Electronics wizard Ben Heck creates portable Nintendo 64
Retro gaming is back in full swing, and Nintendo is the reigning champion. With the success of the NES Classic Edition and the upcoming release of the SNES Classic Edition, demand is high for Nintendo’s retro consoles. However, some gamers aren’t content with waiting until this Fall. Ben Heckendorn (aka Ben Heck), the electronics guru known for his console mods (including repairing the fabled Nintendo PlayStation prototype), has completed work on his latest console mod, the N64 Portable.
Heckendorn started the project about 6 months ago. Since then, he ran into trouble with the PCB design and trying to make all the pieces of the N64 work together in a new case. Heckendorn wanted to make the console compatible with the N64’s RAM expansion pack, which bumped system memory from 2 MB (yes, that’s with an “M”) to 4 MB. However, including a slot into which the expansion pack could be plugged proved difficult and made the device bulky. Heckendorn reached out to some friends at the Midwest Gaming Classic convention last April in Milwaukee, MN. These contacts later provided a modified PCD with the expanded RAM soldered on, resolving the space and connectivity issues Heckendorn had previously encountered.
In a video posted on YouTube, Heckendorn showed off the custom board and also showcased his continued work. After creating a custom heatsink, rewiring the cartridge slot, and making other small adjustments, Heckendorn finally printed a customized case, wired in the pieces of an authentic N64 controller, and screwed everything closed.
The result is impressive. The N64 Portable includes stereo speakers, a fairly beefy battery, and full compatibility with the entirety of the N64’s library. Unfortunately, Heckendorf won’t be releasing the device to consumers; after all the time he’s spent on this project (an excess of 6 months), he’s putting the project to bed.
Impressive work as always, Mr. Heckendorf.