2021 Contest Entry: GB Adwiince v2

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GB Adwiince v2
So I have officially abandoned my first project after having my display driver board blow up on me, and failing to do the nand relocation.

So I'm starting a new project/iteration to join the summer contest.

My goal is to frankencase two translucent GameBoy Advance shells to fit a 5" component display and the cut-down Wii.
IMG_20210529_202916043.jpg

So I'll be using the RVL PMS and the USB C PD charger and internal USB combo for power, along with hopefully two 18650 batteries if I can fit them, along with the GC+ v2 for controls and 64amp using analogue input for audio. (The U-Amp was out of stock when I ordered, and I didn't dare to wait any longer in case the other components went out of stock too.)

I plan to include the MX chip and try to add the Bluetooth module, though they are rather optional for me.
My original plan was for an LMAO cut, as I needed to slim down the board to fit the batteries on either side of the board, but after tragically failing to use the flex pcbs and ruining them, I'll ditch that thought for now, and just do an OMG cut, and look at what I can do for the batteries later.

I plan to reuse the buttons and d-pad for the GBA shell, but the original holes for them are annoyingly high, so the joysticks will have to be below them, which I don't like, I'm looking into if I should cut out the original holes and move them down enough to fit the joysticks above the buttons. Also, I don't have much speaker room, so they will probably be downwards firing, placed in the lowest bumps under the screen (I selected ones slim enough to specifically fit in that space in case there were nowhere else to put them.)

IMG_20210529_202947368.jpg


I also plan to use several 3.5mm trrc jacks to give me component video out, and Gamecube controller out, along with the standard audio out. In the original idea, I had planned to use the GBA Gamecube adapter to add those ports, but the screen will be in the way of where that port would normally be, so that will probably be scrapped, I also had plans for adding a jack to support the sensor bar, but I'll probably scrap that as you can get battery-powered sensor bars anyway.

I started working on this iteration of the project this week, after getting over my anxiety from my previous failed projects. So for what I have done so far, I have soldered the PMS to the PD so that I could test the display, and I have stripped the display board of all the posts and ports. As my previous driver board exploded when I heated up a capacitor too much, I ended up removing all the capacitors first with my soldering iron. I had planned to add them one by one to see which ones were needed, and which ones were only supporting the 12v to 5v stepdown. But to my surprise, the board runs fine without any capacitors, and I have not noticed any signal issues or degradation with or without them, sooo as the capacitors are tall and placed in an inconvenient spot where I had planned to station one of my batteries, I'll just run without any capacitors for now.
IMG_20210529_172314530.jpg

Used my RGB modded N64 to test the input, as it is quick to start right into the title screen, where I can test the colors and quality quickly.

IMG_20210529_172132935.jpg


And with the display stripped down I moved on to moving the U10 chip and removing all the components that would be in the way of cutting the board down. I plan to cut from the underside starting outside the lines and sanding inwards. Ignore the lines on the top side, I drew those first to see the footprint for if it would fit in the case.
(I'll go over all the components I removed to ensure they did not get bridge when I removed them, the LDO pins seem a bit to close from this angle)
IMG_20210529_170005514.jpg
IMG_20210529_170055119.jpg


I'll probably do the cutting tomorrow, I glued the battery doors on the GBA shells to the shells themselves so that they will be properly attached and I can cut away the interior that is holding them in place normally, so I'll have to wait for the plastic glue to fully set.



(And just to document for those who were curious about my failed nand relocation, what happened was that my heat gun blows a bit too forcefully, so it made the components I'm trying to place down constantly move out of place, (I realized later that I could have added weight to the nand to make it stand still but it was already too late,) so I decided to try to single pin solder the nand to the flex, but I think I ran the iron to hot and scorched the flex so that solder no longer wanted to stick to it, I tried electronics cleaner and flux pen to no avail. And the iron tip was a bit too big so that it would bridge the pins on the nand and cleaning up the solder make it even worse. I was close one time to make it work, all the pins on the flex were on properly and all the data pins were connected to the Wii, but I was struggling with the ground pins and the 3.3v as I had not pre-tinned them, as I hadn't realized that those vias were supposed to be connected too, intill all the other ones were set, so I ended up desoldering the flex to get better access, which caused some of the nand pins to lose grip, and I couldn't make them stick again. I should just have added two wires manually for ground and 3.3v and I would have had a LMAO ready Wii, but it is too late for that now. Live and learn, I guess. Anyway, now that the store is down, I can't get a new flex to try again. Unless I try for the LMAOv1 with only desoldering one side of the nand and bending it over, and adding the final 10 wires manually, though with a finer tipped iron than my current one. I did try to add all the wires manually as a last hail mary on my failed nand relocation board, but my iron was again too large, desoldering the wires I had already added whenever I tried to add a new wire. I think I can do it with some more patience and the finer iron tip I plan to order. Though I would have to try on a different board, as my cat stole the nand when I left the room, and I can't find it anymore.)
 
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Well got around to cutting up my first Wii, which was an interesting experience.
Anyway got it cut and sanded down, and checked the resistances which all were within what others have reported, though the 3.3v was a bit low with about 5.6k.
IMG_20210530_174718188.jpg
IMG_20210530_174958097.jpg

Also got the MX chip cut and sanded, and checked for shorts between the pins that are supposed to be used.
IMG_20210530_174850780.jpg


IMG_20210530_174835587.jpg

The board fits nicely within the footprint of the display, (I can sand down the top and bottom a bit more, but it should fit nicely inside the shell the way it is now so...)
Though it will only support one battery on the side, and I would have to do the nand relocation and LMAO cut to fit the other battery. (I can't have the battery resting on the board as it shows here as the board will be placed towards the back of the shell, and there is not enough space between the display board and the motherboard. And there are no other places within the GBA shell that can with the length of the batteries. So I'll either have to only use one battery and have the asymmetry or try for the LMAO cut, though I'll leave that up for later TM)
 
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Cool. You could use Wesk's GBA scans to make your custom case.
Sure, though I don't have a 3D printer. I could ask a colleague of mine who has one to do all the prints I need, but honestly, I don't like the look and feel of regular 3D prints all that much, and I rather wanted the look and feel of the original injection-molded translucent 90s- early 2000s colored plastics. And with most other people doing whole or large parts 3D printed cases nowadays, I figured a fully frankencased project could be interesting and different.

Sure I know that SDL printers can give more of the feel I want and can get those translucent plastics, but I don't have one, and printing in my tiny, space deficient, one-room flat, with two curious cats, does not sound like a good idea, especially with those fumes and toxic chemicals that I understand are inherent with SDL. And I don't know any who has an SDL printer that I can ask to do the prints for me. And again I wanted to try my hand at hacking together original cases.
 
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So spend a good amount of time cutting and sanding down one side of the case. The front panel is cut rather thoroughly to fit the LCD, and sanded down a bit, though I will have to go over it more to get rid of some of the white cut marks, and straightening up the lines. The backside is just a quick rough cut so that I could better see how much space I have to play with. Aaaaaand it is really tight... getting rid of the last bumps on the back panel will allow me to fit the LCD, driver board, motherboard, and cooling, buuuuut, there is not much space for wires.... I'm also getting afraid of getting enough space for all the extra boards in the controller sides, along with the buttons that are supposed to go there, I might have to look at if I can slim down the buttons, or maaaby look at making some custom PCBs to fit the buttons and some of the BB boards on to. Though I'll deal with that later TM. (I had planned to maybe look into pcbs after this prototype was done, but the "I'll deal with it later"TM might have to be sooner than I first planned.)

Also, the places I had planned to put the batteries, weeeeell, I don't have as much height clearance as I thought I would, I knew they would have to stick through the back pannel, but I assumed only like 30-40% for the batteries hight would stick out as a bump that I would cover up with some of the space plastic from the unused sides, but now I think it is looking more like 60-70% outside the case, which would be way more than I would like visually... Again I need to finish clearing out the inside to see how much space I have, and maybe I can fit one of those flat Li-Po batteries instead, or see whatever else I can do.

IMG_20210531_164209732.jpg

Can't place the heatsink or the fan further in due to bums in the back panel, but once those are cut and sanded down, the cooling should slot in rather nicely.
IMG_20210531_164217069.jpg

IMG_20210531_164346541.jpg

The LCD fits rather snugly in there, and the frame has been cut out so you can see all of the screen. I still need to sand it straighter, but it works for now.
Though snugly might be the wrong word, as I needed to cut the corners quite deep, to the point that the LCD barely sticks out in the lower corners. Though I knew from the start that I would need to cut rather close to fit it.
IMG_20210531_164510678.jpg

Rough cut back vs more nicely cut front with sanding, there was a lot of protrusion on the front as well that turned white when I cut them, but that with a finer blade and some sandpaper are barely visible now.
IMG_20210531_164411491.jpg

And from the front, you can't see the cut supports and protrusions at all. (ignore the "scratches" on the lower left, it just picked up something from my work area, and it goes away easily.) Half of the Nintendo logo being cut through is a slight disappointment, and the frame definitely looks like it is not made for the LCD and that it is cut to fit, but I'm fine with that, it is only for my own use anyway.
IMG_20210531_164423167.jpg
 

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fibbef

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This will be a fun worklog, for sure. I love the double-wide GBA mockup in your first pic.

I'll offer some Frankencasing advice if you choose to take it: if you're working with a piece that doesn't give you enough interior room as you need or if you need to flatten out a surface, try using acrylic sheets (plexiglass) to add material to your project. It can usually be found at large hardware stores. For cementing pieces together, you can try ABS melted down with acetone. It dries hard as the plastic it was made from, but you need to be careful as it can easily warp the case you're working on.
 
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For cementing pieces together, you can try ABS melted down with acetone.
I have been using a really good plastic-specific super glue so far, that I have used for repairs, other projects and stuff before, though I was a bit worried that it won't be strong enough with so little surface area, especially on the joint front panels. So I'll definitely look into ABS and acetone.

if you're working with a piece that doesn't give you enough interior room as you need or if you need to flatten out a surface, try using acrylic sheets (plexiglass) to add material to your project.
Do you mean using plexiglass as a spacer? As in between the front and back shells so that I have more room? Or am I misunderstanding? Though I'll keep in mind that plexiglass is a good material to use if I'm in a spot where I need it.

Anyway, thanks for the tips, and I definitely don't mind advice and pointers ^^



So anyway did some more work.
Sanded down the motherboard some more, in those concave outside normal guidelines and most definitely very recommended for a first-time builder. /s
Sanded based on some of the lines from the LAMO cuts I was researching earlier, and the compendium, and I think I'm rather safe in not cutting off anything important. The resistances are fine, I need to sand the top a bit more, as the 3.3v is down to 1.2K, but I ran into that on my first cut as well, and just need to sand it some more. I also checked that the ground and 3.3v for the nand were still connected properly.
The point of sanding in those weird forms was to make space for some of the components on the driver display, so that it could lay flatter, and to make space for the PD charger.
IMG_20210602_192945054.jpg

IMG_20210602_193003296.jpg
IMG_20210602_192821586.jpg


I also removed the USB port from the PD (though I did it a bit later in the night than I should have, using an iron instead of hot air to avoid disturbing my neighbors at 3 am, so I could definitely have done a cleaner job...) I am waiting on the Electron Shepard microSD-to-USB Converter, the USB port ended up being way too tall for any space inside the shell, so I needed to get rid of it. (I was considering to solder wires directly onto the Kingston SD to USB, but then I remembered that I had seen someone selling an sd to USB PCB somewhere on this forum, and went looking for that thread as a more sane solution.)

I have also ordered the U-Amp 2, as I wanted analog volume control, planning to reuse the potentiometer that would normally go in a GBA. (I also ordered the PD 2, as it is less wide, so I would not have needed to sand one of those concave divets, but I noticed in another thread that apparently PD2 does not work with PMS1, and I don't feel like shilling out for a PMS2 at this moments, so I guess I'll just have a PD 2 laying if I ever want to do another project.)

Anyway reorganized where the different components will go (look at the previous picture), now that I have a better feel for how much/little height I have to work with, and researched and found a good Li-Po battery that will fit the space I have and will fit the build way better than those 18650 batteries I had first planned protruding out the back.
I have also replanned that the speakers will probably go in the top, and fire out of the cartridge slot (the magnets in them make them lay down, but imagine them flipped upwards towards the top.) It's the only place I think I'll have any space, except for maybe having them fire out the back.
IMG_20210602_192802369.jpg


Also discovered that I can just barely fit the right joystick above the buttons, which is neat, as I think it will make it less awkward to press the buttons when the joystick doesn't protrude into the way. Though it will look rather unsymmetrical with the left joystick being so much lower, I'm considering putting the left joystick right where the current d-pad is and transplant the d-pad down, which would make it seem less lopsided.
(The right front is just a rough cut, and I have not cut and sanded the two parts down to where they will merge yet, nor cleaned up the cuts on the right or done any sanding on it in general. I just wanted something rough so that I could better visualize and plan forward)
IMG_20210602_194020743.jpg
 

fibbef

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Do you mean using plexiglass as a spacer? As in between the front and back shells so that I have more room?
Yeah, or however you see fit. You can see an example of how I used it in the third image of this post: https://bitbuilt.net/forums/index.php?threads/psyu-a-psone-portable.748/

Another way I used it was after I royally screwed up some frankencasing, I completely dremeled out the front of my case and cemented a sheet of plexiglass in place so I could start with a clean, flat slate.
 
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You can see an example of how I used it in the third image of this post
I see, thanks, I'll keep it in mind. Though as I want to maintain the translucent purple of the case, I don't think I can use it much for this project.. I'm more likely to order more shells and cut out what I need from them. Though I think I'll be able to stay within the double GBA shells and within the thickness without the need for a spacer.

Also, using the ABS acetone cement, if I order transparent ABS will it stay transparent or will the acetone affect the color of the ABS / GBA shell? And would I need to coat the entire shell as you did in the post above, or can I safely use it in only the joints like regular glue?
 

fibbef

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To your first question, if you melt the plastic it will probably keep the same color, but melting and mixing it will probably make it extra cloudy, so I wouldn't bank on it staying as transparent as it is now.

For your second question, there's no need to coat it. Definitely just use it as needed. With my project, I took the mindset of "I'm going to sand and paint it, so might as well slather it like BBQ sauce." If your goal is to showcase the GBA's original color, then I'd personally steer clear of melted ABS.
 
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Well, it's been a short while since the last update. Have been slowly modifying the case, spending a lot of time very slowly sanding down the pieces to fit each other with high grit sandpaper. though the fits aren't perfect, I ended up giving up on the precision needed for perfect fits.

Have not done much to be back pieces, focusing on the front pieces and transplanting the extra buttons, and moving the d-pad as they are more important for the next steps anyway.

(The pieces are wet from washing of the sanding dust and paste)
IMG_20210615_102736458.jpg


The pieces are countersunk so that the force of pressing down on them goes into the plastic ledge instead of the glue.
IMG_20210615_102750027.jpg


The fit is not perfect, getting the holes right and lining them up with the cut-out pieces are hard, and getting the countersunk edges right in angle and position while trying to get the pieces to fit flush took ages, slowly sanding and fitting and sanding again, trying to figure out which ledge was stopping the pieces from sitting flush was a major pain.
IMG_20210615_102955290.jpg

IMG_20210615_103038097.jpg


Forgot to take pictures after gluing the pieces before putting tape over them to protect them from scratches. The glue ended up drying more white than I expected and dried instantly when touching the pieces due to the applied activator, so I could not fit the pieces as accurately as I wanted, but it is close enough, and I'll buff the white glue with som 2000 grit sandpaper and try som acrylic polish to buff the scratches.
IMG_20210615_124255271.jpg

IMG_20210615_124306107.jpg

The joystick is held in with some tape at the moment and is not sitting flush, this will be fixed when mounting it properly.
IMG_20210615_124310526.jpg


I plan to possibly switch the button mapping from the default to having the top A and B buttons be A and B and having the lower ones be X and Y, as the original GBA placement for the buttons is way more ergonomic to use. I had wanted to move the transplanted X and Y buttons closer to the original buttons, but the cuts needed to both include the original support structure for the button, and placing them close would be insane, so I decided to go the easier route for this project.

Also, a note to future me if I do any projects in the future, cover the visible parts of the shell in tape from the start to avoid scratches, and then you can get the satisfying peel at the end having a pristine shell.

The extra pcbs (u-amp) I ordered should arrive in the next few days. so the next thing up will be to try to make custom pcbs for the controller portions to have propper pads the buttons activate, (my original plan was using some prototype boards I bought, and have the buttons bridge the rows, buuuuut I don't have the space needed for them, so custom pcbs it is.) I also plan to mount and wire most of the BB pcbs to those custom pcbs so that there will be fewer wires between each board making it cleaner, and saving on the very limited space. (I don't plan on transferring the components but rather surface mount the pcbs themselves like the setup for the new-gen of pcbs from 4 layer tech is set up, the old BB pcbs will be connected with really short wires to connect the pads. and then having a ribbon cable going between the two controller halves) Using custom pcbs with most of the major extra bb pcbs on them will also allow me to move the pads for the wires I need to connect to the Wii to the most optimal position, again allowing fewer wires and wire length and less clutter, which is nice in a transparent case.

The LiPo batteries aren't expected to arrive for another month and a half-ish, so I won't be able to do the proper test fit of all the components for a while.

Looking at the assembled front and holding it, makes me want to rename the project to GBA XL, but I'll lose out on the terrible Wii pun in GB Adwiince. GB Adwiince XL maybe?
 
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So it has been a bit slow going as there is less low-hanging mindless fruit that I can do while doing other things.

The main goal for this section was to do custom pcbs for the side portions, but I have only made the right side so far, though it is the most complicated one.
It contains A, B, X, Y, RT (dual tact), and RZ buttons, R Stick, the PMS, the PD, the U-AMP, headphone jack and the volume wheel. It also includes the rgb led, but I forgot about that so I have to add that to the pcb next. I also have a ribbon cable to carry the button input to the GC+ on the other side, and the power switch back to this side, (it also there are 4 extra lanes that were planned for the led, until I realize it was on this side.)

I have not added the ground plane yet.

(The ribbon connector is not as large as the outline shows, I just reused the template from a similar connector, and did not bother to resize the visual lines to match yet.)
Right Side GBA XL-page-001(3).jpg


The shape is really wonky with a lot of "random holes" as it is made to fit the outline and the supports in the shell and the lcd driver board.

IMG_20210716_004604916.jpg

IMG_20210716_004929371.jpg

IMG_20210716_004953856.jpg


Found a sideways SMD dualtackt though the second click is reeeeally mushy and not defined at all. I placed the tact as close to the pivot point of the trigger as posible so that the trigger has the most amount of movement it can before the switch bottoms out at 0.4mm travel. The Z button is just a regular tact with a long nose that will stick out from a back of the shell right where the gba had an indent behind the regular triggers.
IMG_20210716_004641521.jpg


I also changed out the full usb + kingston sd adapter for the slimmer sd adaper som Electron Shepherd and rotated it 90 degrees so that it would sit flush against where the 12v to 5v circuit used to be on the ldc driver board.
IMG_20210716_005005320.jpg


I also removed some more components that were related to the 12v to 5v conversion. Actually checking more closely what they did before I attempted to remove them this time. Also got a propper re-work hot air station, and it makes such a bit difference when removing and adding things without having all the components fly away from the air force of the old heat gun I was using.
IMG_20210716_005017768.jpg



I also sanded down the wii some more again, and tested that the wii still works.

I have also used the pickit 3 to flash the PMS so that it uses an on-off switch instead of a button. I added some protection so that if it shuts down due to heat or something, it should not turn on again until you put the switch to off then on again to reset it. Though I did not reimplement the shipping safety.

I'm considering adding some IR leds at the bottom, I have them, and the resistors needed, but I'm unsure if I want to drill holes in the bottom of the grip where they would have to go, so I'm waiting on deciding.

Anyway, I was bored and wanted to make an update, it is my first time doing pcb stuff, so if there is anything obvious that I have done wrong, or if anyone has any pointers, I would certainly not mind.

I'm rather sure that my first attempt will fail, at least in the tolerances and hole placements if nothing else, I have been placing and outlining the board based on triangulating all the points from 3 fixed points, but it has not been super accurate, I have gone over it 3+ times, and had to do slight changes every time, I plan to just go for it, and see how it turns out so that I can learn and adjust based on how it turned out. (Maybe seeing if I can find a printer and print it out to test fit it would be smarter, I will see what I can do, don't know if the printer at work has been set up after the move in winter.)




Unrelated rant about wires: When I started ordering parts for this project, I ordered some 0.6mm wire which is supposed to be 22awg, which is recommended for voltages, they felt a bit small when I got them, but I trusted that I got the right ones, but no, the wire with the insulation is 0.6mm the copper is only 28awg. And I'm like, okey, I probably just got the wrong ones due to being stupid and not realizing that what size the listing really was (I checked now, and the listing says it was supposed to be 24awg apparently so it would have been wrong either way.) Anyway, I order some more wire in a set with different colors and double-check that it is 22awg, aaaand when it arrives it only measures out to be 26awg. Like what the fuck! The rolls say 22awg, but none of the wires actually measures out to be that size. So I'm like okay I'll just buy from digikey, I know they should at least give me the correct wires, right? So I start searching and turn on only in-stock as always, and find wires in the colors I want, and order them. but no, apparently wires can't be filtered out based on in-stock, so they have been back-ordered and are supposed to show up in October.... I tried to mail them to cancel, but my mail bounced. (Btw I did notice that the amount said 0, but it also said in a note that something about cut length wire having to be recalculated when you buy it, that made me think that it was not displaying the amount properly, but that it was still in stock.) I have some more wires in the basket that actually have an amount listed, but I'm waiting until after I'm done with the pcbs, and can know for sure that I don't need any other components from digikey. (I ended up using some 18awg speaker wire I had laying around to test the wii. though it was really hard to solder to)

(Edits, phrasing, and replaced pcb picture with one that showed the drill holes better)

Edit: noticed that i messed up my headphone port, because of how trrs vs trs is wired, shifting the traces the wrong way.
 
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Nold

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damn nice work so far! cool to see some good old frankencasing. can't wait to see you PCB :) keep it uuuup
 
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So I have continued on the pcbs learning more about kicad and how to work with schematics and so on.

I have both sides and everything wires up, and the ground planes stitch together (all the random vias are to connect the different sections of the ground plane, ended up going with more connections/vias is better, at least for my trust in that it is connected properly XP )

I'm also moving the mx chip onto the pcb, I have looked at the compendium to trace out where all the traces go and what is connected and not, so I think it will work out. The cutout pcb from the motherboard takes too much space, so moving it seemed like the best solution.

Left Front.png
Right Front.png


I also did use the printer at work to print the boards out in exact scale, which helped a lot in trusting that all the button connections and components were in the right position, and nudging the ones that weren't.

IMG_20210825_230735727.jpg


I'll go over and triple-check that everything is correct one more time before finally trying to send it off to printing at pcbway, the goal was to send it off to printing this week.

I feel like a lot of the harder more uncertain parts are now over, and hopefully, the rest of the build will pick up some speed again, as it is more in known territory for me. But I'm starting to feel the press of that time is running out...
 

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So my pcbs arrived, and it felt awesome, they fit pretty much exactly as I wanted them to, and it just feels great seeing something I have put so much work into turning out so nice. (Sure there is no logic on them, and they don't really do anything interesting other than removing the need to wire everything, but as my first attempt into pcb land, I'm really happy)

(I did another iteration of the pcbs, to avoid having vias in pads, and avoiding as many transitions for the voltage runs, and to make the ground planes more connected)

IMG_20210907_162732324.jpg


Btw, for the 3 mini jacks in the picture the plan is audio out on the left in this picture, gamepad out in the middle, and video out on the right. The mini jacks had sense switches on all but ground, so when nothing is plugged in the signal gets carried on (video to the internal display, gamepad data to the gc2+), and when something is plugged in the signal gets interrupted, and diverted out for external display and external gamepad
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Used soldering paste and hot air to mount the surface components, though as I don't have much experience with it, it ended up taking some time, and I managed to scorch the ribbon connectors a bit and straight-up melted one of the dual tact buttons so that it no longer works.
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I also moved the mx chip and surrounding components over
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I'll touch up the various connections points with an iron afterward to make sure everything is firmly connected

So for next time, I'll have to order a replacement dual tact, I'll get some replacement ribbon connectors just in case, and I need to order the missing resistors for the IR leds (the ones I had was not in a convenient size)

I will also have to sand down the edges of the GC2+ to fit it in the footprint I needed, and sand the corners of the USB C PD a little bit

Then on the technical side it will be pretty much just mounting the remaining chips, and wire it up to the wii and lcd.

Then on the case, I still have some work left on the back pieces, sanding them so they fit together, gluing in the screw posts, and then assembly.

There is only a bit over 3 weeks left, but I think I can manage to make it come together into something nice by then
 
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