Discussion n64 custom motherboard

ModiN

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Hey guys I have seen rdc's n64 control board which is awesome I was wondering can he desgin n64 main board in a small form factor so there would be no trimming work and small portables in modding scene
 

cheese

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Hey guys I have seen rdc's n64 control board which is awesome I was wondering can he desgin n64 main board in a small form factor so there would be no trimming work and small portables in modding scene
While he can, he probably won't, as that would take much more time and effort than the original controller board, and it would also cost a significant amount more per board...
 

Noah

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People have tried to do board redesigns in the past and I don't think any with the exception of Marshall's (which it hasn't even been confirmed if he made one or not) have seen the light of day.

As cheese stated above it does take a lot more time and effort. The other thing to consider is also the time it would take to move everything over and the cost associated with doing so. The issue with "board redesigns" are that they still require original hardware. The great thing about products such as the GC+ is that they are essentially third-party but make their use aimed towards portablizing.

I have no doubt that RDC would be able to do it but there really isn't a point. SS has proven that the N64 can fit into a case like the AG-54 so there really isn't a need at the moment. With the Wii kind of taking over things the N64 has taken a bit of a backseat in the portablizing scene anyways. Basically, anything RDC or anyone else does to try and do a board redesign at this point would probably be a wasted effort because N64 portables are so far and few between these days. Anyone who does a redesign would probably do so for their own project or to turn and make a profit which wouldn't sell very well for the time invested and money spent prototyping. If this was 2010 it'd be a different story but at the current time I don't see much of a point.
 
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ModiN

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I understand that it can fit in AG-54 with trimming but in case of trimming there is lot of relocation and wiring mess
 

Noah

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Not really. A custom board wouldn't be as small as you think. A lot of the data lines on the 64 have to be a specific length or else it wouldn't work. A custom board wouldn't be that much smaller than an a trimmed 64 anyways. The only advantage it would have is the ability to swap the cartridge connector out for FFC or something like that.
 

Noah

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Look, is it possible? Yes. But someone who makes it would be dumb to charge less than $100 for the board for the work they put in. Then moving all of the ICs over and verifying that EVERYTHING on the console works would take a massive amount of time. So you're probably looking at ~$200 for a completed board.

I can build a portable for less than that. A complete, RAM swapped, trimmed portable for less. Why add $200 to the cost for "less to be inside?" Portablizing has always been more of a budget hobby for a lot of us but if you've got money to burn then I guess feel free to commission someone to do it. I really doubt anyone would do it on their own though, especially since there is no decent compendium in existence for the N64 at the moment so whoever attempted this would have to go in blind.
 

Luke

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Ya but there will be less mess inside
Your only justification is to avoid the "relocation" and "wiring mess" of a normal project, which isn't NEARLY enough justification to make it worth it. Remember, a board redesign is no easy task, and beyond that, you'd have to pay someone to relocate every single necessary component from an actual n64 to a slightly smaller board. Not worth it.
 

Herma

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Ok thanks a lot but looking for a reply from rdc
I know I'm not rdc, but as an electrical engineer I can confirm that it wold be a significant amount of work. It's entirely possible, but as some people have mentioned, the board design aside, the physical relocation of first party hardware onto a second board would require a bit of skill and time that anyone in their right mind would charge a pretty penny for.

If you were to go to these lengths I'd say you may as well clone the N64 and spin your own ASIC, if we're going to talk about expensive and difficult things (granted spinning your own ASIC is expensive to a few more orders of magnitude).
 

cheese

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If you were to go to these lengths I'd say you may as well clone the N64 and spin your own ASIC, if we're going to talk about expensive and difficult things (granted spinning your own ASIC is expensive to a few more orders of magnitude).
If someone was going to go anywhere near that far, they would most likely do a FPGA based design unless they saw huge demand that doesn't exist for this board.
 

ShockSlayer

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A custom N64 board redesign is possible, but not probable or logical for portablizing.
 

Herma

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If someone was going to go anywhere near that far, they would most likely do a FPGA based design unless they saw huge demand that doesn't exist for this board.
I mostly said ASIC because of size limitations of FPGAs more than volume of production (though if this were to happen it'd probably be out of China so they'd mass produce it anyways). Perhaps you could be able to get away with an off the shelf MIPS and a clone of the RCP in an FPGA with some clever hardware wrappers around the MIPS to handle any differences between the R4300 and what was developed by NEC, though according to Marshallh the RCP isn't viable to clone on even modern FPGAs due to size and speed constraints.

As an aside, the CPU on the N64 is just a 5 stage scalar RISC-style pipeline with a MIPS ISA. I've done a 5 stage scalar RISC-style pipelined processor in the past. Without getting too fancy most people in the class were able to get that to fit on a standard Cyclone V (though even that's an expensive FPGA). When people got into adding things like branch prediction, fancier caches, etc, they actually had to upgrade the FPGA. We never fully implemented the code to go on an FPGA, though. We just ran testbenches.
 

ModiN

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Thanks to all I have talked to Rdc he was doing this project in past of which he sent me a pic also I was wondering instead of using expansion pack can n64 ram epanded to 16 mb and will it effect gameplay
 

Noah

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No, it would do nothing. We haven't been able to find 8MB chips anyways so you couldn't get it to 16MB unless you RAM swapped a third-party expansion pak as well.
 

cheese

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But it can found on old computers
Old computers use a different kind of ram (DDR, or Double Data Rate), whereas the N64 uses RDRAM (Rambus Dynamic Random Access Memory). While there were a very small number of computers that did use RDRAM over DDR, their chips are not compatible either because they have different speeds or different pinouts. If there was a chip on the market that could easily be found, I'm sure it would have already (I know both noah and ss have looked extensively).
 

Noah

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The reality is, if these improvements were feasible to make to the N64 they would have been made years ago. Sure, it might be possible to find replacement RAM through the correct channels given third-party expansion paks are still being manufactured, but our searches have been unsuccessful so far.

I can throw as much money as I want at the N64 to try and make it smaller. Doesn't mean it'll make a difference. We need to map everything out, get an in-depth understanding of what does what on the console and then start removing the components that aren't needed. In a perfect world a board redesign would be pointless, but we may or may not live in such a world.
 

ModiN

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Hey so can you guys hep me in getting n64 schematics of a trimmed n64 board as I want to design pcb on my own I am begin in to learn cadsoft eagle
 
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