Ultra-Tiny Wii Uses Custom Parts And Looks Amazing

The Nintendo Wii was never a large console. Indeed, it was smaller than both the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and most consoles of previous generations, too. That’s not to say it couldn’t be smaller, though. [loopj] has built what is perhaps the smallest Wii yet, which measures roughly the same size as a deck of cards. The best bit? The housing is even to scale!

There’s no emulation jiggery-pokery here. This build uses an original Wii motherboard that’s been cut down to the bare basics. Measuring just 62 mm by 62 mm, it features the CPU, GPU, RAM, and flash memory, while most of the extraneous hardware has been eliminated. Power and data is provided to the board from a special Wii Power Strip PCB, while the Periphlex flex PCB handles breaking out controller interfaces. Indeed, the build is nicknamed Short Stack as it’s built from a number of specialist PCBs for builds like this one. It also uses two boards designed by [YveltalGriffin] — the fujiflex for HDMI video output and the nandFlex to handle the Wii’s NAND memory chip.

[loopj] also had to design two further PCBs specifically for this build. One handles power, the micro SD card, HDMI connector, and controller ports. Meanwhile, the second handles the power, reset, and sync buttons along with status LEDs. Another neat hack of [loopj]’s own devising is using TRRS connectors in place of the original bulky GameCube controller ports.

Ultimately, it’s volume is just 7.4% that of an original Nintendo Wii. It’s probably possible to go smaller, too, says [loopj], so don’t expect things to end here. We’ve seen some other great Wii mods before, too, like this excellent handheld design.

Yuzu And Citra Emulators Shut Down After Legal Pressure From Nintendo

In a move that came rather like a surprise to many, the company behind the well-known Switch and 3DS emulators Yuzu and Citra – Tropic Haze LLC – as reported by PC Gamer has shutdown both projects and associated websites as part of a US$2.4M settlement with Nintendo with a last message left on the Yuzu website. This comes in the wake of Nintendo suing Tropic Haze LLC over the Yuzu emulator, claiming that there’s ‘no lawful way to use Yuzu’, as it requires files extracted from a real Switch device to decrypt game files. Although Citra is not part of the lawsuit, it being made by the same developers seems to have resulted in it getting axed along with Yuzu as collateral damage.

What makes this issue so legally hairy is that even though an emulator by itself isn’t illegal, requiring proprietary firmware and keys already gets one into contested territory about the legality of dumping said files from a console, even if you own it. This was already an issue with the first Playstation emulators, which require the Playstation BIOS image to even boot, but left the emulator developers mostly untouchable. What seems to have set off Nintendo’s lawyers here would seem to be the way that the Yuzu developers leaned into the copyright infringement (often incorrectly called ‘piracy’) angle, giving Nintendo’s legal team enough exposed flesh to launch a ballistic legal strike.

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The Latest Advancements In Portable N64 Modding

[Chris Downing] has been in the mod scene a long time, and his 5th GeN64 Portable is his most modern portable Nintendo 64 yet. The new build has an improved form factor, makes smart use of 3D printing and CNC cutting, efficiently uses PCBs to reduce wiring, and incorporates a battery level indicator. That last feature is a real quality of life improvement, nicely complementing the ability to charge over USB-C.

What’s interesting about builds like this is that it’s all about the execution. The basic parts required to mod a classic games console into a portable unit are pretty well understood, and off-the-shelf modules like button assemblies exist to make the job far easier than it was back in the day when all had to be done from scratch. We’ve admired [Chris Downing]’s previous builds, and what differentiates one mod from another really comes down to layout and execution, and that’s where the 5th GeN64 Portable shines. Continue reading “The Latest Advancements In Portable N64 Modding”

Mapping The Nintendo Switch PCB

As electronics have advanced, they’ve not only gotten more powerful but smaller as well. This size is great for portability and speed but can make things like repair more inaccessible to those of us with only a simple soldering iron. Even simply figuring out what modern PCBs do is beyond most of our abilities due to the shrinking sizes. Thankfully, however, [μSoldering] has spent their career around state-of-the-art soldering equipment working on intricate PCBs with tiny surface-mount components and was just the person to document a complete netlist of the Nintendo Switch through meticulous testing, a special camera, and the use of a lot of very small wires.

The first part of reverse-engineering the Switch is to generate images of the PCBs. These images are taken at an astonishing 6,000 PPI and as a result are incredibly large files. But with that level of detail the process starts to come together. A special piece of software is used from there that allows point-and-click on the images to start to piece the puzzle together, and with an idea of where everything goes the build moves into the physical world.

[μSoldering] removes all of the parts on the PCBs with hot air and then meticulously wires them back up using a custom PCB that allows each connection to be wired up and checked one-by-one. With everything working the way it is meant to, a completed netlist documenting every single connection on the Switch hardware can finally be assembled.

The final documentation includes over two thousand photos and almost as many individual wires with over 30,000 solder joints. It’s an impressive body of work that [μSoldering] hopes will help others working with this hardware while at the same time keeping their specialized skills up-to-date. We also have fairly extensive documentation about some of the Switch’s on-board chips as well, further expanding our body of knowledge on how these gaming consoles work and how they’re put together.

Make Your Own Play Station (The Space Is Important)

The early history of the Sony Playstation lies in a stillborn collaboration between Nintendo and Sony to produce an SNES with a CD-ROM drive. So the story goes, Nintendo’s Philips deal angered Sony, who decided to make their own console line, and the rest is history. A very small number of prototypes were made, badged as “Play Station,” and should you find one that escaped today, you’re sitting on a fortune. [James] doesn’t have one, but he did have half a Playstation and an SNES shell, so he could make an ungodly child of the two consoles that you can see in the video below the break.

Those Playstation CD-ROM drives were notorious for melting back in the day, so it’s no surprise they’re still for sale today. Thus, he was able to bring the Sony back to life. What follows is an episode of console cutting worthy of a slasher horror movie, as instead of a bit of fine Dremmeling, he brings out an angle grinder and slices away with abandon. We don’t like the Nintendo switch carrying mains voltage, but we’re fine with the PlayStation expansion connector going away. The Nintendo eject button needs a hack to operate the Playstation door open button when pressed. It’s cool to see the board has a mod chip. We used to fit those as a sideline in a previous life. Continue reading “Make Your Own Play Station (The Space Is Important)”

Frog Boy Color Reimagines The Game Boy Color Hardware From The Ground Up

Sales figures suggest Nintendo did pretty well with the Game Boy Color during its original run, even if the hardware and visuals feel a tad archaic and limited today. [Chris Hackmann] has taken the Game Boy Color design and reworked it from the ground up as the Frog Boy Color, kitting it out with modern upgrades in a GBA-like form factor while retaining the original hardware underneath.

[Chris] went to the wide-style GBA layout for comfort, which he considers superior to the original rectangular Game Boy format. He iterated through over 50 3D-printed enclosure designs to get the design to work, ensuring that the final housing could be CNC machined. He then set out to trim down the original Game Boy Color circuit layout to cut out hardware he considered unnecessary. The original LCD driver could go, since the Q5 replacement LCD he intended to use didn’t need it, and he also considered the IR port to be surplus to requirements. He also set out to replace the original audio amp with his own stereo design.

The result is a wide-format Game Boy Color with a gorgeous modern LCD, USB-C charging, and excellent compatibility with original games and accessories. Files are on Github if you want to build one yourself. Of course, he’s not the only person working on building the best Game Boy ever, but we always love seeing new work in this space. Video after the break.

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Photoshop image of the NES game Metroid on a Super Nintendo cartridge.

NES Classic Metroid Ported To Equally Classic Super Nintendo

There was a time early in the development of the Super Nintendo (SNES) where the new console was to feature backwards compatibility with NES games. The solution would have required a cumbersome cartridge adapter and a hard switch on every console to flip the CPU into 8-bit mode. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be — outside of the first public demo of the console, little evidence exists to suggest the gamers would have been able to supercharge their old NES carts on their Super Nintendo.

But thanks to the impressive port of Metroid to the SNES by [infidelity], we can imagine what such a capability might have been like. There’s more on offer here than reduced sprite flicker. There are additional frames of animation compared to the original, so now Samus’ arm cannon stays consistent rather than magically switching arms when turning around. A complete save game system from the Famicom Disk System version has also been implemented as well, with the traditional three slots. Although purists can still utilize the password system if they so choose.

Ultimately the most impressive inclusion of [infidelity]’s work is the MSU-1 enhancement chip implementation. Fun video intro sequences lead into the main menu where players can select the accompanying soundtrack. There’s the original 8-bit music remapped onto the SNES sound chip, the expanded 8-bit version from the Famicom Disk System, the reimagined sound of Metroid Zero Mission, or a full orchestral score. It really is the sort of situation where there are no wrong answers.

While you’re here, check out this post about bringing Poke’mon ROM hacks into physical cartridge form.

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