Thursday, January 25, 2024

Death of my DS

When I was thrifting regularly it was impossible to find an original Nintendo DS in decent shape. It seems as though Nintendo made them out of hopes and dreams, because every one I saw was crushed or broken. I did eventually find one that was in ok condition and it functioned completely. Well, it did, until a few weeks ago when it took a short tumble from where I had it packed away in my closet. It had been living quite comfortably in a padded case for years. When it came tumbling out of my closet, while I was searching through my guitar pedals, I didn't think much about it. There was no noise or any other sign that would have told me something was amiss.

I've was playing Mario Kart DS on my 3DS, that unsurprisingly also with a broken hinge, when it started having trouble reading the cartridge. I decided to get a second opinion, which just so happened to be my fully functioning original Nintendo DS. As soon as I grabbed the case I could hear something rattling around inside, and my heart skipped a beat. That last part could have been a symptom of my anxiety disorder, I can't tell anymore. Regardless, when I opened the case, I saw the top screen was shifted, and many little silver pieces strewn about the case. After the initial shock I decided to go ahead and test the cartridge anyway, but SURPRISE! Nintendo designed the original DS to implode when the already brittle shell falls apart.

There is a certain resistance needed from the top screen to tell the system to turn on, without that it simply won't. In the event of a bump or tumble, the top screen breaks loose, severing the screen cable and thus renders the whole system useless. That is unless you modify it by adding a resistor to create a DS Boy Advance like I did with the previous DS I had, although I bought it with the shell already having been shattered. I actually like the DS Boy Advance, but I don't need two! I want a fully functional original DS. Sure, all the parts are there and I could buy a replacement shell, a top ribbon cable (which I actually might still have one from the one I converted to a DS Boy Advance) and get it back up and running, but that's just another Trigger's Broom scenario. Yes, I'm using that gag again.

I know the DS is twenty years old now, but no other console has been this fragile. I guess I'll just have to order the parts from over seas to fix it up. It would have been nice if they actually built a handheld console that would have lasted, but that's the way it goes. Not like they didn't have twenty years of experience with previous handhelds that were built like absolute tanks. Nintendo, do better. 

Monday, January 8, 2024

Nintendo Wii Appreciation

Many years ago I picked up a Nintendo Wii for super cheap at a Goodwill Outlet store and set to work putting it all together. When I found it the front face was missing, as well as the Gamecube controller/memory card doors. Throughout my many times hunting at the Goodwill Outlet stores I had picked up everything else I needed to get the system to work, so it didn't take long to put it all together. I even happened to find a few games, which really helped me test the system completely when I got it running.

Shortly afterward I softmodded it for emulation, mainly using it for retro consoles. When it came to Gamecube and Wii games I used the actual Gamecube and Wii discs. I knew about softmods that allowed you to play backups of Wii and Gamecube games, but I never really saw too much use in that, until more recently. I do mean more recently, as in a few days ago. I own a few Gamecube discs that are in very poor condition, Star Wars: Bounty Hunt for example is a completely lost cause it seems. To experience this game I had to try "other" means. Look, I own the disc but it's too scratched for the Wii or even a Gamecube to read, so it falls a bit into a gray area here.

Anyway, I decided if one disc was too damaged to read, I better try to minimize my losses and go full emulation, since it's available. Doing so has renewed my interest in my Nintendo Wii. Not that I ever fully stopped using my Wii, as I use it quite often for emulating retro consoles. I just hadn't had much interest in the Wii and/or Gamecube side of the console in quite some time. In 2020 I spent most of the year playing my real N64, in 2021 it was my real Super Nintendo, in 2023 I spent most of the year building pedal circuits, and it seems in 2024 I may just be spending a lot of time playing Nintendo Wii games.

Now that I'm playing much more Nintendo Wii, I'm finding that a lot of games with potential were killed by poor controls. Whether they where forced to use Wii motion controls, or just too lazy to implement compatiblity with the Gamecube controller, I'm not sure, but the Wii controls SUUUUUUUUUUCK on so many games. Many years ago I bought Excite Truck so that myself and my then girlfriend could play it together, but that never happened, sadly. Regardless, I finally got around to giving the game a try and I have to say, while I like the idea of turning the controller horizontal, the turning accuracy is junk! Even on a Wii Motion Plus controller! It's horrible.

My main focus is to save wear and tear on my discs, and make backups of them to play. However, I'm currently working with a 32gb USB drive, and that doesn't go very far when it comes to Wii games. Should I go the HDD route? Maybe, but I really don't know how far this will go. If I get super into it and want to backup every game I own, I might, but for now the select few games I've got backups for are keeping me entertained enough. If you have a Wii that's sitting in a corner or closet collecting dust, or know someone who does, I would highly suggest softmodding it. It runs emulators really well and it's a tiny little console with so much potential - for fun!

Monday, January 1, 2024

Causing a Little Fuss: Bazz Fuss 4th Anniversary Edition

Believe it or not, when I first started building pedal circuits I wasn't too concerned with keeping track of when they were built. Eventually I did decide to keep track of build dates, so I used my own social media posts to get as close as I possibly could for the ones I hadn't kept track of before. For the past few years I assumed my first build was on the second of January 2020. After doing some research I found a reddit post where I asked for help troubleshooting my first build, which turned out to be on the first of January 2020. There were quite a few Bazz Fuss builds that were never taken into account at all, most of which have since been harvested for parts to build something else. I did say most, as I've recently come across one of the last surviving Bazz Fuss builds that I forgot about and never completed.

Bass Fuzz on a US Quarter for size reference.

My very first Bazz Fuss was slapped together from parts I had laying around. It's sputtery, velcrowy and it sounds like shit in any other setting than full bore. Because it was my very first build I'm leaving it the way it is, for better or worse. My plan was to finish off this other Bazz Fuss to celebrate the fourth anniversary and make it more of a useful circuit than my very first build. This will give it an actual use, and a date of completion. Since this circuit was built previously, I can't give it a birthdate but a completion date is still important to the circuit. All I needed to do was install the volume pot, wire it into my test box, and, since it has a socket, see which transistor sounded best. 

The problem being, no matter what I do it sounds like shit, if it makes noise at all. I will assume this circuit sounded ok previously or it would have been harvest for parts long ago. I used some really nasty solder back then, but I made sure to reflow it all when I was installing the volume pot. It could be a bum volume pot, it could be a bad component on the board, although I doubt the latter, or it could be my test box's power input needs replaced. Apart from the Screaming Tree/Screaming Bird clone, the last few circuits I've tested in it sounded like shit. I'll start with giving the test box a new power input, if that doesn't work then I'll know it's the circuit itself.

Sadly I can't give this circuit a birthday, nor can I give it the completion date I was hoping for. It's a super simple circuit, so I'm confused as to why I'm getting the results I'm getting from it. I may just keep it around as a novelty. A memento, as one of the circuits I built back then and never did anything with. I would prefer it to be working though, that's the best outcome, but if I tear it down and replace everything would it be the same circuit? That would be very much a Trigger's broom scenario. Regardless, here we are in 2024! It's time to get a few circuits made, house them all up, and focus on making more music with them. I had a blast recording my first demo in 2022. Hopefully I can make more this year, or in 2025.