A project log for N64 Retro Emulation Station conversion

This project is to build a standalone retro emulation station using the Cubieboard 2 (Arm A20) inside a modified N64 console

RetroplayerRetroplayer 04/13/2014 at 19:260 Comments

Been a few days since I have posted anything due to a family emergency. I have been trying to brush up on the cubieboard, build environment, and working on the case.

The learning curve to the Cubieboard is a bit steep. Especially coming from very little experience with Linux in general. This is further complicated by the fact that the Cubieboard community is young still and the support is not the best. Even trying to follow the toolchain instructions at Linux-Sunxi seems to assume you have alot of other stuff already set up and it is bit cryptic what that stuff is. And for whatever reason, the forums will not send me an activation email. Grr...

But I plug along. If anything, I am persistent and patient.

Once I get the hang of this, I will definitely be putting something together to help others along. And since I am planning to go from u-boot, dual boot, kernel, and package development from scratch from a complete newbie perspective, my hope is that this will give us all the tools to build our own systems with this board.

On to the case:

I have disassembled the final enlclosure and started moving my work over to that. I used JB Kwik-weld to fill the nintendo logo and and any chips and dents that I found. I had tried to use bondo before, but it just crumbles away. The two-part epoxy holds up much better. After filling and sanding, I added two coats of flat gray primer to the top and bottom halves of the enclosure. I plan to let this sit for several days to allow the primer to fully set.

I drilled and ground out the front controller connectors leaving just the shells. I then sanded and primered these. I then went over them with a chrome metallic paint. I then used a copper-ing spray to give it a nice copper finish. Basically it is just a tint over the chrome. Once all this has settled, it will be sealed with a clear coat for luster.

I originally planned to use some panel mount USB cables to mold into the controller ports, but they didn't quite fit like I wanted. So I have ordered some DIY USB Female A connectors and shells. I will be setting these within the controller shells with epoxy.

I installed the HDMI extender cable into the video out panel. It required some filing to fit. Then I used non-hardening modeling clay shoved into the connector and carefully trimmed to mask off the connector. Then again the two part epoxy was used to bond and fill  the two parts together. The mask will stay in place until after painting. Then I will simply pull it out. The same will be done with the front USB controller ports.

The cartridge port and top grill will have a fine copper screen installed. The grill will need to be modified to remove the inside grill parts allowing the screen to show better. Two part epoxy will then hold the mesh screen in place. The goal is for this to look like speaker grills.

For the buttons, I am experimenting. I plan to paint them the same bakelite brown color as the rest of the chassis, but I want the letter to show up in chrome. So the idea is to paint them brown, spray them with the chrome paint and give it about 5 minutes and wipe the chrome paint off leaving it in the recessed letters. This will be helped by masking off the areas around the letters.

I managed to mess up both of the lenses trying to polish them and tint them. I plan to order some tinted plexiglass and just make new ones. I wish I could figure out the right process to sand and then polish these things to crystal clear again because the shape of the lens is rounded and I am going to lose that by using flat acrylic unless I can sand it to the shape I want.

I received the 1.3" OLED display and have started looking at what's out there to control the SSD1306 controller on ARM over I2C. Adafruit has some code for the Raspberry Pi that can be ported. I also found uGFX library which has advanced GUI stuff. Once I can get a toolchain up and running properly, I can get these ported and incorporated.

In summary, some progress has been made on the case. It's slow going because the paint takes time to dry between steps. I learned from the guinea pig enclosure to take my time with this or it won't look right.

Not much progress has been made on the software side of things yet. Perhaps getting all the hardware finalized and installed will make things go a bit smoother. Right now, I am attempting cross platform development, but maybe it will be easier to do all of this on the actual hardware.

If there are any Linux gurus following, I would EXTREMELY appreciate some help getting over the hump of this which is setting up and using a proper toolchain. It won't be just for me as I will documenting everything for others, as well.