Grape 64 How-to information

For this instructable, I’m going to go over some of the basics to build a handheld N64  portable system.

Before you start this, you should have/learn the following skills:

  • Basic to moderate level soldering skills. This means when I say you need to connect point “A” to point “B” you understand and have the soldering skills to do so. Soldering is not super difficult, so if you don’t know how, you could learn relatively quickly before you attempt this.
  • General Case building skills. The more work you put into your case, the better it’s going to look. I have been doing stuff like this for a while, so I was able to make everything look fairly clean. This takes planning, and a steady hand with a Dremel, Xacto knife, Sand paper, and paint.

Parts you will need:

  • An N64
  • 3.8mm and 4.5mm Gamebit screwdrivers for taking apart your N64
  • Batteries  (Li-poly, Nicad, etc. Whatever you prefer)
  • Controller: Either 3rd party or original. 3rd party controllers have better joysticks in general, and are preferable.
  • Screen: I used a 3.5 inch screen from ebay. Any screen will work as long as it will run off of 7.4 volts, and accepts composite input.
  • Audio Amp: I used an HMDX audio amp. These can be found on ebay. You can use any audio amp you prefer though.
  • Case: You can pretty much use anything as a case. My case is fairly small, you might want to start with a larger case so you can fit everything in more easily.

The first step is to disassemble your N64. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on this, but it’s pretty simple. Use your 4.5mm Gamebit screwdriver to remove the screws from your N64. When this is done, you’ll need to remove the Phillips screws from the aluminum heat sinks on the N64. You will need to remove all the large aluminum heat sink material. Here’s a picture of what your N64 should look like when it’s removed from the casing and ready to start working on.

removedfromcasing

Back of N64

Now that you’ve removed your N64 motherboard from it’s casing, you’ll need to remove all of the ports and the Power switch. This includes the A/V out port, power port, controller ports, and the On/off switch. When that’s done you should have your N64 motherboard with only the cartridge slot, extension slot (the one on the bottom of the board, under the cartridge slot) and the expansion slot.

If you have room in your case, you can leave the Extension port on your N64, but to save room it’s best to remove it. The first step is but simply unplugging the cartridge slot from the top of the board. The cartridge slot should come out with little to not difficulty. When the cartridge slot has been unplugged, you have a couple options on how to remove the extension slot. I used a dremel and cut off wheel to cut it up and then rip it off with pliers. If you’re good at desoldering, you can remove it that way.

Once you’ve got your Extension port and Cartridge slot removed, you’ll need to reconnect your cartridge slot. You’ll have to solder a wire to each pin on the cartridge slot and then back to the corresponding solder pad on the N64. Make sure all your wires are the same length, and no longer than 3-4 inches long. If you wire the cartridge slot much further away from the N64 than this you could have problems.

cartslot

Now for your case, the design will have to be whatever you come up with.  On mine, I cut the button guides from my controller and glued them into my case. You’ll also need to cut out a hole to mount your screen into. The screen I used came with a bezel, which I glued onto my case, so I didn’t have to worry about cutting my screen hole perfectly square.

Photobucket

Once you get your case ready, you can start gluing some of the electronics in. I started with the N64, then the buttons, then the screen, then the audio amp, then the batteries and voltage regulator. The N64 needs 2 different voltages, 3.3V and 7.4.v To get 3.3v you’ll need to step down 7.4 with a PTH08080was voltage regulator from Texas Instruments

You can purchase one here.

http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/print/pth08080w.html

It’s difficult to explain in text how to wire up this regulator, take a look at the diagram picture I have included.  You’ll need a 16v 100uf capacitor and a 2K resistor to wire it up.
PTH08080yeah

For my portable I used lithium polymer batteries, which are more difficult to wire than Nicad or Nihm batteries, but they last longer and have a higher capacity.  I’m going to provide a couple diagrams on how to wire up Lipo batteries if that’s the route you choose to take.

These are the batteries I used:

http://www.batteryspace.com/Polymer-Li-Ion-Cell-3.7V-3900-mAh-684698-2C-14.43Wh-7.8A.aspx

Protection Circuit for these batteries:

http://www.batteryspace.com/pcbfor74vli-ionbatterypack8a-1alimit.aspx?SSAID=314743

Charger:

http://www.batteryspace.com/smartcharger12afor74vli-ionpolymerrechargeablebatterypack–ullisted.aspx?SSAID=314743

When wiring these batteries you’ll need to install a charge jack into your portable somewhere. Also, you’ll need to wire an on/off switch between the 7.4v line and the N64

batteries

Wiring the controller is fairly simple. There are 3 wires connect between an N64 and a controller. The red wire from the controller connects to 3.3v on the n64, the black wire connects to ground, and the white wire connects to Player 1 data. I have labeled these connections in the pictures.
N64-controller-circut_board copy

Here’s some info on the HMDX audio amp I used. To wire up the volume control you’ll need to wire a button to the Volume + signal and Ground, and another button to the Volume – signal and ground. I’ve pretty much labeled all the information you’ll need in my diagram. You can use a couple 8ohm speakears from radioshack, or if you have room, just use the speakers the amp comes hooked up to.

hmdxpinout

You’ll need to wire your screen up too, unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the screen internals, or diagrams. In general though, the 3.5 inch screens from ebay are relatively easy to work with. There are usually 3 or 4 connections on these screens

  • Black wire will be ground
  • Red wire will be voltage in. These screens run off of 7-12v
  • Yellow will be your video input.
  • If there is a 4th connection it’s usually another video input. You can just ignore this.

This is the screen I used. Search ebay and you should find it. There are a lot to choose from, which is why I didn’t include a link.

Picture 1
One last minor detail is heatsinks. The 3 biggest chips on the n64 will need heat sinks on them in order to stay cool. I used some copper ram heatsinks from ebay.

These to be exact:
Ebay Link

These heat sinks come in packs of 8. You will need at least 12. Four per chip.

That’s all the basic info. Everything beyond this is kind of trial and error, and case design decisions. This is all of my wiring diagrams and should get you off to a good start.

The following are the pictures I have of the internals, just to give you an idea of how I chose to install everything.
Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

About these ads

105 thoughts on “Grape 64 How-to information

    • i would absolutely love to have one of these aswell but have the technical skills of a donkey. i would be very interested in paying u to do one of these for me if u offer this service

  1. Same question as Mr. Nate up there. How much does it cost to build, and if at all possible, are you capable of building one for purchase. Looking forward to your response, ty.

  2. Hello… Might I just say that you are a genius! This tut is pretty easy to follow, and it takes high skill to make a tutorial for this type of work simple… further more, it takes a genius to fabricate such a notion and make it real! I look forward to anything you make in the future. :)

    • I will do these as commissions for people, but I have to charge $400.00. I know it’s a lot, but this work takes up a lot of time and the parts aren’t cheap. Definitely something for hardcore fans.

      • So the douchebag who posted before me made his comment simply for the sake of being an ass, but I feel like that is a very fair price. I’m sure a good amount of it is a service cost, and that’s fine. You wrote a whole damn tutorial on how to make these. If people are so lazy that they would rather just ask you to do everything for them, then they can’t expect this to be dirt-cheap.

  3. Pingback: Nintendo 64 Portátil, OMG!!! | Incultura.org

  4. You should try incorporating some of the GameCube controller (especially the joystick) components and integrating them with the board for the N64 controller for better performance and longevity.

    • I actually replaced the joystick on the N64 controller with one from Nintendorepairshop.com. They have replacement joysticks for the original n64 controllers that are the same internally as gamecube joysticks but have a grip that looks like the original n64 thumbstick.

  5. I was wondering if you could possibly do a close up of the amp wiring, it’s the only thing I’m having trouble with

  6. Hi, great job on this portable by the way. I am looking into building one of these myself. How much did this cost you alltogether? Thanks.

  7. Have you been having any problems with over heating or do the copper heatsinks work pretty well? I have seen other portable n64s that use fans along with heatsinks and was wondering if fans are really necessary.

    How much play time do you get off of a full charge of the batteries?

    • 3 hours on the battery as a conservative number. And you should add a fan to be safe. I don’t have pictures posted here, but I went ahead and added one later just to be safe. The worst case scenario without the fan is that the n64 will overheat an shut itself off, but even then it wont break it, you just wont be able to play until it cools off.

  8. hello, i must say this is the coolest thing ever! Im also here to ask if you would make me one i dont have the tech know-how to do it and would really like one of these, I would pay for the materials and pay you as well just shoot me an email either way thank you

  9. here is something important i would like to know should i use a 2k or 2.2k resistor for the voltage regulator becuase you are clearly using a 2.2k resistor but sugested it was a 2k right under it i dont wanto fry anything so i was wondering what i should use

  10. This is quite inspirational to say the least. :)
    I haven’t truly appreciated how nice it is to allways have the necessary tools available when you need them (got a very electrics/mechanics-interested dad) until now when I moved from home. Well…I’ll see if I can do something of the like either during summer when I’m home, or sometime in the future, and I’ll post my results here.
    Awesome work btw.

    *walks away to re-invent the PSP* ;)

  11. hello i saw this and i just had to have it. problem is i dont know how to take apart my n64 and put it back together i would love if i could send you the parts i have and pay you to put them together. i have a N64, a controller, and plenty of games please reply.

  12. could you give a link to the speakers that you used for this? im trying to make one myself. also how much did you spend on the lcd screen? and did the speakers come with a headphone jack?

  13. I was wondering if u could build one for me and send it to me and i can pay for it , you just name the price. Email me!!

  14. if you could e mail me i am extremely interested in buying one of these if you are able to build me another one. honestly sir this is one of the greatest inventions i have ever seen in my whole entire life. you have a gift for electronics and obviously some minor engineering. let me know if you could be interested in building another for comission.

    thanks -dave

  15. man i love forum threads that let you comment without having to register!! awesome! anyway bro this is an amazing little project! I was literally sitting at the edge of my seat as i was reading the walkthru. its so cool and perfect! dude, i would KILLLLLLLLL to be able to play goldeneye on an airplane or long roadtrip or something like that!! or ocarina of time or any of the amazing classics that came out of the n64 wow… you are the mad scientist evil genius!! excellent work my friend…
    do you think theres any way we can mod this thing so that you can play 2-4 player games via bluetooth or something? i know its a far cry but wouldnt that be fucking tight as shit???

  16. I was trying to figure out but im having trouble, what did you use for your case?? i read thru the whole thing and if its written in there i must have missed it, what did you use for yours? it looks like you bought it in the store its absolutely perfect!

  17. mister perry, i was wondering if you could add some pictures in comparison with someting like a quarter to give some perspective

  18. Hey, could you please give a little more information on the wiring for the screen? I know you said it was really easy, but I’m still a little confused. Did you simply connect the yellow to the yellow of the Red, White, and Yellow standard ports of the n64, and then throw the Black on to some random ground rail, and then Red onto the the positive side of the battery with out any resistors? Doing that makes logical since, but just seems like a bad idea… thanks in advance, if I’m perfectly right, then a simple yes would suffice

  19. also, for sound, couldn’t I just plug headphones into a jack that I would splice into the white RCA jack of the n64?

  20. What are the estimated costs of this project. I am decent at soldering but not so great at carving cases. Is this out of my reach

  21. Just wondering, would stacking up another battery and connecting it in series effectively double the battery life? I’m not 100% it seems logical that it would, also wondering if a second would fit in there. Also, what’s the charge time on the batteries?

    I’m going to be starting this project in a week or two, just need to buy a Dremel, need one for my models anyway, and some paint, probably gonna make some badass Link (LoZ OoT) Decals to put on it.

  22. Great job, was just wondering 2 things,
    1) If you could stack a second battery on the top and connect the two in series if it would essentially double the battery life,
    2) Would a second battery fit in the case you used?

    Great job, I’m going to be building one myself in a few weeks, just got hold of a second N64 so I don’t have a HUGE fear of breaking mine. just want to say great job, and thanks for the directions on how to do this!!!!! I just need to buy a new Dremel. Maybe some paint, or maybe I’ll make a badass Link decal for it. Lots to ponder, thanks again for this!!!!

  23. omg if i made this i think my friend would flip out and die o.0
    the thing is i dont think i would be able to do it on my own. i think my grandpa know some stuff with soddering and stuff like this.. ill be willing to try it! :D

  24. for the audio amp, i typed in HMDX audio amp and i got portable mp3 speakers. did you take apart that and use that?

  25. So i have all my parts and trying to put everything together. for the headphone jack how did you make it so that when you put headphones in the speakers turned off? i havent gotten this far in the wiring but i didnt want to get to that point without a plan.
    Thanks in advance

  26. Wow this is without a doubt the greatest thing in the world. I’m a die-hard nintendo 64 fan. I definitely want to make my own. Thanks for the instructions man, you truly have a gift.

  27. Pingback: Maak je Nintendo 64 portable » Mancave

  28. If you could make the “cartridge” slot a SD card, then this would be much more convenient. Then again, there’d have to be an interface (not necessarily GUI) to select which game you want to play. You could actually add on parts to a Gameboy Advanced (or DS, though two screen would be weird to work with) to make it Nintendo 64 compatible… And Gamecube.

  29. I have to say I like this very much. I am making one myself, although differently from yours. I prefer to have no cheaping out and have a better end product. I am going to use an RGB modded N64 and a PS1 screen to get the best quality display I can. I’ll also remove the cartidge slot completely and replace it with a built in Everdrive 64 or 64 Drive. I don’t really see me playing this on the bus or at school so I’m going to have no batteries at all, which does cost a lot of portability (I am considering adding them in later down the track). Your “grape” colour really inspired me to make a pokemon styled case loosly based on the Pikachu N64 case. Being a Pokemon fan I’m going to have a built in transfer pack so I can play my gen 1 and 2 Pokemon on it via Pokemon Stadium without an external controller.

    One question I’ve been wanting to ask. would you be better off using an aluminium heatsink rather than a copper one because it has a much higher sepcific heat capacity?

    I hope I didn’t ramble on too much :) I did have more things I wanted to say, but I’ve probally said too much already.

    Tim

  30. Pingback: Grape64 « Das Handheldblog

  31. so how do you mount the cartridge port, like you showed how it is wired, but how do you get it to the point that the game can go into it?

  32. i am well underway in my very own portable 64 and i have a question how did you make that sweet thing on the back of your lure case i will probably have to cad it and have it printed unless it is commercially available

  33. What battries did you use and could you give me a link to the battries. I want battries that last a long time. Im thinking of macking a portable n64 of a game cube.

  34. Pingback: Grape 64: The Portable Version of Epic Nintendo 64

  35. so im assuming you used 7.5 volt batteries for the build correct? also how did you integrate the trigers on the n64 onto the case???? Did you use aluminum for the cartridge part? One last question, in several of the builds ive done ive noticed interference in the controls if you dont use larger gauge wire/ heavily shielded. How did you get around this??

  36. This is definitely one of the best tutorials to build a portable N64 that I’ve ever seen. Thanks, this really helps!

  37. This Makes Me Sad Even Though I Really Think This Is A Trully Epic Invention I Wish I Could Make Or Buy One Off You :(

  38. I was wondering where you got the part you used for the D-pad, the start and volume buttons, as they don’t appear to be off a controller. If you could also include a link as to where you got the part that would be great. Also, I assume that you disassemble the expansion pack and leave the chip in the slot, but if otherwise please let me know. I do want to build this myself, as I think it’s an awesome piece of kit, and you are truly awesome for making it. I would be very grateful if you could get back to me, thanks :D

  39. I was wondering where you got the part you used for the D-pad, the start and volume buttons, as they don’t appear to be off a controller. If you could include a link as to where you got the part as well, that would be great. Thanks :)

  40. hello, i was wondering, i do not have the regulator from Texas instruments, so.. my question is, could i have one 3.3 volt regulator and at the same time one 12 volt inside the casing?if so… how could i wire it?

  41. Pingback: Iron Xbox 360 | thaeger - blog this way

  42. sorry about other comment on the portable SNES. It was meant for this thread. Again, lol, what third party controller did you use?

  43. Pingback: Crea tu propia Nintendo 64 portable

  44. Can you please send me a link to the audio amp on ebay im confused there are so many hmdx audios so plz send me a link

  45. I’m confused, did you use a 2k resistor or a 2.2k resistor when wiring up the PTH08080WAS voltage regulator? You said to use a 2k resistor but it looks like you are using a 2.2k.

  46. Pingback: Grape64 – Nintendo 64 portable | Fredplus

  47. I see that you cut your main board to fit the case. The picture in the beginning and the picture in the case (finished) look different. Would you mind sending my a diagram of where you cut and rewired? i want to make this the same way you did since it looks amazing but if the board don’t fit i’ll be at a loss. If you could e-mail me at ruwacra12@yahoo.com that would be very helpful. I don’t want to cut a wrong wire doing it without instructions and lose a good $60 on a new n64.

  48. From what I understand, n64 portables like this get about three hours, is there any way to make it last longer (6-8 hrs.)?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s