Saturday, August 13, 2011

Underwhelming GCp Update

It's been awhile since I've posted an update about the GameCube Portable (GCp) project. As you'll recall, this is my son JediBoy's project in which we are attempting to turn a Nintendo GameCube into a handheld ganing device. A spin-off benefit is that we get to spend a little together-time learning about really effective swear words to hurl at inanimate objects when they seem to misbehave.

So, where are we? We've pretty much figured out the electronics. Since the last update, we've a done some simplifications to the power circuits so that we can safely play the device off battery or A/C and still ensure that the recharging circuit takes care of the battery properly. After those changes, we kind of took a break to disguise our trepidation about tackling the actual case design.

We've had a general idea about the case for months now, but there have been some specifics that we have elected to ignore since they are tricky. Number 1 on that list of tricky bits: What do we do about triggers?

Anyone who ever picked up a GameCube controller knows that there are left and right triggers on the underside of the controller unit - placed so they can be comfortably reached with your Index fingers while enabling your Thumbs to find the buttons and sticks on the topside of the controller.

We have the same considerations with the GCp case. We plan to use a GameCube controller motherboard mounted just under the top of the GCp case so that we can easily(?) mount and support all the required buttons and sticks. But the triggers present a problem. Avoiding the gross details, the trigger controls on the controller motherboard cannot be used as-is because they were not designed for the dimensions of our GCp case.

To solve the problem, we have to construct a new mechanical trigger mechanisms that can be mounted on the underside of the GCp case and still be wired into the controller motherboard. We basicaly cribbed a solution that a few other Modders have used. It involves:

  • trigger mechanisms from an old Quantum Fighter Pad ($2 on eBay)
  • trigger ends from an old Dreamcast controller ($5 on eBay)
  • re-use of trigger potentiometers from a GameCube controller motherboard
  • Tact(ile) switches ($0.50 from DigeKey)
It's been fussy work putting this all together, but so far they seem to function properly in testing. The photo below shows our 2 new Frankenstein triggers. The one in the foreground is complete while the one in the background is just waiting for some epoxy to harden the trigger end onto the rest of the mechanism (hence the shims holding things in place).

Once this step is declared 'complete' we'll begin more serious efforts towards putting the case together. It feels like we're in the home stretch, but I suspect we'll encounter some 'gotchas', yet.

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