Introduction: How to Make a Handheld Portable Nintendo 64 N64 Gaming Console - INto64

About: Video game console modder, now interests include Keto and low carb baking and cooking, also sewing.
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:

Here is a video of the final system:

Step 1: Introduction

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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!

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

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

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.

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