Worklog Sega Dreamblade (DC Slim)

Wesk

Undervolting....
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dreamblade logo.png

(Yes, I know this looks like a cutting edge post but the project isn't complete so just enjoy the high quality GIF's)


How did it start? a few months ago I did a bunch of undervolt testing on the Wii for a potential future project and during that time I figured I'd undervolt test a few other consoles which included the Dreamcast.

Flash forward to a couple weeks ago and I'm running "Dreamcast portable" prompts through Bings image generator and get this cool little thing:
1702704547493.jpeg


So I play around with creating something in the likeness of the design while retaining real world dimensions for parts

Now that I have a design in-mind I get into a "what if?" mood and figure that the Dreamcast *should* be able to run from just 3.3v and 2.0v if my undervolt numbers are correct.

I begin testing it out, lo and behold the Dreamcast runs just fine while running with only two voltage lines(with small caveats).
1702704761488.jpeg


So what now? I suppose I should trim the board and make the portable with it?
I trim the Dreamcast with a relatively conservative trim retaining the GDROM connector pads to simplify the GDemu wiring (I did initially solder to the vias/pads on the underside but ran into issues).

Fitment seems good (GDemu and regs are mounted on the underside).
1702704810116.jpeg


During this time however I realised that I'm not overly enamoured with the basic design of the portable and with the Tanto somewhere on the horizon (DC portable endgame) I probably don't need to design another DC portable.

So what do I do with this trim?....design a DC slim?

I spend a couple hours measuring things out and print a rough early design to confirm fitment:
1702704905140.jpeg


And boom, after a couple more test prints and adjustments to design we have the current working version:
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Volume-wise it's about 1/4th the size of a stock Dreamcast and can be slimmer with some additional custom boards.
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I wasn't able to get the SD extender working so the SD card is internal for the time being and I've only hooked up composite video+audio for ease of testing.
The system is also running on all the required voltages for maximum controller compatibility (2.0v and 2.5v lines are undervolted however)

Bonus CAD nude:
1702706196904.png


What the project still needs:
  • A flex PCB to go between the DC and the GDemu.
  • A flex PCB to go between the DC and the Controller board.
  • A custom PCB at the rear of the case to house the AV port, SD card slot and power input.
  • Capacitive touch pads to go underneath the "buttons" on the top of the case, one for power and the other for disc swapping.
  • An overall refinement to the mounting system within the case. (too much hot glue used for my liking)
  • A vertical stand?
Thanks to @YveltalGriffin for inspiring the name of the project and for helping out with a couple of my technical questions during the trimming and relocation process.

 
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Been a pleasure following this. Excellent work as always. Going to add this to my list. its so tiny :-)
 

Wesk

Undervolting....
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I have made some slight adjustments to the design for improvements to wire running as well as additional bracing for parts that undergo considerable pressure such as the AV port:

1702895110523.png


And have further played around with colour, unfortunately the filaments I have just aren't close enough to the DC's colours:

1702895195454.jpeg


Also, the LED guide is now press fit instead of print-in-place which is the same change I made to the GC Nano after release. I find it's easier and cleaner to do it this way.
 

Wesk

Undervolting....
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Redesign is mostly complete, and to bring it to the masses it's looking like this will be a joint collab between @CrazyGadget , @Y2K and myself.

The unit is larger now having grown from 25mm tall to 32mm but the quantum jump in aesthetics has more than made up for it.

Dreamblade DC1.png
Dreamblade DC3.png
Dreamblade DC4.png

Dreamblade Wireframe.png
 

Wesk

Undervolting....
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Update:

Still waiting on parts to arrive but I'm hoping we can effectively cool the system with dual M.2 coolers. This would simplify the cooling setup significantly.
1706922133267.png
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We are also planning on supporting both VA0 and VA1 Dreamcast motherboards provided the VA0's don't run too toasty.

ElectronShepherds Analog2HDMI will also be supported along with PixelFX's DCDigital, giving flexibility to cost and features.

Dreamblade Alt.67.png
Dreamblade Alt.68.png
 

Wesk

Undervolting....
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System has been updated with dual air intakes after testing the new cooling setup. Temps are looking really good with more than acceptable fan noise levels.

On a VA0 motherboard running stock voltages (most power hungry and heat generating board, approx 9 watts?) the system topped out at 67c. Not exactly amazing but still well within safe limits.

On an undervolted VA1 board (approx 6-ish watts) the system topped out at 51c. This is exactly the target we were after.

So with this info we've determined that both boards will be suitable for the build, the m.2 coolers are a solid option and this will broaden the appeal of the project and make building one even simpler.

Dreamblade Transparent.2.png
 

Wesk

Undervolting....
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And in a move that should really shock nobody but was very nice to confirm, the VA0 motherboards seem to be able to handle the same undervolts as the VA1 boards. This has also confirmed that we can get the VA0 boards down to the same temps as undervolted VA1 boards.
 
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