Jeff Griffin

Quart: (Re)Enter the Gamecube

Posted on March 14, 2013

In the last post I laid out the motivation for the little network appliance I've dubbed Quart.  The reason for the name is that I'm enclosing and operating a Raspberry Pi inside the nearly-quart-sized Nintendo Gamecube, which has been collecting dust in the basement for the last six years or so, since we replaced it with the Wii.

Why Gamecube?

After all, this system lived out a relatively short tenure as a video input in our household and doesn't evoke the same nostalgia as, say, Super Nintendo (or more in my case, Commodore 64).  In fact, the short answer to the question above is: We couldn't find the Super Nintendo.  But having decided on the Gamecube, I hit on a number of other great qualifications that make RPi and Gamecube a delightful abomination.

Cheap and Available

I hit on this already.  What else are you going to do with the bloody thing?  If you still own a Gamecube, you likely have a Wii as well.  The Wii is, of course, fully backward compatible.  So your Gamecube is either on your shelf, or the one at your local game trader; waiting to be sold for a pittance.

Relatively Small

We saw Nintendo and competitors take drastically different paths for the first time in this generation.  Sony and newcomer Microsoft came out with their enthusiast-oriented powerhouses, while Nintendo released the smaller, lower-powered, inexpensive Gamecube.  Admittedly it's still quite a bit larger than cases made to fit a Pi snugly, but it cleanly exposes the required controller ports, power and reset buttons.

Serviceable

Once you get past the four blasted security screws on the bottom, and start pulling it apart you may start noticing how well the various concerns are isolated and accessible.  We end up using precious little of the remaining guts, but the wheat is cleanly separated from the chaff.  More details on this later.

Buttons

Remember, one of the major requirements for this system is that all user functions will be available via the gamepad. Gamecube controllers have an ample number of inputs, and even sport some fairly modern concepts, like analog triggers, which make XBMC navigation a far more pleasurable experience.

Features

All four control ports are fed to GPIO and are functional using Markus Hiienkari's work with the original Linux gamecon driver by Vojtech Pavlik, and some modifications.

Runs OpenELEC, forked to support SDL gamepad input and modified gamecon driver.

Integrated power button and LED

Integrated reset button

Integrated classic power and AV cables

Standard male USB A cable with power leads spliced to the original Gamecube power adapter. Splice is concealed in a small, clasped component case.

Small Cat 5 extension surfaces below the chassis, and can be enclosed under the "Hi Speed Port" placeholder.

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  1. Gah, I still have to see this! Let me know when you’re up for bringing this into The Salt Mines and we’ll figure out how to get a TV set up for it.


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