yet another (and another) 64 in GBA carrying case

My first major post at modretro, although i've lurked for about a year or so now. I actually built this last year. it was originally posted on the now deceased bacman forums. I hadn't posted much, but that was there I found a lot of great info.

so a couple years ago, I saw some detailed pictures of hailrazers n64 boy advance, and knew I could build one. I'm great with a solder iron and electronics, but I hate sanding, painting, and case making. this handheld was great because the case was already made, and looked official nintendo.

i had a few minor problems with hailrazers however. I didn't like the c buttons below the A/B. I wanted full size z buttons, d pad, and some wiring. I had done enough research, I managed to buy most everything for it at one time, and get to work on what I could while the rest came from china.

I was very happy with how it turned out in the end.

On the bottom
I included a reset button for my everdrive. power switch, and charge port. I also included a second controller port (this was a tight fit, and an afterthought I added months later) stereo speakers, volume knob, and switched headphone port.

On the face
used part of a gamecube controller for the dpad, for its small size and as the original joystick stick I was using was from it too, I regretfully fried the stick and had to replace it, which is why my joystick hole is kind of big. I wound up using a "gamecube style replacement stick" off ebay, BUT I rewired it to an ATTINY chip with a different program to have near identical stick movement to an original. (I installed one of these in my normal controller too. same stick action!)
The select button and 2 extra buttons on the face are screen controls for brightness, contrast etc. I also managed to get the A/B/C buttons in a very similar layout to the original.
Finally, the power LED also works when the system is powered on, and starts to turn red about half an hour or so before the batteries die.

up top
I carefully dremeled out the L/R parts to fit tacts switches in there perfectly for full size comfortable buttons. the bottom 2 buttons are both the Z button.
I also used the cartridge backplate, cut down and tossed it in to make a cleaner look. I trimmed the pieces off the corners to facilitate japanese games.

On the Inside
for the controller, I permanently installed a nintendo brand memory card, with the SRAM chip replaced with a flash RAM chip, so no battery is needed to retain the data. its good for a long time. I can move data on and off of it using the everdrive's memory card manager. I installed the tact switch buttons into Plexiglas sheets like hailrazer did on his. it works very well.
I also tried very hard to keep the wiring as clean as possible, and tried to make a ribbon cable type set up between the top and bottom halves for easy opening and maintenance. I also installed a lot of components with plugs rather than soldered directly in.
It of course has an expansion pak included for donkey kong and majoras mask among others. the two batteries give the system about 4-6 hours of battery depending on what i'm playing and the second controller port. it definitely can get warm in the hands, but nothing to make me worry. I can always open it up and blow on it a bit to cool it off. :awesome:
Finally, I installed my sound and power parts on small boards that are screwed onto the motherboard using the existing mounts. it makes them very easy to remove and work on. I just unscrew, remove the expansion pak, and slide the components out of the recesses in the case.


It works great and I love using it. I'm a huge pokemon fan, and the second controller port was added entirely for using a transfer pak.
All that said, I'm kind of picky, and it has its faults. which is why I plan to build a second one with a few upgrades. first, I just purchased some mini64 boards from user RDC. I plan to include the octagon guard for the joystick, and a combo memory card/rumble pack unit on controller one. i'm a bit worried about the rumble rattling things loose, so I'll be turning down the rumble a bit for sure. I also hope to improve on my d-pad design. it works fine for menu selection things like pokemon stadium series, but is not responsive enough for games where its needed like mischief makers. controller 2 will still be the port. controller 3 will be wired to a mini64 board I hope to stuff into half a transfer pak I'll be screwing onto the back of the unit. I will have an on/off switch to reduce power usage when its not needed. finally, controller 4 will be wired to a voice recognition unit, (also with a power switch) the kind used for "hey you pikachu", and densha de go (that one japanese train conductor game) and it will have small mic on the front. i may look into installing a switched 4 terminal headphone plug, so headsets can be used with it.
I just ordered the mini64 boards from RDC, and only need a few more components before i'm ready to build number 2. I bought most small parts in bulk the first time around.

A part of me has considered getting a silver GBA carry case (they are out there) and making a GS pokemon themed handheld, seeing as it will have a transfer pak, and maybe match some of the gameboy color model from that era.

(EDIT: formatting, and links to smaller pictures. oops.)
Simple. Compact. Not the cleanest outside, but your soldering and other internal work is marvelous. I like it. Good job! :D

If it is running without a fan, does it get hot?
Looks good. Only question I have is related to the A/B/C buttons. Looks like they don't stick out of the case by much, how do they feel to use?
thanks all! I did some work on an old motorcycle a few years back, trying to minimize as much unnecessary wiring and parts as possible. having planned that out really helped with this, and keeping things clean.

I agree that some spots on my outside could have used a bit more attention to detail. 2 of the big problems (stick and volume wheel holes) came due to having to swap or move components later into the build. i have no excuse other than lazyness when it comes to that cartridge slot. i might try to sand it down a bit in the future.

to answer a few questions

it does get warm, i'd say after about an hour of use it starts to feel warm in the hands, but i really wasn't joking when i mentioned opening it up and blowing on it. the heat sinks work great, there's just not much air flow, so opening it a few seconds really brings the heat back down. besides, i figure if none of the hot glue is getting tacky, it can't be that bad. i may experiment a bit with the second one and look into a cooling fan.

the A/B/C and all other buttons are tact switches. similar in feel to the GBA sp buttons if you're familiar. you are correct that they don't come out that far. as far as button action, they work and feel great, like the SP. the only thing is these guys click pretty good. when i'm grinding on pokemon my girlfriend gets annoyed with all the clicking. the other minor button issue is that it is a bit of a reach from resting the thumb on the a/b and having my index finger on the R/Z on top. if i had smaller hands it could be a problem.
portable-junkie said:
Are u selling the n64??? Please let me know! Or could u build me one i have the screen motherboard ...thankx

You would have a lot better luck if you posted in the junkyard section rather than replying to old threads. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation help a potential seller take you seriously, which is important for transactions involving hundreds of dollars. You do know that even low end portables cost in the upper triple digits, right? There is much more to it than a screen and motherboard.

Id rather you get some sort of explanation and guidance rather than be left hanging.
Best of luck friend.

Also, asdfqwer,
I bet if you put in a tiny fan with a little switch you could turn it on to cool the system when it warms up without opening the case and blowing on it. The N64 cart and slot already need a good blow to work every now and then; might as well save your lungs a bit ;)