Friday, June 29, 2012

Snicker No More

Lazy Post #679: I haven't spoken about this in awhile, but the GameCube Portable project lives on - albeit at a slower pace. Here's why:

It was done. We shoved its guts into place and screwed the case together. I tell you, it was done. Aside from a few clumsy bits of ergonomics, it all seemed to be working.

But we found a problem we had never encountered before.

After a few minutes of playtime, the controls - all the buttons, triggers, and sticks - just seemed to lock up. The game would continue to play, the audio and video continued unabated, but the controls would no longer respond. Why hadn't we noticed this before?

The problem seemed to be related to the type of game being played and the amount of screen rendering being done. For the Zelda game we had used for all our testing, the demands on graphics rendering are pretty light. To re-create the problem, we would have to get Link to run around constantly for at least 5 minutes. But for more demanding graphics (we tested with a Goddamn Tony Hawk skateboarding game), we could get the controls to lock up after only a minute or so of frantic Ollies and other skateboard trickery.

Based on these tests, I thought the issue might be heat related - e.g. the graphics processor heating up fast without adequate cooling. We'd seen this before in our early prototyping, although the result was always the GameCube turning off the video display outright. Never had the controls appeared to lock up. Nevertheless, I started disassembling and blowing more fans on the electronics, but no luck in resolving the control problem.

Since it doesn't seem to be heat related, then there's something amiss in the hardware. I'm not smart enough to figure out what the exact the problem might be, and neither are any of the Internet Beings we know who hobby in this world. So the next step is going to be brute force: swapping out old parts for new parts until the problem is resolved or I lose my grip on sanity and send the whole thing rocketing into a concrete wall. That would feel sweet - for about 10 seconds.

I hope it's the former.

I know it's the former.

Stay tuned, I guess.

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