Worklog PiR8_BTY's N64 Portable Control Deck (N64HH)

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Hey Everyone,

Let me start off by saying im not sure I will complete this. Especially since UltraVGA's, 64amps, PIF relocation boards and 64pms' are now non-existent (if anyone has any leads on fully populated boards, DM me). I was originally waiting for gman's AIO N64 boards, but the project has been silent for some time so I figured I better jump in. I've been slowly working on this and just finished the trim but might trim it some more if I need the space. I also desoldered all the pin connectors and required IC's off the mobo and controller.

my project goals are:
Original joystick + original buttons
Switchable rumble or 4layertech sav pak
IPS screen w/ vga
Integrated expansion pak
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That's it for now, and hopefully not forever!
 
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Whoa, where has the time gone? Well, it would seem my project has gotten a new lease on life once I saw the fantastic work of @Nicholas298 with the N64HH. With that said, I have changed some of the original build criteria - original joysticks aren't part of the N64HH design and are just too bulky unfortunately. Going this route wasn't an easy decision being an N64 controller snob, and unfortunately no aftermarket manufacturer has ever gotten close to mimicking the exact joystick values of the N64. I.E. tiptoeing in platformers, or aiming movement in FPS games. I'll spare you further details, but If you're still interested, watch this video to get your feet wet:

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VGA is a possibility, but I'm still having trouble sourcing a UltraVGA or a N64 RGB Advanced. Oddly, I am starting to feel nostalgic for Retroactive products from Marshal and miss my UltraHDMI vs my PixelFX N64. As far as the screen, I am going with a 5" 4:3 aspect ratio screen as the lord intended. On the other hand, the composite out on this screen may make the N64 graphics look better (less pixelated and more vaseline).

For the shell, I decided on a glass fiber nylon for durability. Some .STL items such as the "Plate", "MB Bracket 1", and the "Screen Bracket" kept warping with glass fiber nylon on repeat attempts, so I will be reprinting them via FDM. I used high-quality machine screws and tact switches with orange conducting rubber caps left over from a previous g-wii I worked on. For the joystick, I opted to get the hall-effect style joystick used in the Retroid Pocket 3/3+. Apparently these will work with the communities portables unlike the Gulikit ones.

@CrazyGadget hooked me up with a bare PIF breakout board, N64 PMS, 64AMP, Akira flex, and a Screen Control Board - used for volume adjustment on this project (Still not sure how @Nicholas298 wired that up, but i'm assuming it just went to the 64AMP). Finally, @SparkleBear will be supplying me with a bare controller breakout board with FRAM for save-pak functionality. I decided against having a mechanical switch for switching between the save-pak and a rumble-pak due to memory card corruption if hot swapping between modes at certain times (a total limitation of the hardware). Lastly, Still not sure if we have the code for switch joysticks and not 3DS sliders.

Here are some photos of the test fit while I am waiting on some parts:
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Of course, fitment test on my signature ingress/egress dust covers
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Once cut, the original N64 controller A+B+C-Stick Button membranes are held in position by utilizing the centering holes on the membranes themselves. Make sure you pay attention to these holes and cut around them, especially on the A+B membrane. You can see the black screws I used where the centering holes are located.
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That's it for now! Hopefully my next update won't take as long as the last. :D
 
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*Tiny Update* I worked on the back label for the portable. I tried to mimic the N64 label on the console, or as Nintendo called it, the "control deck". With that, I think we have a project name: The "Portable" Control Deck. At least it sounds better than Sony's nomenclature. Creative liberties were taken, But I'm pretty satisfied. This will probably end up changing as the build progresses to suit my needs.

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*Update* I verified the screen is working and removed control board through-hole components that won't be used. This will also help the screen to sit flush against the screen housing and avoid any rubbing. I put some Kapton tape on the underside of the board where composite (AV1+GND) are so they don't blob and bridge together when soldering from above. I left the OSD breakout board connector in place since this build won't incorporate any screen control without opening the console and plugging in the breakout board. Due to this, I used a pair of flush-cutters to trim the through-hole legs to get them as flush as possible.
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My power button wasn't functioning correctly and my multimeter confirmed this. Once I sanded down the bottom of the button, it now has positive feedback. Additionally, I reached out to @Nicholas298 for the missing .STL speaker brackets and he added them to the files! Here is a photo of brackets and the power button installed.
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A screen edge sticker was added to get rid of the metallic edge that is very noticeable once the screen is dropped into the case. The g-boy had the same issue and previously the bitbuilt-boys added a black sticker to place on the screen edges to obscure this.
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Added new capacitors to the motherboard from console5 (all are the same value, so easy enough). I also fully populated a PIF Relocation board.
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Till next time!
 
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*Update*, Still waiting on parts. I accidentally ordered the controller PCB's without ENIG gold plating. Luckily @Nicholas298 was able to hook me up with an extra set he had. In the meantime I received my Retroid Pocket 3/3+ hall-effect joysticks. They are dark grey, so they are almost an exact color match to the original N64 D-Pad.
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Since this design doesn't include any removable battery terminals, the batteries will be directly soldered to the PMS. Due to this, I wanted to add a battery kill-switch. I harvested an original N64 power switch from my trim (massive, I know) and will connect it to the positive side before it terminates to the PMS.
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Additionally, I plan to add a headphone aux socket adjacent to the power switch.
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Till next time!
 
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Senor Avocado

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Looking good! Can't wait to hear about how the hall stick feels, do you have a link for those? The switch is a great idea for safety. Is there not a headphone jack already in the design? I think that is a good location for the aux socket.

Also, where do you get the screen mesh to cover the vent holes?
 
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I'm liking the test fits. It helps me visualize where things are going to go on my own build since I haven't started putting things in the case yet.
 
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Looking good! Can't wait to hear about how the hall stick feels, do you have a link for those? The switch is a great idea for safety. Is there not a headphone jack already in the design? I think that is a good location for the aux socket.

Also, where do you get the screen mesh to cover the vent holes?
Thank you! I'm excited to test them out.

Link to the joysticks: here.

The mesh I bought in bulk years ago and the link has long since dried up. Pretty generic stuff though.

Surprisingly there isn't a spot for the aux socket, but that's and easy fix and the spot I picked looks like it will have plenty of room.
 
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I'm liking the test fits. It helps me visualize where things are going to go on my own build since I haven't started putting things in the case yet.
Thanks! Surprisingly there was a lot to unpack on this one. I've enjoyed the process though. Thanks for taking some really clear photo's on your build too, they've been helping me get a visual as well.
 
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Parts are slowly trickling in. I just got my 25x25x10mm heatsinks in. And I finally ponied up and bought the memory expansion paks (ouch). I know using the expansion pak creates more of a power demand on the console/batteries, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Earlier I tried harvesting a 4MB RAM chip from a later revision N64 mobo that was non-functioning, but one leg on the ram chip was already wasted before I even attempted to remove it with hot air. Shame.

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That's too bad on the chip. Those were not cheap parts. I ended up getting 4 of them after I messed up my first build. I'm still hopeful I can get that first board working again though.
 
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No kidding. They are a tough pill to swallow. The wallet took a beating that day. Especially compared to buying broken disc drive wii’s for 25-30 bones.
 
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No kidding. They are a tough pill to swallow. The wallet took a beating that day. Especially compared to buying broken disc drive wii’s for 25-30 bones.
It's a lot worse than the Wii. You're in about $150 already just getting the console and RAM chips. I had the unfortunate problem having to start a second build which I left the RAM chips on since I am still hoping I can go back and get that one working.
 
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Hey everyone! Went to Japan and picked up some Shindou edition games in honor of my portable.
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Ordered a case and I am not very satisfied with the pull-n-pick foam. It resulted in a very messy look. I’ve ordered this case many times for gboys and never had this issue. I realized I prefer this style of case vs the pelican style hardcase as those are just too bulky for a portable you can throw in your bag.
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Also, not sure why, but the protective plastic bubbled while I was away. Bummer.
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I spent 5 hours sanding the original cartridge pin connector as it was very rusty. Wish I could incorporate a new pin connector and fashion a PCB, but this design (N64HH) really calls for an original one.
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I also trimmed and incorporated the usb-c connector board. I now have every component for assembly except one! This project is hung up on obtaining a controller breakout board. I dont want to start hitting iron to lead until I have all the components.
 
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Stitches

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If you rub a little mineral oil on the steel it'll help keep the rust away
 
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Hello everyone! Update time. Started off with wiring the batteries up and the cutoff switch.
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Finally got the bare controller board and populated it. Still need to program it. There also might be a clearance issue with the heat sinks. Thanks @Gman for open sourcing this.
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Also, prepared the headphone jack and drilled a hole in the shell to accommodate.
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Still need to debur the edge and add the metal retainer ring.
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Slowly getting the wiring done. Still have a long road to go, but I can say today was a massive push in progress. Till next time!
 
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Update! I worked on the wiring for the front of the shell. The fitment of the controller board looks almost exactly the same as the sparkle board if you rotate it 90 degrees. It may be a few mil difference and if thats the case, i’ll slightly shave off some material from the heatsink. Hopefully it doesnt come to that though. *Update* it actually has more clearance than the sparkleboard, cons are it only uses one screw and blocks a portion of the bottom vents.
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Additionally, I wired up the mobo for testing. Not really happy with the wiring as I went too thick a gauge and I found better routing options as I went. Something tells me I’ll do another trim and do a PIF relocation and RAM swap before the trim starts.
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Till next time!
 
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