Some thoughts on layout

So bread took up most of today. Scratch that, sleep, not being arsed to get out of bed and bread took up most of today. In that order. Decreasing order.

But, I did do some thinking about how I’m going to lay out this portable GameCube. My vision of what it should look like is something like this image on the right, and I think its going to be pretty close.

Some rough estimates look like I should be able to get another 2 battery packs in there so 9.6Ah * 3 = 28.8Ah? Should be good anyway, the GameCube power supply says 3.25A at 12V so should be looking at around 8-9 hours battery life, which in all honesty, is pretty good but that doesn’t take into account the LCD.

Still it is going to be pretty bulky and these extra battery packs are really just there because there is going to be space. Issue is, I really want it to have the disc drive central on the back. Sorta like the… well completely like the PSP did, essentially this is what I’m aiming for. That’s what takes up the space, clearly if I put the disc drive to one side and just had the one battery it’d be only just bigger than the screen.

Anyway as you can see from the photo it’s going to be a little… wide, especially with the controller halfs on the sides. Not too bad though, its about 2 inches either side of the screen before the controller and it does allow for the extra batterys. Biggest bonus though is its going to be pretty thin… comparatively, not much more than the controller, this was my biggest fear initially that you’d have the controller and about 3 inches back from that as more case.

As an aside of sorts I found a while back something I’m really not trying to make: The Ccube. The successor to that actually looks pretty swish, if a bit pricey at 800-1000USD (I assume US) seeing as you can pick up everything I’ve got for under 100 quid and my battery life is going to be excessively more than that one’s.

Putting a Bun in the Oven… and 7 more

Had to.

Anyway, I baked some rolls today, and learnt some important lessons.

So, pretty epic eh?

Anyway, I wanted to make rolls because I cannot find, anywhere I’ve spent the time to look, crusty rolls. They always sell these nasty, solid, soft outer rolls that I don’t like. My issue with rolls is theres too much bread, so a nice crusty shell sorta breaks it up a bit, that and light and airy inside is good too.

Unfortunately these rolls didn’t go super well. Well they are pretty epic, I just had some kitchen equipment issues. So lessons learnt:

Lesson 1: I really need to clean my oven… its not that its really dirty, theres just some oil/fat/something at the bottom that vaporises when I cook anything in there, probably because I never really use a baking tray, which leads onto…

Lesson 2: I need baking trays if I’m going to keep baking stuff, also for pizzas and other things too. I spent maybe 30 minutes today cleaning the wire racks in the oven because I don’t have baking trays to put the rolls on, and it’s not the best thing ever to use for this reason:

Yeah, so bread dough on a rack tend to sorta fall through and re-form on the other side, I had to pull some of the rolls off and push others back through the gaps… good thing i cleaned them pretty well.

Lesson 3: Ovens get really hot, my right hand is killing me from stupid burns. I managed to get one at work when i decided to catch a soldering iron, but that wasn’t too bad, in the fleshy bit of the palm by your thumb. But picking up a hot wire rack with a tea towel, not good. The tea towel was damp, folded up lots and I still managed to quite badly burn my middle finger and thumb on my right hand.

Lesson 4: My cooking is amazing.
Well not so much a lesson, I already knew this, but it can be a lesson for you. Don’t be taking me on in the kitchen, my food is epic even when I fuck it up… maybe even especially when I mess it up… maybe not that last one.

Weird Screws, Clip-on Panels and Tricksy Heatsinks

Ok so yesterday I began this Portable GameCube project by taking apart the donor console. Here’s a picture of all the parts I have so far for this project, should be everything I need apart from a few consumables and paint.

Picture quality sucks, but it was on my phone, anyway. On the left is the 7″ TFT screen and all the extra junk that came with it. It’s designed for use in a car or something but its actually a pretty good screen for only 20 quid, comes with a panel mounting plate, has two video inputs tehcnically one is for a rear view camera in a car with a remote switch to change between them. In the top right is the donor GameCube, cables and controllers. The issue with the controllers is that the switches are attached to a single PCB inside, so to cut the controller in half you have to cut the PCB which of course means it wont work any longer, so the second controller will be used with wires to connect up all the buttons and such.

Bottom right is the battery, its a 12V 9600mAh battery with a mains charger for japan or wherever it came from,I will probably get a few more of these as when I was figuring the size out a while back I think there was a load of extra room and more battery == more playtime, and longer battery life too since the current drain will be lower on each battery. Not pictured, there is a LED display and driver chip for a battery monitoring circuit so you can see how much battery is left, this’ll have to be set-up in situe so I’ll also have to get some variable resistors and other items to finish off that part.

OK, so on with the dissassembly, there are 4 deep holes at the corners each of which has a screw at the bottom, but not a normal screw, oh no. Nintendo at least use a special headed screw which is kindof an inverse torx head. Instead of being a 6 sided cog shape imprint its a similar shape extruded instead, of course you need a special tool to undo these screws called a “Game Bit”. The right part is acutally pretty cheap, you can get both sizes for about 5 quid plus postage from ebay but the GameCube uses the larger of the two.

Right so you’ve bought your relatively special tools and you’ve undone the 4 screws that secure the top to the base. Flip the Gamecube over and lift the top of the case off, it should come away easily. Now you’re left with the actual Gamecube hardware and to be honest, its pretty small. Theres a laser lens in the top which you do not want to damage so best way to avoid it is to just put a disc in which will keep it covered and relatively safe.

Now on the left is a fan assembly and at the front is the controller/memory card facia. All the mechanical parts for the disc cover are self contained in the case which is great as it means I don’t have to rebuild it all in a dodgey way, but the reset and power buttons are seperate and will have to be attached later on. The front facia is pretty easy to remove, it looks and feels pretty sturdy but actually you can just lift/pull ir forward and it unclips, just don’t pull it straight off.

The ribbon cable at the back is actually quite strong but still, try and be a bit careful with it, as you can see it is soldered to the front panel not in a connector and that would be a bastard to fix. The back of the cable is just in a vertical slot on the main PCB and can be pulled straight up and out disconnecting the front panel entirely with the controller ports, which is good, but also with the reset switch and power on LED which is somewhat annoying. The memory card slots are connected directly to the main PCB which is an issue, but not unsolvable.

Next comes the fan assembly, there are two screws which hold it in place and are undone in the picture, and there is a power cable that runs through the fan to the small power PCB at the rear of the unit. Disconnect the red and black power lead and pull it out of the securing slot in the fan, the cable runs right down to the base so its best to just pull it to the side so it is out of the way. You have to full remove the two screws before removing the fan as it has to be pulled out laterally away from the unit due to the plastic piece going under the disc reader.

So with the fan you’ve removed 2 of the 20 screws securing the disc assembly to the main PCB. There are 8 more that you can see on the sides on this picture and 4 more in the back that you can’t. There is also an additional 4 screws that hold the memory card slots together that have to be removed as well. The back plate is then attached in much the same way as the front panel and just pulls away, no cables attached to it. This then reveals the 4 remaining screws which allows you to remove the disc unit with relative ease as it just lifs off.

So here it is, the main core of the GameCube, with one pretty big heatsink. Now this is where it gets a bit tricky to see what to do next. There are no obvious screws holding the board in place but it wont budge. So there are those 6 heatsink screws… normally you don’t want to remove a heatsink if you can help it because you have to get thermal goo and reseat it and a world of other pains, but actually those 6 screws aren’t holding the heatsink, they hold the PCB to the base. Undo these with care as they have a small spring washer on them as well which you want to make sure you don’t lose assuming you want to attach the PCB to the metal base below it again, which I might. These spring washers just help to stop the screw losening under vibration by holding it tight against the threads once it has been done up and if you’ve ever picked up a GameCube whilst it is on it vibrates A LOT with the disc spinning. Anyway, after removing the screws the PCB just lifts out leaving the base and that power cable from earlier.

The large metal plate is held in by 4 screws and then just lifts out leaving only the power regulator circuit and some metal pieces for grounding and structural purposes. The power regulator is held in by 4 small screws and then just lifts out. This circuit will is important as it allows the GameCube to use the 12V power supply from the mains brick, or in my case, battery packs to give all the power rails the board needs, I’ve not checked it but at a guess there’s 12V, 3.3V and 1.8V supply rails, but there could well be other voltages too.

So that’s it, just lift out the regulator circuit and other bits of metal and you’ve disassembled the GameCube, pretty much entirely. There are other things you can disassemble if you want, like the disc drive assembly, but I want mine to continue to work after I’ve finished.

There are two things I’d like to say about this process. Firstly, I’d normally try and keep track of where screws came from and there’s loads of methods, you can label everything and write it all down, put the screws back where they came from, lay them out in a map format so you can immediately see where they came from, but I didn’t, there is only 4 types of screw in the gamecube and it’s pretty obvious where they go, as its mostly the large brass ones that hold the disc drive in place.

Secondly, the GameCube is a really well built piece of kit, there were no connectors to undo for the most part and no tricky parts to undo… execept the gameb bit obviously. This is something usually really overlooked by electronics designers, usually you’re lucky if the PCB fits the case properly once it has parts on it, and working in the test an repair department for a company that makes a load electronics, it can be a real pain in the ass to undo some screws and get to components sometimes. The GameCube is a pleasure to work on though and if you know what you’re doing you could completely disassemble and reassemble a GameCube in 10 minutes, which is impressive for most electronics of this level, look at any other console, it’ll take you 10 minutes to get the case off, let alone disconnect everything and dismantle it to base parts.

So next on this project I’m going to try and work out some spacings and I’ve got a couple of quic drawings of what i want it to look like in the end to scan in and upload at some point.

What is up with internet providing companies

I’ve spent the last 2 hours trying to get this to work how I want, a job that if i had direct access to the machine in any form would have taken 10 mintues. From 1&1’s bastardised admin tools to BT blocking my site for some reason it’s been a nightmare. Whilst I can understand why they make this stuff hard to do look at 123-reg, its a shitty form ok, but it’s direct access to the DNS registration you’ve bought, and at the end of the day, you’ve paid for the domain, why can’t you access the proper DNS record information.
And BT, don’t even. Seriously, what is with blocking sites at random… I can’t even connect with FTP or SFTP it’s ridiculous, that and they put their own fake 404 response, so if they want to block a website from you, they just throw their 404 page at you and there aint a thing you can do about it… except tunnel through an external computer of course, which is what I’m doing now.

Oh, I was going to post some lovely pictures of disassembling the GameCube but BT fucked that one in the ass, going to sleep now instead.

What really gets me out of bed in the morning…


Basically, nothing. It’s not that I dislike getting up, I just have no reason to. This is probably my biggest problem in life, motivation. I have none, well except for the starting a project motivation, the one that fades away after the first few days/failed attempts.

Projects are awesome, not like Barney Stinson awesome, but they’re up there somewhere. I have within a few meters of me at least the beginnings of 4 projects I’ve started over the years. Behind my laptop is the MIMO USB touch screen I bought shortly after deciding I was going to build a car PC and software, I had it all worked out too with GPS, music, phone intergration, wireless syncing, etc, etc. But it never really got much further than that, till about 9 months ago when I bought a 300 quid microITX computer that would run off a 12V supply… and thats where that stalled again, I got it up and running, had debian running on it with the little screen, played about with synergy for a bit, then got bored and its just be collecting dust ever since.

So now I’ve decided I need to take these things more seriously, I’ve invested stupid amounts of money into some things for no real reason and have got bored of them pretty quickly, my mini, this blog/site thing. Well not so much the mini, I had to start working which buggered that up but that’s another story. Anyway, main point of all this, I was planning on making soemthing in the vein of this.

Now what I really like about this one over the hundreds out there, is that it still feels like an N64, I look at it and think that’s an N64, not, that’s the insides of an N64 stuffed into a lunch box. I don’t know what it is about it, but when I see that, I still see an N64, even though it clearly isn’t anymore. So in that vein I decided, a while back now, I think it was early last summer, to do a similar project, only with a different console. The GameCube.

What I think makes the GameCube such a good console for this is it was always designed to be portable… sort of. It’s small, robust, has a handle and most importantly, the games are mostly games you want to play with a group of people. This, I think, is where Nintendo were cornering the market, whilst Sony and Microsoft were fighting it out for the super intense, real life graphic, n00b pawning action in the on-line fps market, Nintendo were dominating the multi-player and casual gamer market with first the GameCube and then the Wii. Unfortunately they seemed to have turned back on this and tried to head into the serious gamer market, which to be honest, they were never that far out of with series like Metroid and Zelda.

But I digress, Portable Friggin’ GameCube, it’s going to be intense, watch this space…. well no, watch above because that’s where anything will be posted not in the whitespace following that statement.

Socks, WTF

Seriously, WTF is with socks. They never pair, I have a pile of unmatched socks and there’s no second sock to go with any of them. At all. It’s not like I’ve found an odd sock and thrown it away, that’s what the pile is for. Still, every month it gets bigger even though there’s nowhere for the socks to have gone. I’m always having to buy more socks so I have pairs but since I don’t throw any away where are the others going?

I can only assume there is an evil cartel between sock and washing machine manufacturers to have the washing machine completely destroy socks on occasion so you always have to buy new socks and so endlessly fuelling the capitalist machine, or something like that anyway. So after I’ve done my washing tomorrow and searched this entire house/flat/duplex thing for any sock I can find, 20 odd socks are going in the bin. I will have only pairs, and only socks without holes in. More than likely I will be buying a new pack of socks by the end of the week when I run out.

On anther note, successful blogging here, 6 months between posting. See you in August I guess!