My Emu-Box Project


#1

Disclaimer, this is not about getting ROMs - do not ask me for any ROMs, and if anything in this thread extends beyond allowable limits, let me know and I’ll shave it off

So I decided that this would be the summer I finally make an Emulation Box. I have a couple larger projects based on system integration, but for now I just want something ‘quick & easy’ so to speak. Once the parts come in, I’ll start posting pictures, but I’d also like so verification from anyone in the know on certain things.

My current goal is to make a Nintendo Based Emulation Setup. My ultimate goal is full blown MAME/Kawaks - but I have a feeling that some of the games I want won’t work well on the hardware setup.

I’m looking at purchasing a JetWay J7F4K1G5D-PB VIA NanoBGA C7 Processor VIA CN700 Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813153062 ) with a break-out USB connector (4). Throw in memory, and an old 16 Gig harddrive I don’t need more than that unless I MAME it and a power supply and I ‘theoretically’ have a working system. For fun I’m grabbing a Super Nintendo off eBay, gutting it and dumping it - then using it as my housing.

Before I start though I have some questions.

  1. Has anyone used a VIA C7 motherboard here?
  2. I figure it should have performance strong enough to sneeze at Nintendo emulation, but what about full blown MAME support?
  3. Is LINUX the only way to go from a software perspective?
  4. If so does anyone know if there are drivers for LINUX compatability with the 360 Controller?
  5. Video out options…I’m using RCA cables for my current connex…anyone ever see D-Sub to RCA connectors?

Any help would be appreciated.

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#2

This looks like a really good Video Card. It looks like it has an S-vid connection but usually the card comes with those adapters that convert it to composite. For 76 bucks you can’t go wrong and it got some good reviews.

I would suggest just sticking with XP for this setup or maybe even media center xp so you could watch movies and such on the go. The only reason I say to use xp or media center is so that you are able to play on ggpo if you do decide to.

Very cool project. I hope it comes out the way you intended it to and please don’t forget to post pics because this might actually spark some interest in me doing a similar project lol.


#3

I don’t have that mobo, but I’ve been wanting to do the same as what you are thinking. I have some suggestions.

You’d like as much as possible to have less overhead for mame in linux. The best MAME source for linux in my opinion is sdlmame. Try running it using framebuffer instead of a fullblown X-server. You can find instructions in Rbelmonts page:

http://rbelmont.mameworld.info/?page_id=163

As mentioned, you’ll have to manually patch the SDL libraries. I haven’t tried this, but it shouldn’t be hard.

If you do decide to run X, it would most likely be for the very nice kxmame frontend. Note that this isn’t compatible with the old xmame source/binaries…but there are patched versions in the net made to work with sdlmame.

Regarding linux compatibility with 360 controllers, I’m not so sure. I’m quite positive that Sixaxis controllers work in the recent drivers. PS2 was never a problem.


#4

I figure the PSX line of trollers wouldn’t be an issue, but I can’t ignore using the 360 controller for possible N64 goodness. My big concern is processing power…everything is integrated into the motherboard - makes it small and cheap, but less flexible…and every setup I’ve seen with these is like just a DL box or something - I havne’t seen any for emulation. So I figure the pre-n64 stuff shouldn’t be an issue, but post n64 stuff is going to be kinda tough.

I’m accustom to XP, but have compiled and done my own linux box before, a Linux setup will prolly be better, but more work. Fortunatly its FREEEEEEEEE…

Methinx that if I can’t get this mobo to work, I’m going to go all out on the CPU/mobo end and just put it in a PSX instead…hell modding a PS2 shell wouldn’t be too hard.

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#5

For controllers, I’d find a board with a printer port and use REAL snes controllers and wire them up to the ports on the front of the board.

If you’re not going to use the SNES controller ports or motherboard, I’d LOVE to take them off your hand, i’ll pay for shipping and maybe 5 or 10 bucks for it.

(I’m mostly interested in the APU. But another set of SNES ports would be GRAET, I can then wire them up to my existing set for SOM action!)


#6

I used the very first VIA EPIA Motherboard. I think at the time it ran a 500mhz fanless processor. I still use that board in one of my Emulation setups, and IT runs NES just fine. Once you start getting into Super NES it gets much worse. I don’t suspect you will have a problem with the newer C7.


#7

I’d have no problem giving them too you as I’m interested merely in the shell for aesthetics.

Thats good news to hear. I’m going to try and just get one system at a time until I get ‘MAME w/ Killer Instinct levels…’

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#8

Oh yes, just thought to mention that you probably won’t be able to do CPS3 emulation with that kind of processing power. Personally however, having a small portable box that does SNES/NES/N64 emulation is already a fun thing to make.

It’s nice to see someone trying to implement something I’ve been wanting to do for years but just didn’t have the time. Hope you can do some cased modding as well and post some pics :slight_smile:


#9

I did mine with an old sattelite receiver box. Just gutted it and hacked a keyboard and wired up the front buttons of the case to the keyboard. So the front panel had keyboard strokes like Up, Down, Left, Right, enter, Esc, Power.


#10

with that C7 (C7-D according to one reviewer) board, I didn’t see that it has any kind of S-Video or TV-output. to convert PC Video D-SUB into something your TV can handle, you’ll have to use some sort of converter which may not fit inside your enclosure. Sometimes the converters require power so its an extra thing to plug in. I found this site after a quick search on google:
http://www.epanorama.net/circuits/vga2tv/commercial.html


#11

Well I’m running into a couple issues…and am making a couple changes.

  1. I’m not using a super Nintendo. que aww. Instead I’m getting a Nintendo 64. Going to name the project “Ultra 64” for those who remember that. This wil lcost me a little more up front and shrink the size of my enclsoures height - but if I can pull it off, has sort of a ‘cool’ factor going. The cases for the N64 seemed more resilent to time than the ‘browning’ plastic employed by the SNES.

  2. I’m not 100% sold on the C7 setup. I’m still looking albiet on the side thanx to work for other options, I don’t care if its passive cooling or active cooling.

  3. I can’t figure out this power supply thing. All the PSs I come across are for ‘cases’, and since there are capacitors inside and I don’t touch those bad experience I really don’t want to just buy one to gut and try and stuff in there that WILL need cooling. If anyone knows anything on where I can get extremely small PSs that can power something like a C7 or ?Atom? board let me know.

  4. My time table is going to slip a bit for financial reasons, too much travel, plus cost of my Wii setup have just drained my funds more than I predicted.

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