Intro: Portable Game System Box: Built for < $30
Like taking your gaming console places, but hate dealing with cords? Then this project is for you!
In the following instructions, you will learn how to create a go-anywhere game system, which you can use anywhere, and play right from the box. Just plug in one cord, open it up and play!
Reasons to build:
- Consolidates an entire full-blown entertainment system into one portable box
- Eliminates the need to unplug all the cords to move to another location
- Saves space: great for dorm room, apartments, and anywhere else
- Organize your system, screen, controllers, and games into one box
- Capability to include multiple systems
- Cost effective way to organize and protect your beloved games
- Does not require any technical experience to build
- No electronic parts need to be modified
- Traveler friendly
Step 1: What's Going in the Box?
Choose your console(s), and screen along with any supporting hardware needed to make it work (ex. power strip, rca-to-vga converter box). Also, now would be a good time to find small containers to store games and controllers in. Try to find small, inexpensive boxes which your disks/cartridges will fit into nicely, without wasting space. These Sterilite organization boxes (bought at Walmart for $1 each) worked well for me.
- If you can't decide, pick a screen that has built in speakers and sturdy mounting holes on the back.
- Find boxes with identical heights to create a level floor for the mounting plate (to which the system is fixed) to sit on.
Step 2: Defining Box Dimensions
Find the TV screen/monitor you want to put in, and measure the width and height of the entire monitor. This will be the minimum size of your box. Then, measure the height of your smaller containers, add on the maximum height of your console, and thickness of your screen. This total height will be the minimum height of your box.
- Allow for some clearance between the screen and console for when the box is closed, as not to damage the screen.
Step 3: Find a Box
When looking for a box, be sure that the box:
- Is sturdy/well built
- Has a hinged top with latches
- Is larger than your minimum internal dimensions
I purchased my black Sterilite storage bin at Walmart for about $11, I choose it because I could place the monitor in the recessed lid.
- If you want a more durable box, and don’t mind spending quite a bit more, look into a hard shell box like those used for AV equipment or cameras. I will warn you that most of these cost over $100 (but you get a really nice box).
Step 4: Mounting the Screen
I was very lucky, in the fact that my screen came with wall mounting holes and all I needed to do was find bolts that fit.
To measure the distance from hole to hole, lay a sheet of paper over the mounting holes, poke the bolts through the paper, and screw them into the holes. Next, remove the bolts and paper, and use the newly-made paper template to mark where to drill the holes. Then mount the screen on the holes drilled into the marks.
Step 5: Mount the Power Strip
Two ways to mount the power strip:
A) If your power strip has mounting holes:
Using the same method as the screen, bolt it to the side of the box.
B) If your power strip does not have mounting holes:
Use zip-ties to attach it by drilling 2 holes and passing the zip-ties through them and around the strip.
Step 6: Cable Management
- Route the all the cables to their appropriate destinations, then zip-tie those that are going the same route together. Ex. power cords that are all going towards the power strip.
- It is important that the wires heading from the lid have extra length to flex when opening the box.
- Zip-tie the cable bunches to the sides of the box but allow enough length for the top mounting plate to be moved with the console on it when accessing the boxes below.
- For a neater look use a wire protector tubes, such as those used to keep computer cords organized.
Step 7: Lower Level Organization
Arrange the smaller boxes in the bottom of the box.
To keep the boxes in place, consider adding some dividers. These can be cut from foam board (as I have done) or from wood. Hot glue or tape can be used to attach the divider to the sides of the box. These dividers are not necessary but they do help to keep the boxes from sliding around.
Step 8: Mounting Plate
The mounting plate was measured to fit into the box, around all other obstructions. It is to fit on top of the smaller boxes described in step 1, this is why they must have similar height to support the plate evenly. To make the plate first lay out the maximum length and width dimensions of the box, then remove parts to allow for the power strip and other items to stay in place. Mine is cut from a spare sheet of Masonite I had. Basically, layout the plate on your board, then cut out the marked lines with a jigsaw.
Alternatively, a sheet of foam board can be used instead of a wood sheet, it just is not as durable. A knife works well to cut this.
Also, adding handles allows for the plate to be removed easier.
Step 9: Mounting the Console(s)
To mount the console(s), you have a few choices:
A) To permanently secure a console, you can do as I have done with my Retron 3, hot glue the feet directly to the mounting plate.
This method is simple and secure but will not allow you to remove the console for repairs or exchange for another console.
B) To mount the console without sticking anything to the console, I suggest using Velcro straps, which can be made using the same method as the controller holders (Step 10). Just make two of the straps, side by side, which are long enough to go around the console, and will not allow it to slide around.
C) Using a hybrid approach, use some stick on Velcro, sticking the loop (furry) side to the console and the hook (scratchy) side to the mounting plate. I suggest sticking one piece of Velcro for each foot on the bottom of the console. By sticking the loop (furry) side to the console's feet, it will not attach itself to carpet if set on the floor (the hook side would do this).
Step 10: Velcro Controller Holders
To keep the controllers in place when not in use, I created some Velcro straps using strips of non-sticky Velcro, usually used to sew on to fabric (found at Walmart for about $1). To make these, first cut a 3-inch long piece of the hook (scratchy) side of Velcro. Next, Velcro on a length of the loop (furry) side to the 3-inch hook piece, with a 1-inch overlap. Then wrap the strap around the controller (loop side towards controller, hook side out), and Velcro the hook end to the uncut loop piece (when the strap is hugging the controller). Be sure to have a 1-inch overlap, then cut the loop piece to length.
To allow the newly made strap to be attached to the mounting plate, find a short bolt with nut and 2 washers. This bolt must be a little longer than the thickness of the mounting plate. Using scissors, carefully cut a hole through the 1-inch overlapping part of the strap, big enough for the bolt. Next, place one washer on the bolt then push it through the hole in the strap. Next, drill a hole the size of the bolt in the mounting plate. This point will be the center of where the controller rests, so be sure to leave enough room for the other controllers. To finish, place the bolt, washer, and strap assembly through the hole, place another washer on and attach the nut. Then tighten it down using a wrench or pliers.
Repeat this for your remaining controllers.
Step 11: Keeping the Lid Up
Ways to keep the lid from opening too much or closing accidentally:
A) Attach a bit of rope or para-cord to the lid via holes drilled on the corners. This should keep the lid from opening too much and damaging the hinges. Allow the lid to be opened to a little past the 90 degree point, then tie off the rope at the ends (passed through the holes) with a knot. Note that this will only keep the lid from opening too far, and will not prevent it from closing if bumped.
B) Buy or create your own collapsing brace (advanced). I made this brace, which both keeps the lid from opening too much and prevents it from closing. This also still allows the lid to close by bending about the center bolt as a joint (see second photo). Mine is made from two flat pieces of metal (found at Walmart for $2.50). I first needed to grind in a cut and bend a part of one to create a flange for the other to rest against. This prevents the joint from going over center. I then bolted the flange end and the other unmodified piece together to create a joint. Next I bolted the ends of the assembly to the inside of the box, creating two more joints. Now when I close the lid the brace will collapse inward and will be stored inside the box, still mounted to the sides. If the metal scrapes anything when operated, grind down the ends to provide clearance.
Note: When using either method, you will need to do this to both sides. If a side is unsupported it will damage the box's hinges. However, both methods can be used in conjunction, as I have done, to save money by not making a second brace. Just be sure to support both sides.
Step 12: Done!
Now you have a portable game system box, that you can take on the go! All you need is a power source, and you can play video games anywhere.
Note: If you plan to use a car battery and an AC converter for power, be sure to get a converter that is rated past the total wattage you will be consuming. Otherwise you may blow a fuse on your car or worse, start a fire.
Look up another Instructable on how to find the right wattage rating and power converter to use.
Don't forget to vote for this creation in the Portable Workstation Contest here!