Close
0%
0%

GameCubePC

The complete GameCube computer that replicates original functionality and adds several new features without sacrificing performance

Similar projects worth following
Starting from
$249.95
RetroModder has 5 orders / 1reviews
Ships from United States of America
This project's intent was to refine the design of using a GameCube shell as the enclosure for an emulation PC. Inside is a Windows 10 based computer and is, at the minimum, capable of running Wii, GameCube, N64, and more systems at their native resolutions and frame rates. This nostalgia-fueled PC is just as durable as it is portable, and packs a lot of utility inside its small case.

The original power/reset buttons, power LED, and controller ports have been preserved through custom circuit boards and a 4-port USB adapter for GameCube controllers. A 2-port USB 2.0 hub has been added to the front panel memory card slots, as well as a toggle switch to change the controller adapter's mode. Intake and exhaust fans also sit in the side vents of the top shell and provide sufficient air flow across the CPU cooler and motherboard.

Kits available on Tindie | Etsy

Link to Assembly Manual

Link to Compatible Motherboards


The GameCubePC can be built using either an mSTX form-factor motherboard or an Intel NUC.

The mSTX version can support a variety of processors, 260-pin SO-DIMM RAM, and either NVMe or SATA storage depending on the M.2 port specifications. The computer is powered externally through a 19V DC barrel jack power supply. Video output is provided by on-board DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA ports in the back, and audio input/output can be accessed through the 3.5mm jacks in the front. An optional M.2 WiFi/Bluetooth module can be added with the antennas mounted to a custom rear cover plate that sits above the rear I/O shield.

The NUC version is currently limited to the Intel NUC 7 Mainstream Kit (NUC7i5BNK) which has a core i5-7260U dual-core processor and in a lot of ways, can out-perform the mSTX builds. Similarly it accepts 260-pin SO-DIMM laptop RAM and SATA storage through the M.2 port.

The 3D printed bottom shell has been designed to both match the footprint of the top shell as well as provide a shelf for the motherboard to rest on. In the mSTX version, the motherboard is held in place by the standoffs that adapt the bottom shell to the original top shell. These standoffs also provide mounting points for 50mm intake and exhaust fans through the original top shell’s side vents. The rear standoffs include shelves to mount two custom circuit boards. The intake-side PCB positions the original power switch right below the button in the top shell. For the mSTX version, the exhaust-side PCB provides a fan hub to distribute the PWM fan signal from the motherboard to the 50mm fans, as well as the CPU fan for motherboards that only have one CPU fan header. For the NUC version, the exhaust-side PCB provides power to the fans but also controls their speed based on the case's ambient air temp, with a minimum speed setpoint that the fans will never drop below.

The controller ports are accessible through a USB adapter mounted and wired to the back of the original controller port board. The original memory card slots are now used to access to a 2-port USB hub and toggle switch to change the USB controller adapter’s mode.

The power and reset switches are wired to the internal front panel header’s power and reset pins. The underside screws that pass through the motherboard are coupled with rubber bumpers under the bottom shell and allow the unit to be stable on its resting surface.

Thank you to the following contributors!

  • Shane Marsh
  • Alberto Amador
  • Helder


  • Product Update ~ Apr. 2024

    RetroModder04/24/2024 at 22:53 0 comments

    This product update introduces new features added after the release of the GameCubePC kits.


    OCuLink Support

    A custom pass-through board was designed and mounted to the rear cover plate to allow for an easily accessible OCuLink connection.

    When used with an NVMe-to-SFF-8612 PCIe adapter (shown below) the motherboard can now interface with eGPU docks that support OCuLink, which offers even greater performance out of the mSTX motherboard.


    Intel NUC Support

    A new bottom shell has been designed to work with the motherboard from an Intel NUC7i5BNK kit. These motherboards are more readily available and offer comparable performance to the mSTX builds. The rear I/O and cover plate were merged into the bottom shell as one part, making assembly of these builds a much easier process.

    The NUC does not have headers for additional system fans, so the fan hub board from the mSTX version had to be re-designed to include a speed controller. This breadboard prototype is powered from the NUC's SATA power header, since I was unable to configure the USB header in BIOS to turn power off when the PC was in sleep mode. The fans were changed from 12V to their 5V counterpart.

    Since the fans are only 3-wire, PWM control cannot be used as the on-board circuitry doesn't like to have its power switched on and off, even at high frequencies (20-30 kHz). Instead, the fan speed is controlled by varying the voltage supply to the fan, with a minimum of 2.5V to keep the fan alive so air is always circulating through the case. The idle-to-max speed is based on an NTC thermistor that's measuring the ambient air temperature inside the case, which is then fed into a power op-amp circuit to drive the fan with a proportional output voltage.

    Min Fan Speed (2.5V) for T < 30°C

    Max Fan Speed (5.0V) for T > 35°C


    Power Button

    A new power switch was selected to replace the original for a better off-the-shelf solution.

  • Final Development Update ~ Aug. 2023

    RetroModder08/25/2023 at 20:22 0 comments

    This final development update shows a few lessons learned in trying to streamline the assembly process.

    Two custom brass soldering tips were machined to help improve the design of the standoffs. The first one is a 90° holder for threaded heat-set inserts, as the standard straight tips would interfere with plastic components during installation. This produces a much more professional look compared to machine screw threads that can easily strip in plastic components.

    The second custom soldering iron tip came about from wanting an alternative way to mount the case fans. This tip has a concave recess that, when heated and pressed against a plastic post, creates a dome-shaped cap and captures the fan in place. Definitely a more economical solution that replaces the 4 screws used before.

    One last helpful tool was made to improve the manual soldering that needs to be done after receiving the custom boards, which are only populated with SMT components. This 3D printed fixture acts as a holder for the through-hole components. The PCBs are then placed onto shelves with alignment pins which elevate them to the exact height and orientation for soldering.

  • Development Update ~ Mar. 2023

    RetroModder03/06/2023 at 04:49 0 comments

    This update focuses primarily on "productionization", including design simplification and improvements to part commonality. 

    A new design for the fan header board was made to use the same 4-pin headers as on the motherboard, simplifying the wire harness from the motherboard to this PCB.

    A new method of mounting the fan was experimented with. Four posts were added that the fan slides over, with the intent of using a custom-made soldering iron tip to "mushroom" the ends over and keep the fan in place. The fan was also changed to a less expensive off-the-shelf part.

    Threaded brass inserts were added for the four socket-head cap screws that hold the case together. Another custom-made soldering iron tip was machined in order to install these brass inserts in the tight space.

    Some cleaning up was done around the front panel USB board. SMT 0805 production-ready components replaced the larger through-hole and 1206 prototypes. A previous version of the board had failed due to absorbing a shock of static electricity, so an ESD protection chip was added to prevent component damage.

  • Development Update ~ Aug. 2021

    RetroModder09/24/2021 at 21:04 0 comments

    Designed a standoff bracket for the GameCube controller USB adapter to fit on top of the original controller port board. It started out as this simple rectangular mount, and then was carved down to a minimal bracket once all hole locations were aligned.

    Then assembled the first unit for testing.

    To further improve the design, a pair of intake and exhaust fans were added which required modification to the standoffs. A spare ASRock mSTX motherboard was coupled with an Intel i5-7600k processor, 8GB of Crucial DDR4-2666, and a 250GB Samsung 860 EVO SSD, and installed in a platinum shell for testing.

    A Fan Hub PCB was designed to break out the fan header to the intake and exhaust fans, and is located on the opposite side of the case as the Power Switch PCB. Since the ASRock motherboard only has one fan header for the CPU, it had to be split to branch off to all three fans. The GigaByte motherboard has both a CPU and accessory fan header, so only two fans needed to pass through the breakout board.

  • Development Update ~ Apr. 2021

    RetroModder09/24/2021 at 20:59 0 comments

    Further improved the faceplate PCB to include the USB hub on-board, so I do not need to rely on using a third party 4-port hub. Also removed two USB ports to add a switch for the GameCube controller USB adapter which allows external toggling between PC and Wii-U mode. Then combined the memory card slot covers and standoffs into one single mount for the board

  • Development Update ~ Mar. 2021

    RetroModder09/24/2021 at 20:57 0 comments

    A Power Switch PCB was designed to mount the original GameCube power switch to, along with a JST header for connecting to the motherboard.

    Then began its integration onto the motherboard standoffs. A 60mm exhaust fan was also added, but in the end a 50mm fan was decided on to save space. The 60mm fan would interfere with the USB header on the motherboard and make it nearly impossible to plug anything in.

    A few modifications were also made to the bottom shell, adding cutouts for the front I/O and a much sturdier slot for the front panel to drop into.

  • Development Launch ~ Nov. 2020

    RetroModder09/24/2021 at 20:52 0 comments

    This project was originally started with the goal of fitting a complete Windows 10 PC inside of a GameCube case, with the major requirement of running Wii and GameCube at full FPS and native resolution using Dolphin Emulator. Additional goals were set to retain full functionality of the original buttons, controller ports, cooling system, and more. Based on the specifications of the Mini-STX form factor, I knew one of these motherboards would barely fit inside of a GameCube shell.

    Using a Dremel to hollow out the inside of the bottom shell quickly turned into an ugly JB-welded mess, and there was still no good way to firmly mount the motherboard to it.

    While pondering the bottom shell issue, work continued on wiring the original front controller ports to a GameCube controller USB adapter. A connector with the correct pitch was spec'd out that allowed an interface to be established with the original controller port board.

    The controllers being passed through to the USB adapter was a success, and was able to get the adapter to function in both PC (D-Input) and Wii-U mode in Dolphin. Because of a lack of USB ports on the motherboard, a custom PCB was designed to handle the addition of 4 ports in the memory card slots using a third party low-profile USB hub. There is only one internal USB 2.0 header on the motherboard, so the GameCube controller USB adapter uses one port and the 4-port USB hub uses the other.

    A 3D printer was necessary to make the build clean looking. After many tweaks to match the curvature of both the inside and outside of the front panel, some standoffs and USB port covers were produced.

    The bottom shell was also designed, and only a few prints were required to get the base very close to the original shape. Motherboard I/O access and a slot for the front controller port panel to rest in were also added.

    Standoffs for the original GameCube screw posts were needed to adapt the top half of the case to the PC motherboard's mounting pattern. A cover was also printed that goes above the motherboard rear I/O shield, and has mounting holes for the WiFi and Bluetooth antennas.

    Features

    • Functional controller ports using GameCube controller to USB adapter
    • Added 4 USB ports to front panel
    • Accessible front motherboard I/O from outside of case
    • WiFi/Bluetooth antennas connected to internal dual wireless card
    • Large M.2 heat sink (drive gets quite hot)
    • Sturdy structure and assembly

    Future fixes

    • Top shell LED only comes on when the GameCube controller USB adapter is in a certain mode. As soon as I toggle the switch, it turns off power to that LED, so I need to source power from somewhere else
    • Perhaps part of the same problem above, the reset switch actually has power going to it in a certain mode of the GameCube controller USB adapter, which holds the reset pin on the motherboard high and causes the computer to continuously power cycle until I switch modes
    • May be more convenient to relocate the switch on the GameCube controller USB adapter to the front panel
    • No issues with cooling the CPU yet but may install some small fans using the original intake and exhaust vents
    • Design a PCB to mount the original power switch to, and then 3D print a mount for it

View all 7 project logs

Enjoy this project?

Share

Discussions

Similar Projects

Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and never miss any updates