Saturday, August 31, 2013

Help me buy an oscilloscope!

I started up a fund on GoFundMe this week, in an effort to help fund the acquisition of an oscilloscope for my workbench. I would appreciate your support in this endeavor, if not by donating, at least resharing it so others will. 


Any help is very greatly appreciated!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Challenge Completed

I have made more progress in the past few days than I thought possible. Either I'm getting a lot better at what I do, or this wasn't as hard as I had anticipated, or some combination of the both. I'm guessing it only seems easy because I've worked with the '64 before. Anyhow, I've got quite the update today so sit back and enjoy!


I finally decided where to put all of the switches, plugs and ports on the falcon, so I started hacking. More specifically I started melting. I used my rotary tool to cut out the controller ports in the last post and that seemed to make a god-awful mess and was extremely hard to control precisely  It was well enough on the controller port because it is shadowed well enough to not see the half-stick of hot glue holding it together... (it is very sturdy though lol)
So, that said, I had to find a better way to make holes. I ended up taking one of my many old soldering irons and basically turned it into a hot-knife. It "cut" through the plastic well enough to be a rough cut, that happened to soften the edges significantly. Enough so, in fact, that I could clean it up nicely with my razor. Here's some of the results: 
The power port

The on/off switch: (I got rid of the reset button altogether) 

The port side of the cartridge slot wired up. I actually got the buses backwards and had to re-solder the whole thing, but it comes with the territory I guess.

Here's a shot of the re-soldering process. It sucked... a lot, but it was needed. I'm glad I got this helping hand tool (thanks Caytee) or this would have been impossible.

The properly soldered socket

And I had to make sure all this actually works, so here's a pre-assembly demonstration video!

I did some more "hot knifing" for the cartridge slot. The pic didn't really come out, but you can see the general idea.

Here is the cartridge slot installed and hot glued in place. I had to use an absolutely ridiculous amount of hot glue to keep all those bus wires from shaking loose.


Here are a few shots of the nearly completed project. The only thing left in these shots is to screw the pieces back together, a little fine-tuning on the alignment of the cartridge slot and to secure all the guts with hot glue.






I ended up having to take a chunk out of the housing for the lights in the back to make room for the wiring from the socket to get the lid to close fully, I got all the screws back in place and it still boots like a charm :) 

And now I present to you: THE MILLENNIUM 64!!!!!!!

A few side notes I feel worth mentioning:
I tested every game I've got and it seems to run flawlessly. I played OOT for about 4 hours and it wasn't even remotely warm, so my heat-sink seems to be more than enough.

I kept getting frustrated with the legs always folding in at the most inconvenient times, so I glued them into their standing positions. I also ended up using hot glue to secure the board, I had screws, but there really wasn't anywhere I could have gotten enough of them in to do any good. 

Also I had to use a jumper pack instead of the memory expansion pack because, quite frankly, I can't afford one and I wasn't about to steal the one from Caytee's console (she would kill me lol) I did test out the expansion from hers and it works rather well. Plenty of clearance and room there to change it out later if I decide to. 

I am about out of planned projects to work on so I'm open for suggestions. What would you all like to see in the future? I've got a game gear I am about to repair next week.  If you all would like to read about it let me know in the comments and I'll chronicle it for you. 

I'll post more videos for you later :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hello again people of the interwebs! I am pleased to bring you another exciting update to my wonderful project here! I don't have much of an introduction today, so let's just jump right in.

I tackled the first half of my main worry this afternoon; the cartridge slot. I was quite worried about how this could turn out, and quite frankly I'll still be worried about it until I get the other side hooked up and make sure that it actually works. But for now, I am quite pleased with how this side of the wiring turned out.


 I spent a while debating what kind of wire to use for extending from the cartridge's solder points on the board. I ended up using an old IDE cable I had laying around. It turns out that, although IDE is only 40 pins, the cable had 80 wires in it! Score! Anyway, after about an hour or so of careful wire separating and stripping (my strippers wouldn't strip that small of a gauge wire) I came to this:
2 buses of 25 wires each, separated and ready to roll

Here is he first bus wired on completely. I ended up just breaking off all those annoying little brass pins on the bottom and running the wires up from the bottom to solder on. I didn't get a shot of the other bus wired up, but I'm sure you get the idea. 


I picked up this nifty little surface-mount plug at a local electronics store and hooked it to the power supply. It takes the standard PC power cable, which is fantastic because I have a half-million of them. I was bit concerned, however, that because the 64 used a non-grounded plug and this connector uses a grounding one, it could lead to possible grounding issues. Since I'm no expert on proper grounding procedures, or A/C at all for that matter, I though it best to simply knock out the grounding pin and hook up the sides to properly polarize the plug. That way, if it's plugged into a grounded socket, it just won't do anything; just like the N64 did to start with.
Here's a close up of the power supply wired up (yes I made sure it was polarized) 

After I finished mucking about with power supplies, which if you've read my other blog you know that I loathe, I moved on to happier things like controller ports. I decided on a quite clever place for the controller ports to got at got to cutting.
The ports in the rough cut hole to check the fit. I did cut it a bit tall, but a little hot glue takes care of that nicely.

The ports wired up and glued in



Testing the fit and making sure the glue was secure enough. (quite so)
This is how it will look closed up :) I had a bit of a nerd-gasm from how well this turned out
The board with all that stuff attached. The only thing left to wire to it is the main power switch and the A/V port, but I have to decide where they are going first. You can see both buses coming up in this shot too. I am still debating how I want to handle the cartridge slot. I have a few ideas, but after how rough the cut was for the controller ports, I am either going to have to get more tools, or re-think my approach for it altogether. More on that when I figure it out; moving on.

Now, I had mentioned in my last post that I had a rather clever solution to using the on-board electronics of the toy with this project. I could't just hook power to it and it all just work because the processor for the f/x uses 4.5 volts and the 64 supplies 12 and 3.3 volts. I took some measurements and it turns out that the LED's are supplied 3.3 volts when it turns them on, so I hacked off their wiring and hooked them to controller port 4's power and ground, because who needs all 4 ports anyway and its an easy solder point lol.

I just had to test the LED circuit I made out so I jumpered the power wires and plugged her up and viola:
 (It's so beautiful I wanna cry...)
My wonderful assistant-girlfriend Caytee helped me take this one (fear her lovely fingernails!) to show off th front lights. She also recommended that I show a video of this in action so here you go:

The sounds and "gun" LED's are running off the built in battery pack and original electronics and the rest of the LED's are powered by the 64.

That's all for now. I'll post more as I get more things done. As always, I hope you all enjoy this as much as I do and check back soon!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Welcome to my newest electronics adventure!! The Millennium 64!

So I had a spare N64 laying around from my last build (raspi64.blogspot.com) and I've been debating what to do with it for some time now. I ran across a post a few weeks ago of an N64 in the top of a Tie Fighter and I thought to myself: "I can do better than that" :) 

So If you haven't put it together yet, I'm going to be putting that N64 into a Millennium Falcon and chronicling my work on this blog. 

Here you can see the size comparison of the N64 Board with the Falcon


The Falcon with the upper half removed: I actually managed to get all the original lights and sounds working on it. It seemed a real shame to waste all that, so I rigged up a rather clever solution to keep the same feel and still get the end look I'm going for. More on that later, but suffice to say it will have light and sounds :)


This is the board with as little heat-sink as I feel comfortable removing, as well as all of the connectors removed to be wired remotely.
I intend to relocate the cartridge slot, the video output, 2 of the controller ports (who uses all four ports anyway? I never have lol), & internalize the power supply because I have that old brick thing and mine was already stripped out of the case because of my 'pi project. 


Here is where I'm stopping for tonight. This is the rough placement for where the board will end up and if you look to the right rear you can see the power supply is ready to roll, minus the cable to the wall. I'm still debating how to actually secure the board. I am weighing the pros and cons of screws vs hot glue. If any of you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments section below. I have the wiring set for the lights, the power supply wires ready to attach to the main board, and the cartridge slot removed and prepped to start soldering all those pins. I am a little intimidated by the cartridge slot, if I'm being totally honest, there are 50 pins to attach wire to that are that close together. I'll do it, but it's gonna be a challenge.

I hope you all enjoy reading about this build as I much as I enjoy making it. I'll post more as I get it done!