Thinking about starting a GBAtemp console hardware project

Discussion in 'Other Consoles & Oldies' started by FAST6191, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United States
    I am probably too busy to be starting a new project at this point in time and there might not be that many willing and able to play along* but I will post under the assumption it is always good to have new things on the go and it has been kicking around in the back of my head for a while.

    Short short version

    I want to create a mixture of this
    and the results of playing with something like

    but for consoles using modern methods like USB when possible, with PCB layouts or CAD designs as standard with the intention of allowing people to fix and/or improve (case replacements and mods but for those that know their way around a screwdriver) some of their older hardware.

    I have no real plans to head into the likes of and at all. Such things take a considerable amount of skill, equipment and effort to pull off and it runs the risk of pulling focus from the main goals as I see them. is a step in the right direction but I want to push further.

    Depending on how this goes I can start pointing people towards toolkits and good sources of info. Short version the weapons of choice will be an oscilloscope, a multimeter, something to solder with, a set of callipers or maybe a laser scanner (home made scanners are pretty good these days), a logic analyser, some programmable chips/dev boards, a scanner, a camera, a microscope, some security screwdrivers and maybe later down the line some CNC, PCB manufacture, high end electronics (proper surface mount and BGA sort of thing) and some metallography type equipment.

    *I say this but if you pull apart say a GC controller and measure all the parts of a control stick with a set of callipers and post it up that would be awesome too.

    The pitch- more so than ever before people are looking to old consoles and wanting things done with them. At present though there is next to nothing or it is rare (only available on a dodgy hong kong website you are not sure will be up this time next week) and hideously expensive as a result. Hardware plans are even less common for those that need them.
    On the flip side PCB manufacture and nowadays one off runs are cheap enough to be available to the man on the street, programmable chips (PIC, arm based stuff, atmel based stuff or more high level stuff like arduino) are readily available and easy to use and I also hear rumblings of there being actual chip manufacture houses willing to do small runs (programmable chips are awesome but they have some fairly harsh limitations) if you provide them with designs (my skills in chip design leave a lot to be desired but I am very willing to learn for this, naturally such houses will be like cheap PCB houses and have massive feature sizes but for what we are likely to be playing with who cares).

    Initially I am thinking could we perhaps update some of the GBC and older era hardware for use with modern methods (see serial and parallel ports being slow and somewhat hard to come by on modern machines) and move on to collecting info, verifying said info, generating new things and perhaps designing some methods around older console hardware* and after that or alongside that designing things like replacement controller parts or switches.

    *an example might be the amiga power supply. Some versions require a 50Hz pulse (60 Hz in the US) usually called TICK in any pinouts (at the time probably done from UK electrical sockets but fairly needless to fiddle with high voltages when you can buy a simple oscillator these days). has some info. Similarly I suspect power supplies will be a big focus of this project and I am eager to see a nice list of "10 quick things to check if your device is not working" for various devices.

    Open source (or even released to public domain) is awesome and what I am thinking at present, if it is troublesome to use the GBAtemp banner (it will not be a profit making venture from here) then it will be gone in a heartbeat,

    As is often the case my skills I can lend to such a project- I am a materials engineer (mainly complex/non ferrous metallurgy but I can do plastics for this sort of thing well enough) specialising if can be so be said in reverse engineering with a serious electrical bent (mainly analogue stuff which I figure is nice for the hardware era this is likely to be dealing with but I can usually get it done in the digital world well enough to follow along in most conversations) and well rom hacking is something I have been known to do as well. I can not in good conscience claim to be a great CAD user (I can get it done but I can not make the programs sing so to speak like some might) and as fascinating as was I did not know it by heart before then either. If I program it is usually in ASM or fiddling with existing code but I am working on changing that all the time.

  2. Schlupi

    Schlupi Gbatemp's Official Earthbound Maniac™

    Aug 31, 2007
    United States
    Rozen Queen Co, Chicago Branch
    I think this sounds amazing. I really like the idea.

    I am going into the electronic engineering field (not knowing where I will specialize in yet) and I could find this as a valuable resource for studies and projects.

    On a similar note, did I tell you I am making a Nintaoster? [​IMG]

    I think this is a great idea. I can help any way that I can. [​IMG]

    Keep in mind I am not nearly as experienced as you are, but I know a good amount. [​IMG]

    Also, I am not so great at CAD. I am good with circuit designs and the like with programs like MultiSim (but that's easy stuff lol).