Mini NES Build w/ Functioning Cartridge Loader

Mini NES Build

This is a summary post about my Mini NES build.  This project is a derivative of the original efforts of DaftMike.  I used his 3D print files and basic source code, then reverse engineered the circuit from his Electronics Kit that allows the Raspberry Pi to talk to a NFC reader and an Arduino to control power.  Improving on the design with added features such as Fan Control and NFC Writing.  While also fixing bugs including lost Controller Configuration, Bad Power, and allowing  Out of Order Assembly.

If you are interested in making one of these, you can checkout my build instructions here:

Complete Guide: How to make a Mini NES~!

Features:

  • NFC Reader I2C will read tags to launch games AND write tags based on the last played game selected from EmulationStation. No additional devices or software needed to write tags.
  • Working Front Panel POWER and RESET Buttons with functionality not limited to launching games and safe shutdown of the pi.
  • Red Front Power LED (basic system status)
  • MultiColor RGB LED (advanced system status), can be disabled if distracting while playing with a simple double button press.
  • Power cut off circuit, similar to the popular Pi PowerBlock kits.
  • Cooling Fan turns on/off based on temperature.
  • USB Socket Extender to reposition the Raspberry Pi’s USB ports to the front of the case.

I will be selling full Electronics Kits with Surface Mount Assembled PCBs on the Facebook Mini NES Builders group.

 

 

NES Raspberry Pi - 3D PrintedFront button alignmentButton AssemblyPCB: Pi Power and NFC wiringTesting fit of PCB design

MiniNES Progress Update

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Progress update on my rev2 boards. Returned from holiday and am picking up this project again. New boards fix all issues found on rev1 boards (see previous post and sale for those).

I am not taking sales yet. However, I can say that my kit will require soldering (difficulty=easy) and include the following: the PCBs pictured, switches, LED, USB jack. Not included: wire, solder, raspberry pi, arduino pro micro, fan, and NFC.

Features: This is a daftmike clone. Has identical features such as NFC, usb extender, fan control, and multicolor status LED.

MiniNES: NFC Progress Video

Today’s progress, tag reading !

MiniNES: NFC Wiring Diagram

This wiring guide matches the .ino arduino code titled “NESPi NDEF Reader/Power Controlller v0.1 [mike.g|jun2016]” and python code titled “NESPi Cart Reader v0.1 by mike.g”. Be sure to test the rPi power circuit with a multimeter after assembling before wiring into your rPi.

http://www.daftmike.com/2016/07/NESPi.html

Note 1: This schematic is a draft, see comments for latest revision.
Note 2: The MOSFET part numbers listed are for surface mount kind, you can substitute with most any through hole package that supports 5 volts or more.
Note 3: This wiring diagram will become outdated if and when Mike posts updated arduino code.

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Cord Cutters and Data Caps

As people stream more video you may run into Data Caps. The average Platteville resident with CenturyLink internet has a 250GB Data Cap. Note: There are no Data Caps for the 1Gbs service.

Some rough numbers from Netflix and SlingTV put HD streaming at 750MB/hour and SD streaming at about 400MB/hour. If you only watch HD streams, you would hit 80% of your 300GB monthly data cap after 63 hours/week. Not too shabby.

What about UHD 4K streams? Netflix estimates those at 4-8GB/hour. If you only watch 4K streams, you would hit 80% of your 300GB monthly data cap after a mere 5-12 hours/week. Yikes !

http://www.centurylink.com/aboutus/legal/internet-service-disclosure.html

OTA: Metal Monster

91XG Unidirectional Ultra Long Range DTV Antenna

Source: https://www.antennasdirect.com/store/91XG-Ultra-Long-Range-DTV-Antenna.html

Have you seen antennas that look like this around Platteville? You will usually see them on 30 foot towers. This is a long range UHF and VHF combination antenna.

Those antennas are expensive to have installed (the tower is the bulk of the cost). The height rule for VHF reception is 8 feet above your neighbor’s home OR 32 feet above ground. Meaning that a tower is normally required to get the needed clearance.

But did you know that Platteville receives no VHF channels?? All that height is overkill for the shorter waveform UHF reception.

For reception of Madison TV channels in Platteville, you need a good UHF only antenna. Do not worry about VHF reception at all. UHF antennas are small and do not need much of a clearing to aim into. A few hundred feet of clearing is fine. For height, 3 feet is best but will work with as little as 2 feet above your neighbor’s roof. UHF antennas can function when mounted 3 feet from ground~!!

Mount where it makes sense for your home. The link below is for good quality UHF only antennas.

Shullsburg is full of Smart People

I took a drive through Shullsburg last weekend, keeping my eyes out for home antennas and towers. Unlike Platteville, I found that nearly every home I saw in Shullsburg had a bow tie reflector type antenna that I recommend. Most were the 4-way ones (DB4 and Clearstream2). While in Platteville I still recommend 8-way type such as the DB8 or Clearstream4.

A quick review of tvfool for Shullsburg shows that they have 40 dBm more signal than Platteville. So I imagine that they can get away with a smaller 4-way antennas and no powered pre-amp.

Image may contain: sky

OTA Secrets

What is the secret to good TV antenna reception?  Using the right Hardware and Aiming.

Hardware

You have to look at every part of the chain from the antenna to your TV. They all affect signal quality.

- Antenna – Collect as much signal as possible
- Balun – Older baluns can be less efficient
- Amplifier – Low noise and mounted near antenna
- Cables – Length is the important number.  However, older cables can be leaky and may need replacing
- Splitters & Connectors - 
Limit your number of splitters and connectors. Use exact cable lengths wherever possible.

http://www.hdtvprimer.com/antennas/basics.html

Aiming

The success of your antenna reception is highly dependent on good aiming strategy.

Go to tvfool.com and find the angle you need to aim. Walk around the outside of your home and determine a location where you can point in that direction and have a clear line of sight. Aim into fields, aim between houses, aim around trees, aim above houses.

If you have a clear line of sight and that angle just isn’t reliable enough, try spinning the antenna 180 degrees in the OPPOSITE direction to receive the bounced signal instead. If you have a lot of structures behind you, the reflected bounce can sometimes be stronger than your primary direction.

Remember: If your antenna has a built in electric rotor (like the cheapo chinese one), use it. The procedure to use the cheapo antenna’s rotor is:
1. Press the red rotor button on the power box and count to 1. This will rotate the antenna for approx 20-30 degrees in a direction.
2. Wait 5-10 seconds for your tv’s signal indicator to refresh. If you have a channel lock, you may have to wait up to 20 seconds for the picture to return.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, varying the duration that you hold the button. Example: Press for 1 second, release, and press for 2 seconds – will rotate in the other direction. Allowing you to “home in” on a signal.

http://www.hdtvprimer.com/antennas/fixes.html

My Businesses

Hello, my name is Dustin Westaby.  I am from La Crosse Wisconsin, currently living in Platteville Wisconsin, and am married to Katherine Westaby.  I hold an undergraduate in Electrical Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, with special interests in low level machine languages and PCB design.  My day job is to develop and test software for Avionic Control Panels.  I am also an elected officer for Hidden Valleys Amateur Radio Club.

Beyond all that, I run several small businesses.  This post is a quick summary of the services I provide for my communities.

 

Electronic Circuit Commissions

Since 2008, I have designed and assembled at scale runs of many circuits.  From light and sound ghostbuster and halo props, to writing software for a full graphic display for nerf with RFID lockout.  I also design lasertag gear,  including a handheld IR programmer (host station).

Most of my circuit projects, I post about on this website.  You can browse around to preview my work.  If you would like me to make something for you, send me an email and we can work on the details.  thatdecade@gmail.com

Prop Business Card

 

Laser Tag Parties and Rentals

I have a sub-domain that I run my lasertag business from, party.westaby.net.  This is a mobile lasertag company, we bring the fun of larger lasertag arenas to your local park, school, church, or even backyard~!

http://party.westaby.net

LaserTag Business Card

 

TV Antenna Guidance and Installs

On facebook. I run a help page for buying and installing antennas.  Antenna reception is difficult / expensive in my town.  I offer free advice to people in the Platteville area on basic antenna selection, mounting, and aiming strategies.  I have a success rate of 90%.  Which is why I also offer a more personal service where I visit a client’s home with a temporary antenna mount and scan for channels you can actually receive.  Saving them from going through all the trouble themselves.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/PlattevilleTV/

Cleanup Antenna Business Card

 

Ghostbusters 2016 Proton Pack

Proton Packs are special for me.  A proton pack was the first costume prop I ever made and was very much a junk build.  Working light and sound circuits and only the alice frame is screen accurate.  I worked on mine in parallel with my brother, so we could both be Ghostbusters for Halloween 2008.  I have been making props and commission circuits ever since.

My original proton pack took me 3 months to research and construct, start to finish.  So when my wife told me she wanted to be Ghostbusters for Halloween 2016, my reaction was to skip the proton pack for her costume.  Stick to the jumpsuit and arm patches, then she can borrow my PKE meter for the night.  But as the wedding date came and went, I found a youtube video by indy mogul of a junk build.  That was all the inspiration I needed.  Some quick research on gbfans in the Reboot Pack parts identification thread and I was able to complete my wife’s proton pack in 8 days.

If you would like to make one of these. All my plans, references, part lists, source code, etc… are on Google Drive.

Light Animation Demo Video

 

Reboot Ghostbusters Proton Pack

 

Links to my original proton pack builds:

My Ghostbuster's Proto Pack