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Friday, July 29, 2005

The MegaGear - 76,000 NES Games in 1

Inspired by Ladyada's infamous GameGrrl, I recently became determined to make my own portable NES out of the MegaJoy (one of those knockoff Nintendo systems that can be found in malls) and the recently discontinued HIP Gear Screen pad. However, for my project I wanted to do something slightly different. I wanted to give mine a more unique feel, so when I recently found my old Sega GameGear I instantly knew that it was destined for this project.
The Plan: Completely gut the GameGear and use it as casing for... the MegaGear - 76,000 NES games in 1.
The Parts:
The MegaJoyIII
Hip Gear Screen Pad
Sega GameGear case

The Tools:

Soldering Iron
Wire Cutters
Electrical Tape
Assorted Screwdrivers
and its always good to have a rotary tool - for any necessary cutting.

Step One: Take everything apart. Pictured above is the HIP Gear controller, where my screen came from. Some of these components can be discarded, but carefully study the circuitry before cutting any wires. The circuit board located on top in the picture is the controller for the LCD screen, so be carefull not to damage it. Follow these same methods for the MegaJoy; disassemble the casing, study the circuitry, and salvage the needed components.

Step Two: I then began to solder the two components together. I connected the LCD (pictured on the left) to the MegaJoy processor and controller (pictured on the right). For the correct pin-out connections I followed Ladyada's expert notes. The first thing I did was to test both the MegaJoy and the LCD together. I powered them with a 9V battery and crossed my fingers for some screen output.

Pictured above you can see the list of games on the screen, meaning that both the LCD and MegaJoy worked together. At this point, I released a HUGE sigh of relief, and continued to piece my gaming system together.

Step Three: Since my screen and processor work together, I then began to focus on connecting the controller. I took the original controller from the MegaJoy and cut it in half to fit the GameGear case. Once I had the pieces sized proportionally, I began the daunting task of soldering all the connections from the controller chip (cleverly disguised as a black glob of epoxy) to the MegaJoy processor as seen above. Again, if you wish to know the correct pin-outs, check Ladyada's brilliant site.

Step Four: Once all of my components were connected together I placed it all inside the GameGear case and began screwing stuff down. Pictured above is what the inside of my MegaGear looked like. Notice the high class electrical tape that was used to temporarily hold the button panels in place. When everything has been screwed/taped in place, I tested the circuits again, and placed the other half of the GameGear case on.

Finally, I connected the 9V back up and the MegaGear was good to go. I now have a 76,000 game console system, or as I commonly refer to it, my portable Contra player.Ø

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Zen Micro Car Mount

A Zerosign original project: Make your own Zen Micro car mount.
The Plan: Create a durable and stylish, yet cheap, car mount for the Zen with easy to find items.
The Parts: Two full-size Altoids tins, One big-size plastic paper clamp thing, One can of spray paint, some velcro strips.

Step One: Cut out an area for the audio out connection. For this I used a cutting rotary tool - don't worry, the sparks won't hurt you.

Step Two: I solder welded one of the clamp arms to the lid of one of the Altoid lids. Its really ugly, but it's ok, I'll cover it up later.

Step Three: I then cut the lid from the other Altoids tin in half and placed it over the soldered lid to cover up the ugliness. Once I was satisfied of where it was sitting I then solder welded the second lid onto the first to hold it in place. In the picture above the second lid was already painted black.

Step Four: I then taped the other arm of the paper clamp to the back of one of the lidless Altoids cases (not shown) and spray painted the whole thing black. After the paint dried, I glued small peices of a mouse pad inside the tin to provide cushioning and protection to the Zen.

Here is a side view to show how the whole mount is put together around the arms of the paper clamp.

Finally, stick the soft side of the velcro strips and the console and stick the hard side to the bottom of the mount. This provides more than enough support for the mount and allows absolutely no slipping around. Insert the Zen snuggly into the holder and enjoy. In the picture you can see the finished project. Not bad for my first attempt, though if someone desired to put more than five bucks into it, I'm sure it could be improved upon. All in all though, I must say the project was a success. I have a customized Zen Micro car mount that definately looks better than simply placing the zen in a cup holder, and it was cheap as dirt to make. Ø

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