GeekNights Tuesday - Modding Consoles

Lon.TV is lowkey an awesome retro console modder that does great reviews on them. Otherwise let your parents know about him when they ask you what tech they should buy.

Also since they mentioned it on the podcast but did not link it here was the video in question:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71d1dqPf2gQ

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I got the Everdrive GBA X5 flash cartridge shipped from the Ukraine. I put a 32GB micro SD in there, since that’s enough to hold everything. On the card I have the OS, emulators and ROMs for every GBA, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, NES, Game Gear, and SEGA Master System game ever. Of course I also put the Mother 3 fan translation on there.

Everything works amazingly and perfectly. This is way better than any DS flash cart I had. The high price was worth it. For most of these games, this is now definitely the preferred platform to play them on.

The only negative is that the resolution of a GBA screen, even an upgraded super bright backlit IPS one, is too low for NES or even SMS games. The emulators scale them down. This isn’t really the end of the world. I tried Mega Man 2 and beat Metal Man with no problems. I noticed the scaling the whole time I was playing, but it didn’t interfere with gameplay at all. Definitely not upset to play a game that way.

Even so, I’m thinking if getting into the RetroPie game. I just want something comfortable with a screen that can play NES, SNES, and Genesis with pixel perfection. It seems like a lot of RetroPie people out there are even loading up N64, PSX, or even PS2?!?! games. That doesn’t interest me very much. Those aren’t really games I want to play on the go.

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If anyone else has the Everdrive GBA X5 and needs a zip file containing all the files you want to put on your 32GB (or larger) SD card already perfectly organized and patched and everything, let me know.

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I got all the parts yesterday, and I was able to put it together in less than 1 hr, I goofed up wit the brightness wires, so i had to do some re-soldering. The new shell feels super nice, and I am thinking on ordering their gameboy case sock when I use their lowpower case promo code.

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So far I really happy with the product. My only issue was that I completely forgot to place the insulating film to the screen’s metal surface. If it shorts I’ll take it as a learning experience, order another one and place it correctly.

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Very nice. I also almost missed the insulating thing. I was saved because they put a notice in big text on it.

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Any console I have that’s not latest generation is softmodded. My Vita exists to play the (honestly many, but you have to have my particular tastes) good Vita games that exist. The 3DS handles any handheld console well enough, either through emulation or injection (though I gotta get a flashcart to handle DS), the PS3 handles all Playstation games save the PS4, and the Wii U handles the Nintendo systems well enough, as well as PC Engine.

My plan for the future is to snag a Saturn and a Dreamcast, and that would complete the slate of major consoles.

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Now where did I put those zip disks that I never owned ever.

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I think it’s quite obvious why the Dreamcast Zip drive never got released. Dreamcast had special discs that could hold 1 gigabyte of data. A zip disc could hold 100 megabytes. Even at the time, Zip discs were much much more expensive to produce than optical discs. Distributing a game on a Zip disc was just worse in every way. And then someone could put that Zip disc in their PC and piracy ahoy!

The only advantage is that the Zip disks were read/write. I guess if there was a game that had so much save data that it wouldn’t fit on the VMU? But even then, who is going to pay that much for such a large device, and several disks, when it’s just a fancy memory card? GameCube and Playstation memory cards existed and had a lot more storage at much lower prices.

Dreamcast did have some Internet capabilities. They could have used this to launch digital games distribution for smaller games that would fit on the zip disks. Genesis games and such would have been appealing then. Problem is, nobody had fast enough Internet at the time, and download speeds would have been horrendous.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered the TFT LCD kit for the gameboy color, and the clean Amp for my modded GBA, and since I had to code I also got the Low Power Add-On,
The reason why I decided to go with a TFT for my old gameboy color was because I didn’t want to do a major modification to my original gameboy color case, plus I wanted to compare the screen between IPS and TFT.

Suffice to say that in future modifications I’ll go with IPS every time.
Don’t get me wrong, the convenience of not having to alter your original case goes a long way. But, IPS is a lot brighter, and looks a lot sharper than a TFT screen.

The kit does come with a sensor that is place in the RF sensor to adjust brightness.

I rather keep it at the brightest setting.

Regrading the Low Power Add-on, it turns out I didn’t need it. Hand Held Legend sent me the updated version from the get go. I found that out after installing it since my battery didn’t work. Then, I checked the board that they sent and some parts from the add-on one were already in the board that I already owned.

I am taking it as a learning experience, specially because I had to desolder the add-on from my board for it to work again. In the process I did damage my case a little but it is not big deal. Currently waiting for the right time to get to Microcenter to get flux, and some wires so i can do the audio modification.

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Finally got a chance to get some flux and wired from MicroCenter to install the CleanAmp v1.1 Audio Amplifier and speaker.
Desodering the old speaker was easy enough, and there were no issues whatsoever until I got to the second wire in which a part of the amplifier came out.
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Luckily I was able to savage it
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I reached out to Handheld Legend, and chances are that I would get a replacement.

Again, I am taking this as a learning experience, as I had to take out the installed wired, and resoder the old speaker back in place, which now sounds better than before, I guess while resodering I cleaned the old connections maybe? I am just curious on how good the audio mod sounds, some people love it some don’t really care much for it.

What I think it would be a game changer is if somehow moders add some type of Bluetooth functionality.

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This would be a game changer, but it’s just too big to fit inside the GBA case. A Bluetooth transmitter or receiver typically is about the size of a USB stick and costs about $20-$30. Plus, it needs power because it’s a radio as well as a ADC/DAC.

The tiny amplifiers require much less power and are just amplifying an already analog signal.

If you really want bluetooth, the best route would be to do some sort of Raspberry Pie based handheld.

How about them fancy controller setups

What about something like this? Or am I missing something?

A GBA doesn’t have USB. USB provides both data and power. If you want to take the radio chip from that USB dongle and put it in a GBA you need to add power from somewhere, and you’ve only got the two AA batteries to work with.

https://youtu.be/sNg_S9UM5ps

As expected.

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Could always just program one of these and design you’re own case.

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The screen is only 160x128. I’m looking to get a portable with screen resolution of 640x480.

I gifted this to my brother and little nephews having this in mind. even though currently they are perfectly fine with the 3 games it comes with.
He is a computer programmer and way more versed than me in programing, and my older nephew is always into knowing how things work.
I hope they can make this into a portable library of our childhood for a future generation.

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I feel like there’s still a a demand for pocket devices, that would be evolutions of Tamagotchi and VMUs.

Low end- high end.

High end being devices such as playdate, low end being hobbyist programmable PCBs.