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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 04/22/2014 at 17:020 Comments

Things are still slow going for me. But I have made some progress on the enclosure. This is the color scheme I am shooting for. I removed any extra plastic from the inside to make room. I also cut out the front bezel leaving just a lip for the plastic lens. I need to find a good way of smoothing out that lip, since I am expecting it to show through the clear lens. I am planning to mask things off and paint just the lip in gold like the other parts.

 I ruined the lenses trying to sand and polish them (I still haven't found a reliable way to do this with clear plastic), so I made molds and am in the process of casting new ones in clear resin.

I also cleared out the grill in front of the cartridge port from the inside. I will be installing a fine copper screen beneath that and the cartridge port. I have debated cutting some features out on the top on either side of the cart port as well and putting screen behind them (to simulate speakers), but that might be too much.

Of course, these pictures are missing the feet which were also painted gold. I need to update the pics, I guess. That white stuff is from the buffing compound I used to smooth out the paint. That's all been cleaned off of course.

The memory expansion port was cut down from the inside but left enough so that the lid can still snap in. I am thinking of putting my uSD extender and the OTG usb mini port inside there so I will have access to them externally.

That little oval beneath the bezel was the power light for the N64. From the inside, it was a plastic light pipe. I painted this with chrome paint (masking off the very tip) to increase reflection. I ordered some amber LEDs to simulate incancescent light.

A feature that I thought would be neat is to give the vent openings a "tube glow." But I would want to be able to turn that off since it isn't something I would need to be on all the time.

I have also modded the 1.5" OLED screen to be able to install it in the front bezel. I haven't finalized exactly how I am going to implement it. Brainstorming has gone from modifying U-boot to show a logo while booting, system health, or maybe even different emulated system logos when an emulator is chosen.

Displaying stats from games would be cool as well, but I think something would have to be programmed for each individual game in order to do that.

Right now, the plan is to put the IR receiver beside the screen in the same bezel. But I am also thinking it might be better to move that to another spot. Any ideas (as if anyone is actually reading this...)?

And of course, I am trying to think of ideas to simulate a radio dial. But the OLED screens are blue on black, so unless I switch to a full color  LCD screen that would cover the entire lens area, I am not sure how that would work out. If someone has any ideas, I would love to hear them. With the uGFX library, it appears that I can make the screen a standard output from linux, so once that is all set up, I should be able to display pretty much anything (in 128x64 resolution, of course.) I am open to getting a different screen, of course. Just need some ideas beyond "hey that sounds cool" which is about as far as I had put into it so far.

Thinking about the back panel, it appears the only connections back there are going to be power in, HDMI, and LAN. The wifi and bluetooth will be connected to a hub internally. There will be two ports left over, so perhaps I will bring those out to the back.

The controller ports will be on another 4 port USB hub. 2 for controllers and the other two for a keyboard and mouse (though I will be using a bluetooth keyboard and mouse in normal use.)

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