Worklog [2023 Contest Entry] DS Lite XL

Kamp

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Hi all,

My entry for the 2023 Summer Build Contest is my project to create a DS Lite XL (DS XLite?)

20230618_214001.jpg


The premise of this project is based on a reddit post I saw where someone was able to wire the DSi XL screen to the DS Lite by u/HecmacGPD (not sure if I can post a link, but searching DSi XL screen with ds lite yields the post as the first result)

The project will involve creating a 3D model of the DS Lite shell assembly that has been scaled up to match the DSi XL screens, about a 1.3x increase.
The idea is similar to the GBA XL and GBA XL SP that I started, but this time I plan to make my own screen adapter.

I’ve previously created a model of the normal DS Lite shell that I plan to use as the base for this project:


Test prints that I’ve done of this shell model are very promising, so it should be ready for scaling up and altering:


I’m also planning on creating a flexible PCB that connects to the screen connectors and button test pads in the DS lite and has connectors for the new screen ribbons and shifted button locations.

As a stretch goal, I was thinking that I could use the extra space to add some sort of video output port using the DS Lite TV out mod, posted on lostnintendohistory’s github (again, not sure about adding a link, but searching lostnintendohistory ds lite tv out brings up their github repo)
(This is definitely a stretch, based on how I still haven’t finished the GBA XL SP that was my project last summer, oops)

I’m really looking forward to this project, the modeling should be a lot of fun and the flex PCB should be a cool challenge!
 

Kamp

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Hello again,

The updates to the 3D model have been going well!



So far, I have finished updating the upper clamshell and the lower face to be the correct size and correct all of the original geometry to work at the new scale.

Inserting the screens and DS Lite board into the CAD have shown me a few things that I’ll need to look out for:

The DSi XL screens, while the display area is about proportional to the DS Lite’s, have a disproportionate package size, requiring changes to the areas where the screens sit in the upper and lower faces.

Because of where the DS Lite board will be situated (against the back right side) the screen ribbon cables interfere with the DSi XL lower screen. In order to fix this, I’ll either need to increase the thickness of the lower base, or desolder the screen ribbons and solder my flex directly to the board. I’m going to plan on the latter, but I’ll reconsider if there are other advantages to increasing the thickness.



Starting my work on the scaled up lower base, I encountered another potential choice I have to make:

Again because of the location of the DS Lite board, I need to relocate the GBA cart slot. I was initially planning to desolder and relocate the GBA slot to another board to both center it and bring it flush with the front of the console (unlike on the current DS Lite where a GBA cart protrudes). However, the battery compartment area will end up getting in the way of me centering the GBA cart slot. I’ll need to make a decision about whether I should relocate the battery compartment to have the GBA slot be centered and flush, have the GBA slot off center but still flush, or have the GBA slot centered but stick out.


I’m leaning towards relocating the battery compartment, but first I’m going to see if I can use the Guitar Hero grip original DS adapter to “relocate” the GBA slot to the front, but off center (though probably not flush). That would save a lot of time and effort.

Look at all that space I have! Plenty of room to get creative, with the inclusion of that TV out mod I mentioned in my first post, or maybe even adding in a circle pad!


Next steps for me are to finish scaling up the base and update the shells to fit the XL screens so that I can then focus on the PCB design.
 
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Looking forward to this! I have a donor DSi XL from someone and have been wanting to make use of the screens.
 

Kamp

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Finally starting to see the fruits of my CAD work!
Before printing anything out, I did a quick check with the DSi XL touch screen plugged directly into the DS lite board, and it worked without any problems or calibration needed!


With that checked out, I printed out the 4 main components to check how everything was fitting together.
Here it is in comparison to the DS Lite:


Here it is open to show off some of the internal geometry (Please excuse the poor print quality of the lower face, I wanted to prioritize the quality of the internal geometry):


Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to fit the DSi XL upper screen because of where the longer screen ribbon connector is located. I’ll use the XL lower screen for my upper screen instead.

I’m happy with the alignment of the battery compartment, cart slots, and buttons:


Now that I’ve got the rough model completed, I have a couple areas to refine, like the cartridge slot openings, the button membrane support, and general optimization for 3D printing and assembly.
After that, I’ll be working on the flex PCB that will: relocate the display and touch screen connectors, GBA cart slot, D-pad, volume slider, speakers, start/select buttons, and the headphone/mic jack.

The extra space on the left is where I could add some extra functionality.
I quickly modeled in the circle pad, but I don’t think I’ll go this route because it looks a bit unbalanced without being able to lower the ABXY buttons (and the only game I'd want to use it for is SM64 DS):


Other options I was considering were to add some sort of wireless controller receiver and add the DS TV out functionality.

Thanks for reading!
 

Kamp

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Hi again,

I’ve made some progress towards the next step for this project that I thought I’d share:
Firstly, I did a lot more test printing and made a lot of tweaks for fit and assembly:

Here’s how it’s looking in CAD!
And here are some 3D prints I had done. The first is a scaled up guitar hero version of the upper shell:

I also did some clear prints from JLC to help me better gage where things are fitting well and where I still need to make some adjustments:



These pictures show how things will generally be oriented in the housings. This also shows me that I have a few more changes that I need to make to things like the shoulder buttons, battery compartment, and stylus slot to make my model feel as close to a DS Lite as possible.
In parallel with the 3D CAD, I’ve been working on the supporting PCBs for this project. I’m expecting there to be SEVEN custom PCBs, many with tons of nets to route. Here’s what they’ll be:
1 flexible PCB to for sending the upper clamshell video, backlight, and speakers through the hinge
1 flexible PCB for distributing the video, backlight, and speakers in the upper clamshell
1 flexible PCB for adapting the DSi XL touch panel to the DS Lite
1 flexible PCB for tapping into the upper and lower display signals and Dpad inputs from the DS Lite mainboard
1 flexible (or maybe rigid) PCB for relocating the GBA cartridge slot
1 rigid PCB for relocating the headphone/mic port and start/select buttons
1 rigid PCB for connecting the lower screen ribbon, hinge ribbon, and relocating the Dpad and L button
Considering that each screen has over 35 pins each to route, I’m taking my time with this step.
Can’t wait to share when I have more progress on those!
 
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Do you think it would be possible to make it have a larger battery? With all that free space you could get away with a massive battery! Maybe something like this? https://funnyplaying.com/products/gba-sp-rechargeable-950mah-lipo-maxplay-battery-mod

Also have you considered a Neo Geo Pocket D-pad vs Original D-pad, I think it will be the perfect fusion between circle pad and D-pad, I look forward to the finish product some day, I love the Original DS with GBA backwards compatibility!
 

Kamp

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Do you think it would be possible to make it have a larger battery? With all that free space you could get away with a massive battery! Maybe something like this? https://funnyplaying.com/products/gba-sp-rechargeable-950mah-lipo-maxplay-battery-mod

Also have you considered a Neo Geo Pocket D-pad vs Original D-pad, I think it will be the perfect fusion between circle pad and D-pad, I look forward to the finish product some day, I love the Original DS with GBA backwards compatibility!
Definitely! Using something like Makho's SP Battery Mod (https://github.com/makhowastaken/AGS_LIPO), I'd be able to pretty cleanly use any size of LiPo.
I was originally thinking that it would be cool to use the original battery and battery compartment door, but I think that the 3D printed shell won't look very good with the original door and a 3D printed door would be better.
Then at that point, I might as well use a bigger battery to make up for the bigger screens.
Along this line, I'll probably 3D print the hinge piece as well.

I do still want to keep the OG dpad, but there's plenty of room to use a different kind of dpad in the future.
 
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Definitely! Using something like Makho's SP Battery Mod (https://github.com/makhowastaken/AGS_LIPO), I'd be able to pretty cleanly use any size of LiPo.
I was originally thinking that it would be cool to use the original battery and battery compartment door, but I think that the 3D printed shell won't look very good with the original door and a 3D printed door would be better.
Then at that point, I might as well use a bigger battery to make up for the bigger screens.
Along this line, I'll probably 3D print the hinge piece as well.

I do still want to keep the OG dpad, but there's plenty of room to use a different kind of dpad in the future.
This thing is a dream! You are killing it!
 
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Hi Kamp,

I would like to ask if you would share the CAD of the DS lite? I was looking everywhere till I found your post. Just for the bottom screen part.

And I am already a big fan of this project! Can't wait to see more updates as this would be my dream console.
 

Y2K

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Hi Kamp,

I would like to ask if you would share the CAD of the DS lite? I was looking everywhere till I found your post. Just for the bottom screen part.

And I am already a big fan of this project! Can't wait to see more updates as this would be my dream console.
If you need a model of the DS Lite shell for your purposes, might I suggest checking out @Wesk's DS Lite 3D Scans to use as a reference? It should be pretty accurate, and you can either manipulate the scan directly or design your own model based on the scan!
 
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If you need a model of the DS Lite shell for your purposes, might I suggest checking out @Wesk's DS Lite 3D Scans to use as a reference? It should be pretty accurate, and you can either manipulate the scan directly or design your own model based on the scan!
Thank you so much! This forum is awesome!
 
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This thing is everything i've ever dreamed off out of a DS/GBA console. Have you considered using the extra space in the shell to have a capture card? unless the TV output can also be output to a laptop or other device for recording purposes?
If you ever get to the stage of having the project finished and not too hard to recreate, i'm sure making them as made to order items would be amazing, i know i'd buy one
 

Kamp

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This thing is everything i've ever dreamed off out of a DS/GBA console. Have you considered using the extra space in the shell to have a capture card? unless the TV output can also be output to a laptop or other device for recording purposes?
If you ever get to the stage of having the project finished and not too hard to recreate, i'm sure making them as made to order items would be amazing, i know i'd buy one
Because I'm using a DS Lite and not an original DS, I don't think there are any internal capture cards that I could use. However, the TV out mod could be used to send the DS screen info to a dedicated capture device!
I'm working on designing the PCBs so that they are as easy to install as possible.
Unfortunately, it's turning out to be quite a lot of work, so I don't think I'll be adding the TV out mod for the meantime.
There's definitely space for it though (and a larger battery), so I may revisit that at some point.
Thanks for your interest!
 

Bayou

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Hello friend, I checked out that Reddit post. Is the upper screen used on the DS lite from the DSi XL, and can the lower screen also be used on the DS lite? I did some testing, but the screen only displays white, continuously moving white.
 

Kamp

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Quick update on boards!

Board designs are finished and being ordered. Here’s a preview of them:
Board for relocating the upper and lower screens, as well as the left side buttons and potentially the volume slider:


Next is a flex cable to make is so that I don’t need to solder around 80 wires to and from the 0.33mm pitch FFC screen connectors:
BaseFlexRev1.png

This necessitates the removal of the original screen connectors.

I also needed to make my own flex to carry the upper screen signals through the hinge…:


… And a PCB in the upper clamshell to connect the hinge flex to the screen and speakers, which I ended up making into a thin, rigid PCB instead. The DS line usually has the upper pcb and hinge flex combined, but I decided to split them up for ease of assembly and potentially reduced cost. This means I’ll need to get and solder an extra FFC, but I think this is worth it.


Finally there are 2 more straightforward PCBs: One to relocate the GBA slot to move it forward slightly and another to do the same to the headphone/mic port and start/select buttons.



I 3D printed the rigid boards and 2D printed paper dolls of the flex PCBs to check that they’d fit before ordering.

My paper doll of the hinge flex became pretty hard to work with, but I was able to get it through the hinge and see that it lines up with the connector locations on the upper and lower PCBs:


I also checked that the base flex PCB lined up with the solder points on the DS lite board:


It’s pretty hard to tell if everything is lining up because of how small the solder locations are, but it seems like things are in the right place!

I’m happy with how the boards look so far. Routing the boards with screen signals was challenging due to the number of nets, but I had a lot of fun with the artwork on some of the boards. I may need to come up with a 3D printed jig to help with lining things up before soldering.

My next update will hopefully be me testing the boards when they arrive.
Until then!
 

Kamp

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Hello friend, I checked out that Reddit post. Is the upper screen used on the DS lite from the DSi XL, and can the lower screen also be used on the DS lite? I did some testing, but the screen only displays white, continuously moving white.
I'm sorry, I'm not exactly sure what you're asking.
The screens use the same communication scheme, but have different pinouts. This means that you could use any screen in place of any other screen, as long as the pins are being mapped correctly, and things like the backlight and speakers are being taken into account. You can't directly plug one screen into the connector for another though.
I hope that answers your question.
 

Bayou

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I'm sorry, I'm not exactly sure what you're asking.
The screens use the same communication scheme, but have different pinouts. This means that you could use any screen in place of any other screen, as long as the pins are being mapped correctly, and things like the backlight and speakers are being taken into account. You can't directly plug one screen into the connector for another though.
I hope that answers your question.
Friend, what I meant is, how can the lower screen of the DSi XL be used in place of the original lower screen on the DS lite? I've tried some pin arrangement schemes, but I haven't been successful. I wanted to ask how it can be achieved?
 

Kamp

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Friend, what I meant is, how can the lower screen of the DSi XL be used in place of the original lower screen on the DS lite? I've tried some pin arrangement schemes, but I haven't been successful. I wanted to ask how it can be achieved?
I'd recommend looking through the excellent GBAtek by Problemkaputt website. There's a lot of info on this site, including the screen pinouts for DSi and DS lite screen connectors.
 
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