Original Post

So, my VirtualCable v1.7 was…okay. Some issues cropped up that I hadn’t anticipated, but I devised an alternate installation method that was far superior, if not exactly the intended use case, and I think that the project was ultimately a success.

But I hate imperfect solutions. Boy, do I HATE imperfect solutions! The VirtualCable was designed with the idea of being a high-quality, easy-to-install, end-all-be-all solution for the infamous VirtualBoy display failures. What it wound up being was optimistically engineered and, while it works great, installation was a lot harder than it had to be.

That was an embarrassment to me, personally, and it’s been eating at me for a bit. So while I did wind up creating an iteration of the VirtualCable that is meant to solve all those issues (the prototypes for which I am still awaiting!), I decided to go back to the drawing board and scrap the entire theory I was employing, which was a glorified re-design of the original ‘fix’. I wanted something a bit more elegant, and I definitely wanted future-proofing – part of the issue with Nintendo’s implementation was that they didn’t have a concept of Minimal Replacement – ie, you design around the most wear-prone aspect of your product with the goal of being able to easily replace it at minimal cost.

So, in lieu of the VirtualCable v2.0, I give you the VirtualSolution v1.1!

As shown in the images below, this is a two-part solution: A simple breakout board, easily installed via castellated holes (yes, we’re back to those now, but on actual PCBs, it’s much easier!) that branches out to a common 0.8mm LIF cable connector, which then uses an industry-standard flex cable to connect the motherboard!

This means that, should the cable fail somehow? Yank it out, plug in a replacement, and never deal with soldering again after the initial job, which is very simple for even an amateur to accomplish!

The best part of this is that it’s NO MORE EXPENSIVE than the VirtualCable, and at much smaller quantities, too! That means that this solution is not only easier to install, and designed against failure of the flex cable, but it’s also easier for me to acquire a stock on-hand.

  • This topic was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by RetroDan.
18 Replies

i was right! πŸ˜› btw this look like it will be about the same difficulty as just soldering an existing cable. put be down for a few pairs πŸ˜›

Nes Freak wrote:
i was right! πŸ˜› btw this look like it will be about the same difficulty as just soldering an existing cable. put be down for a few pairs πŸ˜›

In fact, it should be even easier, as the PCB board won’t detach and fry itself under the heat of your soldering iron.

I really like this! Great job Dan, this is a great idea.

Looks like a great solution.

Which PCB Fab was able to make castellated holes that close together?

My usual fabs (JLPCB, PCBWay, Osh, etc) dont let me have less than 0.6mm.

Alterac wrote:
Looks like a great solution.

Which PCB Fab was able to make castellated holes that close together?

My usual fabs (JLPCB, PCBWay, Osh, etc) dont let me have less than 0.6mm.

OSHpark made the prototype boards, and they did require a bit of cleanup. My production fab house for this is actually PCBWay, and they do require some tweaking, but it is doable.

I’m in for 1 set when they go on sale. I’m keeping my eyes open for a second VB, as my VirtualTAP modded one wasn’t in great condition. I’ll install this in a new one when I find it.

This is an awesome solution. I’m in for a set of 3 please. Thank you!

I’d be interested in four of these cables. I’m sorry I missed your messages about the previous solution my preferences weren’t set right to forward PMs to my email.

Let me know how I can order and I’ll send you payment right away this time!

Edge Connector wrote:
I’d be interested in four of these cables. I’m sorry I missed your messages about the previous solution my preferences weren’t set right to forward PMs to my email.

Let me know how I can order and I’ll send you payment right away this time!

I’m in the process of testing this method, as I’d rather not get embarrassed like I did with the VirtualCable. It may be a bit before I determine that these are good for sale.

Okay. I’ll keep my eye out then for your progress.

I’m in for a few sets as well.

I’m interested in these since one of my eyes is giving me trouble here and there and I haven’t worked up the nerve to dive into solder fixing mine yet.

My main question is with this part how would one remove the glued portion of the old ribbon to give a clean surface to solder this part to.

Also I was reading and I was curious would this require more or less the same soldering skills that are required to do a normal solder fix. Or would the castellated holes make this job a piece of cake for people with amateur soldering skills.

Looking forward to see your progress on this part. I am very interested!

-Cameron

VB Boy wrote:
I’m interested in these since one of my eyes is giving me trouble here and there and I haven’t worked up the nerve to dive into solder fixing mine yet.

My main question is with this part how would one remove the glued portion of the old ribbon to give a clean surface to solder this part to.

Also I was reading and I was curious would this require more or less the same soldering skills that are required to do a normal solder fix. Or would the castellated holes make this job a piece of cake for people with amateur soldering skills.

Looking forward to see your progress on this part. I am very interested!

-Cameron

Since the original cable is not soldered down, a bit of heat, like from a soldering iron, will tear right through that glue. I suppose you could also use IPA, which would take a bit longer but be less aggressive.

The castellated holes here, because they are on a PCB and have plenty of mass, would allow for a solid bond to form very easily. Flux is, of course, your friend, but it will be much simpler than either the original fix method or the VirtualCable. An amateur could manage it, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a modicum of experience before trying.

I see this is very good, but how does the ribbon cable connect to the VB if it doesn’t have the same number of pins? Sorry if this is a dumb question.

On the motherboard side, the VB uses a standard pitch cable connector. It’s the LED board that uses a non standard pitch. In addition, the six outermost “pins” on the LED board side are NC, for reasons that nobody has been able to provide a good explanation for. Only 30 pins actually have any purpose on the cable at all.

I did get mine to work using Oshpark, and then needed to clean them up a fair amount.

I found 1200 grit wetsand on the castellated edge took off 99% of the excess plating, and allowed me to sand it down to ensure their is enough space between the holes.

I have not tried to solder my adapter to a led board yet.

My design pcb is up on EasyEDA, but it needs a bit of work of rework of the pcb size to fit perfectly.

I’m also going to be designing a 3d printed bracket to eliminate any wiggle (room permitting)

Is there any update on this? Would definitely be interested in a permanent solution.

Yeah this is interesting to me too. I have a VB up in a closet I got probably 6mo ago now that’s just screwed because of a failed ribbon repair. Burnt curled bacon with splayed out copper wires like a bad hair day pretty much covers it. There is no salvage, there are not ribbons I can find on ebay anymore repairable or working, so this would be most helpful as some kind of kit with a new ribbon and the jack.

 

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