Step 8: Creating the Front Panel

Picture of Creating the Front Panel
One of the benefits of emulating vs. the real system is the save state function. We will want to create a front panel to be able to access this feature without a keyboard, also we need a "Quit Game" button, and a few extra front USB ports for specialized controllers (Such as the N64 Controller).

To accomplish this we simply cut a piece of plexi-glass out to the internal dimensions of the front door. I simply made a rectagle that slides in perpendicular to the top of the case and leaves a gap so that air can escape via the front door because it won't be air tight. Once the piece of plexi is cut, we use the other half of the USB header, mark the USB port locations on the plexi, as well as mark the location of our two momentary buttons to be placed, then drill/dremel/sand/carve out those holes on the plexi. I used a lot of drilling and sanding to get the holes as close to the desired size as need be. Then I simply installed the USB header and the two buttons into the glass, and mounted it inside the case with hot glue.

In order to get these usb ports to work you can simply either splice in male USB ports with the wires, or solder them into the USB hub, but I recommend the splice as you can then unplug the top of the case from the lower half of the case.

The buttons take a little more work to get them to work. You will need that generic USB keyboard. Take it apart, and find out what two terminals on the circuitboard need to be activated to produce the ESC, F5, and F8 keys. To best understand how to do that, search the Instructables website on how to hack a USB keyboard. Its not difficult, but they will explain it much better than I will be able to.
Now simply solder the reset button to the ESC terminals, and your two momentary buttons on the panel to the F5 and F8 terminals respectively. You will now have a way to quit your games, save and load a state, and have the ability to plug in more USB controllers into the front of the console.

The keyboard part took me 2 keyboards and about 3 hours to get right. I kept pulling off the contacts. So i ended up using hot glue to prevent the solder points from having any pressure.