Worklog Madmorda's WiiBA

Madmorda

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I'm a little late to start my worklog, but I hope to actually finish my entry this year! I'm building something I've been wanting to build for a long time: a Gameboy Advance shaped Wii portable. My main idea here is to try and keep both the size and the shape accurate to the original GBA without adding any additional space if possible. I've been working on the case for the last few days and finally have enough to start my worklog :)

Size comparison to the original shell:
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I'm aiming to keep as much of the original aesthetic as possible, which means I'm also using the GBA's side wings and triggers:
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The oval at the top of the console is for a Nintendo logo from a GBA SP. I'm hoping it will lend some authenticity, since the shell will most likely look 3d printed instead of painted. The controls include 2x switch joysticks, original triggers, and 3d printed ABXY/DPAD. The ABXY/DPAD buttons are custom to fit the console, and I will be resin printing those buttons on my elegoo mars. It seems that they sell teal, red, and grey resin that are pretty close to gcc colors. If I'm not happy with how the colors or feel of them turn out, I will polish them and then resin cast them instead. The form factor is surprisingly comfortable :)
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Here's the specs that I have so far, however they are subject to change since my main concern is the shell and everything else will be working within that constraint.
-3.5" VGA LCD screen
-4000mAh lipo battery (not tested for fit yet, but may work)
-Omega trimmed Wii
-PMS
-GC+ 2.0
-Dual tact mod for triggers, squishy facts for all other buttons
-headphone jack

My biggest concern for it is how the final case will look. I'm personally not a fan of the 3d printed look, so I may experiment with ABS to see if a vapor bath will help. I don't want to paint it, because I intend to actually play it without worrying about chipping the paint. I do have a resin printer large enough to print the case, however my tests with other shell-shaped objects has led me to believe they will warp and not turn out well.

More to come soon!
 
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Really looking forward to seeing this complete. I know you and Aurelio were working on something like the in the past so it's nice to see a comeback!
 
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Have you considered using a process of epoxy coating and sanding to finish the 3D printed shell? It's a process I've used on some printed parts but never on a portable case, so it's just an idea. I think it could look really clean though as I agree with you on not really liking the 3D-printed look.
 

Madmorda

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Thanks @Ratchet Russian, that's super helpful, I may give that a shot! I've actually been working hard on the aesthetics of this case, even if it isn't super obvious from the outside.

Here's my original case that I'm trying to make look nicer:
20200528_205140.jpg


The first thing I tried was wet sanding, and the results are pretty good. I was able to get rid of the lines in this corner, but it makes it look matte.
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Next, I tried polishing it with my Dremel's buffing wheel and Meguiar's PlastX (~$7 in Walmart or harbor freight automotive section). I think I got excellent results, it almost looks injection molded after the sanding and polishing (dont mind the sandpaper scratches). This polishing compound also works on resin printed parts.
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As a last resort, I also thought I would try resin printing my case. I've tried resin printing other shells in the past with no luck whatsoever, but I figured a test wouldn't hurt. AND IT WORKED. I have had a hard time printing similar shapes, so I dont know why this one turned out differently, but I'm happy about it.
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There is little to no warping, and it fits seamlessly with the FDM printed back half. The dots are on the inside of the case from supports. If I do end up resin printing my case, it will be a solid color (most likely orange). This may mean that I don't need to do any sanding to get the look I want, and since the polishing compound does work on resin, I can buff it to a nice shine.

As for the buttons, these are 3d printed mini-gc buttons specifically made for this case. They are as big as they can be without interfering with anything else, and are designed to save as much room as I can while using orange tacts. Their final color will be gamecube button colors, as by happy coincidence, they sell real, red, and light grey resin for printers. If the colors don't look right, I will mold them and cast them in better colors :)
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I have been waiting for my battery and screen to come in before doing any internal work, because the battery is pretty much the deciding factor for design since it is the largest and can't be used as a heatsink. Since this case is extremely small, I am also going to be testing out some thin aerogel walls to see if it will help prevent the battery from getting warm. That's it for now!
 
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I'm really curious about the aerogel. So many questions... What are you using, were did you find the supplies, did you have to make it, and if so how?

Those resin prints turned out fantastic.
 

Madmorda

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I'm probably going to be testing a few different materials, but here's the first one. It's kind of like that wall insulation cloth/fluff packed together tightly, except I can't set it on fire and it doesn't conduct heat like at all. I held a torch a few mm from my finger with this stuff (maybe 1-2mm thick) in between and it didn't feel hot. But I don't love the feel of it, it feels icky and I would rather not feel like washing my hands every time I touch it. There's nothing I can compare it to in terms of feel, but it isn't a good texture so I will be looking for something else if I can.

 
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maybe you could have it as a second z button on the left side? it might feel a bit awkward and take getting used to though. or you could put it under the abxy buttons like in the louii.

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I think the cleanest way would be to implement zl and zr similar to the SNES switch controller, on the inside of the existing sholder buttons. zl for start and zr for z.
 
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i am looking forward to this the most! excellent job so far! I didn't know resin printers are a thing, those buttons look absolutly gorgeous :)
 
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Awesome work!

I would suggest putting the start button below the screen. Nothing beats the muscle memory of reaching there to pause a game.
 
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Madmorda

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It may not look like it from the outside, but I have put in a lot of work for the design this week.

I went through all of my options for batteries and finally settled on some lipo cells. I think I can fit 4 1800mAh batteries in this case (about the equivalent of 2 18650s, or 2-2.5 hrs of battery life).

I also decided to add a fan vent and heatsink section to the back of the case. This wasn't an easy decision, but in the end I decided that good cooling was important, especially since I'm using lipos. However, this fan vent area has a nifty gc logo and it also acts as a stand for the case, so that it naturally props up at a nice angle for playing with a wireless controller. I believe I can use some of the space saved by the heatsink and fan to add a wavebird receiver for wireless play.

I also went ahead and printed out the back half of the case in resin, and I still believe that resin is a viable option for a case. There are a few warped sections around the edges, however keep in mind that this was a first attempt test print with default settings and support (I've definitely had worse FDM prints with default settings).

It looks like the warping I see is being caused by a couple areas around the edges of the print breaking loose from the support and then bending during the print. I think that adding some custom support, I can greatly reduce or eliminate this warping. I was mostly worried about warping that might happen as the print was curing in the light, but that seems to be fairly unfounded so far.
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I also added a Z button just to the inside of the R button, but I didn't have time to test it this weekend.

If anyone has a cool (existing) resin color they think this would look great in, I'm open to ideas. There's a light blue that I'm partial to, since solid purple and solid bright orange don't seem to exist. More to come next weekend!
 

Madmorda

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These pigments are made specifically for 3d printing resin, you can use white or clear resin and then add the pigments to get whatever color you want.
OOOOOOOOH. I saw these on Amazon, but I just assumed they were for casting resin. I just placed an order for that and some white resin. Hopefully I can make a spice orange console. Thanks man, you rock!

The batteries for the case come in today, and I'm also going to be spending this week trying to make a proof of concept resin case. If I can find the perfect supports to make them not warp, then I will be definitely printing this case (and probably all other future cases lol)
 

Madmorda

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So I have finally figured out my batteries. I will be using 4x 16650 battery cells, which are basically 18650s, but about 2mm thinner in diameter. I will get about 2125 mAh each, meaning that 4 of these cells will hopefully give me about 3 hours of battery life.
20200613_165719.jpg


Thanks to @eggbowl, I was able to order some pigment and mix my own resin. I was able to get it fairly close to the gamecube color :)
20200613_124651.jpg


After printing and curing, it's a pretty close color match, but it's sort of pastel. Rather than the vibrant glossy Gamecube indigo, it's a fairly flat color. This might be able to be glossed over with some sandpaper and polish, but I haven't tried it yet.
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The biggest downside to this white resin with pigment is that the resin does discolor slightly once cured. Here is a sample of some over-cured resin on the left, reasonably cured resin in the middle, and fresh out of the vat resin on the right. As you can see, it doesn't discolor too much unless you over cure it, but I am concerned about it curing over time from exposure to light in the room while being played. It would happen slowly, but I want to future proof my portable as much as possible.
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I am still undecided on what color to make my final case (purple was a test, I don't plan to use it), but I'm thinking orange resin or emerald PLA. I found some silk green PLA that looks the emerald Gamecube controller render. I would rather resin print my case, but I think this color is very tempting, even over orange (which I love).
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Speaking of 3d printing, my large resin printer (Kelant s-400) had a tantrum today and needs a doctor, so I reached out to the manufacturer Kelant. They replied within a few hours and will be sending me a new part same-day to get it back up and running, making this the second time they have gone above and beyond to help me out with my printer. The first time, they actually custom CNCed a new build plate for me because I requested one that didn't have screw holes in it. I have to say, I'm extremely impressed and I would 100% buy from them again.

I have also added some speaker pockets along the bottom of the Gameboy (not the back). I tried very hard to fit them on the face, but there just wasn't any good way to do it, so the bottom is the next best thing.

This week, I will be working on printing some flat pieces to hold the tact switches in place behind the abxy/dpad buttons. More next weekend!
 
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