Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's Here!!!!

So the day has finally come! I got my RasPi in the mail and figured I would post some unboxing pics for you. I was super excited to see that I have recieved one of the new 512 mb models. 
one step closer:
I am amazed at how much computer they packed into such a small package. Moreover, how absurdly small that package is. Here you can see it on my iPhone 4:

I don't have any pics for this next bit, but honestly, it is not that easily photographed. 
I got the Pi hooked up to the tv and after 14 hours of compiling I got the debian port for it, cleverly called Raspbian, installed. I immedeately started the build of the xmbc port, Raspbmc, which will be my primary usage of the pi when I get all this buttoned up. Much to my surprise the install went rather quickly, only to find out that it didn't work once I switched it to HDMI... Now, seeing as I am going to use this as a media center for the tv, that is certainly a problem.
 I spent the next 4 hours tinkering with the config.txt file before I realized that notepad wasn't inserting the right "enter" key for the pi to read it. (something about using carriage return instead of line break, but I don't remember which is which. I do know that if you are in knoppix using leafpad, that works,  but not windows and notepad...) 
I ended up logging into my Pi via ssh from my iPad's MobileTerminal (Jailbreak ftw) and manually setting the tv to find the right mode (mine was "32" or 1080p 24hz) then using knoppix live boot to edit the config.txt and now it's booting perfectly. I will have to go back and do the same for the raspbian one, but it shoudn't take nearly as long. If you want to know the exact teminal commands to do that let me know in the comments below, otherwise I'm not going to go into it here. 

I'll be buttoning all this up as soon as the last few parts come in, some of which I still need to order. I think all I have at this point is the wireless card, the keyboard with trackpad installed, possibly a usb infared remote, a new dremel to add some ports, and the hdmi adapter to go out the back. But so far so good :) I may do another post about fixing the resolution later as I fix the raspbian card. 
Thanks for reading! I'll have more for you soon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More progress

Alright, I had some significant progress since my last post so here's an update.
I wired up my audio adapter and video wires up to the N64's built in a/v connector and notched the board to make room for the wires to come through. 
I had an interesting predicament trying to test the a/v connection. I don't have any devices that have the standard RCA female plugs on them... I ended up hooking my Dreamcast to an old a/v switcher, my video cable to the output of the switcher, then the factory a/v N64 cable directly to the tv. I got a bad shot of it plugged up, but I couldn't get one of the tv and all the wiring and, quite frankly it's not that important, save that it worked. I tested the audio by hooking the 3.5mm jack to my phone and it seems to work perfectly as well.
I had to make some room for the power cable to go to the raspi so i figured,  may as well look into extending the usb ports. It took soome effort to actually get the port detached; they really had it put on there well, but I managed. Here is a shot of the usb port wired up to act remotely. I haven't decided if I am going to put another hub in to access from the outside of the console yet, so I may stick this through one of the sides and just go with it. The original pans I drew up involved taking a 4-port USB hub and relocating the portss to stick through the ram expansion door, but I am having a terrible time trying to find that little thing locally...  but that is another adventure for another day. 
A closer shot of the USB wiring. You may notice I only have 2 of the wires on the Raspi's cable hooked up, USB uses 4 wires by default for those who don't already know. The ones I have wired up are the power ones only (+5v and ground) while the other 2 (data 1 & 2) have been snipped off. I did this to avoid any weird data redundancies. For instance, the raspi trying to talk to it's power port from it's usb port through the hub here. I don't think the data pins on the Pi's power port are connected, but I would rather snip a few wires than ruin the entre system; better safe than broken.

I saw a cool pcture online of the Pi as compared to a gift card and I think it is close enough that I can ballpark what my layout may end up looking like. So I grabbed Mr. Sharpie and an old giftcard, referenced the FAQ page of, and I have a "close enough" mock board. Here is an approximation of where it will end up inside the N64. I won't do any cutting till I have a board in hand though. 

I feel it worth mentioning that I got these from Newark/element14, and it was an altogether pleasent experience. No they aren't paying me to say that, it was just such a great buying experience that I feel it worth remarking about.
So time to break out that crappy perf-board I bought a few weeks ago and finish some cartridges!  
With the wires attached:
I origially was going to have a seperate game cartridge for each of the SD cards of the system, but Caytee suggested that I have at least one of them be removeable from the outside, so I took her advice and until I get all the  parts in and the kinks worked out, I'll stick with just this one. But once I do have everything functional, I'll hard-wire the other cards in. 
Lining up the socket inside the cartridge:
I stumbled on this SD card at Big lots for $8 so I picked one up lol. Here are a few shots of the finished (for now) cartridge. I am a little sad it still says Madden, but I'm gonna have soome spiffy logos made up for each of the distros' logos. This one is going to end up being Raspbian, the official Debian distro for the Pi, but thats another blog entirely and, frankly, there are enough resources that are well more qualified than myself who detail the distros in detal. At best, I'll find some and link them here when I get to it. 
The SD card installed top view:
And front view:
That's all for now! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Tons more to come soon, stay tuned! Too many exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!11!!one!!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I was told I had to post this...

cats in sinks that is all...

Power Supplies... How I loathe power supplies

I went on an epic quest for the power supply for my N64 that ended up taking me to the magical land of Goodwill, wherein I picked up a second console, power supply, and controller for 10 bucks. So, of course, I had to dismantle it as soon as I got home. Here is the power supply all nice and disassembled: 
The N64 power supply, while lovely, is not capable of the voltage and amperage requirements I need. (5 volts +/- 1% capable of around 2 amps)
I also picked up this lovely powered USB hub at Target that has those exact specs and I needed a 4 port hub for the RasPi anyway.
However, I kinda broke the be-jesus out of the power supply when I opened the case... that's the main power transformer you see shattered beside the board... Kinda put me back at square one for a little while and I may or may not have said some things I'm not proud of lol.  
(Note to self: don't open sensitive electronics with a sledgehamer...)
Luckily, I found this gem a few days later at the flea market with Caytee and it matches the original specs of the one that 'malfunctioned' (yeah lets go with that)  
5ish volts 2+amps= close enough...
Now to get it to work, I've got to wire up the original N64 leads and change out the wire for the usb hub's wire. 
The 64's power leads:
Wiring the usb hub's leads to the new power supply:
I left the leads attached while I figure out what pins need to go where on the board. 
Enter Mr. Sharpie and my bad art skills... The long line is actually my 'cut-line' for later, in other words; the farthest I can cut the board and the switch still work.
In the end I went with the +3.3 and +12 lines on the board for a few reasons: 
1: They are both switched at the main power switch
2: I don't want to wire to the ground in case there are any exposed edges that might touch the Pi ending in a baked Pi... (ok that one was bad...) 
3: It was less work that running wires everywhere
It also means killing the n64 board for good, and I feel bad for doing it, but it must be done...

This is where I had to break the circuit to the console from the main power switch so the actual 64 circuitry isn't doing anything, cause that would be no bueno. 

I thought it would be pretty awesome if the original led lit up when I turned everything on, so a little measuring, some math and some wiring later, I got all this nonsense wired up and working. I actually found the exact resistor I needed on the board, so I took it off and wired it in. It was a bit of  challenge; the resistors on the board are rediculosy small...

Once I figured out which pins I needed to go to, I wired in the power supply connector and I must say it fit just perfectly. I was really worried that the much smaller usb power supply would rattle around inside the lager casing, but it seems to fit perfectly :) 
and the lid fits back on perfectly too!!!
Put it all together and hit the power switch: MIGHTY MATH POWERS!!!!!
Here I've gotten the leads from the main power switch hooked up and running back to the usb hub. The voltage is exactly what I need for the RasPi and the usb hub, but more on actually powering the Pi when it gets here. That will be a fun one :) just you wait Mwahahahahahahahaha

I wanted to see how it would look once i get it all reassembled with the led working, so  stuck it back together for a min:

With the top cover re-installed and a cartridge put in, this will be very close to what the final product will look like. It totally turns on and off with the factory power switch too. I do need to hunt down a cover for that expansion port; it looks terrible open like that.
Now it's just a waiting game for the parts to come in :/ Hopefully I'll have more for you soon...

Preping the sd card slot

In order to get the remote sd card from the raspi to the game cartridge, I decided to use the cartridge slot; interfacing with a cartridge with the sd card installed inside, in order to change the boot system of the pi. I am planning on using Rasbmc primarily to make it a media streaming machine,while stil being able to switch out and run Rasbian (the Debain port for the RasPi) and have more computing functionality. 
So, that means I need to figure out how to wire into the cartridge slot on the mainboard or the 64. I ripped out that pesky bottom expansion slot to get a better look and the cartridge interface just comes right off like so: 
It did, however, leave all these pesky pins I had to get rid of and since I didn't have a desoldering tool, I had to yank 'em out... (I have since picked up a desoldering tool to avoid this in the future)
Feels like im tweezing someone's eyebrows... #feelsbadbro
You may have noticed the pins bent out of the way. These are the ones I am actually using to go to the cartridges.
I left them as a reference until I could get in there with a sharpie and mark 'em out, then they had to go too. :)

I will be hard wiring these pins to the adapter I made once I get the board cut down to fit the RasPi inside. But it needs to get here first...
Here are some shots of the nearly complete cartridges:
 I had to leave a "tail" coming out of each of them until the sd sockets get here. Have I mentioned that I hate waiting for parts... I wish people locally carried this obscure stuff that I love so much lol.

I found that the inner screws (the ones holding the metal plate pictured) were the same thread pattern as the ones from the case so I swapped out the pesky Nintendo screws for those. 
 More to come very soon. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Here's some progress on the cartridges.
First on the chopping block is madden. I would like to say that it will be missed, but anyone who knows me would know that's a lie lol.
The second pic is the stripped down madden board next to tony hawk who I will soon be destroying.
Next is the wiring to the remote SD card socket (when it comes in) and marking out the pins they go to so I can match them on the console side.
Much thanks to Caytee for being my lab assistant with this one; made testing the connections like 1000 times faster.

Remote Sd card

So in case anyone doesn't already know about the raspberry pi, go check out their website:

My biggest concern with this project is that I want it to, as much as possible, look like and unmodified Nintendo 64 while maintaining the ability to change the boot system and such as easily as possible. The OS on the raspi is contained on whatever SD card you put into it. Sure I could just cut a hole into the side or something, but where is the fun in that?
My solution is to make use of the interchangeability built into the console itself. By that I mean, obviously, the game cartridges. I intend to make a remote SD card to plug into the raspi, run to the game socket, and install SD cards into various game cartridges. Of course this means much more work for me, but I think it will yield the end product I'm looking for.
Here are some shots of what I've got so far. It's not pretty but it seems to work still lol.

I got the console

So I got my hands on a cheap used console (thanks Caytee XD) and got it pulled apart. It had some nasties in there so I gave it a nice bath and we'll come back to that later. On the down side it didn't come with a power supply, so I'll have to hit amazon up for that later.