The Latest Advancements in Portable N64 Modding

[Chris Downing] has been in the mod scene a long time, and his 5th GeN64 Portable is his most modern portable Nintendo 64 yet. The new build has an improved form factor, makes smart use of 3D printing and CNC cutting, efficiently uses PCBs to reduce wiring, and incorporates a battery level indicator. That last feature is a real quality of life improvement, nicely complementing the ability to charge over USB-C.

What’s interesting about builds like this is that it’s all about the execution. The basic parts required to mod a classic games console into a portable unit are pretty well understood, and off-the-shelf modules like button assemblies exist to make the job far easier than it was back in the day when all had to be done from scratch. We’ve admired [Chris Downing]’s previous builds, and what differentiates one mod from another really comes down to layout and execution, and that’s where the 5th GeN64 Portable shines.

[Chris] makes great use of 3D printing (both filament-based and resin) to make fantastic custom buttons as well as an effective enclosure that feels good to hold. The front screen protector combines color printing on adhesive vinyl with a CNC-cut clear panel for a clean look, but the real winner is the even more refined use of fabricated PCBs to put everything exactly where he wants it.

Modifying existing hardware into a different shape tends to involve a lot of wiring. Lots of wires in a space-constrained device eats up both time and space while introducing points of failure, and invites mistakes during assembly. PCBs (especially flexible PCBs) are a great way to solve these problems, and the fact that they are so readily available nowadays is fantastic. The first link at the top of this post has some great pictures and details of the build process, and you can see the finished unit showcased in the video, embedded below.

All of these advancements mean it’s so much easier to build and test compared to having to solder assemblies point-to-point. That’s a valid way to make something, but it can also lead to a successful creation that one never wants to have to build again.

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