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Author Topic: Project: Super PlayChoice - FINISHED  (Read 9528 times)

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ChanceKJ

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Project: Super PlayChoice - FINISHED
« on: March 20, 2014, 01:39:22 am »
In what started out as a small idea from a thread on the Intel NUC, i've decided to attempt to go ahead with a small side project. The plan is simple: Take a stock SNES Super Advantage controller and shove a computer inside. Yes, i know i'm crazy, (as pointed out by a few people in this thread). But it's gotta be attempted. Don't expect this to be finished before Xmas. Much like my PacMan bartop, i'm gonna take my time on this one. Also, because the longer I take (within reason) the more likely newer NUC boards will come out smaller and cheaper.  The controller has been ordered and should be here within 10-14 days. Worst case i'll scrap the NUC idea and use Android, or just have an Advantage controller that i can use with my SNES!

Design Goals
-Minimize any kind of external modification to the Advantage controller
-Intel NUC, 4Gb RAM, 120GB Solid State HDD, Wifi, Bluetooth.
-Teensy USB Dev Board to interface the controller to USB.
-Windows 7, shelled with Maximus Arcade
-Custom Nintendo Maximus Arcade theme. (maybe set in a SNES Mario World theme)
-Wireless video (Airplay to an AppleTV seems to be the best bet so far).


Game List
All games from the following Nintendo systems that supports the number of buttons on the controller:
-NES
-SNES
-Gameboy
-PlayChoice/Arcade units

Design Steps
1. Spousal approval (CHECK!)
2. Planning/sourcing materials (CHECK!)
3. Slow purchase of materials (CHECK!)
4. Modify the controller and install the computer (CHECK!)
5. Front End design and Software configuration (CHECK!)
6. Beer & Video games. (CHECK!)

Current Roadblocks: 2014.05.02
-None!


Well, Lets see where this takes me. If all goes to plan i have a pretty badass idea to go one step further. But i'm keeping that idea to myself for now.
As always, progress of my build can also be followed on Instagram with the hashtag #SuperPlayChoice






« Last Edit: December 31, 2014, 04:21:34 pm by ChanceKJ »

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2014, 11:50:57 pm »
Well, my advantage controller has arrived. First things first, this thing needs to be gutted and cleaned!  There's some 23 year old cola stains inside.  :)



Looks like I should be able to fit a single board computer like an intel NUC inside this without too many modifications. Once I get my hands on a NUC I'll have a better idea of this. Might wait a couple months until the one I want is a little cheaper.



During this teardown I realized something very interesting, the stick takes standard arcade ball tops. Shown here is the stock red top that came on one of the 360's I'm using on my Flynn's build. Might mean I replace the ball top with an Purple one to match the SNES colors.  ;D



Anyways, once I finish gutting it and clean it all up I'll look into buying the computer for it. Maybe see what other x86 SBC's I can get that will fit the bill. More to come...

gilligan5000

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2014, 07:11:57 am »
I'm interested in seeing what you can do with the teensy!

Malenko

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2014, 08:05:42 am »
just curious, would you be opposed to making a new base for it to add a little inside height?
No matter one's station in life, the Dance of Death unites us all.

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2014, 10:52:58 am »
I had thought of that. It's kind of a last resort really. The experiment is more to see if I can make a unit that is almost indistinguishable from a stock controller.

But yes, last resort I've thought up plans to build a 1cm expansion to the base.  I've got a very good feeling that an NUC with the cooling fan removed and mounted to the solid metal base with the proper modifications will allow for a clever passive cooling end result. 
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 11:59:59 am by ChanceKJ »

Unstupid

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2014, 05:24:41 pm »
What an awesome idea... Whoever thought of that must be a genius! 

I think you are going to run into lag problems with the wireless Air Play -> AppleTV solution.  When I use the airplay feature to mirror my ipad screen through the apple TV there is a good half second of lag which would make playing a video game impossible.

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2014, 06:54:43 pm »
I wonder ........


I must admit I don't understand the appeal of this.  For older games the Raspberry Pi works well is smaller and <10% of the cost.  For newer games it easy to find a refurbished USFF PC with a 3 GHz Core 2 processor, HD, and Windows 7 for about $150.  This may do a little better than the refurbished PC but once you add memory, HD, and Windows the NUC gets above $700!
The appeal of the NUC is not for everyone...  It's for someone who wants to push the envelope of small/powerful computing.  It's for someone who wants to take a computer, stick 3,000 games on it, put a flashy front end on it (hypersipn/mala), and cram it into a fightstick.  It's for someone who wants to make something kickass without a budget and without worry of how much it's going to cost.

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2014, 01:22:36 am »
Progress!

Not gonna lie, cleaning every bit of this thing was a pain in the ass. It had to be done though, there was cola stains on the PCB, some of the buttons were catching, just not fun. 



Once i stripped it down i was able to scrub the buttons and smaller parts with some cleaner in a sink. same with the top case. Minus a couple nicks on the corners here and there this thing was in amazing shape when i received it. now it looks practically brand new.



The PCB was disgusting. a little time with some q-tips and some 99% isopropyl and away we go. There's a little wear on some of the sliders, but what do you expect from a controller old enough to buy booze and vote?

Before:


After:


in preparation for the USB controller I clipped the cable. hell, even if i don't put a computer into this thing i'm going to make it into a USB controller no matter what. So, why not...



Next, reassembly.

Seriously those little metal bits on all the slider switches are a pain in the ass. If you do this, make sure you don't damage them. they bend pretty easy.



When i was putting it all back together, i was damn thankful that i've been taking all these pictures. there were a few slightly tricky bits that could go in a few different ways. Once it was all together (minus the baseplate) I tested the look with a smoke bubble top just to see. I was thinking about a purple one, but i may just stick with one of the spare red ones i have laying around.  Who knows.



I still need to order the Teensy, More to come....

Louis Tully

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2014, 04:24:14 am »
.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2015, 05:02:37 pm by Louis Tully »

Cia91

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2014, 10:13:56 am »
Nice build, why not a Raspberry inside?

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2014, 10:16:10 am »
Thanx!

I want to use Airplay and Maximus arcade. So that limits me to Windows and an x86 SBC platform for simplicity. :)

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2014, 10:26:56 am »
Side note: I think I've figured a way to chop some height off the NUC. I may be able to get a thermal block from a passive cooling case that I'll mount directly to the massive metal base of the controller. That will remove the fan and cut a third off the height.  I'm just talking to the supplier to try and get my hands on the part.

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2014, 07:32:45 pm »
Looks like I found all the art I'll need for the front end theme...

http://www.mariouniverse.com/sprites/

gabrielmtl

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2014, 07:36:03 pm »
I love your project! Good luck. :cheers:

matt4949

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2014, 07:57:02 pm »
Cool Idea
I wonder if I could turn one of these into a Madden 92 ?
...................................................
Just playing, but hey a really cool Idea.

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2014, 08:15:09 pm »
Side note: I think I've figured a way to chop some height off the NUC. I may be able to get a thermal block from a passive cooling case that I'll mount directly to the massive metal base of the controller. That will remove the fan and cut a third off the height.  I'm just talking to the supplier to try and get my hands on the part.

Its the kind of project that puts ones engineering ability to the test. I know how that feels. So far so good! :cheers:

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2014, 08:19:32 pm »
Thanks for the encouragement guys.

I found a wicked deal on an NUC today so I pulled the trigger. Should be here when I get back from California on Tuesday. I've got some 1333 ram laying around too. All I'll need to get now is an mSATA drive and the wireless card.   :applaud:

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2014, 09:03:02 pm »
Which one did you get?  The one with the older i3 or newer i5 or the older celeron?

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2014, 09:19:53 pm »
DCCP847DYE. It was the cheapest that would take mSATA drives like it's bigger brothers. The other celeron lacked mSATA.  It was really all I needed, for $164 I couldn't say no or justify a $450+ NUC if I'm gonna be putting another $450 into my PacMan project for the neon sign alone.

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2014, 07:09:17 pm »
 :applaud:

And now for the first of the new guts for this thing...

(I know what your thinking, what kind of idiot would put 8gb of ram in this thing??) well, this will go in my home server (mid 2011 MacMini) the ram from that will go into my Flynn's Arcade CPU (early 2009 MacMini) and whatever I have in that will go into the NUC. Everybody wins!

I <3  SO-DIMM.


ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2014, 02:31:30 pm »
 >:D Looks like this is gonna work!

...more to come.


RyoriNoTetsujin

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2014, 05:10:29 pm »
Hmmm... Very cool project! It'll be interesting to see how this turns out.  :cheers:

I think you are going to run into lag problems with the wireless Air Play -> AppleTV solution.  When I use the airplay feature to mirror my ipad screen through the apple TV there is a good half second of lag which would make playing a video game impossible.

I have to say, this is also my primary question. Direct connection from the NUC to a monitor should have absolutely no issues at all, but what are you planning to do to mitigate the lag of the wireless display? Do you have a really beefy wireless router and network setup in your home?

My experience with wireless display is relatively small (a couple of different devices, admittedly I've never messed with AirPlay) but wow, none of it has been good enough to play video games with. That delay would drive me nuts.

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2014, 06:30:12 pm »
The lag is a valid concern.

Network wise, I have a solid infrastructure in place to support such a thing. And I'm taking the proper steps to use hardware, software and tech that will support the vision. I have experience in dealing with airplay as a wireless standard. And I know the current options for wireless gameplay from iOS devices to an Apple TV. But this is really something that I'll have to try in order to answer the questions.  Can this be done? So far so good. If I run into an issue with lag, and it can't be fixed then I'll pull the trigger on various contingency plans.

Best case it all works out and I'm left with something really cool.

You never know unless you try.

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2014, 12:14:54 am »
Ok, First stage of the project is complete, I've modified the controller to work through USB using the Teensy USB Dev Board.

I loaded the .HEX file from the tutorial then soldered the controller leads to the Teensy, plugged it in and tested it on my Flynn's Arcade setup as a joystick.









Locke141

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2014, 05:03:59 am »
I'm loving this idea.

I have a broken NES advantage sitting in a box at my parents house. Perhaps I should do the poor mans version of this with a R-pi and liminit it to the old two button or less systems (Atari 2600, NES, Sega master system, game boy advanced, and so on). The fact that the older systems need less processing power to emulate lends its self will to the limits of the R-Pi.

Can you go in to more details on how you interfaced the Teensy USB Dev Board to the Advantage? Is there a web site you can point to with all the info some one would need readily available?       

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2014, 10:33:20 am »
Can you go in to more details on how you interfaced the Teensy USB Dev Board to the Advantage? Is there a web site you can point to with all the info some one would need readily available?     

Sure! Check this link out:
http://www.instructables.com/id/SNES-Super-Advantage-Teensy-USBPS3-Gamepad/


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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #26 on: April 16, 2014, 10:51:48 am »
Awesome idea! Have you found any heat issues with using the NUC over time?

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2014, 11:11:09 am »
Just got my hands in the NUC yesterday. From all accounts I can find I shouldn't have any heat issues. I've got an idea to mount the CPU to the solid metal base and use it as a passive cooling solution. Which will also remove the fan assembly and reduce overall height. It's not like I'm going to be using it to render frames of the next Pixar film, so I shouldn't have too many worries with heat. Still it's a bit of an unknown. I do have a couple tricks up my sleeve though.

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #28 on: April 19, 2014, 01:59:41 am »
In my quest to make things cheaper, and use a few things laying around the house i've decided for the time being i'd borrow a couple of the antennas from an old wireless router.  The NUC's antennas are built into the enclosure and i don't want to damage them incase i ever want to scrap this projects and use the NUC casing in the future. 



Once the router was broken into, i could pull out a couple of the antenna



These things are seriously huge, so i may just go and buy a couple anyways.



I spent the last couple nights installing Windows 7. I had a hell of a time getting the ISO of my install disc converted to a bootable USB drive. I wasn't in any kind of rush so i really wasn't paying attention and i had to redo it a couple times. Meh.  Once a copy of 64bit Windows 7 was installed, I installed the wireless driver, ran updates, installed Maximus Arcade, and loaded the games and corresponding video clips.



Next I started on the artwork. My first step was creating a logo.  I took both the SNES and PlayChoice logos and combined them.



Next i started building the rest of the Maximus skin. The theme is based on the art from Super Mario 3: All Stars Ed.  I took screenshots of some gameplay as a base, combined it with some sprite rips and started building the layers i needed for Maximus.



Thats kinda where i'm at right now. I have a ton more work left on the skin, after that i'll need to map all the controls into the emulators. Once i'm happy with the software and GUI setup i'll prep the controller and NUC for integration.

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2014, 02:29:47 am »
You got mame running on the NUC yet?  You should be able to test lag once you do.

ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #30 on: April 19, 2014, 02:48:42 am »
I do,  however I haven't installed AirParrot yet. I'm just hammering out the design of the skin first. As soon as I get a free second ill test the wireless video. Worse case I'll run an HDMI port to the back of the controller. ;D

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2014, 05:29:38 am »
nearly completed Maximus Arcade Skin.

Added some Super Mario World sound effects to the mix. Kept some of the standard Maximus sprites, they just seemed to fit.  Really didn't want anything too fancy, this came out pretty good. Next i'll optimize the controls, setup/test the wireless video and then combine the NUC and the controller.


ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #32 on: April 19, 2014, 06:01:02 pm »
Airplay works... Well, kinda.

I'm having issues with zSNES and the video feed, however all my other emulators seem to work well.  I've had issues with it sending audio, just little things to iron out. Good news is the lag isn't an issue at all. I might hide an HDMI connection on the back. nothing too intrusive.




ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #33 on: April 25, 2014, 03:20:06 am »
That purple ball top I ordered has arrived,  it's colour is near exact. Too bad I'd need to mod it to get it on there.  I'm starting to like the look of the stock/smoke bubble top ones better anyways.


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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #34 on: April 25, 2014, 11:58:12 pm »
Good news is the lag isn't an issue at all. I might hide an HDMI connection on the back. nothing too intrusive.

I dunno...  I was watching the video and there is definite lag...  You really won't notice until you play some real fast paced games (pac man, racing games etc...)  Took a screen grab and if you look closely the screen on the right is a good ~100ms (hard to measure from a youtube grab) behind.  If you look at the image You can see that the image on the left Mario already hit the block and is already on his way down, while the image on the right shows Mario just leaving the ground.


ChanceKJ

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #35 on: April 26, 2014, 12:01:33 am »
You are way more picky than I am. :P

No that's good. I was thinking of a way to measure it. It's strange, it's not really noticeable but meh. If anything for games like Mario it's so short that it almost adds a layer of difficulty.

 
« Last Edit: April 26, 2014, 01:44:35 am by ChanceKJ »

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #36 on: May 03, 2014, 12:37:48 am »
Alright, home stretch...

The thermocouple i need to mount the NUC to the base of the controller came in...



I removed the old heat sync and fan assembly, cleaned off the old thermal compound and mounted the new thermocouple.



After measuring a number of times, i decided to make a couple hole patterns.  The NUC fits best with the I/O snug against the front side of the controller. so i eventually landed not that orientation. I used 4-40 screws, and tapped the proper threads into the baseplate.  You could use 8.5mm M3 standoffs as well, but they seem to be hard to find, in Calgary.



There seems to be a billion and a half ways people think they need to put on thermal paste. its really simple, just use a small amount. the "Pea" method works best for CUP's, but for this i'll need to use a little more.



Once i was happy with the placing of the controller, i cut some of the 4-40 screws to length and made sure to evenly mount the motherboard to the baseplate.



Now the bad news. Airplay works, but just barely. And due to the optimal orientation of the main board inside the controller i will have to cut a coupe holes out the front. I tried to make these as pretty as possible. I did however "measure once and cut twice" on the hole for the power adaptor. whatever, it fits.



I wanted to make sure the HDMI connections would accept even the widest HDMI plugs. Which lets face it, are the xBox 360 HDMI cables...



Next on to the power button. Not wanting to damage the NUC by removing anything, i decided to use the Aux power switch connections. because the tolerance is so close inside the controller, i needed to use something a bit more snug then the standard 0.1 pin connectors. I just used a couple header pins, crimped to the wire, with some heat shrink for stability and bent them at a 90 degree angle. Simple. I'd also like to point out how these 2 circuit Molex connectors from my Flynn's build keep paying off in my other projects...  Here i'm using them as a quick disconnect for the power switch line in case i need to do maintenance on the system.



Installed a button...



I had planned on using a reed switch for this part, and hiding the activation zone on the controller someplace, but it wasn't practical to carry around a magnet all the time.



Next i added some black eTape to the bottom of the Teensey board to prevent anything grounding out or damaging it. I also routed the power and USB cables.



I prepped the two haves for final assembly. Testing things as i went.



Now, here's the tricky part: Because i need to gain a little more clearance in the controller, I've opted to add washers to the standoffs that hold the baseplate on. the hot glue was a ---smurfette---, but it was just for ease of installation later on.



Voila! Not exactly what i had planned, but its damn close!



I took it into the office today and let a couple of the guys play around on it. It was a lot of fun watching them relive old memories of NHL'94 and Super Mario Bro's 3. At the end of the day we hooked it up to one of the projectors in one of our conference rooms and just went to town.




Its just awesome having so much old Nintendo in such a small package. Very happy with this. The holes i cut into the controller mean i kinda failed the original design goal, But how many people can say they shoved a desktop computer into a SNES controller?! Overall i'm quite happy with it. It doesn't get too blisteringly hot, and it just looks awesome. Most of all i'm happy i've finished my first project on BYOAC. I really didn't think id get this one done till the end of the year!







I have one more step planned for this, so stay tuned...
« Last Edit: May 03, 2014, 03:45:31 pm by ChanceKJ »

emphatic

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice. (FINISHED!!!!)
« Reply #37 on: May 03, 2014, 06:42:02 am »
Very impressive! :cheers:

Malenko

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice. (FINISHED!!!!)
« Reply #38 on: May 03, 2014, 09:49:04 am »
looks great, I think the grey balltop looks better than the purple one.  :cheers:

 I suppose you tested it enough to discern if air flow/heat is an issue? You said it doesnt get blistering hot, but Im not sure exactly what that means, last thing youd wanna do is start melting that old plastic, lol.   I'd probably try to retro fit a couple of tiny fans in there to push/pull air. and by tiny I mean like  20mm x 20mm x 6mm
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Louis Tully

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Re: Project: Super PlayChoice.
« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2014, 11:21:05 am »
.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2015, 05:09:10 pm by Louis Tully »