Worklog - RSM NES PC/Steam Box

Discussion in 'Modding Worklogs' started by RSM, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. RSM

    RSM Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2002
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi everyone!

    Long time OCAU browser and LAN-Party-goer I've decided to put up a project. One which many of you have seen before. The classic PC in a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Console box. I wanted to make one powerful enough to run dual boot windows 7 and Steam Box so lets see how that all goes.

    I'm keeping all the NES parts as spares for my other unit as this was a functioning device.

    Most of this will be as I go so please bare with me :D
    All pictures are <500kb each so I'm sorry if your porn browsing slows because of my worklog.

    1.0 THE CASE

    As you can see, this is a very old and grubby unit which I purchased off the forums from this thread http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=1111657. Another successful sale and a prime unit for what I had in mind for this build. Its the Mattel version of the NES which doesn't get more Australian :D

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    1.1 THE NEED TO CLEAN

    Nearly 30 years of a console being around certainly gets dirty, but simple dish soap and elbow grease paid off in getting the outside of the unit clean. I also felt a bit more confident delving deeper into it now that it just looked cleaner. I was half expecting dead critters inside but was pleasantly relieved when there were none to be seen :)

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    Ahhh much better :)

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    I may do further cleaning down the track just to tidy and "detail" but for now I think its just in a more workable state.

    1.2 OPEN WIDE!

    Cracking the case open is very easy. Just 6 phillips head screws on the base and the top of the case comes off easily with no cables or tape attached to it. You'll be greeted by the load tray, metal sheet and some basic circuitry. It amazes me how technology like this works and how much of my own childhood was dedicated to this unit. (Just FYI, my unit still works, its packed up neatly and I'll give a special surprise at the end of this post :p for my dedication to NES).

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    Take the tray off by a couple more screws and the whole thing comes out very easily.

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    The front controller ports come out via the front (in a sort of backwards way) just unscrew the two screws on the underside of the chasis and the faceplate will come off. Then pull them out from the front.

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    There are USB adapters for them but I've got other plans, so I just want to keep them in-tact so that the whole case looks as stock-standard as possible :)

    Next is to take out the power buttons, another 2 screws and its an easy remove.

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    1.3 I'LL CUT YOU!

    Ok, so I'm not the best with a Dremmel but I gave it my best shot breaking about 5 discs in the process. I dont know if that's a feat or not but the plastic is occasionally difficult to deal with. I've seen other builds where the unit has not had that lower T section cut out, but it raised the board too high for what I've got in mind (installing PCI-E card with flexible riser). So I just hacked mostly and eventually things neatened up the more I did. I did put in a reinforcing piece later.

    [​IMG]

    Getting a bit cleaner

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    Re-using a piece cut off earlier and some super glue really helped the rigidity of the back

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    Testing board fit

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    With case

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    Thats enough for one night...

    NEXT TO DO:
    • Affix mounting screws/rods
    • Clean up inside more
    • Work out what I'll do about the power/reset buttons hitting my DIMM slots :/
    • Put up parts list for you awesome forum users

    Feel free to ask any questions :D
     
  2. XeaLous

    XeaLous Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    46
    I'm so interested in how you are gonna fit the GFX card (or i guess you could go integrated) and the power supply in :O) PicoPSU? external power supply?
     
  3. OP
    OP
    RSM

    RSM Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Ok next update. Lets see... oh yeah, parts!

    [​IMG]

    Intel i5 4400 CPU
    Gigabyte H87N-Wifi MOBO
    8GB DDR3 1600 Patriot RAM
    160w Pico PSU (www.mini-box.com)
    Noctua 37mm low profile CPU cooler
    128GB SSD Samsung Pro
    Gigabyte Gforce GTX650 - not actually mine, using for testing sizes etc

    2.0 PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

    Ok so basically I wanted to do a dry run install for windows to see that everything was working and I didnt have any DOA, so I did that (also because I cant help myself! I get computer parts and I need to just... touch them... put them all together... its like giving a kid lego, he's not going to just sit there and look at the box!)

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    Big fan is big!... at least it's thin?
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    I borrowed a USB DVD drive (Samsung as well, who'd a thought someone that works there...) for the OS install and drivers install. I dont see much point in installing a drive because most things I'll be wanting to do which require discs I can just use a USB headder one. This also allows for more space above the mobo/CPU for Graphics)
    [​IMG]
    looking good so far!

    2.1 THE BUTTON PROBLEM

    Ok so the NES button problem is this. there is a tiny bit of metal on the power button which will latch the button when compressed. This will make it stay on. The problem is you can't have this as the main power circuit because it will then try to power off the unit as soon as its compressed and doesn't release. I know this circuit has an actual name but I'm drawing a blank.

    The other problem I have is that it doesnt quite fit where the motherboard is because the circuit board from the button comes too far out and hits the DIMM slots. So, time for some trimming!

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    I dont really need the reset button anymore. Honestly I don't think its required at all any more! I had to keep the PCB on the bottom of the metal crossbar because that raised it just enough so that it remains spot on from where it would be installed normally. LED I'm tempted to change up to blue but the classic red one may stay. Undecided and not difficult to wire up. All I will have to do now is solder up the power pins to the switch and just be very quick about compressing the button and releasing. I would prefer not to have to take that little piece of metal out, its something nostalgic and satisfying to compress that button and hear it click is all :)

    @XeaLous - the PSU is a Pico, there aren't many options available for a case so small. As for the Graphics card. I'm waiting for a PCI-E extender cable from Hong Kong I got off eBay before I can install anything just yet. I hope that will be the next update.
     
  4. Enjoi

    Enjoi Member

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    Melbourne, VIC
    this is gonna be awesome, keen as mustard to see this one finished!
     
  5. the_pipmister

    the_pipmister Member

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    Location:
    Adelaide
    just wondering.... what is the total height from the bottom of the mobo to the top of the cpu cooler?

    i'm planning a similar project and height is a huge problem.

    cheers
     
  6. El Nermo Diablo

    El Nermo Diablo Member

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    Love it! Have to find my old NES now....
     
  7. pontios

    pontios Member

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    Good work so far!! :thumbup:
     
  8. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    A hacked working NES. I cried. :upset:
     
  9. fl0PPsy

    fl0PPsy Member

    Joined:
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    Its getting to the stage slowly now where seeing a working original NES hacked up like that is a shame.
     
  10. azalin79

    azalin79 Member

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    Location:
    Denmark WA
    Great idea mate - certainly keen to see how it pans out. :thumbup::thumbup:
     
  11. OP
    OP
    RSM

    RSM Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Ok I should be able to get an update out tonight.

    I'm still waiting on my PCI-E 16x ribbon cable from Hong Kong, that's keeping the graphics stuff on hold. However I've made it all neat and tidy in the interim so fret not

    [​IMG]
     
  12. OP
    OP
    RSM

    RSM Member

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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    UPDATES 4/2/2014

    Ok so yes, I've been a little busy, what with being you know... busy... shut up, Hearthstone came out and that was a little distracting! TO THE BUILD!!!

    FRONT PORTS:

    So these little things have the connecting rods actually coming through the plastic fronts. I was a bit worried that they might fall out if I was to cut them up so I glued the back pins to make sure it would stay rigid. I wanted to keep the box in an "as stock as possible" exterior.

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    And then I cut off the rest of the PCB so that it could fit in with the board installed;

    While I was waiting for those to dry up I decided to tackle the front LED and power switch wiring. (apologies for the photo out of order but I forgot to show this one earlier). I found an old PC case and cut out some of the front panel I/O connectors for the motherboard with the intention to solder these up a bit later;

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    The LED was the stock standard red and its easily changeable to a different colour. I decided to keep the traditional old LED as opposed to getting a new one. But its worth considering if you wanted something a little more special if you decide to do a build like this :)

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    At this time I also soldered up the power switch. As the reset button was cut off there was no point in trying to do anything for that. It's all I really need. I didnt want the LED to indicate hard drive either because again, I want to keep it looking stock :)

    Ok glue as dried so its now time to cut off the tip... "just the tip?"

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    They now fit easily back into the case :) I also had a quick tidy of the unit so that its looking a lot neater and I can work out sizing for... other things...

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    So...

    Graphics eh?

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    THIS MAY NOT WORK. I'm still waiting my PCI-E ribbon cable from eBay *sigh*... *waits*... screw it, back to Hearthstone for a while. I will say, the stock graphics are pretty good already but having a PCI-E card in here would just be the bees knees! I know there is going to be issues of power, rails, cooling, underclocking, fitting, cutting, etc... This will be the graphics update which yes, may not work. If it doesnt work then I'll use the card in a different project and just have to look for something else. Happy to hear alternatives :)

    This is the fitting plan:

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    So that is a "coming soon" teaser ok?

    Next up, USB3 front panel install

    The idea is to install this [Ebay $5]:

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    In here like this (but you know... properly):

    [​IMG]
    Using a faceplate (and provided there is room with the graphics so that I can use these:

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    I picked up a set of 2 online at http://retrozone.com.au/ :) Go check them out if you're interested.

    Ok so thats enough of an update for now :) Still waiting for cables and stuff and yeah, then I can keep going. Until then it's been a great little unit playing movies and streaming Twitch streams in high def :) I've got a wireless logitech keyboard and touchpad combo so I can use it from the couch. Loving this little project :D
     
  13. pontios

    pontios Member

    Joined:
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    91
    How's the project going? Any updates?
     
  14. OP
    OP
    RSM

    RSM Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I've got the PCI-E cable now and I'm currently moving house so everything is packed up :p

    ETA 1 week for an update but just running it as it is for now is great.

    I need to crunch some numbers for the PSU to work out if any options are viable or if I could get a second unit just for the graphics card.

    Happy to take suggestions :)

    Cheers
     
  15. crocodaVe

    crocodaVe Member

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    ACT, 2600
    Those 160xt picos are usually pretty generous and will pump to 200w. With a solid psu brick (xbox360 203w). Lookin ok so far. Challenging to include that card! I like it. Worth a crack! Fans would be fighting each other. Maybe cut a circle intake and flip the gpu fan on the roof. Not sure of the chassis floor chop? Keep it up man. :thumbup: Be great to see it happen.
     
  16. the3coopers

    the3coopers Member

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    That's because a Dremel is completely the wrong thing to cut plastic with. You need a cutting blade (a saw) not a metal grinding disk.

    I use a hacksaw blade with a handle bolted on (costs $2)....

    LOOK> http://i01.i.aliimg.com/photo/v0/52325091/hacksaw_handle.jpg

    Use a high quality Bi-Metal blade that is really flaxible, and literally "slice" the part off. If you grind off all the sides of the teeth on one side, you can make a "flushing saw" that doesn't scratch the shit out of the base plate (that you want to keep).

    Using a saw like that cuts through plastic like butter. A Dremel just melts it and make a horrid mess.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    RSM

    RSM Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    @the3coopers that is AWESOME advice!

    I've got one of them floating around but im not sure of the blade. I'll give it a crack cleaning everything up when I have it all apart next.

    @crocodaVe Yes the card is definetly a challenge. I need to solder up a 6 pin PCI-E cable out of an old molex. My concern is running 2x12 volt rails off one molex may not be enough to get it going. I'll also be looking at underclocking the card (or limiting it somehow) if the draw is just too great.

    The brick I have attached at the moment is a 183w.

    Once move is all settled and I get my tools out again I will update properly but I can confirm that the NES and graphics card have made it safely to my new place :)

    Cheers all!
     
  18. Segression

    Segression Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Wollongong, NSW
    Awesome looking build!
    One question. those usb snes controllers, i have been after something like this but the build quality on them from your pic appears they are cheap plasticy rubbish. Can you please comment on your experience with them? do they flex heaps etc or do they work really well?
     
  19. OP
    OP
    RSM

    RSM Member

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    Location:
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    They're actually quite firm! whether the controller is any good I have yet to find out but I'm almost a little worried it wont be malleable enough to move around and fit comfortably in the front area of the unit. If all else fails I'll keep it lose with the cartridge lid down.

    Here is the purchase: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/300938166148?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649
     
  20. OP
    OP
    RSM

    RSM Member

    Joined:
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