I'm using a Raspberry Pi as an HTPC and Retro Gaming station (OSMC and RetroPie in the same install) and decided it needed a proper case. I got the idea of using an old gaming console like an NES or Atari VCS. I googled and found projects just like this. So I found a non-operational VCS on ebay and took it apart. It's nice and roomy in there for what I want to do.
Anyway, I'm looking for help and ideas on solving a few small problems as well as for some "what else could I do"? ideas.
I've got a Pi 3, a powered USB hub, a 2TB external drive, a USB wireless mini-keyboard, Logitech controllers and of course the VCS components. I already de-soldered the four switches (two DPDT, two momentary), the DB9 connectors and the cartridge socket (I need to glue it into place so I don't have a gaping hole in the top of the case).
I've ordered a ControlBlock from petRockBlog so I can have a power switch but also for other potential "What else could I do" additions, such as NES/SNES controllers. I've also ordered panel mount female to male cables that I can run from the Pi to the external "ports" of the case. I got two dual USB port cables, an RJ-45 and HDMI. They all look something like this:
So far my plan is to cut holes in the front of the VCS for the USB ports but then adapt the pre-existing holes in the back for the HDMI, RJ-45 and Power ports. The old "Channel 2/3" switch hole looks like it's going to be almost perfect for the HDMI port already. I'm thinking I can expand the hole for the Power port for the RJ-45. I'm planning to re-mount the DB9 connectors in their original places with possible future use in mind (maybe get the original Paddles working?).
I'm also planning on using the original Power switch wired up with the ControlBlock as well as the addition of a green power indicator LED (green seemed appropriate).
So, issues to solve.
1 - Power. I've got the ControlBlock for the switch. Since I already need to supply power to the USB hub I could technically power it directly from this. But I don't want any wires permanently part of the case. I was thinking of getting a female DC barrel connector, cutting off the male connector from the hub's current adapter, then using it to connect the female connector to the USB hub inside. Then I would just get another male connector to splice back onto the adapter. But before I do that, does anybody have any other suggestions?
2 - Mounting the old switches. I've included a photo to illustrate what i mean. The VCS switches were mounted to the motherboard which sat at an angle inside the case. I couldn't keep the motherboard so I de-soldered them. However I'm not sure how to go about mounting them. Ideally I'd like to mount them to allow a small amount of space between the case and the switch. Whatever I do needs to be able to stand up to the switches being used regularly. As far as the uses for the switches, I'm planning on using the Power switch for power and the Reset and Select switches to possibly go to GPIO ports that will emulate a keyboard press that corresponds to the Atari emulator's Reset and Select function. So when you play Atari 2600 games, those switches behave as usual. Who knows, maybe I can change the keyboard map for other emulators to do something similar. But what should I do with the BW/Color switch?
3 - Mounting the USB hard drive. The hub is easy, I just took it out of its enclosure and I now have 2.5M screw holes. But I can't do that with the hard drive. It's smooth. Aside from not mounting it inside at all, any ideas here?
4 - Not really a problem, just thinking out loud. My plan was to mount the Pi at the bottom of the VCS case such that I can dremel a hole allowing me to access the SD card. I was also going to dremel the holes in the front for the USB ports. Can anyone foresee any issues with this? I would think I could do so with plastic cutting disk and clean it up with a hobby knife or whatever.
5 - Any good sources on 3M black bolts/nuts that I could use for mounting the HDMI/RJ-45/USB ports? I was thinking the black would look better than chrome/nickel. I found them on Amazon, but just checking with everyone here.
6 - The fun part. What else could I do? The Pi's USB ports will be taken up by the dongle for the wireless mini-keyboard, the USB hub and I'm thinking two of the external USB connectors. The USB hub has seven ports. Two of them will be used by the other two external USB ports and a third by the hard drive. That leaves a total of 4 open USB ports on the hub. I'll have the two DB9 connectors. Like I said, it would be cool to use the original paddles if possible. I'll also have 32 GPIO pins on the ControlBlock.
So, any thoughts out there?