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Will

My Console Modding Experiment

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Given that we’ve been trapped inside for the better part of a year and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon I thought it would be a good time to pick up a new hobby. I’ve always had an interest console modding but never done any myself. I thought now might be the time to give it a go and see what I can do.

I posted in the “What Have You Bought” thread that I’d recently picked up a few tools to get started and @Happenstance suggested I make a thread to document my progress, so here it is! I have a few projects in mind and will document my progress, any ideas or suggestions are very welcome!

Project #1: My Japanese GameCube

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I bought this GameCube back when I lived in Japan and haven’t used it in years. Given the simple nature of the console and the quite nice quick work you can do on it I thought it would be a good place to start. I have a few plans for things to do with this.

Mod #1: Region Switch
The first mod is a simple one, a US/JP region switch. I don’t actually have any US games here but this is a simple enough project to get started with and very easy to test the success of. I’ve ordered a pack of switches and some cable and hope this one will be pretty easy to get done.

Mod #2: Region Identifying Power LED
Linked to Mod #1 is installing multiple LED lights such that the power light will be a different colour dependent on the region selected. This is a little trickier than the first but should be easy to test and not cause me too many issues. The LEDs I need for this have also been ordered

Mod #3: Controller Port LEDs
This is a little trickier than the first two as it will require some gaps be made in the existing body. The idea is to make the controller ports light up when the console is powered on. I need to acquire a glue gun to help with this one but otherwise everything is ready for it.

Mod #4: HDMI Output
Currently I have to use this mess of bad quality to get my GameCube on my TV:

3DD47237-ED4A-4147-94B3-B4F95089AB70.jpeg.0d4b01edcdd35d9e15b7981848af4e3d.jpeg

Luckily, the GameCube I have has got the digital output which means there is a kit available that will turn this into and HDMI port. It seems I have a few options on this one so will be doing a bit of investigation into the best way to do this before I take the plunge. Whatever I go with this will be a challenging mod.

Mod #5: USB-C Power
There are a few parts to this one. A couple of years ago I totally forgot about power differences and managed to blow up... something. I bought a new power supply so the first thing to do was test everything actually works:

Great, I have a working GameCube! Being more sensible I now have a step-down transformer but my god does it take up a lot of space:

D61C6CDD-D673-4271-858D-82723B718F01.jpeg.3c27342f5b18d240c5cccb966a48db57.jpeg

It also weighs a ton. So that I can avoid all of this in the future and not worry about power issues I’ve found a USB-C power board that matches the GameCube power adapter output that I will attempt to install into the console. This one is completely self-created so I have no clue if it will actually work. Based on my research it should do, but it’s untested.

So that’s the plan for my first project. Looking forward to getting started on it.

Have any of you tried anything similar? Any thoughts or tips?

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I did think about cables but for two key reasons will go with the mod. The main one is that the thing I’m interested in is doing the mods and seeing if I can make things work and the cable kind of removes the need to do any mods. The second thing is that I thought a nice theme for all of this would be to standardize as much as possible. After the GameCube I intend to move onto other machines and the mods I’ll try to do to everything is USB-C power and HDMI output. I figure if I can get those two into everything then managing retro consoles in my setup will be much easier.

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Jesus! That’s some kind of super mod alright! :o 

Most I’ve ever done was modding my N64 & SNES for Japanese games and modding my GBA for USB-C charging (the backlight was a pre-made mod I bought).

Good luck to you with it mate! Keen to see your progress :peace:

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My iFixit kit arrived today (a week early):

1516DF09-7968-4E91-8A2B-C6CA96815066.jpeg.3604e3b952dfb9f2b159a16d111ef058.jpeg

So I’m ready to start taking things apart! The kit is really nice and will find many uses beyond the modding projects. Super excited to get started.

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31 minutes ago, Will said:

My iFixit kit arrived today (a week early):

1516DF09-7968-4E91-8A2B-C6CA96815066.jpeg.3604e3b952dfb9f2b159a16d111ef058.jpeg

So I’m ready to start taking things apart! The kit is really nice and will find many uses beyond the modding projects. Super excited to get started.

I've got one of these on my wish list, as I've got loads of smaller sets of tools, but I'd like one set that has them all in one place. Looks like it also has a few things that my current toolset doesn't.

God damn it, I'm going to end up ordering one and taking apart everything I own, arent I?

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19 minutes ago, Goafer said:

I've got one of these on my wish list, as I've got loads of smaller sets of tools, but I'd like one set that has them all in one place. Looks like it also has a few things that my current toolset doesn't.

God damn it, I'm going to end up ordering one and taking apart everything I own, arent I?

I hope you do!

I have to say it’s one of the nicest bits of kit I’ve ever bought, really solidly put together and a bit for everything that I can imagine needing. Well worth getting imo!

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7 minutes ago, Will said:

I hope you do!

I have to say it’s one of the nicest bits of kit I’ve ever bought, really solidly put together and a bit for everything that I can imagine needing. Well worth getting imo!

I've been thinking about getting a Walkman (or non-Sony equivelant, have you seen the prices of actual Walkmans?!), but the rubber belts perish, so I can absolutely see myself having to take one apart in the near future.

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37 minutes ago, Goafer said:

I've been thinking about getting a Walkman (or non-Sony equivelant, have you seen the prices of actual Walkmans?!), but the rubber belts perish, so I can absolutely see myself having to take one apart in the near future.

How much are they?

I quite like the Tech Moan videos of him replacing bands on Walkmen and various other devices. Really makes me want to buy more retro tech and do it myself too. Maybe if I ever have a house I will do so.

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10 minutes ago, Will said:

How much are they?

I quite like the Tech Moan videos of him replacing bands on Walkmen and various other devices. Really makes me want to buy more retro tech and do it myself too. Maybe if I ever have a house I will do so.

Good ones run into the hundreds. For something I'd mainly be putting 99p cassettes through, it hardly seems worth it. Plus my current cassette player (Sharp QT27) is actually better than I expected, so I'd only be looking to upgrade if I wanted something more portable.

I blame Techmoan for my current retro music infatuation. Found him when looking up stuff about turntables and now I'm buying cassettes, vinyl and CDs. I sometimes find him a bit boring, but his calmer approach is a refreshing change from the usual YouTube hyperbole and overreactions.

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I can't believe you have an orange GameCube and are willing to potentially ruin the best looking console ever!

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27 minutes ago, Ashley said:

I can't believe you have an orange GameCube and are willing to potentially ruin the best looking console ever!

Are you doubting my skills???

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2 hours ago, Will said:

Are you doubting my skills???

I'm just very protective of the spice

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I promise to be very careful with it!

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You're going to tare appart an orange spice Gamecube?! But it's the spiciest of the cubes!

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A few of my components came today so I started my initial checks for the upcoming mods.

First up was getting the Cube open, which was super easy with the following bit. Had never seen one in person before and thought it was a pretty interesting form:

CBF45884-BDA2-4688-A561-0776489D088A.jpeg.3201ee1ab165cf35c29593029334e7a1.jpeg

The first thing that has turned up are my switches. They look like this:

37623DF9-D77F-495F-A0D1-7BCBC62166CD.jpeg.4689dbb00d57f1c401be1b9246b51fa5.jpeg

Unfortunately, as you can see, they don’t really fit too nicely outside the case and are a little too thick to go through the vents:

924B694B-7EDD-42CE-A336-BE715C6BADF1.jpeg.399b93d7794adad85d0529c36accfb42.jpeg

Luckily I had these to file them down a little:

7ECDD7BD-E294-42C7-9F2D-5523A3533420.jpeg.482614f9100b802b30018ae02bd1e3be.jpeg

Ten minutes later and a test fitting:

AE7B7B88-B2D8-4880-BAC9-FA06AC3EDEA8.jpeg.5b8e7045c05b9abf538fee5235c6c55f.jpeg

It fits and is very nicely positioned in-between the vents.

That was all for today but it was fun to get started and at least have a poke around. The soldering iron I ordered last week should come in the next few days so hopefully the first mod will be completed by the end of the week.

More to come!

 

 

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Some more components and my first soldering iron arrived earlier this week so it was finally time to start doing some actual mods!

I decided to start with the LED mod as it was a little more accessible than anything else. Here’s how I got on.

The key component in adding a dual LED is of course LEDs, so I bought... a few...

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That’s plenty of choice. Ultimately I want the Cube to light up blue when it’s in American mode and red when it’s in Japanese mode. Luckily both colours are included in this set. It also has yellow, green, and white. All of which are completely mixed up so it’s a fun adventure just trying to find the ones you need.

Here is one on it’s own:

37711EBA-9F6E-4E19-80D5-90580FFF800F.jpeg.2fb469143592813873900357e5bd17ec.jpeg

The first issue with adding a dual LED is that you need to make it fit in the position of the singular original. So first we must file them down:

FD414F8E-0016-4AC6-B651-6463CEA4D4F9.jpeg.c737880487796995c67e95e09cf97064.jpegE7B929C5-53D8-47B9-80E6-D62DE3999B59.jpeg.96419781e178560d99817feccb76ff2e.jpeg

Still bigger than the original but should fit where we need it to be.

Next is soldering them together:

6BA322DC-E7A5-4A7F-A5A9-AA718123423C.jpeg.8ea39c686b464a3a437075f44deee482.jpeg

Not bad for my first soldering in about 20 years!

Now to remove the original, here it is in place:

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And taking off the front of the GameCube we can see it’s a pretty easy light de-soldering job to get it out:

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Success!

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Next up I connected some wires to the LED:

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And then hook that up to the switch:

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The three wires connecting to the switch are one for each LED and one that will attach to the board where to original LED was.

Almost done now, so just need to attach the LED to the board and clean up the wiring:

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Looks good, so time to test!

Success!

85D2D52E-BAFC-4B15-BFAE-F372C1D66AF1.jpeg.480b0c7645bc7f5af3d052f031fc7739.jpeg0B91D998-E64F-4E95-A742-204CE1F25EE4.jpeg.eafbc9c02db1e349aa00831f8e283217.jpeg

Really enjoyed working on this and super happy that it actually works. I need to buy something to hold things while I’m soldering as two hands is just not enough for some of these fiddly little things.

Will try to get the region mod done over the weekend.

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So I gave the region mod a try today, here’s how I got on.

Taking the thing apart is as before but a few extra steps to take out the disc drive:

117B3E7F-C237-4BEA-8F30-CB7B6BC79948.jpeg.caf098ecfc5a6067ddf7498de2bdf136.jpeg

So that we get down to the main board with heat sink:

DBDCB5CB-9A68-4C19-BF8F-F330BE0BC804.jpeg.6ef323651e51ced35f9724daee0d501a.jpeg

With the heat sink off we can see all the main parts of the GameCube:

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The part I need to fit a switch to is ridiculously tiny:

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I need to put a switch across the middle two points of the six you can see just next to my finger, they are ridiculously small.

and... 

I messed it up :-(

It turns out the soldering iron I bought and it’s claims of working with any power supply are not quite correct. It “works” but none of the settings are telling you the truth. Unfortunately this resulted in the connections basically burning off the machine, and it now looks like this:

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You probably can’t see much but I can assure you it’s not good. I really should have waited for all my stuff to come before attempting this one. 

Luckily the machine still works so it’s not a total loss. It may be salvageable but now I know what I’m dealing with I feel I could get this done with another try. I’ll attempt fixing it but it might just be easier to buy an additional GameCube to take the motherboard from.

Was fun taking it apart but definitely a sign that I need to do a bit more practice with the soldering before I try it again.

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Damn, that sucks... Sorry to hear that.

Yeah, the GCN region switch mod isn't easy.  It's part of the reason why I never bothered with it myself (I just use a Freeloader/Action Replay).

Hoping your next attempt fares a bit better! :peace:

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It’s a shame but at least I can take it as a learning experience.

I was thinking that I should still have my launch day Japanese cube at my parent’s place so I might ask them to dig it out and send it over to me to use. Pre-modded so at least I can have a look at it to see how it should be done.

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