Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mameboy Advance Arcade Build

So I know its been a long time since my last blog post or youtube video. This fall I've started working as a research assistant in addition to graduate school so needless to say I have had to put my personal projects on hold. But now I am home for winter break and want to get some of those projects I've been putting off done ... or at least closer to done.

This brings me to one particular project that I've dreamt of for quite awhile. My first game console was my Gameboy Advance SP and I love the system to death. I always thought it would be cool to be able to hook up the system to a TV to play. Many years passed and I learned of a product that could be purchased off Ebay that would do just that with a little modification of the Gameboy Advance. Out of box it is compatible with both the 32 and 40 pin Advances even though the description says you need to buy another adapter for 32 pin compatability but it will not natively work with the SP. It is called the Gameboy TV Converter shown below courtesy of Ebay.
 So I sprung for one. After I received it I installed it into an old GBA I had lying around and was dismally dissapointed. The flat flex cable that was used to intercept LCD data for the converter was just press fitted on and this meant a lackluster connection that would cause the image to be unstable or not work at all sometimes. I knew that I had to solder the wires to make a reliable connection. So I found this really helpful site with pinouts and instructions on just how to do exactly that: I carefully soldered up an .1" edge connector to IDE wire and then made the connections to the test pads around the ZIF connector on the GBA.
I plugged everything in and this is the result of my half hour hack:
Success!!! Now to load up one of my favorite games:
So my next move is to wire the TV converter to a spare GBA SP I have with a busted screen. Then I plan to build a table top arcade cabinet with a 5" LCD and stuff all of this into it. It will be called the Mameboy Advance Arcade. You just pop your cart into the coin slot area and play your favorite games on a bigger screen with arcade controls. This will take quite a bit of work so this project probably wont get done over winter break but will be a work in progress.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

PS2 Modbo 4.0 Installation and Translucent Case Mod

I know its been awhile since my last post but I've been busy completing my and preparing for graduate school. However in my usual weekend activity of perusing retro game stores I came upon a deal that I couldn't say no to. I managed to find a slimline model 79001 ps2 in the as is/broken pile at a retro game store for the paltry sum of $8. This is where piles of seemingly broken game consoles and accesories go when they are deemed unfixeable. But so far everything I have found and bought from this section has been repairable.

So I got home and plugged everything in and hit power expecting nothing but I was wrong. The ps2 was fully functional with some caveats. The disc spindle sometimes doesn't grab the disc correctly and the multi video out jack sometimes needs a wiggle to get rid of interference. I will address both problems in the future. I gave her a good clean since she was full of dog hair and a dead fly. I joked to a friend that I literally debugged a game console.

Attaining a second slim ps2 (my first was a silver model 90000) has prompted me to dig out a modbo 4.0 modchip I purchased around two years ago for $4 off dealextreme but didn't have the courage to install on my only system. But now I have a cheap practice system so I had little to lose. First I downloaded installation diagrams for my model with the help of google images.

I only needed to solder 21 pins. The four in the box labeled F were by far the most difficult since the pitch of the pins was so tight. But I took my time and surprisingly everything worked first go which is rare for me.

I used 30 awg wire wrap wire from radioshack and tried to be neat with laying it out. For the power wires I used thicker stranded wire. I used scotch tape to secure the trickier wires double sided foam tape for the modchip pcb. Even with my temperature controlled iron with a fine tip some of the joints proved difficult but patience prevailed in the end.

And here it is booting some backups I made. Before I had to use swap magic discs to boot my copies but now they play like my pressed originals. It works with both ps1 and ps2 games plus I can boot ulaunchelf from a memory card. And now before anyone starts arguing about the legality issues I create my backups from the original discs that I purchased and only use them so I can leave my originals safe at home when I go off to college. I would cry if anything happened to my original discs. Finally I've ordered a translucent grey replacement case for the system and will post pictures and a video when I have gotten and installed it.