Worklog VOS MOD's Second N64 Portable - The "N64C"

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Hey all!

After having so much fun making my first Nintendo 64 portable, which can be found at: https://bitbuilt.net/forums/index.p...able-nintendo-64-the-n64-2go.1811/#post-23242 , I am already planning my second one.

This new portable will feature a vacuum formed plastic enclosure, trimmed mainboard, integrated audio amp with speakers, a much sleeker design than my first, and all the components that went into my first design.

I am calling it the "N64C" where the 'C' stands for compact, reason being it's obviously going to be more compact than my first portable.

I decided to start a worklog for this one since I was too lazy to for my first one and since this one will most likely take longer I feel it would be beneficial to document my work.

As stated, the enclosure will be vacuum formed, so I started to work on a mold in 3D cad. The images below depict the mold, and from it you can get a pretty good idea of the button, screen layout etc.






Please let me know what you guys think about this initial concept. I will continue to post updates as progress is made.

Thank you!
 

GingerOfOz

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This is looking good! I do have to ask though, if you are going to 3D print a mold for vacuum forming, why not just 3D print the case?
 
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This is looking good! I do have to ask though, if you are going to 3D print a mold for vacuum forming, why not just 3D print the case?
Due to the contours of the design, it would be hard to 3d print with accuracy and without warping. Plus, I think the finish of the vacuum formed plastic will be a lot nicer/smoother. :D
 
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Are you planning on trimming the mobo and relocating the cart slot this time?
I am definitely trimming the mobo, however i'm not too sure on the cart slot relocation. My initial plan was to cut the cut the area around the cart slot so that it can stick out the top of the unit without relocating it. What do y'all think.

Trim will be along the lines of the following pic:

 

Stitches

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I am definitely trimming the mobo, however i'm not too sure on the cart slot relocation. My initial plan was to cut the cut the area around the cart slot so that it can stick out the top of the unit without relocating it. What do y'all think.

Trim will be along the lines of the following pic:

It'd be a simple solution, but also restrictive.
 

jefflongo

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Cart slot relocation can be a PITA but I do think it's nice having the cart slot parallel to the mobo, but it's ultimately what vision you have in mind and what you're comfortable with. Either way it seems you're certainly refining your design from your previous build!
 
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I'm definitely comfortable relocating the cart slot if that's what I have to do, however I just think it would be unnecessary if I can have the slot protruding from the top of the unit. Also, if I do choose to relocate it I would have to design a proper cart slot on the back of the unit, which will add to the overall thickness of the final product. We will see though, I plan on making a fully functional cad assembly soon which depicts what I'm talking about, so stay tuned for that! Also, I forgot to mention that I definitely am going to relocate the expansion pak and have it integrated in the unit, so it wont be sticking out whatsoever.
 

jefflongo

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I'm definitely comfortable relocating the cart slot if that's what I have to do, however I just think it would be unnecessary if I can have the slot protruding from the top of the unit. Also, if I do choose to relocate it I would have to design a proper cart slot on the back of the unit, which will add to the overall thickness of the final product. We will see though, I plan on making a fully functional cad assembly soon which depicts what I'm talking about, so stay tuned for that! Also, I forgot to mention that I definitely am going to relocate the expansion pak and have it integrated in the unit, so it wont be sticking out whatsoever.
Why is the case currently as thick as it is?
 
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I actually found a great deal on a n64 online today and drove an hour to pick it up. Since I didn't have the proper tools with me tonight to get into anything serious with it, I decided to just take out the mainboard from the enclosure as well as remove the disk drive slot. Pics are below.

The two parts of the enclosure taken apart.


Mainboard completely removed from enclosure.


DD slot removed from back of board.


Pins from DD slot removed.


Expansion pak disassembled.


Preliminary cut of mainboard outlined.



Tomorrow when I go into my lab, I plan on trimming the mainboard and wiring it up so it works correctly again. Stay tuned!

--Merge Posts--

Why is the case currently as thick as it is?
This is to account for the lcd and driver board I plan to use which will sit on top of the mainboard. Once i get more accurate dimensions for everything I will redesign the mold and it might slim down a bit.
 
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jefflongo

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This is to account for the lcd and driver board I plan to use which will sit on top of the mainboard. Once i get more accurate dimensions for everything I will redesign the mold and it might slim down a bit.
Ignoring the cart slot, you can usually slim down the size to the thickness of your batteries.
 
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Ignoring the cart slot, you can usually slim down the size to the thickness of your batteries.
Well my batteries are .1 of an inch thick so I don't think I'll be able to get it that thin lol. But I see what you're saying, I definitely want it to be as slim as possible so if you guys could reference or tell me about some good component layout options my ear's are open!
 

jefflongo

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Well my batteries are .1 of an inch thick so I don't think I'll be able to get it that thin lol. But I see what you're saying, I definitely want it to be as slim as possible so if you guys could reference or tell me about some good component layout options my ear's are open!
Apologies, I was assuming you were using 18650s. Definitely check out some of the N64 worklogs for inspiration.
 
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Apologies, I was assuming you were using 18650s. Definitely check out some of the N64 worklogs for inspiration.
Will do! I plan on having a pretty solid idea of how everything will come together by the end of tomorrow. So i'll update the thread upon doing so.
 

fibbef

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Your model looks really good! Best of luck with the vac forming. Have you done vacuum forming previously?

If you’re a bit tight on space, I would definitely recommend going with the further trim in the guide. I thought it was pretty easy to do and you can easily see from the guide which traces to avoid. Before doing any cuts, test the system to make sure it’s all working. I dove into trimming before testing and when it didn’t work at first, I wasn’t sure if I killed the board and was crossing my fingers with each “fix” I tried.
 
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Your model looks really good! Best of luck with the vac forming. Have you done vacuum forming previously?

If you’re a bit tight on space, I would definitely recommend going with the further trim in the guide. I thought it was pretty easy to do and you can easily see from the guide which traces to avoid. Before doing any cuts, test the system to make sure it’s all working. I dove into trimming before testing and when it didn’t work at first, I wasn’t sure if I killed the board and was crossing my fingers with each “fix” I tried.
Thanks for the advice! I have not ever done vacuum forming, I was planning on making my own rig for it. It seems simple enough that I can pick it up with my previous 3d printing knowledge.

Update:

So I spent all day today (11am to 7pm) trying to relocate the expansion pak.

First I tried using Bacteria's board bending method which can be found here: https://assemblergames.com/threads/board-bending-n64-expansion-pack-jumper-pack.42273/

Here are the pics of how I implemented it with the third party pak I was using:

After cutting though the board most of the way and bending the board (very, very carefully).



After connecting the severed traces.



I tested the traces and they were all still good after this, so i popped the sucker in the n64 (again carefully), hooked up power and....nothing. Upon realizing it wasn't working I took out the pak to inspect the traces once more. Upon doing this I realized that none of the traces were making a connection any longer, and upon further inspection, I noticed that there was a clear line which was the obvious culprit of the problem. It seemed that the layer (where all the traces are) that was supposed to still be in tact, simply gave in and decided to sever. So my first question is why do you think that this happened? I was extremely careful through the whole process. Is it because it's a third party pak and the layers are just weaker? Should I try it again with an original Nintendo pak?

My next idea was to solder wires that will reconnect the traces that were severed. I had to use an upltra powerful microscope to perform this soldering job along with tiny magnet wires that would replace the traces. Pics of this can be found below.

The microscope.


All wired up.


My view.


Pic of everything after I gave up.


So at one time during this process I had all the connections made. I went to plug it in the n64 and as soon as I did one of the wires lifted from a pad. I went to go try to resurrect this issue and more wires began to lift up. Out of frustration and after spending all day on this I decided to give up on this idea and update y'all.

Now my questions are: Should I even try to resurrect this pak? Should I buy a new original pak and attempt the board bend method again? What's the best way to relocate an expansion pak in general?

My two bigger questions are:

Can you replace a JUMPER PAK just by soldering some resistors etc. directly to the board? Since the jumper pak just is a terminator and tells the ram bus that there is no more ram I feel this should be possible.

And does anyone have any spare expansion paks that they would be willing to sell me for cheap?

Thank you guys for reading through all of this and I am eager for any and all responses.
 
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Stitches

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Thanks for the advice! I have not ever done vacuum forming, I was planning on making my own rig for it. It seems simple enough that I can pick it up with my previous 3d printing knowledge.

Update:

So I spent all day today (11am to 7pm) trying to relocate the expansion pak.

First I tried using Bacteria's board bending method which can be found here: https://assemblergames.com/threads/board-bending-n64-expansion-pack-jumper-pack.42273/

Here are the pics of how I implemented it with the third party pak I was using:

After cutting though the board most of the way and bending the board (very, very carefully).



After connecting the severed traces.



I tested the traces and they were all still good after this, so i popped the sucker in the n64 (again carefully), hooked up power and....nothing. Upon realizing it wasn't working I took out the pak to inspect the traces once more. Upon doing this I realized that none of the traces were making a connection any longer, and upon further inspection, I noticed that there was a clear line which was the obvious culprit of the problem. It seemed that the layer (where all the traces are) that was supposed to still be in tact, simply gave in and decided to sever. So my first question is why do you think that this happened? I was extremely careful through the whole process. Is it because it's a third party pak and the layers are just weaker? Should I try it again with an original Nintendo pak?

My next idea was to solder wires that will reconnect the traces that were severed. I had to use an upltra powerful microscope to perform this soldering job along with tiny magnet wires that would replace the traces. Pics of this can be found below.

The microscope.


All wired up.


My view.


Pic of everything after I gave up.


So at one time during this process I had all the connections made. I went to plug it in the n64 and as soon as I did one of the wires lifted from a pad. I went to go try to resurrect this issue and more wires began to lift up. Out of frustration and after spending all day on this I decided to give up on this idea and update y'all.

Now my questions are: Should I even try to resurrect this pak? Should I buy a new original pak and attempt the board bend method again? What's the best way to relocate an expansion pak in general?

My two bigger questions are:

Can you replace a JUMPER PAK just by soldering some resistors etc. directly to the board? Since the jumper pak just is a terminator and tells the ram bus that there is no more ram I feel this should be possible.

And does anyone have any spare expansion paks that they would be willing to sell me for cheap?

Thank you guys for reading through all of this and I am eager for any and all responses.
I remember someone saying that the expansion pak is rather sensitive to trace impedance, meaning you have to keep the wires as short and even as physically possible. If you have a steady hand, you could do like Nold did and carefully bend the slot pins back and solder them to the expansion pak pads.
 
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I remember someone saying that the expansion pak is rather sensitive to trace impedance, meaning you have to keep the wires as short and even as physically possible. If you have a steady hand, you could do like Nold did and carefully bend the slot pins back and solder them to the expansion pak pads.
Yeah, I was reading up on his log last night and noticed his method. Problem is it seems that method requires the pak to be sticking out in the opposite direction from the rest of the board. In my particular case design, I don't have enough room to account for it sticking out that way. :(
 
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