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Twin Famicom | Restoration & Mods | A Treble Project

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1 hour ago, phillv85 said:

Lovely stuff. I really like these consoles, I got a refurbished one of the same models years ago and it's still going strong. 


Excellent. Well, stay tuned because we're really going places with this one! 

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That old solder is so hard to loosen up. I ripped out a few pads on a top loader NES I modded a while back in a similar way.


You'd have got some interesting looking visuals with some of the tile data not being read by the PPU!

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Sorry for the break, been a busy few days 🥵


Where I left it, I'd just built the boards. Next step is to hook all the connections up. Firstly I took the AV & power daughter board out to work on. Side note: The TF is a beautifully over-engineered monster with great components, loads of mechanical touches, space in the case to work and an overall sense of everything being top-drawer.


Anyway, when I first got the machine a few weeks back, I spotted a capacitor I didn't like the look of. All the rest were fine, but one looked a little bulgy:








The old ones are preeeeety huge next to modern replacements:






Next up, I needed to repurpose that AV socket for use with a SCART lead. It's these connections in the green box below. You cut the traces to isolate the pins first:



...then you attach the wires you need (sync, R/G/B, Ground, +5v and audio):




The sync wire (yellow) was slightly wrong, attached to pin 5 (composite video) instead of 7 (sync on luma, which my SCART lead of choice uses) as the instructions I followed were wrong (rolleyes.gif) but I figured it out myself and got it sorted easily enough. Replaced the unit back in the case, cable tied the wires and job done:




In the above image you can see the underside of the TF board with the modded NESRGB daughter board attached. It fits really neatly inside the TF case with no cuts at all.

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Chapter III: Controller Mod


"Come over to my pad"


So the TF is a lovely machine, but one big (bigbigbigbigbigbig!) drawback are its pads. You saw they were yellowed but that's not the problem. The problem is, they have a non-standard connection that attaches directly to the console, internally, using very short cables. So you can neither plug in a different controller, nor use an extension cable :(


On top of that the cable sticks out from the sides of the pads, meaning you have to awkwardly fit them between your fingers whilst playing. 




Fortunately, we can solve this comparatively easily...


You see, the NES family and SNES family use the same wiring for their pads.




The SNES pads carry more signals but don't use any more wires; they just have two chips in the pad instead of one, to handle the extra signal data.


After comparing images and doing a fair bit of probing with the multimeter, I identified which wire was which in the pad extension cable I had, mapped out the wires and compared it all to the connection in the machine:



The top is pad one which has 1 fewer wire than pad 2 (which carries signals for special controllers, I think?) 

We're leaving pad 2 in place and only messing with the less-sophisticated pad 1 :)


Flipping the board, and once the correct pins are identified we can just solder our trimmed extension cable to these points:



...aaaaaand.... ta-da:






Works beautifully, and means not only can you connect official pads and joysticks, but you can use a modern bluetooth solution if you want, using an 8bitdo connection and the right controller :)







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Chapter IV:

T H E  C O M P L E T I O N I N G


So after all that, did it work? Hells yeah :)

I had an issue where I was getting no video, but re-read the instructions and saw I had to bridge a jumper to say 'no palette swap ability please' (even though the board is of a single palette variety anyway...)


The result?






The usual caveat applies: this looks amazing in real life, a little underwhelming when shot on a camera phone :D Trust me, it's a cracking picture that's incredibly sharp. I have an Everdrive clone on the way to make it a complete solution, will play it for a bit then, yep, up for sale it'll go!


So, was the juice worth the squeeze? A tentative 'yes'. It's 100% worth it for an expensive and unusual version that will get a lot of use by a collector. It's an insanely time-consuming mod, though. A conservative estimate on the work would be somewhere between 6 to 7 hours. It's always wise to have an hourly rate in mind when you commit your free time to stuff and mine is £20 per hour. That means I put at least £140 worth of work into this, maybe as much as £180. That equals or exceeds the length of time it takes to fully recap & screen mod a PC Engine GT. You better believe I'd charge someone that if they asked me to mod theirs!


But then I wouldn't offer to do this one for people, no way. It's precarious and expensive, takes an age to sort out and there's a constant danger of you wrecking the chip. Am very pleased with the result though, and knowing there are probably fewer than a thousand units in the whole world modded like this gives me a huge feeling of accomplishment :)







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On 17/05/2022 at 14:12, spanky debrest said:

Don't Famicom Player Two controllers have a microphone embedded in them?


Wonderful job all round as usual.



Yep, they do. And thanks! Even though it was a huge PITA to do, the result is very pleasing :)

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