More things need to be purple. This month we take a look at the Grape64, which probably our favorite N64 portable to date. Stiff competition, to be sure, as there has been a lot of amazing builds over the years. Finished in 2011 inside a clear tackle box and has features usually omitted from N64 portables like the dpad and L trigger, and even has an Instructables post to help you build your own. It’s very great, and it’s very grape.
-Tackle box Case
-3.5″ TFT Screen
-Swappable Jumper/Expansion Pak
-L button & Dpad support
-3900mah Battery (3 hours playtime)
-External 4 player expansion port
Made from a Plano tackle box originally meant for fishing lures, it was the perfect size and shape to house the (slightly trimmed) N64 motherboard, controls, battery, and screen. The inside dividers and rubber lure tray were cut out and the remains sanded smooth to make room for all the necessary parts and an even paint job.
Using a Krylon brand paint meant for metal, the X-Metals paint dries clear to keep the shine of the metal object showing through the application. When used on translucent plastic, it seems to adhere and absorb into the plastic instead of covering it, which means that the part will stay clear. This type of paint is helpful when spray painting things with existing logos and art, and designs on it like patio furniture, bicycle frames, and of course gameboys.
Little details often make or break a portables design, and the extra touches here are phenomenal. The screen bezel had the perfect shape to add a Nintendo Logo from a Gameboy Advance to the front. The part that houses the dpad, start and volume buttons was from a plug and play Tank Assault Combat game and adds a nice additional aesthetic to the case that matches the design of the A, B, and C button piece.
Ports and Extras. With the way the N64 controller was designed & programmed, the Z button was used the most and the L button hardly at all. Thus, a Switch was added to merge L & Z for the off chance you needed to use it. For the cartridge housing a standard radioshack project box was used to hold the slot and games. Headphone jack was included of course, and the power switch for the Grape 64 cycles between the two power jacks for either charging port or wall power. The access to ram expansion was not relocated so you can switch between jumper and expansion paks if needed (not really?).
Let’s ogle some internal pictures, shall we? The N64 motherboard was trimmed to save space for the necessary switches, ports, batteries, controller boards, and regulators. The heat syncs on the chips were replaced with more efficient ones to omit the need for a fan.