The Uzebox DTV 1st prototype

This is a repost from the dump I did on Imgur about building the prototype of the Uzebox DTV (which is now on Kickstarter).  I assume that’s OK because Imgur loves reposts.


The first prototype of my own Uzebox I built into an SNES controller

The Uzebox is a homebrew 8-bit video game console you can build yourself. It was designed in 2008 by a Canadian guy Alec Bourque. They sell the kits of the original at Adafruit you can solder together yourself. I decided I wanted to make my own version that fits inside an old SNES controller. Because Alex is awesome and he made everything open source which made this was possible.

This was the first one I made just after I finished putting it together. I’ve made seven total now. Two of this home etched PCB one and five with a PCB I sent of to China. All the design files / gerbers for this one are available to download on the Uzebox forums. I am still touching up the newer sent to China version but will post those files as well.

Modifying a clone SNES controller bought of ebay

Using an old rusty xacto razor saw to cut modify the controller to fit in the plugs/sockets I needed

Cut location

Just shows the location of the cut if you want to make one yourself.

Out with the Dremel

Obv. this photo was a set up to show where to cut and is not an action shot.  The real cut was some messy hand held action.

Where to make that cut

It’s not critical height.  As long as it is low enough.  No higher than this

Filing out the slot for the SD card

This photo is actually out of order. I didn’t cut the uSD card slot on the first one till after the PCB was made. But on the 2nd one I knew from the start. And if you want to make one yourself, you know as well 🙂

Reaming with a drill bit

to enlarge the hole for the TRRS plug.

Reset button and Programming connector slot

Again out of order. I didn’t do these till much later on the first prototype. Can’t hurt to do them early now you know the location though.

Not very neat

I could be better at doing the whole chain drilling and filing thing. Sorry.

What it looks like from the end when complete

This is what the final result of the case modding will look like.


Test fitting TRRS socket 1

Back to the real time line of making the prototype. Test fitting the TRRS to make sure it could sit on a PCB and come out of the hole the captive cable previously came out of.

Test fitting TRRS socket 2

As above, but with the lid on.

Used gEDA PCB to make a paper test fit

Drew the locations of the buttons, the outline of the areas covered by the silicone membranes, and the areas that had plastic pegs in the way. These are “keep out” areas I could not place components in.

First PCB test fitted

Sorry, do not have many shots of making the PCB. Standard photographic methods used. Etching was in my home made spray etcher “The Etchinator” which you can see on instructables if your interested.

More test fits

Yay – the buttons lined up.

PCB shot after tinning

I don’t use the immersion tin stuff. This is the rub on silver stuff.

Artists impression

Well a piece of computer softwares artistic impression. What gEDA thought it would look like if it had a solder mask.

Gratuitous close up shot

Area of the PCB showing some buttons and a SOIC16 4021

They matched the holes

Happy times. The PCB CAD matched the real world and the TRRS and the uSD socket line up.

All the components soldered on now.

This was just done with a Hako 926 equivalent (half of a Hako 701) and Milticore 362 standard solder. Apart from the uSD socket that was 362 and a blow torch.

PCB Close ups.

The Xtal, the power LED, and the reset switch. I didn’t have any 0805 red LEDs handy, so I soldered 1/2 of a Red/Greed dual LED to only connect the red half.

Around the NTSC converter IC

The IC is an AD723. In the foreground is shown four different sized components. The large ceramic cap is an 0805. The two resistors are 0603. The small white capacitor is an 0402. It is still a footprint for an 0603, but I didn’t have any 0603 27pF



The money shot. First TV signal. I was very happy at this point. I had actually already written one Uzebox game (vector_game / Asteroids) and done a crazy new video mode for Tornado2000 before the point that I ever had any physical hardware. Speaks volumes about the Uzebox system and community that I could write that code using just the emulator and debugger they have.


I cut the first two cases by hand as shown in the photos above. It got old pretty quick. So I sticky taped some off cuts of chinshape (Chinese knock off renshape) and mounted the SNES case to the bed of my Roland MDX-20. There is a video on the you tubes of the cutting in the Roland. It includes a lot of scary looking part movement. It really isn’t as bad as it looks in the video as I didn’t even notice it in real life. Also the cutter is a downflute spiral – so it is trying to push the part into the bed rather than lift it.

In the Roland MDX-20

Hard to get action shots inside a Roland. It is very closed in. I got out a spread sheet and hand coded the RML-1 code to cut the bits of plastic for me. RML-1 is the control language of Rolands older milling machines. It is like the bastard child of HPGL and G-Code.

The CNC cut version

Much neater than my messy hand cut ones.

Comparison photo

so much more charm and character

Making a stencil

You’ve all seen solder paste stencils and reflow soldering before. So I won’t do a lot of shots here. Just enough to show my unique stuff. This is a sheet of brass with Enertech dry film photo resist applied and the mask developed in sodium carbonate.

Close up of the photo mask

Not the best definition. I has just lost an inkjet printer to a tragic accident and had not yet charaterised my new inkjet to get the best results.

Brass stencil etched

Again, not my best work

The solder paste applied

Slightly embarrassing solder paste application. The brass was a bit thick (only size I had laying around) and the “bloat” from the photographic process was more than I normally expect because of the new inkjet printer. The five units I made to give away to friends all soldered up fine without needing any touch ups 🙂

I have not included any paste or reflow shots so I don’t cause you all to fall asleep.

(note: I have included some paste shots here I left out of Imgur)


Finally some action shots (captured with the emulator) of another thing I made that I am very proud of. Tornado2000. An 8 bit de-make of the classic Atari Jaguar game Tempest2000. Which of course was a re-make of the 1980s era vector arcade game Tempest.

More T2K action

It has power ups. It has “Jump”. It even has an AI Droid. All in 4K of RAM on an 8-bit CPU that does not have any video generation hardware.

Seem like too much effort?

And finally if you don’t feel like making one yourself – here is the link to the Uzebox DTV Kickstarter campaign. You can still get into the Uzebox and start writing your own games, but you don’t even need to get out a soldering iron.

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