Worklog Phoenix 64

JoJo

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I'd like to give a thank you to all who participate in this community. While I am a lurker and have not made contact with many of you, you all inspire me with your creativity and problem-solving finesse. The positivity here is a rare force that can only produce great ideas and even more amazing creations. So thank you to all who post their pictures, ideas, and findings. It gives people like me the push it can take to get started and jump into a project that would otherwise be completely over my head.

2-3 years ago, I set out to build an N64 portable; something I often dreamt of before I realized they actually existed. And with the info provided on the forums, I made slow progress towards a decent first portable using my personal system and a router case I happened to have. I rarely had time to put towards it, but I stuck with it and eventually brought it to around 75-80% completion.

Making progress :D
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But then, disaster struck. It simply stopped functioning. I tried rewiring the relocated cartridge slot...nada. Bought a new jumper pack thinking I had ruined the fragile 90* bent traces...nothing. I even re ordered the expensive voltage regulator, as I couldn't get a stable voltage. I gave up. I was too frustrated and bitter to continue. I felt I had wasted my time and money. On two other occasions, I came back the project in attempts to revive it, but it had been too long and the knowledge had left me. In the end, I had 3 dead systems and a gutted portable. I was defeated. I felt like I had no business making things, and I let the project sit for over a year.

Sad pics T .T
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N64 and controller boards, both with lifted traces. :C
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This is where BitBuilt saved me. I had come to the forums to oogle over the, no doubt, amazing portables being made, and I was addicted all over again. After seeing builds from Miceeno's unconventional yet amazing Monitor N64 to the ridiculously professional GS2 by the god himself, I was reminded that modding is for everyone. There is a wide range of skills that produce these beautiful and creative portables, and I had a place somewhere in that range. To never complete my build would be like letting a part of me die. I was motivated and inspired!

I am proud to say that after rewiring some things and identifying a dead screen, the system is back up and running! I was so happy to see "NO CONTROLLER" from Paper Mario that I legit teared up and celebrated with a shot!

~YAAAAAAAY!~
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The project is now back in full swing and I owe the inspiration to those here on the forums. While you do what you love, you also give inspiration to those less confident in their developing skills. I also admit that if I had been more active in the past and asked for help, much of my frustration could have been avoided altogether.
Both my passion for portables and this project area back from the dead and I am excited to make my own mark on the forums!
 
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JoJo

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Thanks! The first version used a full controller mobo so I'm looking into the popular cut.
 

fibbef

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+1 for your mosaic arrangement of pics. @Noah any chance something like that could be implemented on the site without having to manually combine all pics into a single image like JoJo did?

Congrats on reviving the project JoJo!
 

JoJo

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+1 for your mosaic arrangement of pics.
This was actually a collage from my phone a couple years back. It was easiest at the time. I imagine it's a bit less convenient if youre using an actual camera

And thanks! ^-^
 

Noah

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+1 for your mosaic arrangement of pics. @Noah any chance something like that could be implemented on the site without having to manually combine all pics into a single image like JoJo did?

Congrats on reviving the project JoJo!
Hmm, that would be a neat feature. I'll look into it!

@JoJo everything looks good so far! Let me know if you want this to be moved to the N64 section if it's a worklog too.
 

JoJo

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Thanks @Noah. And yeah, this thread is already a work log of sorts so you have the green light from me.
 

JoJo

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Today I had a go at trimming the board. Since the cart slot had been relocated already, I double checked everything was working before I started.
Turns out that a "White-Out" pen is perfect for writing on boards (couldn't find a sharpie).

I traced my line just a little bigger just in case my cuts came close. Also removed some components to make cutting a bit easier.
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I have a decent Dremel tool but the cutting discs I have are small in diameter and would cause a bunch of crazy angles in my cuts. Because of this, I opted to use my bandsaw instead.
I used a small piece of cardboard beneath the board to make sure the pins/resistors on the back didn't catch as I pushed through my cuts.

I have to say, it turned out cleaner than expected. I think I dulled my saw blade quite a bit though. :B
I also used several different grits of sand paper (low to high) to get really nice and smooth edges.

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After cleaning off all the dust and crap from the board, I wired up video, 3.3v, and 7.4-12v to their new locations.

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After testing for a bit I couldn't get a video signal. To be sure it wasn't the cart slot relocation, I went through all the connections (all the way from cart pins to mobo pin final destinations using this old post.)
http://forums.modretro.com/index.php?threads/rcp-relocation-guide.2428/
BTW thanks, @ShockSlayer. This was really helpful beforehand as well.
By the end, all of my joints made it through in tact. To be honest, I'd have been happy to re-connect something and it be that simple, but still no video signal.

I also took readings from all the new input locations and all seemed fine. Although the top right part of the board kept getting really hot, and I later realized it was because of where I chose my ground (waaay up at the top left by the cart slot). After moving my ground as seen in the pic above (black), the heat wasn't an issue anymore.

As it stands now, all signals seem good, testing with an untouched jumper pack, verified my screen still works, I got nothin. She still gets hot in the same places as before the trim, so I doubt I've killed the board yet.
^B4EC5E4572FED3ADEFD98B40A0255B73A4A5B69B59F00E1E10^pimgpsh_fullsize_distr.jpg

After classes tomorrow, I'll take a closer look at the back to see if any traces need bridging. I've seen in a few other threads that I may need to drop voltage lines somewhere and use some resistors somewhere else but I can't seem to find those again. Any and all suggestions are appreciated!
 
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Pacal

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This is for the relocation of the 3.3v from the back
IMG_0587.JPG
And if you still have no image on the screen then put a 2k Ohm resistor between 3.3v and PIN number 8 from the PIF like this
IMG_0555.JPG
 

Stitches

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Aren't those cart slot wires a bit long?
 

JoJo

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Thank you @Pacal, those are what I couldn't find all sleepy last night.

Aren't those cart slot wires a bit long?
Could be. However, they were working consistently before so don't know how they'd be an issue now. If all else fails, I'll rewire that as well.
 

JoJo

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This is for the relocation of the 3.3v from the back
What points should I solder to? Should I reveal some copper in those areas or do something like Nold did here? (Diddnt know if those resistors were a good spot to drop my wires)
DSCF5189.JPG
 

Pacal

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Just solder where the blue wires are which is 3.3v the white wire is for 12v you don't need that one and yes you need to reveal some copper from those points to solder your wires
 

JoJo

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Just a quick update

Bridged the necessary 3.3v lines across the back of the board and added the 2k resistor for good measure.
My flimsy cart slot wiring mostly made it through after flipping the board over so many times, so I resoldered the stragglers.
Popped an expansion pack in and she booted right up like a champ!

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Couldn't be happier with the rate this project is going. After such a long hiatus, it feels really good to make some progress with minimal issues.
Next will be ordering my batteries and other small components. In the meantime, ill probably put up some pics of case development.
 

Stitches

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Just a quick update

Bridged the necessary 3.3v lines across the back of the board and added the 2k resistor for good measure.
My flimsy cart slot wiring mostly made it through after flipping the board over so many times, so I resoldered the stragglers.
Popped an expansion pack in and she booted right up like a champ!

View attachment 4126
View attachment 4127

Couldn't be happier with the rate this project is going. After such a long hiatus, it feels really good to make some progress with minimal issues.
Next will be ordering my batteries and other small components. In the meantime, ill probably put up some pics of case development.
Looks good, but I'd put some tape under the legs of that resistor. It could easily short on that oscillator and chip next to it.
 

JoJo

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Yep, it's been taped. I would have used some heat shrink tubing but I don't like the idea of blasting that area with heat just for that. lol
Thanks for the catch tho!
 

DeoNaught

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sin^2(x) + cos^2(x) +e^(i*pi)
What size screen are you using? 4.3"?

Also I love your case work?
was it frankencased? what was your inspiration

EDIT
You can softly touch heatshrink with your iron,
and it will shrink, just make sure you dont heat it up too much though
 

JoJo

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You can softly touch heatshrink with your iron,
and it will shrink, just make sure you don't heat it up too much though
Nice, I always thought it'd melt on contact, good to know.

If I'm remembering right it's a 5" screen. That case is actually an old [email protected] 2WIRE Router shell.
It was juuuuuust a hair too shallow in depth so I cut a "spacer" out of 1/4 in plywood and it made all the difference. The plan was to bondo it later so that it blended in nicely.

I really liked it because I thought I could just re-use some of the nice port holes already there. Also, there were nice vent holes on each side and the face popped off with a sturdy friction fit. So no real inspiration; just using what I had.

Surprisingly, with a depth of 1 5/8 inches, everything still fit inside for me. The expansion pack, planned fan and cart slot were to be external as well, which would thicken it up a bit more though.
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She was a fun build. Oh, the time I spent on those buttonholes. T3T. But it's a new age! A now that I have a 3D printer, my new case could go anywhere! Thanks for the interest. :D
 

JoJo

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After some second thoughts on using my original router case, I've decided to CAD design a new one myself. It will be 3D printed on my 200 x 200 bed printer, so it has to be relatively small.
I figured that having real physical parts in my hands would help me design where everything will fit and see whats possible, so I made models of all confirmed parts going into the build (excluding the smallest parts)

RGgakFD.png
I'll make more models as I think of them. Also if anyone would like these models/files I'd be happy to share them.
Once I was happy with the models, I printed them in a cheap PLA I use for prototyping (why use the good stuff?)

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The prints came out ok-ish but that's cool. They're just visual aids anyway. Time to mock up the general shape and size with what will probably be cardboard and styrofoam. :D
 
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JoJo

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Updates!

I've decided to call this the Phoenix 64 since it is essentially a rebirth project, and also since I happen to be a closet pyromaniac. (fire is just so pretty!) Ive done alot of CAD designing over the past few weeks in between assignments and have settled on a design. I wanted something new and modern that still paid homage to the original system. NOTE: These are more like concept peices rather than final designs.
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XAKnroe.png

The case is similar in shape to the original, but shorter and more "edgy". It also has some inspiration from the Nintendo switch in that it will have a functional dock allowing full 4 player support, av out and charging. Back of the case hasnt been fully finished yet but I will adjust everything for the final prints once I know exactly what I'm doing. Both the case and the dock are way to big to print in one piece so they were each cut into fourths to be printed in several parts.

At first, I really wanted to use an original N64 cart board and slot to connect the portable to its dock to replicate popping in a game, possibly even requiring a quick "blow out" from time to time to make a good connection. This would have been a poor connection though and might cause issues whenever the system or dock gets bumped. Instead, I think I will use a couple of ethernet ports (one beneath each hand grip) to securely "click in" the system to the dock. I also plan to use the centered N64 logo thing as a nice release button to press in the ethernet tabs.

TEST PRINTS
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When I have more time I will be seeing how well the ethernet connector idea works and whether or not i will be using it. In theory, it will take up much less space in the portable than a full cart slot built into the bottom, so we'll see. Still waiting on parts for now so the real fun has yet to begin.
 
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