Worklog SummerCart 64 Lite (working title) - a N64 Flashcart for Portables

Y2K

"The PS1 Guy"
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Hello everyone!

I thought about bringing back PSXpress for this year's contest, but I'm pretty confident that I won't be able to finish it in time for this year's deadline given all that I want to do, so I came up with a new idea!

The idea of a sleek & compact N64 portable has been fairly alluring to me. Currently, lot of the driving force behind the formfactors of most builds is not what you'd immediately think. The trim itself is very small, but the games are not!

While I love the convenience of a cart slot in a N64 portable, it's no doubt that many of us have sought out a solution for an internally wired flashcart. With limited success using the clone Everdrives, and the real Everdrive being a very expensive piece of kit (not to mention completely closed source), I think a compact & somewhat-affordable N64 flashcart made specifically for use in portables would be very desirable!

Enter, the SummerCart 64 - a fully open source & feature-rich N64 flashcart:

0206383315205.jpg


The SummerCart 64 is an absolutely fantastic piece of hardware, and has a ton of features, including a great loader menu, rock solid game compatibility, and 64DD emulation. However it's got some extras that we probably don't need for a N64 portable, specifically it's debugging/USB capabilities, and we can probably go without the RTC for the one game that uses it. I thought about a trim, but why don't we go even further beyond:

image-178-1.png


This is a concept image Yveltal had shared with me as I was discussing this idea in the BitBuilt Discord server. The FPGA and SDRAM have BGA equivalents that are 100% compatible with the original chips used on the SC64, and they are way smaller at that! With this, I can create a N64 flashcart that is fully featured for our needs, and is way smaller than a standard cartridge!

My plan is as follows:
1. Strip out unnecessary features from the SC64 HDL.
2. Redesign the motherboard to use a BGA version of the Lattice MachXO2 FPGA and 512Mbit SDRAM.
3. Reduce the size of the board to be as small as possible.
4. Eliminate the cart edge connector, and replace it with a flat-flex connector.
5. Create an example flex cable that solders directly to a trimmed N64 motherboard, and can be easily modified to suit your needs in your designs.

I can't wait to get stuck into this project. This will be my first experience designing around BGA parts, and I cannot wait to learn all about the intricacies in BGA circuit design so that I can deliver you all a high quality end product that's worthy of this great community. And yes, as always, it will be fully open source! Stay tuned for more updates as this progresses!

Edit 5/13/2024 @ 1:23PM
Quick update that doesn't need it's own post: I have forked the SC64 repo, so all development effort that isn't covered in the update posts can be found here. ;)
 
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Konker

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Looks Great! Recently got a few GBA's and was quite surprised at the price of the Everdrive. Makes sense as it must take a lot of work to assemble and distribute being a niche item, but your project looks great!
 
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