The Ridiculous GameCube Keyboard Controller Gets Modded

Believe it or not, there was a keyboard peripheral sold for the original GameCube, and it was built into the middle of a controller. Designed for the Phantasy Star Online games, it allowed players to easily communicate with others via chat. [peachewire] got their hands on one, and set about modifying it in the way only a true keyboard fanatic could.

The result is a gloriously colorful keyboard and controller set up to work with a PC. The stock membrane keyboard was removed entirely, which is possible without interfering with the gamepad hardware inside the controller shell. It was replaced with a Preonic keyboard PCB, fitted with Lubed Glorious Panda switches and those wonderful pastel DSA Vilebloom keycaps. The keyboard also features a Durock screw-in stabilizer to make sure the  space key has a nice smooth action. The controller itself received a set of colored buttons to match the theme, setting off the aesthetic. It’s still fully functional, and can be used with an adapter to play games on the attached PC.

Overall, it’s a tidy controller casemod and one hell of a conversation starter when the crew are scoping out your battlestation. The added weight might make it a little straining for long gaming sessions in controller mode, but it looks so pretty we’re sure we wouldn’t notice.

We’ve seen keyboards and Nintendo mashed up before; this Smash Bros. controller makes excellent use of high quality keyswitches. Video after the break.

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Turning The Virtual Boy Into A Handheld Console

The Virtual Boy, Nintendo’s most infamous failure, was plagued by several issues. The most glaring problem was the red monochrome stereoscopic display technology which gave many users a headache after even a short time playing, but it’s sky-high price and extremely limited library of games kept many prospective buyers at bay as well. There was also the issue of portability: unlike the Game Boy it was named after, the Virtual Boy barely qualified as a portable system due to the fact it needed to be set up on a table to use.

But now, thanks to the tireless efforts of [Shank], at least a few of those issues have been resolved. He’s built the world’s first truly portable Virtual Boy, which swaps the system’s troubled 3D display for a modern IPS LCD panel. The custom handheld, designed to merge the Virtual Boy’s unique aesthetic with the iconic styling of the Game Boy Advance, looks like it came from some alternate timeline where Nintendo decided to produce a cheaper and less cumbersome version of the system rather than abandoning it.

While the work [Shank] has put into the project is unquestionably impressive, it should be said that it took the efforts of several talented hackers to create the handheld Virtual Boy. The key component that made the modification possible in the first place is the VirtualTap by [Furrtek], which not only provides the VGA output that’s driving the LCD panel, but fools the system’s motherboard into believing the servo-actuated stereoscopic display is still connected and active.

It’s also using the open source power management board that [GMan] originally developed for his own portable N64, [Bassline] chipped in to cast the custom buttons and D-pad in translucent resin, and [Mitch 3D] put an untold number of hours into printing and reprinting the system’s multicolored enclosure until it came out just right.

All the little details of the final system, which [Shank] calls the Real Boy, put this project into a league of its own. Special combinations of button presses allows the user to change the color of the display, should you get sick of the infamous red-tint. The buttons also have RGB LEDs behind them that correspond with the color scheme of the display itself, for that extra bit of gamer cred. He even made sure to include the system’s original link port, despite the fact that no officially released game ever made use of it.

Our first run in with [Shank] was when he demoed a portable Wii built into a mint tin. It made for a pretty pitiful gaming experience, but the project demonstrated his dedication to seeing a project through to the end. Watching his skills improve over the last few years has been inspiring, and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

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Nintendo DS Transformed Into Gameboy Macro

Nintendo’s Game Boy line were the world’s most popular handheld gaming systems, but did have their drawbacks. Most notably, the Game Boy didn’t receive a backlit color LCD until the Game Boy Advance SP launched in 2003. Of course, you can always build your own Game Boy that rectifies this and other shortcomings, and that’s what [JoshuaGuess] did with this Gameboy Macro build.

The build ends up like a bigger version of the Game Boy Micro, the final release in the Game Boy line.

The build is based around a Nintendo DS Lite, one of Nintendo’s later handhelds featuring dual screens. In this build, the top screen is removed and discarded entirely. The motherboard is then hacked with a resistor on some test points to allow it to still boot with the top missing. The shell of the bottom half is then cleverly modified with epoxy clay and paint in order to hide the original hinge and give a clean finished aesthetic.

The final result is essentially a larger version of the Game Boy Micro, the final handheld in the Game Boy line. It also has the benefit of a bigger, brighter screen compared to virtually any Game Boy ever made. The only thing to note is that the DS hardware can only play Game Boy Advance games, not the earlier 8-bit titles.

It’s a fun build, and one that goes to show you don’t have to throw a Raspberry Pi in everything to have a good time. That can be fun too, though. If you end up building the Game Boy Nano or Game Boy Giga, please let us know. Be sure to include measurements to indicate how it’s scaled in SI units relative to the Game Boy Micro itself.

Exploring The World Of Nintendo 3DS Homebrew

When Nintendo officially ended production of the 3DS in September 2020, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. For one thing, some variation of the handheld system had been on the market since 2011. Which is not to say the product line had become stagnant: the system received a considerable mid-generation refresh, and there was even a more affordable variant introduced that dropped the eponymous stereoscopic 3D effect, but nearly a decade is still a fairly long life in the gaming industry. Of course Nintendo’s focus on the Switch, a hybrid device that blurs the line between console and handheld games, undoubtedly played a part in the decision to retire what could effectively be seen as a competing product.

While putting the 3DS out to pasture might have been the logical business move, a quick check on eBay seems to tell a different story. Whether it’s COVID keeping people indoors and increasing the demand for at-home entertainment, or the incredible library of classic and modern games the system has access to, the fact is that a used 3DS in good condition is worth more today than it was when it was brand new on the shelf this time last year.

I’ve certainly made more expensive mistakes.

In short, this was the worst possible time for me to decide that I finally wanted to buy a 3DS. Then one day I noticed the average price for a Japanese model was far lower than that of its American counterpart. I knew the hardware was identical, but could the firmware be changed?

An evening’s worth of research told me the swap was indeed possible, but inadvisable due to the difficulty and potential for unexpected behavior. Of course, that’s never stopped me before.

So after waiting the better part of a month for my mint condition 3DS to arrive from the land of the rising sun, I set out to explore the wide and wonderful world of Nintendo 3DS hacking.

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Unmasking The Identity Of An Unusual Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS family encompasses a dizzying array of portable game systems released over a span of 17 years. The original DS received several refreshes and special editions, and when the next generation 3DS came along, it spawned a whole new collection of spin-offs. But even among all those machines there’s a name that even Mario himself would never have heard of: the Nintendo DS ML.

In a recent video, [The Retro Future] says he discovered this oddball system selling for around $25 USD on Chinese shopping site Taobao and bought one so he could get a closer look at it. Externally the system looks quite a bit like the refreshed DS Lite, but it’s notably larger and the screens look quite dated. That was already a strong hint to its true identity, as was the placement of its various buttons and controls.

Note the conspicuous absence of Nintendo’s name.

But it wasn’t until [The Retro Future] cracked the system open that he could truly confirm what he had on his hands. This was an original Nintendo DS, potentially a new old stock unit that had never been distributed, which was transplanted into a custom enclosure designed to look like one of the later upgraded models. As for what this seller meant by calling this chimera the DS ML is anyone’s guess, though one of the commenters on the video thought “Maybe Legal” had a nice ring to it.

Now assuming these really are brand new systems that were simply installed in fresh cases, $25 is arguably a good deal. So long as you aren’t concerned with playing the latest titles, anyway. But at the same time its a reminder that you get what you pay for when dealing with shady overseas sellers. It’s just as likely, perhaps even more so, that these were used systems that got spruced up to make a quick buck.

Fake components are everywhere. In fact there’s an excellent chance most of the people reading this site have received some fake parts over the years, even if they didn’t realize it at the time. When there’s fly by night companies willing to refurbish a nearly 20 year old Nintendo handheld for $25, what are the chances that Bosch actually made that $2 temperature sensor you just ordered on eBay?

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Giant Nintendo Switch Is Actually Playable

The Nintendo Switch has been a hugely successful console for the century-old former playing card manufacturer. At least part of that success has come from its portability, of which [Michael Pick] has probably lost a bit with his 65-pound giant Nintendo Switch built for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. (Video, embedded below.) What he’s lost in portability has been more than made up in coolness-factor, though, and we’re sure the kids will appreciate that they can still play the monster gaming machine.

From its plywood body to the 3D-printed buttons, the supersized build looks solid. Docked inside the left Joy-Con is the actual console powering its big brother. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, is that tiny (well, normal-sized) Joy-Cons are also hidden inside. These are manipulated via servos for the buttons and a direct pass-through setup for the joysticks to control games on the Switch.

While the Joy-Cons are unmodified and completely removable, [Michael] does recognize this isn’t necessarily the ideal solution. But he was certain it was a hack he could make work in the time he had, so he went for it. He’s looked into the controller emulation possible with Teensys and would probably use that solution for any giant Switch projects in the future. Of course, with this build, players can still pair regular Joy-Cons and pro controllers for more practical gaming.

Most Nintendo mods we see attempt to make the console smaller, not larger, so this is an eye-catching change of pace. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the colossal console in action after it was installed, only some stills of hospital staff wheeling it in the front doors. But we can imagine that the children’s smiles are at least as big as ours were when we saw it.

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Mining Bitcoin On The Nintendo Game Boy

Mining cryptocurrency is a power intensive business, with big operations hoarding ASIC rigs and high-end GPUs in an endless quest for world domination money. The Bitcoin-mining Game Boy from [stacksmashing] is one of them. (Video, embedded below.)

The hack is relatively straightforward. The Game Boy is hooked up to a PC via a Raspberry Pi Pico and a level shifter to handle the different voltage levels. The Game Boy runs custom software off a flash cart, which runs the SHA hash algorithm on incoming data from the PC and reports results back to the PC which communicates with the Bitcoin network.

[stacksmashing] does a great job of explaining the project, covering everything from the Game Boy’s link port protocol to the finer points of the Bitcoin algorithm in explicit detail. For the technically experienced, everything you need to know to recreate the project is there. While the Game Boy manages just 0.8 hashes per second, trillions of times slower than cutting edge hardware, the project nonetheless is amusing and educational, so take that into consideration before firing off hot takes in the comments below. If you’re really interested in the underlying maths, you can try crunching Bitcoin hashes with pen and paper.

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