How to make the Ultimate Joystick

Depending on your tastes the concept of emulators may or may not be sacriligeous to you. After nearly twenty years of gameplaying and nearly as many years collecting the hardware of my dreams I'm tired of the thirty minute setup required to play a simple game. There's sixty consoles in the house, each one hacked to play a dozen different ways, and there's simply no way to leave them all connected. So I'm looking for a solution, and I think this is it.

The goal: Shove a fast PC, hard-drive, power supply and all the necessary adaptors into a Sega Saturn 2-player joystick. The original concept drawing is here. That's the goal, although I may forget about the built-in screen. This page will detail the work in progress. Enough chatter, let's begin.

The Parts

Here's what I originally had in mind. The parts were rearranged, some concepts were shelved, but so far it's going more or less according to plan.
[ the original concept ]
click for larger view

The miniscule size of the joystick made some rather extreme demands of the hardware. My original thought was to go with the Saint Song Cappucino or Espresso, but the costs were rather prohibitive ($800+). I could build my own system, but the size was still a paramount concern. Enter the Shuttle FV-24 motherboard. A mere 17 x 20cm, the Flex-ATX compliant unit fits the needs with a centimetre to spare.
[ The Shuttle FV24 Motherboard ]

The next step was to locate an ATX power supply that would fit. Y5,750 later we came up with this, which is the smallest available that we could find. A mere 6.5cm tall (That's 2.6 inches) and it's still 5mm too tall. I have to remove the guts, cut a new hole for the fan (Which it only going to get ugly) and shove it inside sans-shell.
[ The tiny ATX power supply ]
All of this goodness has to fit inside this box (below) while leaving room for the joystick mechs, button PCBs, and all the assorted adaptors, wires, etc.
[ The insides ]
So now the fun begins. After much head banging (Does this CPU really need a fan? It'd be smaller...) I managed to orient everything so that it should fit. Designs were made and lines were drawn...
[ The first cut is detailed... ]
And then the Dremel was employed. Noise and plastic shavings are the speciale du jour, and there's plenty to go around. That plastic ain't thin - Sega used their arcade molds to make it. It's industrial strength all around. Here's the results of the first cut:
[ The first cut is done! ]
A little more trimming and some fine-tuning of the cutlines, and then it's time to shove the mobo into place and see how well it works:
[ It Fits!  Hot Damn!! ]
The next step is to drill some holes in the baseplate and mount the motherboard. Drilling through metal is always fun, I strongly recommend you centre-punch where you want the hole to be so your drillbit doesn't drift. Once mounted, I put the base into position and checked the fit - a bit tight, so I trimmed a few millimetres and voila - it's tight and ready for action.
[ It Fits!  Hot Damn!! ]

[ It Fits!  Hot Damn!! ]
It fits - barely. There's about two millimetres of space between the top of the RAM and bottom of the button PCB. There's practically zero room for error with this project, which is what makes it so much fun. =)
[ Nearly Done! ]

[ Nearly Done! ]
Nearly done now. The power supply is installed, the harddrive is mounted, the wires are run. The system now boots fine and the TV output works perfectly. Only a few things left to hook up now - power and reset switches, and then the big one: control panel wiring. Player 2 will be USB, player 1 will be through the keyboard port, making it very easy to use with nearly any emulator. I'm excited now. =)

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