Sweatman] eloquently illustrated late last year. Whereas a CRT displayed the dot on its screen in perfect synchronization with the console output, an LCD captures a whole frame, processes it and displays it in one go. All timing is lost, and the console can no longer sense position.
[Charlie] has attacked this problem with some more recent technology and a bit of lateral thinking, and has successfully brought light gun games back to life. He senses where the gun is pointing using a Wiimote with its sensor bar on top of the TV through a Raspberry Pi, and feeds the positional information to an Arduino. He then takes the video signal from the console and strips out its sync pulses which also go to the Arduino. Knowing both position and timing, the Arduino can then flash a white LED stuck to the end of the light gun barrel at the exact moment that part of the CRT would have been lit up, and as far as the game is concerned it has received the input it is expecting.
He explains the timing problem and his solution in the video below the break. He then shows us gameplay on a wide variety of consoles from the era using the device. More information and his code can be found on his GitHub repository.
Sometimes the most mundane products have surprisingly sophisticated internals. What’s in a game controller? If it is a Wii remote, you’ll find a lot inside–an IR sensor, Bluetooth, an accelerometer, and EEPROM. It also has a six pin expansion port that allows I2C peripherals connect to the controller.
[DotMusclera] wanted to experiment with a gyroscope and decided to hook up to the Wii MotionPlus to a Microchip PIC. Using information from the WiiBrew wiki, [DotMusclera] connected a PIC18F4550, an LCD, and a handful of components (mostly to do 3.3V level conversion), he set up the hardware on a breadboard. The only odd part you might have to work around is a Wii breakout board that converts from the breadboard to the Wii interface.
The software is easy to follow since it is written in Hi-TECH C and well-commented. The hardware lacks a schematic, but from the parts list and the video, you can probably figure it out. The setup works well and shows roll, pitch, and yaw on the LCD screen.
The project log is very detailed, with a lot of information about gyroscopes and the communication format the gyro uses. The video demo is worth watching as well.
[PunMaster] wrote in to tell us that he has just released the first public demo of FiSSION Project. It’s a homebrew 3D game engine for the Wii. He’s hoping it will make development easier for other people that want to get into the Wii hacking scene. The project was originally spun out of similar work he was doing targeted at XNA for the 360. This is just a demo to generate interest in the project and hopefully get some feedback as to what’s needed to make a full release possible.