Now that everything works, let’s try and assemble the handheld.
I took my time and tried to work as tidy as possible with all wire lenghts cut down to the absolute minimum. But there was a specific order in which components had to be assembled, so I ended up retracing my steps way too often.
In hindsight, the whole process can be broken down in two major parts: the audio chain + power board (installed in the back case), and then there was the screen + Raspberry + battery + button PCB assembly (which was put together separately).
I started by milling the holes for the USB charger, the volume wheel and the power button (which, sadly, is still making its way to me from China)
Below are both sub-assemblies completed. I had to add some recesses and undercuts to the case with my dremel so everything would line up properly, but nothing too bad.
I bought a battery that would fit in between the screen and Raspberry, in order to keep the overall thickness of the handheld to an acceptable level. It is literally an exact fit, so a deviation of 1 mm in either direction would really cause me a major headache. This specific battery is a 2000 mAh LiPo, which will probably end up being to weak for such a large screen. I expect playtimes of somewhere between 1-2 hours. Also, i’m not sure how heat will factor in, since both the battery and the Raspberry chipset don’t have much room to breathe with this approach… Time will tell.
Everything soldered up. Now things are getting interesting.
And now for the bummer of the day. It doesn’t close. 🙁
There is just too much wiring in the way. I know it is theoretically possible to fit it all in there, but because there’s no easy access now that everything is connected, I’m pretty much fucked. So what can I do to shave off some extra millimeters? Well first of all I made a mistake when milling the black front plate. I only noticed it now, but it is a 2 mm mistake, so there’s that.
BUT… the elephant in the room is that damned HDMI connector that comes with those screens. Don’t get me wrong, it is in fact an extremely compact connector piece. Also, it would have been much worse if I had to use actual cable connectors, but still… look at that shit:
It really sticks out like a sore thumb, doesn’t it…
So I was weighing my options: either try and fit it inside the case (which I did, and I failed :-)), or mill a square hole in the top, so that the connector piece is visible, accessible and removable, even when the handheld is fully assembled. This may not seem like an elegant solution, but the idea was that I could then still pull out that piece and connect the console to my TV for 8-bit HD goodness. Looks like that will be my next attempt.
But there’s another reason I think that this will provide me with the wiggle room I desperately need. And it’s actually a big one because it will facilitate the assembly in a very big way.
The screen is an integral part of the 2nd sub-assembly, just because of that one connector piece. And because the large screen covers the whole electronics bay, it is really killing every last bit of accessibility. If it were possible to slide that connector in place after assembly, it would mean that there’s no need for a sub-assembly and I could just build one piece at a time, constantly making sure nothing gets in the way for the next layer. I’m pretty confident this is the way to go forward, and I even have an idea about how to camouflage that ugly connector.
Well, as I thought, the hole on top made all the difference in the world. Assembly was a breeze now that I had total access. I also made a new front plate, with a 2mm pocket for the screen to sit in. But sadly, there was an error in the toolpaths so I won’t be able to use this one. It cut the outer perimeter as an inside profile. Should have been outside obviously… D’oh!
Oh well, this bottom-view picture of the front plate still shows the pocket for the screen
The hole on top (dremeled)
and the rest of the pics show the modular assembly:
Everything fit, and there is just enough clearance for the front plate to fit in… if I hadn’t cut it undersized that is…
But I feel that this is as far as I’m going to get with this version. It works, but there’s just too many little tweaks I still want to do, so I’ll probably start over again.
More to come.