My Quest to Portablize the Dreamcast (not complete)

Discuss modifications you have done or plan to do to your Dreamcast or any other hardware, or discuss devices you want to build. If your console does not work or is acting up, ask about fixing it in here.
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My Quest to Portablize the Dreamcast (not complete)

Post by NiGHTSFTP » Sun Dec 02, 2001 12:57 pm

:o Status as of Feburary 28, 2002. :o

- Planning Phase, all thats left is the case design sketch.
- The replacement screen arrived today: Feb 28, 2002.
- Building will begin shortly.



Parts Acquired:
-------------------
:arrow: Dreamcast
:arrow: Quantum Fighterpad
:arrow: Laptop Speakers (2)
:arrow: Micro-Size Fan (1)
:arrow: Plasti-Dip Rubberizing Liquid (black)
:arrow: 5" LCD Screen

Soon:
-------------------
:arrow: Fiberglass material/stuff
:arrow: Lead-Acid 12v Batteries (2)
:arrow: More micro-sized fan (1 more for good measure)
:arrow: 78xx chips (voltage stepdown)
:arrow: Bits & Pieces from Radio shack (plugs for video/audio out, ac in).
:arrow: Clear Bright LEDs (2)


For anyone interested, the LCD screen :
http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dl ... 1312033382
>> $107 + SH ($12 shipping, $1 insurance). ($120 total). <<

Ok, the new screen is here (and it works!)... it wont be long now... mmyes. *evilk laughter*
Last edited by NiGHTSFTP on Thu Feb 28, 2002 3:49 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Post by NiGHTSFTP » Sun Dec 02, 2001 1:06 pm

Two posts have been morphed into this one, for ease of reading, and left here for historical reference sake :lol: . (originally like 12/13/01, merged topics on 1/4/02)

I took apart my DC awile back, got pictures & measurements. (5.5x6.5" for the mainboard).

I then took a look at the portable PSX, atari, NES, etc.. and said "Man, I bet I could do that with the dreamcast too!"

I got thinking. Because of the fabulous world of emulation, it would be a portable nintendo, super nintendo, gameboy, etc.. :D:D:D!!!

Anyway. There are a few roadblocks that I see:

1. Heat (I have a nice tube of arctic silver, so I'll just buy some mini heatsinks for parts that heat up) Then a little mini fan (ultra-micro low power) should provide enough movement to keep it cool enough.

2. Power (there are how many voltages + and - that I have to deliver?)
Not to mention what batteries I'd use to power it. I was thinking a LiIon camcorder battery modded to the DC use.

3. Casing (I was thinking of hand-crafting a sheet of sheet metal. First sketching out the net of the shape onto it, then cutting/bending into a case.)

4. Speakers (or maybe just a headphone jack...)

5. Controller ports. (I dont want all 4. Just #1 integrated, & #2 for a second external controller (for a second player))

I found a nice (composite input) LCD screen (4" diag) for $89 + SH
And used dreamcasts for bout 40 bucks.

I'd have the CD assembly (which is very thick) sticking out the back of the case. I'd maybe dissassemble it to see if I could reduce the size? And then disassemble a controller & fit it in too (no problem really, controllers are small).

Not to mention the whole memory card fiasco (its in the middle of the controller!!) Maybe I could out #2 port & then shove a VMU in #1 and forget about it.
Last edited by NiGHTSFTP on Fri Jan 04, 2002 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by DukeofURL » Sun Dec 02, 2001 9:34 pm

!!!!!!!!!! I just posted a lenghthy topic about this and then was told that my password was incorrect! Now, it was not cached for some reason. Oh well, Ill post it again tomorow. By the way, where did you find this LCD screen?
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Post by NiGHTSFTP » Tue Dec 04, 2001 7:40 pm

Hmm. :?

I found the screen.... (not saying at the moment, dont wanna jinx anything). :eek:

I really need the following info if anyone could help:

1. What to do about power. :!:
2. Casing ideas. :?:
3. Speakers (Or should it just be a headphone jack w/Volume ctrl) :?:
4. Controller problem (memory card, 2nd port). :!:

It does suck when an entire topic is deleted due to crap like that. I usually rewrite it because im so pissed by that point :p .
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Post by DukeofURL » Wed Dec 05, 2001 10:57 am

Okay, in answer to your questions, here are my personal recomendations.

1. You could probably do something with a battery pack, or just wire up a 9 volt , which may work since you are no longer using power for the modem.

2. As far as caseing goes, I recommend making it out of wood since it is a very easy to mold and strong medium. Otherwise, I recommend hacking away at a GameGear case or a Sega Nomad.

3. As far as speakers, I recommend just using a headphone jack, since it is small and leaves room for a lot of other stuff.

4. I am unclear as to what your controller problem is. Is the second port not a good place for the memory card? I have not run into a game yet that requires saving to the first port, and does not allow saving to the second. Otherwise... I recommend purchasing either a "quantum fighterpad" because the boards inside are split into three different parts, with the D-pad on one, the other buttons on another, and the memory card on yet another. (And the start button on its own)
Or, putting a controller port on the side, or bottom of your casing, and then plugging in a controller. (They are not that big)

Problems that I have run into when I changed the caseing of one of my DC controllers with one that I made, was that the L and R buttons, I could not get to fit in properly, so I just snipped them off, and now I only use that particular controller for fighing games.

A problem that I have recently run into wih trying to make the DC about a third of its size now, is that the power board, (Board which cuts down the voltage, instead of a transformer) is connected to the DC main board via a series of about 6 or 8 plugs, and I am unclear as to how I am going to have the battery power go through that.

A final problem, kind of more of a limitation, is that the DC main board is a square, this I would think, would kind of limit the shape of your portable DC, and would not make it the most portable thing in the world. -but perhaps you have a way around this? Perhaps you could store this part in a walkman like caseing, and then put the LCD screen in your controller, then hooking up your controller to the walkman with the controller cable, and the video and sound. Look into how the guy portablized the PSX, he uses an interesting looking battery. I am not sure what it is from.
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Post by NiGHTSFTP » Wed Dec 05, 2001 2:20 pm

Well, the controller problem was bascially that it was not only one big board (thx for the quantam tip) but the fact that the stupid memory card things went ~2 inches deep. I wanted to keep it all within an inch, excluding the CD assembly.

I was saying that I was wondering if i could snip off the 2nd controller port to eliminate the depth some, then either relocate(if even possible) the first one so the VMU could slide in and be forgotten about (because I dont want to have to go re-opening-closing it for each VMU swap.

Also, a 9v battery would not provide the mA needed to keep it running very long AFAIK.

Now that I have this whole quantum fighterpad thing in my head, i can make a sort of nomad-like DC :D. As for wood. eech, I hate the thought. I'd prefer some form of plastic, but I dont know where to begin with that. So I figured I'd craft some sheet metal into a case.

(sorry for the un-well written paragraphs and sloppy use of english. Yes, I speak it natively, but cant organize a thought into a sentance :lol:)
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Post by DukeofURL » Wed Dec 05, 2001 8:09 pm

The quantum fighter pad has a review on IGN.com, there you can see what it actually looks like. Even though it is handy for the split boards, the L and R buttons are really large and bulky. Also, the joystick is kind of terrible. On the plus it has 6 buttons on the right, although that makes the board even larger! So perhaps it was not the greatest suggestion of mine. :(

I did happen to find a portable TV for sale with video and audio in ports at my local Sam's club on sale. I did not purchase it yet, but the dimensions are only slightly larger than a VMU's! Although its thickness is about 3/4 of an inch...

You may be able to hack off the 2nd VMU port by slicing through the rods connecting to it, although, the plastic around it extends for about half an inch, so the actual thickness is somewhere around 1 + 1/2 inch.

As I am interested in portabalizing a DC too, keep me posted on any ideas that you have, crazy or otherwise. With both of our ideas we should be able to plan something really cool.

FYI, I will try to post pics of a controller that I made by taking the guts out of a quantum fighterpad and putting into a case of a GBA style handheld. (Although this one plaid many versions of tetris!)
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Post by Alpha » Thu Dec 06, 2001 1:42 am

I took the modem apart and painted the outer shell of it
It looks decent so I'm proceeding with the top and the lid.

Then one day when I feel like completely taking the guts out of the dreamcast ill paint the bottom
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Casing Issue Solved

Post by NiGHTSFTP » Sun Dec 09, 2001 9:58 pm

Bwa!

I found my casing solution after talking to a few people! (Still wondering bout power, which is my final concern now)

I am going to use fiberglass resin to construct the shell 8). Im going to make it one half at a time (front, then back, then join the halves later).. basically mold it with my hands. Then, there is the small issue of color (paint)... originally, I was told to sand the fiberglass, and mix some sort of special flex stuff into the paint, so if the fiberglass bent any during use, the paint wouldn't crack/flake off.

Then, during a stroke of genius it hit me. You know the rubberized handles on metal tools (i.e. a wrench) well, they dip the tool into this stuff called "dip-it" which is ~$5 a can at home depot... anyway, this stuff is really durable, and if I could find it in a dark black, I'd be set!

heh heh heh.. (sometimes I can be sooo smart).

Anyway, does anyone know what I should do about power? Thats my very last obstacle in this oddesy.

[POLL]. A 5" LCD is $10 more than the 4", which should I get? 4" or 5"?
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Post by TheDumbAss » Mon Dec 10, 2001 12:51 am

I'd go ahead and buy the 5". Once you start trying to play on the 4" you'll wish you got the 5" anyway

Know where you could get a decent sized 12-16v battery? (rechargeble would be best of course) I'm going to try an find some diagrams to step 12v down to 5v and 3v. I'll let you know if I find anything.
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Post by WiseMonkey » Tue Dec 11, 2001 11:59 pm

if you know how to ecth your own pcb there are some printouts on the net to make your dc's mb about a third smaller but i wouldnt do that if i only had 1 dc but anyway if you can pull itoff it would make the portable dc much smaller. or you can do it how the vcsp was made and cut up the board and hook the pieces togheter with ribbon wire. but unles you have some major skill dont even try that
oh and dont go with the 5" screen not only will that probably draw more power it would also take up more space in the case.
and one more thing if that screen is back lit yoou may anna try to remove the lights and replace them with bright white leds cause that will really increase battery life but like always if youre not totaly confident in your soldering skills you will ruin the screen because of a subconcious desire to break it
and one sugestion abouit the controlers if you can try to fit as many ports in there as posible you never know when you might get the urge to experiment with 4 player split screen quake4 on a 4 in lcd but seriously you might actually want to play a fourplayer game of powerstone2 or something oneday
oh and for casing dont use that dip it shit trust me it dosent feel good its no where near as good as the stuff they use in the factory and before you fuck around with the fiber glass make a cheapo protoype of the case out of srap wood. dont even bother buying the wood just like tear apart an old dresser or sumthing you see on the sidewalk
but any way i wish you good luck
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Almost ready...

Post by NiGHTSFTP » Wed Dec 12, 2001 4:43 pm

Welp, Im gonna go for the 5" screen

4" screen, ~90,000 pixels
5" screen, ~250,000 pixels (+ active matrix to boot)

They both consume 500mA of power. With the white LED mod, it should consume half of that.

The 5" screen has about 3x the pixels (i.e. ultra-sharp), and its not much bigger (the smaller one had a piece of the PCB sticking out the left side, the larger one covers the PCB completely.)

Im more than likely going to just leave on the 4 controller ports on the bottom. And more than likely have an RCA Video-Out & AC Adaptor in on the top, which would allow me to use it as a semi-normal DC...

For the speakers issue, i'm getting a pair of laptop speakers from a friend, and Im sticking a standard headphone plug on the top or side (wherever it ends up fitting nicer).

As for the dip-it, I figure it would be nice to have something more durable than paint, and give more grip too. I'll conduct my own simple tests (buying a can, painting it on a small test piece of rough-sanded fiberglass, and seeing how it feels/works)

>>> Hey, can you find me a link to the PCB printouts for the DC? That would be interesting to look at (at the very least)... if I can pull that off, I would make a version 2 of the portable DC :eek: ! <<<

(BTW, I've got everything figured out except the battery (12v I figure, but I'd need the plans to step the voltage down to DC voltages too (the LCD screen is 12v, so it just makes sense) So I need a good long-life 12v battery and step-down voltage plans as I've never done that before :lol: .) So if anyone can help me with the battery problem *hint* I can finish acquiring parts, and move ahead with construction *hint*.
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Post by WiseMonkey » Wed Dec 12, 2001 9:27 pm

sorry i dont have the actual links to those sites i stumbled across them by accident and i for gat to back up my bookmarks the last time i formatted
my suggestion would be to just do some searching you should eventually find it
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Post by DukeofURL » Sat Dec 15, 2001 1:22 pm

I too am very interested in the PCB links, I have looked a little but have not found anything yet. Do you remember anything about the site? Or what search engine or what you searched for?
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Post by WiseMonkey » Sat Dec 15, 2001 7:28 pm

im pretty sure it was on google cause thats the only search engine i use
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Power Supply

Post by LithJoe » Sun Dec 16, 2001 7:00 am

If you want a very simple circuit that will step ~14v - ~30v down to 12v 5v and 3.3v then just email me at lithjoe@hotmail.com, i would of uploaded it but these new forums suck :|. You should easly be able to then use a laptop battery to power your DC. though i aint sure how much current the DC draws, but i carnt see it being a problem, As for portabiliaty, why dont you just fit the pocket TV screen straight into the controller (remove the old cable, and put in some extra core cable) and run this to a dreamcast that u can just put in a bag, and run off the battery, so u can have portable gaming (just be a controller with built in screen, and speakers coming out of a bag, sound sucky, but it would rule really :)).

Well thats all i can think of for the mo

Lithjoe :)
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Post by DukeofURL » Sun Dec 16, 2001 6:36 pm

Okay, I use google too, (pretty much my default besides altavista) I did some broad searches and came up with addresses to sites where people talked about their portable nintendos, and n64s! No info on DCs though except that people are "considering" making possible portable ones since they are now fairly cheap.

What would be a good search string to use? I have tried ones such as
"dreamcast main board small" "dreamcast main board portable" etc...
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updates

Post by NiGHTSFTP » Sat Dec 22, 2001 10:38 am

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Does anyone have a Radius Racing Pad or a Astropad?!?

(Im considering using either as my portable controller)

Please open your Radius Racing Pad or Dreampad, and post whether or not the different buttons and such are on seperate boards. Also, please post the quality of construction, and whether or not the Radius Pad has L + R buttons.

Note: Not the Dreampad, the Astropad :D

All responses are greatly appriciated!

Also, does the Radius Pad have 1 or 2 VMU ports?

Sorry all for lack of updates, I'm getting my 2nd DC in 3 days (joy!) and then LCD screen & parts shortly after.

In good news: The 5" LCD screen I was going to use was 1.5" thick, but they discontinued it for a new model that is just over .5" thick !!! That will allow me to have a much nicer/smaller unit.
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Post by tom61 » Sat Dec 22, 2001 6:20 pm

As far as batteries, consider Camcorder batteries. They're fairly easy to find locally, and would allow more people to follow in your foot steps. All you need is 12V or higher (18V is fairly common if I remember right)

As far as power circuitry, it'd be fairly easy to make a small replacement power supply for the DC. Normal 78xx chips should be fine. You won't need much power filtering, and the rectifier and transformer won't be needed either, that should make it quite a bit smaller.
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Post by NiGHTSFTP » Sat Dec 22, 2001 10:20 pm

78xx chips? i.e. : http://www.hut.fi/Misc/Electronics/circuits/psu_5v.html

wow, thats one space-saving idea. I thought i was gonna have to put some bulky transformer on, instead i can fit this stuff in wherever there's room :o ... anyway.

Can someone just post what exact voltages I need to get (I think 6v + 3v?) (or i could just get them with a meter. but do i really feel like doing that?)

And maybe a link to a diagram?

(I've been too lazy to send an email to LithJoe. maybe ill do that in a sec.)
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