Original Post

I have made a completely homebrew connector strip that fits the VB and works with a pcb game fixed, with help from Kev Mellott, he found the inserts and kindly provided me with a connector I could take apart and measure.

Pics enclosed of the strip, fitted into a VB joined to a game.

The body is a 3D print with 60x inserts pressed in, it fits in a cart case and fits in the VB and I just slotted another game connector and pcb into it to check it would fire up and it did, all works. Couldn’t take a picture showing the game playing and the connector in place due to view angle thru the red lens, but it worked fine.

The problem is the metal inserts, these work out expensive for 60x per strip and means the strip I have made cost at least $20 for the parts alone. What is needed is to find a source for ‘off the shelf’ metal inserts that will accept a 0.4mm pin, be small enough to fit the connector pitch (2mm X 1.5mm) and have a solder tail end that can stick out the back of the connector, so need to be around 15mm total length. The type I have are round and I guess have been micro machined, could do with some sort of press formed type strip of inserts that only cost a few pennies each.

I have searched a lot, if anyone cares to take this up you may have more success, anything found please either pm me or post a site ref and pics here and I can check if I can make it fit a connector.

27 Replies

Love it! Came out really clean. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

That’s awesome, finally fully custom made carts are possible! Looks really good for a 3D print. I hope that cheaper pins can be found to make this thing an affordable alternative to donor carts. 🙂

I think the issue with pin price is really a volume problem. I run up against this in almost every VB project. Or any small project for that matter. The volumes are just too low to make things cheap enough.

That leads to finding parts where you could then steal the pins, like in my link cable design. But then you have labor to remove the pins in the first place. The labor makes it about the same cost as just buying the pins in lower volumes.

If I wasn’t doing all the labor myself, none of it would be cost effective. This is where most VB projects end up. Then you make the passion or hobby argument to justify moving forward.

These are all my own opinions and views obviously but I’d be curious what other people think.

Yep the price for volume of the inserts (x60) drives the cost up.
I’m looking into using inserts from a long pin header, I can get some thru work to have a go with and if it does work out then the cost for the amount of inserts drops from around £8 to £0.50, so with a 3D print the connector should come in at a decent cost, if it works.
The tuning fork type inserts in the header are a basic flat stamped shape so should be able to find a cheap source for them if ‘this is the way’
I have some parts due in the next week or so and will see what I can do to make them fit and work in a connector strip.
I’m not including any labour costs, but if it take too long to put them together then maybe offer as a kit of parts to be made as needed.

This is great to see! I feel like this opens up a lot of possibilities for homebrew.

Wow, what amazing work! I feel like this has been one of the holy grails regarding the VB’s future. While $20 isn’t super cheap, it’s not at all prohibitively expensive, though I realize labor would add cost too. Point is, it’s good to know there is already another option for a future time when donors are more expensive and/or hard to source.

I have a second version on the go, 3D prints being finished and see them soon. It uses fork type contacts which worked out very cheap but I’m not wholly convinced on them connecting reliably as they are a flat fork rather than having sprung leaf’s and 0.4mm is the low end of what they will contact to.
I’m going to make a prototype and see if it works and then how robust it is putting into & pulling out of the VB.

I am still searching for some small cheap twin leaf (twin beam) type contacts as those are what populate the originals.

Will post some pics once I have the fork insert prototype done, I am hoping I can ‘test’ it the same way as the pin insert one.

That would be great if its cheaper. Donors are running about an average of $15 with shipping right now.

Version 2 using header fork type inserts, slightly less quality print but it still works. Bit fiddly putting the inserts in but by no means unachievable, might be a case of shipping the connector and inserts as a kit for the cart maker to put together.
I multi-meter tested the connections once fitted in the VB and got a signal, I also check each connection individually and got signals from all 60 inserts, so I think this will work, its a lot cheaper.
I’ll get some more built and send off to get soldered to a pcb for a true VB test.
The legs are long, need bending around the cart inner but if we are to make the whole thing the cart model can be modified to accommodate this sort of leg length.
Quite happy with how this came out, 3D print worked out to around £5 each and the inserts were £2.50, can get these cheaper buying a stack of headers, I just bought the amount I needed, same for the 3D print, I can combine a few into one model and reduce costs.

Still hunting for small twin leaf (twin beam) inserts.

Nice job!

Awesome Hedgetrimmer!

Oh snap!
Those look great! Amazing work!

Any updates on this?

Donor carts is definitely not going to cut it for a multi cart hardware build.

I have some more 3D prints to fit inserts into and have some headers on order to harvest the fork inserts from, just waiting for delivery of those. Once those are in I will have 2x each design available for soldering to a pcb.

I also have a third idea, I have some parts on order, once I get them I can start on another 3D model design and see if its practical.

So it has slowed a little, but once more parts are in I can get going again.

Any updates on this? Covid has made donors and everything super pricey!

Yes, I have the Hedgetrimmer prototypes. They look awesome but I haven’t built a cart with them yet. It’s on the list.

And yes prices are going up. Wow.

Verry nice, i hope they will find a way to build them a bit cheaper or that a final cartridge is not more expensive then a spare original one 🙂

That’s not likely with them being hand built. Labor cost is too high. You have to hand stuff 60 pins. :-S

I’d be interested in assisting in production of these. I have several fdm 3d printers but more useful, 3 resin Msla printers that will make beautiful connector housings. If someone would like to share the stl with me and a source for the pins I can take a stab at producing 50-100 and see what amount of effort that entails.

Ultimately, I’d need to send them to one of you experts though for any type of cart build as I dont have access to a source for pcbs.

Great. I just sent you a PM with my email as well on another topic. We can discuss via email and I can contact HedgeTrimmer and see what he thinks. He has the latest files.


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