A niche activity in console fandom is the shrinking of full-size consoles to smaller formats, taking what could once only be played on the family TV into portable formats that fit in the pocket. In a particularly impressive example of the art, [GmanModz] has made what he claims is the world’s smallest portable Nintendo 64. What makes it particularly noteworthy is that he’s done it not with an emulator or a custom PCB, instead there is a real Nintendo 64 motherboard in there having undergone a significant quantity of trimming.
The video below the break goes into detail on the state of the art in these mods, and shows how he has eschewed the latest tech and instead restricted himself to only using commercially available breakout PCBs and off the shelf modules. The N64 board trimmed down particularly aggressively, requiring a lot of fine magnet wire soldering for the various PCBs replacing the parts removed. The cartridge slot is brought out to the back of the board at a right angle, jutting out from the rear of the 3D printed case above a space for an 18650 cell and allowing an original game cartridge to be played. There is a microcontroller to facilitate a few compromises on lesser uses of the Nintendo control pads, but the result is a fully playable mini handheld console. He does admit that “The battery life sucks, it’s uncomfortable to hold […] But hey — it fits in my pocket. Does your N64?” We can’t fault him on that.
This isn’t the first portable N64 we’ve seen, but will it hold the title of smallest for long? Only time will tell.
Continue reading “Is This The World’s Smallest Nintendo 64?”
One of the most impressive innovations we’ve seen in the world of custom handhelds is the use of “trimmed” PCBs. These are motherboards of popular video game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and Sega Dreamcast that have literally been cut down to a smaller size. As you can imagine, finding the precise shape that can be cut out before the system stops functioning requires extensive research and testing. But if you can pull it off, some truly incredible builds are possible.
Take for example this absolutely incredible clamshell N64 built by [GMan]. After cutting the motherboard down to palm-sized dimensions, he’s been able to create a handheld system that’s only a bit larger than the console’s original cartridges.
Incidentally those original cartridges are still supported, and fit into a slot in the rear of the system Game Boy style. It’s still a bit too chunky for tossing in your pocket, but we doubt you could build a portable N64 any smaller without resorting to emulation.
In the video after the break, [Gman] explains that the real breakthrough for trimmed N64s came when it was found that the system’s Peripheral Interface (PIF) chip could be successfully relocated. As this chip was on the outer edge of the PCB, being able to move it meant the board could get cut down smaller than ever before.
But there’s more than just a hacked N64 motherboard living inside the 3D printed enclosure. [Gman] also designed a custom PCB that’s handling USB-C power delivery, charging the handheld’s 4250 mAh battery, and providing digital audio over I2S. It’s a fantastically professional setup, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the board was part of the original console.
Considering how well designed and built this N64 SP is, it probably will come as no surprise to find this isn’t the first time [Gman] has put something like this together. He used many of the same tricks to build his equally impressive portable Dreamcast last year.
Continue reading “Trimmed PCB Makes The Ultimate Portable N64”
It feels like that Neo Geo Mini kinda came and went. All the hype surrounding the idea of having a tiny usable arcade machine melted away when the original system’s fans first touched the “non-clicky” joystick. While it was encouraging to see the inclusion USB-C power, there was no internal battery to allow players to use the system untethered. Not satisfied with the product in its current state [Ben Heck] shot a video detailing his latest portable creation using the Neo Geo Mini internals.
The design of the portable focuses around incorporating aspects of the Neo Geo MVS arcade system that the Neo Geo Mini lacks. The D-pad includes tiny micro-switches, or as [Ben Heck] calls them nano-switches, for a decidedly more tactile feel. He was able to re-purpose the speakers and headphone jack from the original PCB along with the 4:3 aspect ratio LCD. The custom faceplate wraps everything in the familiar red and white insignia while the 3D printed face buttons come in the classic red, yellow, green, and blue. Don’t worry, they are finally in the right button configuration here.
It’s great to see [Ben Heck] still making portable magic since his YouTube show ended earlier this year. He has contributed a lot to the modding community over the years, and there are plenty of helpful tips scattered throughout this Neo Geo Mini portable video as well. Note that the build is split into two separate videos (part two is below). We look forward to many more projects like this from [Ben Heck] in the future.
Continue reading “Neo Geo Mini Gets The Ben Heck Portable Treatment”
[Mat] wanted a portable RetroPie project he could take while travelling. He made one with a laser cut plastic housing and, according to him, it turned out to be a ‘hideous deformed beast’. In version 2 he took a different approach and we must say it came out looking pretty nice.
This time [Mat] went with a 3D printed case. He designed it himself in SketchUp. Unfortunately, [Mat] doesn’t have access to a 3D printer so he had to send it out to a professional printing company to the tune of £60 ($90). Although that was a large chunk of change, he was happy with the quality of the print. The final exterior dimensions of the case is 13 x 13 x 2.5 cm.
A quick look at the controls will remind anyone of an SNES controller. [Mat] took the innards of an SNES-like USB gamepad and modeled the new case around it. Not having to cut up or otherwise modify the controller PCB makes for an easy addition to the project. Conveniently, the width of the controller was just about the same as the 4.3 inch LCD used for the gamepad’s display. Both fit nicely together.
Under the hood is a Rasberry Pi running RetroPie. An internal 2600mAh Lithium Ion battery provides up to 3.5 hours of game play. Battery charging management is provided by an Adafruit Powerboost 500 which also has a micro USB port that makes connecting an external charger easy.
What looks like an absolute mess of wires,5 fans,3 batteries, and other miscellaneous equipment squeezed into a Tupperware box on the left? At first we didn’t believe it, but it is actually [John’s] fully functioning slick-looking portable Dreamcast on the right. The system runs Quake 3 for a little over 2 hours, not too bad considering it is also powering a VMU, rumble pad, 5 inch LCD screen, and did we mention 5 fans! All in all, it’s still smaller than the original Xbox controller, and we like that one of the greatest consoles is getting some well deserved respect. Check out the work log and a video of it functioning after the break. Continue reading “IntoDream, The ‘portable’ Dreamcast”