"Plywood and perfboard" Consolized MVS


Jan 2, 2020
After a few months of bodging, cursing, and waiting for parts to arrive, I've finally completed my consolized MVS project. You can follow the journey up to this point on the build log thread, and I'll probably post a postmortem there soon.

final first.jpg

I thought I had a really nice capture of Metal Slug but it turns out my RetroTINK 2X-SCART and my Avermedia capture device really do not play nice together. So here is a crappy video of the machine in action playing some Puzzle Bobble. I guess this has the bonus of being able to stare at the machine for several minutes...

In some ways, this project has been a long time coming. A consolized MVS was one of my dream projects back in the early 2010s, when I was in high school and still (somewhat) active in the modding scene. At the time, though, I just couldn't swing it, and some of the parts were harder to get at the time too. Ironically, between the increasing value of MVS gear and the decreasing value of the Canadian dollar I ended up paying more for games than I would have if I started collecting back then... oh well. I don't know how much I spent on this project itself (not counting games) and I'm kind of scared to add things up. I definitely spent more on this than it would have cost to buy a prebuilt CMVS, although I think I spent less than it would have cost to get an AES with a converter or flashcart.

  • Approximately the size and shape of an Xbox Series X turned sideways
  • MV1B board, somewhat reversibly modified
  • Universe BIOS (Unibios) 4.0
  • SCART AV output with buffered RGB and stereo audio
  • 20V power input with reverse polarity protection
  • USB output for powering scalers or (slowly) charging phones
  • A cooling fan for the truly paranoid

Where does the name come from? Well...

final cutaway.jpg

My dad did most of the woodwork and a good chunk of the case design, while I did the initial design and all of the wiring. He has a lot of woodworking tools and knows how to use them. I participated in the case building part for most of it until I realized I am incredibly allergic to wood/sawdust and really should not be around that stuff. While neither of us is going to pretend this case is as nice as some of the CNC machined and 3D printed stuff out there, it turned out well especially considering how crudely some of it is built.


I decided early on to go with a vertical kind of arrangement built around a T-shaped midframe. In retrospect, it would have been far easier to build a more conventional front-loading or top-loading unit, maybe with an MV1C instead of an MV1B board, and it would have probably ended up smaller. But once I sketched out this design I really liked it, and I have yet to see another consolized MVS with this design. The reason the final design is so much wider than the design is because the MV1B turned out to be quite a bit bigger than I thought it would be. One of the design goals was to build a small, self-contained unit because I want to take this thing to parties and events and such. Well... none of those are happening right now anyway.

final electronics.jpg

The electronics are extremely modular, with different functions separated onto different boards. I used headers and Dupont connectors- honestly, these connectors are not great, they're big, not polarized, and kind of awkward although they have the advantages of being very cheap and easy to get. Everything is built on perfboard- to me the work and lead time involved with PCBs isn't worth it for a one-off board.

final board.jpg

I had to modify the MV1B board to add stereo audio and the Universe BIOS. The mods I did aren't entirely reversible, but they're designed in such a way that this board could still be used in a cabinet in stock configuration. Once the NeoBiosMasta is removed, two jumpers re-enable the original BIOS. And while stereo audio is available on a header, the original mono amplified output is also still there. I used to not care about such things but now I cringe when I see old hardware hacked apart. This stuff may not be rare yet, but it is literally irreplaceable. But that's a topic for another day...

final controllers.jpg

The controllers are modified generic SNES controllers. I think they might have actually been USB controllers- I chose them for their color. They work well enough, and they were cheap, but I'm not entirely happy with them. I still need to fix the labelling if I don't just replace them.

final after3.jpgfinal after2.jpgfinal after1.jpgfinal after4.jpgfinal after5.jpg

While this project is "done", there are a few things I'm not entirely happy with and a few issues I'd like to address in the future. The video output is noisy, and this could be an issue with noisy power from the cheap regulators or a flaw with the video amp board. The audio seems not quite right, although I have nothing to compare it to. The case really needs some stickers to complete it, and maybe a nicer stripe. The controllers work okay, but I'd really like something nicer, but at the same time I'm not willing to shell out $100 each for Neo Geo CD controllers (the "correct" controllers).

Overall, though, I'm pretty happy with it, and it's really awesome to be able to finally play Metal Slug on original hardware.
Jun 2, 2020
This is really cool! Neogeo wasn't a very common system even in its heydey, so it's fascinating when someone shows up with a project like this. What an absolute unit of a console