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retroCART USB Cartridge System

Is it really a computer if there's no cartridge slot?

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Do you miss the satisfying thunk of plugging in a old school game cartridge? Do you wish your USB devices were far larger than necessary? If so, then the retroCART might be for you! Inspired by 1980s VTech designs, these 3D printable shells let you relive the glory days of computing without sacrificing the capability and performance of modern technology.

Originally developed as part of my personal cyberdeck, the retroCART system has now been spun off into its open source project so others can integrate it into their creations. To make it easier for you to encase your USB gadgets in comically large faux-cartridges, I've made the OpenSCAD design compatible with Customizer so you can easily tweak the design without having to fiddle with the source code.

I've also included STLs of a few cartridges I've already made, which should be ready to use if you by the same devices (printer calibration not withstanding).

cart_wemos.stl

Cartridge for Wemos D1 Mini

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 996.58 kB - 02/23/2021 at 04:49

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cart_ud100.stl

Cartridge for Sena Parani UD100 Bluetooth Adapter

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 953.77 kB - 02/23/2021 at 04:49

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cart_pau06.stl

Cartridge for Panda Wireless PAU06 WiFi Adapter

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 943.30 kB - 02/23/2021 at 04:49

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cart_m32ab.stl

Cartridge for Samsung FIT Flash Drive

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 906.03 kB - 02/23/2021 at 04:49

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cart_basic.stl

Cartridge reference design

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 922.34 kB - 02/23/2021 at 04:49

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View all 7 files

  • 1
    Cartridge Assembly

    For most cartridges, you simply need to stick your USB device into the case and screw it together. Some, like the Wemos D1 Mini cart, require a bit more work as you'll need a small micro USB extension cable and a few zip ties.

    Ideally you would use #6 Plastite screws to hold the cartridges together, but in a pinch, you can use M3 cap head screws. Just be careful not to strip out the holes.

  • 2
    Slot Assembly

    The design for the cartridge slot is in two pieces, allowing you to not only print it without supports, but experiment around a bit with the slot depth without reprinting the entire thing. The screw holes go through the entire body, so you can use whatever length M3 cap head screws you have on hand for both assembly and final mounting.

    One of the key elements of this design is the integrated clamp that holds the USB extension. This is made up of a M3 nut inserted into a pocket in the 3D printed part, and an M3 screw installed through the opposite side. Torquing down this screw will pin the extension in place, and in my experience, puts enough pressure on it to easily puncture the molded end (try not to short anything out).

    The key here is to mount the slot to whatever you're working on, insert a cartridge, and then tighten down the clamp. This will lock the USB extension into the proper position for ideal operation. Oh, and try not to put it in upside-down; I've done that enough times for both of us by now.

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ScriptedAnarchy wrote 03/26/2021 at 20:54 point

This is legend level amazing.

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