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GameCube Portable Guide "How To and FAQ"

First of all, sorry if the english of this guide isn't as good as expected on a good tutorial (I´m spanish ^^ ),and this is my first Gamecube modding guide, so any comments dedicated to improve this guide will be greatly welcome.

I saw lot of people asking for a "how to" on making a gamecube portable, so I will try to make an "open source guide" which will be free to be updated/upgreaded by any of the current benheck forum members.
this mean I will NOT be the only who recive the credits by the guide. ^^

I want to turn this guide into a "[big team job]" and show to everyone that we, (the benheck.com comunity modders) can do a nice guide for newcomers as a serious/the best modding site.

GameCube Portable Guide, DUMB edition


Required stuff


Knowledge and tools required for this guide

- basic soldering skills
- a decent soldering iron with solder, flux, etc.
- some screwdrivers
- a multimeter (Open "yellow_multimeter.gif")
- hot glue gun/ ammo for glue gun (glue bars :D)
- lots of colored small wire
- a clean/serious room or place to work (please, do not make portables in a hotel bathroom or something like that :D)
- a dremel (Open "dremel-multi-pro-3950.jpg") or something to make small holes, and work with some materials/stuff)
- pliers (Open "Handle_Pliers.jpg")
- some casing tools,materials and methods (this section will need to be updated cause I suck with the casing methods)


Hardware

- a gamecube with the composite video /audio cable and the GC power supply

- two gamecube controllers

- any portable Lcd tv/screen with composite/rgb input ,12v car-LCD TVs work fine ;)

- a battery pack,I suggest you use 14,8v and more than 4500 mAh (li-on batteries are small and work fine,Im using a 14,8v 6600 mAh li-on pack, wich give me arround 1:45 battery time, if you use the led mod at the psone screen you can get a huge improvement to the battery time)
- a charging system for the battery pack (may include PCB and or a special charger....)
- a few LEDs
- some normal switches
- tact switches (Open "Tact_Switches.jpg"). Get arround 14 of them to be sure (you may not use them all, if you use another controller or just reallocate the controller)
- 1 potentiometer (Open "pot.jpg") (will be used for video connections)


All, or at least most of the listed components will be fully required for completing the portable. You may now continue at your own risk.

Lets rock 'n' roll!

step 1 - taking apart the gamecube

This step is obius, isnt it? :D

This step requires regular screwdrives and a "custom" one for the four external nintendo screws (Open "gamebit500.jpg") of the gamecube.

You basically have two options:

Either buy a gamebit screwdriver (you can also find them on ebay)


Or make a homemade screwdriver (More fun and free! ;) )

more info about creating your homemade screwdriver here or here

Well, there is a third option: brute force, which basically consists of destroying/breaking the case to access the electronics, but I don't recommend doing this because you may harm your hardware (if you are hurry and need open it fast, then damn it, use a BIC pen, cheap and fun :D )

When you got all screwdrivers required you will be able to continue:

Removing the first four screws (gamebit or custom screwdriver required)



After the four nintendo screws are removed,remove the external case.

the next step requires a phillips (+) or star screwdriver





disconnect the fan/main power wires so you can remove the cooling fan module.

the following screws are smaller, so get a smaller screwdriver for those


now remove the dvd drive and you will have access to the mobo, then you need to remove six screws, but be extremly careful, those screws hold the heatsink to the mobo and the mobo to the case.


When you removed the six screws from the mobo's heatsink you will be able to remove the mobo and a metal chasis. Then, after removing 4 small screws you will be able to remove the small regulator board wich is present on rev A & B gamecube motherboards (most of them).





Step 2 - removing connectors and cut the GC mobo

well, when you are making a portable, you would love keep it smaller posible right? imagine you meanwhile holding a giant box asking it is a portable :? , this steeps will help to reduce the main gamecube motherboard.

for this steep you will need:

* main gc mobo
* gc regulator board (if you don't have this board, it basically means you have a rev C mobo, great! nice for portabilizating you are lucky!, this means you have an integrated regulator board ;), less space needed hehe)
* Game Cube optical drive hardware (optional for this steep)

you will need to be EXTREMLY carefully when doing this, or you may lose your gamecube motherboard & your money, so you are advised.


I suggest you don't remove for the moment the Optical drive conectors , the analog exit and the memcard slots fom the moment, you will need them for testing.



I will use a "fast method" , it is easy, but dangerous if you don´t proceed carefully







you need to force slowly and carefully the connector without apply lot of force into the MOBO , cause if you handle it bad, it can get unrecoverable damage, like broke mobo, broke any component or broke any traces, so do it carefully



do this steep lot of times slowly until the connetor will be near "free"





do this with serial 1 (used for network adapters), serial port2 (developer port), high speed port (used for gba player) , the digital exit (rgb and the known VGA mod), and the 2 power connectors (on mobo and regulator board)

when all the ports are removed, you will need clean the zone that was "under" the connectors, you will need a soldering tool for this.

this steep is for prevent shortcuts by any small part of the old connector pins and this also help to keep a slim and clean mobo but still being an important step.

simply add a little of soldering iron, and remove with a small pliers the broken pins meanwhile you heat them with the soldering tool.



if you still want to make small the gc mobo, look at the golden borders of the mobo them not have any trace right? this mean you can cut them "carefully" with a saw or any cutting tool, but do not cut any zone with traces or you will lose a gamecube, also make sure while cutting you don't remove accidentally any small component or broke a trace.



if you consider you can remove more stuff, do what you want, but this is dangerous, but also can do a huge slim at the system, some members cut down the entire DD and memcard B part of the mobo, getting extra space, but you will need experience to do this


step 3 - reallocating regulator board

this steep will let you join back the regulator board to the Gc by wires and allowing a very slim design for a portable, how long the wires will be depends of the place you will want to allocate the parts into the portable case. there are different ways to do this . (Note, if your gamecube don´t have a regulator board under the Motherboard,It means it is integrated, and seems you can skip this step)

DEFAULT WAY : wire all pins

Custom way: This options give the gamecube power on only by 5 wires!
less soldering, more free espace inside :)

pin 22 of the regulator board have 5v, and pins 22 and 11 from the motherboard need it, just "bridge" (join with soldering iron) the pins 22 and 11 from the motherboard and connect them to the pin 22 of the regulator board using a wire.

the pin 21 of the regulator board gives 12v and the pin 10 of the motherboard needs 12v, just connect it using a wire :)

the pin 12 of the regulator board give "ground" and pin 1 of the motherboard needs ground, just connect then (use a fat wire at this steep cause lot of power need pass through, other member and me noticed video problems if not doing this)

bridge pins 16,17 and 18 at regulator board, and wire them to pins 6,7,16,17,18,19 of the motherboard wich need o be bridged to the system get 3,4v

bridge pins 2 and 13 from the MOBO and wire them to pin 13 of the regulator board to the system get 5v

thats all ^^


well, here is the diagram info:





check the two main power pins locaded at the regulator board, by default the original gamecube power suply gives 12,5v , buy I tested the system also with voltages up to 16 volts, so use 14,8v battery packs should be a nice option for you project, most of tv cars have also regulators built in , so them will be able to run under your 12v or 14,8v battery pack without need aditional stuff for regulate.

make sure you check with a multimeter the correct polarity (+ and - ) or just make sure it is like the diagram.

reason I keep repeating this is following:

ShockSlayer: For some strange reason the red and black wires in between the little board that has the fan plugged into it and the power board don't necessarily connect to 12v and gnd, in fact, they can be the exact opposite! Strange how it works, but make sure to test it with your multimeter, it's another one of those luck of the draw things, I've had cubes that had right polarity, and cubes that didn't.

Keep that in mind! :D

SS


so,listen to what SS said and don't fry your little dolphin! ;)


Step 4 - modding the DVD drive

the Gamecube Dvd drive is the most hard part to slim, I saw lot of modders arround here getting very really angry with this step, throwing the DD through the window :D. actually there is very dificult slim the gc Dvd drive, anyway there are some methods of "trick" the Dvd drive that has been applied by some brave and encouraged members of this forum.

here you have some links:

Method 1
method 2
method 3
method 4

Please Pm or notify me If I forgot some other DVD tricks methods.

you also will need to reallocate the case lid switch (the thing with two black plastic sticks and wired by blue wires!, when it is open, the gamecube ask you to close the dvd case, so a nice idea would be to change that switch by a normal one)

step 5 adding/reallocating basic system functions

I will use my custom method at this steep (the one I aplied to my system, it basically remove the front´s controller´s board (Open "gamecubecontrollerboardnd0.jpg") to save space.(the board with led,battery andcontroller´s ports)

removing the entire controllers ports board really slim down the final design, so I will explain this method.

here you have the diagram:



this diagram has been made using this one: Open "gamecubecontrollerboardnd0.jpg" so if you need check something use it.

I also used it to attach a external controller port for second controller player.

here you have the diagram:



basically, if you wanna wire more controllers, all you have to worry is about the bidirectional data wire (pin2 from controller), others wires are exactly the same on all controllers (power suply, ground ......), you have the pin locations at the diagrams at the right part of the pics.


note also I´m using the same resistor wich came with the controllers ports board,I desoldered it like the led , battery and reset switch, so you can earn money and time from the electronic store :D

as you can see my diagram wire everything directly to the mobo, it basically remove the controller ports board to save space, but if you want to keep the controllers ports board, is just your choice

;)


Step 6 - hacking the controller

well,lets going to convert a normal controller into a integrated controller for our project.
obiusly the first steep is opening it, lets go, omg wait... oh crap, what are those weird screws? ,WTF?? , well don't worry, you can get a custom screwdriver.
if you don't want to waste your time or money buying a weird screwdriver you can try another way to remove those crappy screw

I used a little trick I discovered.

first of all, get a plain screwdriver wich fit like following pic and place it like this pic.



note: you may need apply extra force to remove the screw using this trick

after you removed the plastic case, you finally got phisical acces to the controller board, so it's time to hack it:
you basically have a few options, one of them is use tact switches
(easier, but the keys may will not be as responsive as before)


you may rasp (Open "rotoqe5.jpg") the controller board to solder at the contacts (I´m pretty sure at least the ground (black wire) needs rasp at the original controller)

The oficial controller is harder to hack than other third party ones, cause it have a white color paint over the entire board making hard locating the traces, anyway I found the hidden traces ^^, so don´t worry about it, those pics contain the traces of the pins you need, (click the images to view them at full size)






alternate way, it basically improves the buttom response from using tact switchs,but you will need to use 2 controllers, and you cut the A,B,X,Y mobo part, and hook the traces by wires to the other controller mobo, and do samething with D pad.

anyway I recomend you use those pics:




Cause,if you put a wire under the plastic buttom, it will not fit like before, for that reason you should wire the buttoms using the pins at the end of the traces so save espace near the buttoms, you also can solder at the middle of a trace just rasping the board and soldering there, but remember allways secure the connections with hot glue to prevent a posible joint broke by an actidental pulling.




it will look like this: Open "controllerboardqk6.jpg"

you also will need reallocate the joystick if your custom portable case controller reallocation require it.

for L and R triggers, just desolder them and wire back them using wires.
,z buttom is easy to reallocate, just wire a tact switch. about the C joystick you probably will need replace the short wires it got by default for longer ones. (Use colored wires make the job easier)

you can also use this for custom L/R triggers

IMPORTANT:remember to note the correct pins of each part you desoldered!


Rumble selection mod (optional)

This mode basically manage the mode of the rumble of controller. (I used this on my gamecube laptop)
you can choose from 3 modes:

2: dual motors (create a cool rumble, but drain a lot of battery)
0: all rumble off (save battery)
1: high bright led on (create a cool tunned efect, this drain very low battery)

The best choices for getting a high bright led color should be blue and orange, them are the most powerfull colored lights.

make sure you get high bright leds from the store.

about the resistor, I think the color code is correct, anyway you can use the resistor code suplied with the controllers board (the one with the 4 controllers ports, bios battery, power led and reset switch,) and buy another similar.




Step 7 - getting the video/audio signal wires

for this steep you will need:

* main gc mobo
* a gamecube composite video/audio cable
* a potentiometer (Open "pot.jpg")

It is important, that you try to use the smallest possible potentiometer you can get, like the potentiometer that came with the disk drive of the gamecube is perfect for this, but I do not recommend you sacrifice your DD only to get this, I did it cause I have some dead DDs at my house)

after get done all mentionated before, and checked everything is working by powering on the system and testing all features with the analog video exit connected to a tv using the normal av cable, lets going to remove the connector, due It need a Unecesary amount of space inside the system.
And I supose your system will have a screen built in.

Just remove the analog connector using the same method mentionated at steep 2 of this guide, anyway this connector can be harder to remove than the previus ones, try to cut the big metal parts holding the surface of the connector to the mobo with pliers, after aply the steep 2 method to broke the pins and extract it, when extracted the connector, proceed to clean the surface of the mobo was under the connector as mentioned on steep 2 to remove the broken pins out of the mobo.

now, lets going to get the required signals to plug at your portable tv system, I will use the composite video signal in this guide, it's easy to get, and the quality is acceptable, but you are able to use RGB or S-Video to get better video quality (if you know how to do it, and if your GC board supports that output feature)

here you have the board video pinouts



now, lets obtain the required stuff from the composite video/audio cable of gc.

first of all you will need open it, just get a plain screw driver and open it carefully




when I connected the composite video to my TV using the resistor this cable had built in, it had some problems, (the video signal was very weak, and everything was near complete white on screen), so I decided to use a potentiometer to calibrate the resistor to the correct value.

your portable tv probably may have that problem too, so lets remove the resistor the cable has normally



when you removed the resistor that came with the cable, you need to solder in the potentiometer. (the One I used worked with pins 1 and 2, so if the video intensity doesn't change when moving the potentiometer try using pins 2 and 3)



After you soldered in the potentiometer, cut/desolder all wires that come out of the board (except the potentiometer and the capacitor on the board of course :) )

it will look like this:



to adjust the video signal intensity, just solder those wires to the portable TV board and move the variable resistor to the desired position while looking the gamecube video at the TV (test this with GC and TV on and running)

as you can see , I didn't attach any diagrams for the portable TV.

why?

Simple, there are a lot of TV models on the market, and I will not make diagrams for all of them.

just open the portable tv, and get the correct pins to solder this.

if your tv works on 12v (and have regulator built in), you probably can connect safetly at same power suply that GC, if not you will need lineal regulators to connect your system.


about voltage, all you need to know is make sure the polarity is correct, if not, you can damage your system, gamecube regulator board accept a large range of voltages, by default, the gamecube regulator board gets 12v, but some members tested with voltages up to 18v safetly, and sockslayer said he got the gamecube running only by 5 volts, but he had some issues with the dvd drive, so I recomend by use 14.8 batteries like gamevelvers did, gamecube power consimition is 1.25 A ,you will need caltulate the total power consumition of the system also adding the screen consumition and other addons you put on your system, and then make sure your batteries have enough amperage to feed all those mass of wires (your project :D ).
also make sure you don't group different type batteries, if you want to group batteries, make sure them are from same type.

if you put batteries on series (on series setting you wire battery + to the next battery -), voltage output will be the result of plus of the battery voltage value, for example, if you put 2 of 6v batteries on series, you will have 12v.

and if you put batteries on parallel (on parralel battery, you connect battery + to next battery +, and battery - to next battery -), final amperage will be the result of plus the batteries voltage values, for example, if you add two batteries of 1.2ah it will be 2.4ah

you also can combine parallel and series to get your custom pack, but allways remember to connect.


if you need aditional info about batteries series/parallel configurations just visit following link:

http://batteryuniversity.com/partone-24.htm

the tv,battery system and the charge system is a very important choice when making portable.

crappy/big TVs or batteries will make your portable big, heavier and crapper, so take your time at this steep.

about tv, the gamecube output 640/480 , your tv resolution should be able to show that signal, make sure your tv also support all game cube video modes.

eg, at my portable tv, gamecube works fine on pal50, but cant work on pal60 games, this is a symptom of a bad screen, so make sure you choose the correct screen.

you also should check this awesome topic, lots of related screen stuff is on it:

http://forums.benheck.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2278


well, thats all guys, I know this guide is incomplete, anyway I cant tell you how to wire each model of batteries or TV´s to the project cause there are thousands of different options,and about the casing, Im not an expert and you are the designer of the project sooo... ^^. this guide tell u only the common stuff, you will need to continue by yourself from this part, I hope this helped someone ;)



FAQ

Q: my Gc doesn't turn on anymore!!!

A:
* check for shortcuts or any damaged line, if posible try to fix
* check the regulator board with multimeter, it should output correct voltages

Q: my regulator board doesn't work!!!

A: try replace/bridge the fuse on it, it is a small white thing with 1A or 1,5 A on it, on some regulator boards it is brown.

Q: I got no sound!!!!!

A: probably something is wrong with the 12v line, check the regulator board 12v line, if damaged , try get 12v from another power source, or hook directly the + pin from battery/power adapter to the 12v line of mobo. (make sure you don't apply to much voltage or you will fry your mobo, recomended voltage is 12v, btw it can support a little more, I tested it up to 20v to the regulator board and no problems)

Q: the video have horrible quality, and seems distorsioned!!!

A:
* try add 2 or 3 extra ground wires to the reallocation mod of the regulator board.
or just add a FAT one.
* make sure your TV connections are correctly attached (if you attacked your tv to a portable one, check the variable resistor value and try adjust to other values)


Q: my GC keep reseting all time, HELP!

A :

* check for shortcuts

* if you did my reallocation mod for remove the controllers board, check you wires the pins correctly, you probably wires the reset buttom to another place, thats it.

* your GC may may not get enough power, try with better batteries or power suply.

Q: my gc doesn't read my backup discs after reallocate the DD!!!!, is this any nintendo trickery???

A: no :D, it's just that when moving the DD, it may lose a little precision, so you will need the POT to a lower value to increase laser voltage, this will short the life of your laser, but will increase the precision being able to read low quality discs at a custom position (different from default DD position), so what the hell ^^, enjoy your system while you can ;D

* if still doesn't work, you may crapped something on DD, bad luck ^^, try search and fix the problem or: if you are unable, replace DD and try the mod again

Copyrights:

put together by kasar with help of the benheck community
Thanks for your visit!