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How to make a handheld portable Nintendo 64 N64 gaming console - iNto64

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Picture of How to make a handheld portable Nintendo 64 N64 gaming console - iNto64
Ever wanted to make your Nintendo 64 (N64) gaming console into a handheld portable unit for "on the go" playing?

This system runs off Li-ion batteries which are powerful enough to run the system, and are also rechargeable cells.


With this series of comprehensive videos, you can. The video series has attracted a considerable internet interest to date on the major gaming sites and YouTube, so I thought i'd post this guide onto Instructables too.

If you're looking at making such a system, or another portable for that matter, please join my active forum, where we can hand-hold you through the process and offer help and assistance as and when you need it; it is a very friendly and helpful community:

www.bacman.co.uk/home

Here is a video of the final system:

 
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Step 1: Introduction

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Making a handheld portable is fun and the ability to play a console on the go is also entertaining. Having a portable also means you don't need to be tied to playing on the family television, littering your floor also with power supplies, large console units and controllers which also have a habit of reeling around themselves making it awkward to set the system up in the first place.

Making vintage retro console portables into handhelds is a very good hobby to have, you learn new skills, have to do a fair bit of problem solving in the process; and end up with something special that only a few dozen other people have in the world.

Let me show you the principles of making your own Nintendo 64 portable. With these techniques, you can progress to other console systems too as the principles therein are similar to making other systems.

Step 2: Tools you need for the project

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This video covers many of the tools you will need to make a portable handheld console system.


Step 3: First things first - opening up the N64 console

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First things first, this video shows the opening of the N64 console and its parts, in order to get to the motherboard, which after all is what we need for the project.


Step 4: Removing the ports and heatsink pads

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One of the general requirements of making a handheld portable console is to make it as light as can be reasonably achieved and also as slimline as can be reasonably made. You will never get a slim N64 portable due to the thickness of the game cartridge and port, requirements for batteries; screen thickness, etc. What you can however do is to remove the ports on the system to connect directly to the connections and thus save a lot of unnecessary thickness.

That is what this section is for, to show how to remove the ports and thus "flatten" the board.


Step 5: Relocate the game cartridge port

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This section shows how to relocate the game cartridge port. Why do it you ask? Well, the system is designed to have the game at right angles to the board in a pretty inconvenient place if you're making a handheld portable. Relocating the cartridge to lay flat and not vertical has many advantage; easier to hold the final product and use it, also you can position the cartridge in the right position for your needs. Video as below:


Step 6: Reducing the size of the boards!

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It is not a necessary step, but if you want to make your portable smaller, it is useful to not only plan your layout well but also to trim off unneeded parts of a board so other components fit around them easier. That is the purpose of this video.


Step 7: Powering the system and wiring up audio and video

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This video covers powering the system and also providing audio and video for the system to work. Below the video is a wiring diagram I made that should help the process too.


Step 8: Cooling the N64 board

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Some people say you don't need to cool the three areas on the N64 apart from just heat sinks. In my experience, with using several N64 motherboards, they get very hot and do need cooling.

In this video, I experimented with using a copper plate to distribute cooling, however decided in the end that using 4mm high VGA memory chip heat sinks and a small fan provided better cooling and worked better. This was upgraded in future videos.


Step 9: The official Sony PSone screen

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There are various screens you can use of course, the reasons the official Sony PSone screen tends to be favourite in the modding community is the image quality is quite good, it's a 5" screen, good resolution, easy power requirements.

This video shows opening up the screen, what pins to connect what to, and doing some basic board trimming so it fits better in your casing.


Step 10: Preparing a pre-made vacuum formed case and case preparation

Picture of Preparing a pre-made vacuum formed case and case preparation
There are many things you can make a case for a portable, use tupperware, a different case that you can make into what you want, or vacuum forming (all these options are discussed and techniques show on my website and also forum).

This video showed case preparation from my own moulds I made for vacuum forming. Cutting the vaccum formed case from the wastage, trimming to an even height, sanding it; working out the exact positioning of the screen, controls and buttons; cutting them out to size in preparation for the case front.


Step 11: Securing case halves together and alternative cases

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This video shows how to secure the two case halves together and strengthen them, spray painting and finishing the case. The video also discusses an alternative case making method with tupperware instead of vacuum forming, as a follow on to the previous video.


Step 12: Making a cart slot holder and start of installation!

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The fun starts here!! This video shows the principles of making a cart slot holder for a portable, parts I made to do it and them being installed, with a demonstration given afterwards. Also in the video is installing the Z button and speakers too.


Step 13: Controllers, memory and rumble packs

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This video shows some of the choices with N64 controllers, joysticks, memory packs, rumble packs, combined memory and rumble packs; how to wire them, board flattened, demo of Doom 64 running (initial screen proves memory pack works fine).


Step 14: Multi-function port

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Rather than having lots of holes for ports in a portable for things that aren't needed much, eg recharge the batteries, change the screen contrast and volume, use external controller, hook up to external television via A/V cable; it makes more sense to use one port for all these features.

This video is therefore to show how to make such a port; which after all, can then be used for future portables too.


Step 15: Preparing and installing the screen

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A fun part - opening up the screen, flattening the sides, installing into case. This video shows a technique I developed to ensure easy installation of a screen into a case and keeping the screen central.


Step 16: Install a d-pad and buttons and their assemblies

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This video shows some techniques I have developed, for installing a d-pad and joystick into a portable. The video shows how to make and build their assemblies too.


Step 17: Install other buttons and method to stop them rotating in case

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This video shows installation of the A, B, Start and "C" buttons, showing the techniques involved in stopping the buttons rotating and also building the unit to house them. The video also shows a preview of what the finished portable will look like (front view).


Step 18: Test screen, install rumble motor

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In this video, the screen is tested and shown to work, different rumble motors are discussed and one is installed, and the controller board is put into resting place.


Step 19: Wiring up the controller!

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General guidelines and tips on how to wire up an N64 controller; how to do it, what goes where, etc.


Step 20: Batteries - installing Li-ion cells into the system

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This video shows planning locating batteries into the portable, opening up the cells and wiring them up. BTW - the height of the cells are about the same height as the internal game cart section, so no issues there regards excess height!

The cells I use are Canon BP-911 / 915 Li-ion cells, they are excellent and have built in battery protection circuit which is necessary to prevent over and under charging.


Step 21: Removing reset button, install fan to cool system!

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This is the last but one video in the series (apart from final videos and demo, etc). This video covers removing the reset button, installing the shoulder buttons and also installing a fan and fan assembly into the portable to keep it cool.


Step 22: Installing better heat sinks, more install details, closing case, testing

Picture of Installing better heat sinks, more install details, closing case, testing
In this video, I installed better heat sinks and show how, reducing expansion/jumper pack and a neat way to cool it, details about combined rumble/memory packs, installation suggestions, basic decals, closing the case and system test!

Please join my forum and have a look at my website for guides and modding information on many other console systems! Details as per sig!


Step 23: Final demo of system working - iNto64 handheld portable

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This is the demo of the system working, as also duplicated on the first page of this project.

Please join my forum, share your project and we can also provide you with assistance on whatever console system you're trying to work with. We will provide you will all help we can. Our community is helpful, knowledgeable and supportive.

www.bacman.co.uk/home







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TomW76 months ago

Could you replace the cartridge slot with a SD port? I don't fancy carrying lots of bulky N64 carts around, so SD cards could be very useful. (You could download ROMs to the SD card, which I think is legal as long as you actually have the original game carts)

gmack523 TomW75 months ago

If you purchase an EverDrive 64, you'd be able to use an SD card and one cart.

tyler.culwell8 months ago
Is there anyway to just purchase one of these I would like to make one but I do not have the patience lol
BigL19 months ago

Thank you for making/sharing all these tutorials!

I am trying to make a portable n64 myself. But it seems almost impossible to get one of these ps one screens for a decent price. Would you recommend to use the ps one screen only, or would this work with a random lcd module?

what did you use to mould the case?

i am trying to make my own, similar to yours, but i cannot seem to get the case shape correct

4drive1 year ago
So.. Why no pics?
ralvarez141 year ago
I need help, how do you put a switch to power on/off?
panduh1231 year ago
Hi guys im new to this, im in the process of building my portable n64, i figure out the audio and video on how to hook it up to a screen, but i can't figure out how the power works??? if anyone can help that would be aprrecaited thanks
How did you make the mold?
ptaylor181 year ago
I read on your forums that using a portable DVD was not advised because you would have to include all the parts that makes the DVD player work in order to only use the screen. What I was thinking, could i use the DVD player and the screen in one side and the 64 in the other side, so its like, 64 on top of the system, and the bottom opens so you can use a DVD in it as well. I was thinking of using an RCA switch to change between the 64 and the DVD player. Ideas?
mikeasaurus2 years ago
This made it on Vsauce's GameLUT #13
MODDEDbyBACTERIA (author)  mikeasaurus2 years ago
Cool!
robot7972 years ago
will you be selling these
froz3nlife2 years ago
Is it possible to buy one of these anywhere? It looks to difficult for me.
Thanks
bdogw2 years ago
Hello I'm trying to make one of these and I'm thinking I should use a analog screen.But where do I hook it up too.Do I hook it up to the cartridge player?
cbduce2 years ago
Help; I cant get my memory pak to work. I dont know what im doing wrong but every time I turn on my n64to test if the memory pak is working the screen says that there is a problem with the controller pak either the controller Pak is not connected properly or the data has been destroyed.
MODDEDbyBACTERIA (author)  cbduce2 years ago
Yes, happens sometimes - memory cards stop working, they aren't always happy to be modded; try another.
holy crap, love the setup you have there, i gotta get me a sheet of copper or something haha
Better using fairly flat heatsinks, flat copper sheet, especially on the PAL consoles, doesn't get rid of enough heat.
mjemison2 years ago
just joined, and i am very exited to get started but i am pretty new at this so i will need a bunch of help. so please don't get frustrated with me
MODDEDbyBACTERIA (author)  mjemison2 years ago
No problem, please join my forum www.made-by-bacteria.com - there are many guides there and also we help people who post their projects if they need advice.
dstimpson12 years ago
Hi, was just starting to make one of these, and i was taking hte heat sink that covered the spilt/dual cpu. And due to it being stuck on fairly well when it finally came off, it actually lifted up the 4 prongs on each chip that connected them to the motherboard. I would just like to know if you think it would be possible to solder these back on, or if i will need to get a new n64?

MODDEDbyBACTERIA (author)  dstimpson12 years ago
If the pins are lifted you can solder the connections back again; if the pins are broken then probably not.
dear santa......
How do you power a rumble pack with the batteries, because it runs on its own AAs
MODDEDbyBACTERIA (author)  scott99999992 years ago
Wire to the N64 step-down regulator, 3.3v works fine.
Zacfo954 years ago
Sorry for the double comment, but where did you get your power switch? All I can find are toggle and knife switches.
MODDEDbyBACTERIA (author)  Zacfo954 years ago
Electronics store or switches off old electronics boards.
i was wondering, would the power switch of a GBA SP work? my brother just broke the screen off of it because somehow the screen got fried, and he wanted to fix it himself without telling anyone haha
Doorstopper3 years ago
how do you turn it on?
Doorstopper3 years ago
What size of wire? will it not work right if it is too small/big?
SerialBocks3 years ago
I've been looking at potential batteries for me to buy, and I know that they need to be 7.2 or 7.4v. Do they strictly need to be Lithium Ion Batteries? Also, what current do they need to be rated for? 4A Total? I found a 7.4v 12c 5000mah Li-Po Battery for an RC Helicopter. I didn't see an amperage rating, and I didn't know if the 12c was the max current rating in different units or something. Would this battery be safe to use?
MODDEDbyBACTERIA (author)  SerialBocks3 years ago
5000mah means 5 amps.

Those should be fine.

Join my forum! ;o)

www.made-by-bacteria.com
Can I use two seperate batteries for the screen and the motherboard so I dont need the ti chip to downstep the voltage, or would that just make charging more of a pain? I cant really decide what batteries to use, but if I do use the ones you did, should I order the charger as well?
What are the dimensions of the case?
Do you need the D-pad part of the board, or can it just be cut off? will that cause a short or something in the controller board itself, or will the board be uneffected?
MODDEDbyBACTERIA (author)  NINJ4SP4RT4N3 years ago
Can be removed, however make sure the grounding connects from top of board to bottom where you've cut it off (use a wire to reconnect)
where do you get the casing for this?
He vacuum formed it.
For the cartridge relocation would 22 AWG wire work and if so how long can the wires be? it will be stranded
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