NFC S4 Mini #147 - Dolphin tribute build

rsjo

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Nov 13, 2016
41
88
Parts list:

Motherboard: MSI Z270I GAMING PRO CARBON AC
CPU: Intel i7-7700 (Turbo boost disabled, undervolted to 0.925v)
Fan: Noctua NH-L9i (I really want a black alternative to this...)
RAM: DDR4 16GB PC 3200 CL15 G.Skill (1x16GB) 16GVK Ripjaws
Disk: Intel Solid-State Drive 600p Series (512GB)
GPU: EVGA GTX 1060 SC Gaming (Replacement for a EVGA GTX 1050 Ti)
PSU: HDPLEX 160W DC-ATX (Replacement for a PicoPSU 160W)
Power-Brick: DELL 330w (Replacement for a 192W brick used with the PicoPSU)

The primary goal of this build was to make something that would run Dolphin (GameCube/Wii emulator) at 1080p@60FPS which would allow me to have integrated GC controller ports as well as a Wii Sensorbar (Mayflash Dolphinbar in this case as it's awesome in terms of not having any friction when installing and using - it's pretty much as easy as pairing and using it like on a regular Wii console) and the S4 mini ticked all those boxes!

The plan for this build was also to replace a few of my existing PCs at home which where 2 x NUCs that i used for software development and an ASRock 330 HTPC for, well, HTPC purposes (KODI/XBMC).

I went with an i7 to get VT-x/VT-d and Hyperthreading as i needed those for my virtual machine testing and software development workflows and those requirements are also the reason for the 32GB of RAM which would otherwise be overkill as that would give me the combined amount of memory as my current two Intel NUCs.
However as is listed in the parts list above i am running a single 16GB DIMM as unfortunately the motherboard i had chosen would not allow me to have 2 DIMMs installed together with the HD-PLEX 160W - it simply will not fit :(
I'm currently looking for board with a 24 pin power connector that is not as close to the RAM slots as the MSI Z270I board and hoping the ASUS Z270i Strix board might allow this so if anyone has this setup please let me know if that fits.

I started with a GTX 1050 Ti as that would be sufficient (and then some...) but quickly came to the realisation that i also wanted to experience 1080p@60FPS PC gameplay for a few titles i had never gotten around playing on my PS4/XONE (GoW4, Tomb Raider, Hitman, Quantum Break, Nier Automata etc.) so the upgrade was made to a GTX 1060 instead. This also allowed me to run Dolphin at 4K@60FPS which is nice i guess, i just dont have a 4K monitor...
After making this GPU switch i started experiencing resets at 160-175W total power draw from the wall and the system was very unstable. I disabled turbo boost as i didn't need that extra oomph and undervolted the CPU to 0.925vcore to same some watts but i still had resets. I switched the 192W brick with a 500W regular ATX power supply and wired it up to the PicoPSU but alas - still resets.
Then the HD-PLEX 160W arried and once i plugged that in and a DELL 330W brick furmark + linpack over a 4 hour period at ~190W power draw from the wall the system is stable! I rarely get above 160-170W when gaming but ill post some test results later.

I had not played with custom build PCs running Windows for the last 10-12 years so my knowledge was very limited but i wanted to learn and also build as much of the stuff on my own. By that i mean custom cabling, sleeving and making all the parts fit nicely (WiiU GameCube adapter ports, Mayflash sensorbar etc.) inside the S4 Mini and add a few nice touches to the build to pay my tributes to both the GameCube as a console but also the awesome work the Dolphin development team and community have been doing over the last decade.

The first part i started with was custom cabling and sleeving which turned out to be great fun! I had to buy a ton of tools to just get started but it has been super fun to learn how to do this. This is my first time doing something like this so the heathshrink job is a bit loose on some of the cables but overall im pretty happy with the results and the wiring is now down to a minimum inside the S4 Mini.

For the GC controllers to function properly (or the easiest i have found) with Dolphin i went for the Wii U GameCube adapter controller which is fully supported under Dolphin. My local Gamestop had a sale on these so i emptied the stores around where i live as i knew i would f... up some of the boards as i never soldered anything before.
Initially i thought i could just de-solder the actual ports from the PCB and run some custom wiring to allow everything to fit but after having tried that for a couple hours i finally had it removed from the PCB but i had destroyed more or less all the connectors... Back to the drawing board!
I tried to fit everything back into the chassis and it became apparent that i needed to run the JST connector underneath the controlle board for everything to fit under the backside of the graphics card. I ordered some new JST connectors and housings which im still waiting for to arrive at this point. Once they do arrive the plan is to de-solder the pints attached to the board and solder on a surface mount housing onto the backside of the board so i can run the cabling in parallel with the board so everything fits.
To be continued!

As for the Wii controllers i needed an easy way to connect those which wouls also play nicely with Dolphin. Mayflash Dolphinbar was what i had used before and it also had the benefit of a build-in sensor bar which i thought i could then fit into the S4 mini as well.
This is currently also a work in progress and at this point i have only verified that it works through the custom 3D printed front bezel as i wasn't sure how the IR emittors would work when they where contained inside non-clear plastic but it seems to work fine for my use. I guess depending on how far you sit from the sensor bar that it might impact the quality but from a functional perspective it works fine.
Im still to figure out how to mount the sensor bar in the chassis (3D printed case is an option im looking into) and how i can mount it so i can still get some type of access to the on/off switch and sync buttons.
Also to be continued!

For the custom front bezel with the cutouts i contacted Josh @ NFC and asked if he could cut one for me in alu or plastic and sure enough he would be happy to help!
At this point i thought it would be fun to try and get a model 3D printed to verify my measurements before sending it over to Josh for the final product.
This also allowed me to go down another rabbit role: 3D Printing and SketchUp! A few days later i had a model build and i found a company in Copenhagen, Denmark, where i could print 5 pieces for a fixed price and had the oppurtunity to change the measurements between each print until i had something that fitted perfectly.

Ill leave you with a few pictures of the progress so far and ill update the thread as i move closer to finishing the project.
If you made it down here to the end - thanks!

 
Last edited:

Choidebu

"Banned"
Aug 16, 2017
1,152
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Very cool! That looks like a tight fit.
Thanks to you I think I know what psu to get for my own r5 build
 

rsjo

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Nov 13, 2016
41
88
Thanks - i appreciate that people seem to enjoy the mod!

I have added some more pictures of the GC controller with the new wiring as i got the connectors in the mail over the weekend. Also i got a Dremel so i could cut a hole in the inner chassis so the sensor bar could be test fitted.
Everything is now verified to be functional when in it's proper place so now it just needs to look pretty as well :)
 

rsjo

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Nov 13, 2016
41
88
Another small update:

Received the custom backplate from V1 Tech so i could lay the Gamecube "Dolphin" GPU chip over the GTX 1060 - just something i thought would be fun just like i added the Gamecube CPU on top of the motherboards chipset.


Also received the wifi antennes i orders from China a few weeks back. The idea is to see if i can get rid of the external wifi antennas completely and mount these inside the S4 mini chassis and still have decent bluetooth and wifi signals. Need to test these in the coming days. Bought 2 different types as i had no idea what would work the best but they where only ~$2 each.


The front bezel is now in black (still 3D printed) and with the GC controller port holes slightly lower (1mm) so the controller board can rest on the S4 mini chassis. Before they where lifted a little when mounted.

 

NuclearLemons

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Jun 10, 2017
119
65
You seem to really appreciate dolphin, (cant blame ya). Have you thought about incorporating the logo into the custom back plate? or maybe adding some blue led lighting to the inside if you can find the space? even having some sort of cutout in the panel or bezel could really help your theme shine. it might even be pretty easy to do given the use of 3d printing,
 
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rsjo

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Nov 13, 2016
41
88
You seem to really appreciate dolphin, (cant blame ya). Have you thought about incorporating the logo into the custom back plate? or maybe adding some blue led lighting to the inside if you can find the space? even having some sort of cutout in the panel or bezel could really help your theme shine. it might even be pretty easy to do given the use of 3d printing,

I asked V1 Tech if they did custom GPU backplates as i wanted to add the dolphin logo in that smoke acrylic but nevet got a reply unfortunately.

I just ordered the final bezel in acrylic from @Josh | NFC and he was kind enough to offer an engraving with the Dolphin logo ;)

As for a small update i have fitted all the parts (except the sensor bar) and 3D printed a small platform for the GC controller board to rest on that i can glue to the S4 mini chassis. Coincidentally there are 2 screw holes in the plastic on the controlled board so i can screw the actual PCB into the 3D printed platform for a nice tight fit.
Also the cables are sleeved and cut in length so they fit and can run under the riser card and connect to the motherboards internal USB port.

 

rsjo

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Nov 13, 2016
41
88
Getting closer now - only missing the front bezel and some front-panel housings and terminals and everything should be ready to go.

Added some tape to the GC controller board so the PCB does not show anymore and did the same with the sensorbar.

Modelled a mount for the sensorbar that will be glued to the chassis where the actual sensorbar clips into and holds in place so i can remove it should that be necessary. Not completely ideal as i have to remove the top cover of the S4 to turn the bar on/off but it will have to do for now.

I wanted to have some way of managing the USB cables from the sensobar and GC controller so i modelled a very simple clamp that can hold both cables in place and run them between the GFX card and the motherboard.
I have ordered some 10-pin housings and ill wire them both together so only a single cable goes from the motherboard as i like that look better.

Hopefully the next update will be the complete build with everything mounted correctly and with the finished front bezel from @Josh | NFC
Can't wait to play some Metroid Prime! :)
 

rsjo

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Nov 13, 2016
41
88
Time for the "final" update - the awesome front-bezels @Josh | NFC has created finally arrived and the full build is up and running.

Im rocking the bezel with the Dolphin logo engraved as i think that suites this build really well and the only thing missing now is something that can sit in front if the IR emitters as it doesnt look all too great right now, but everything is working and i just played some Metroid Prime and Super Mario Sunshine in 4K@60FPS :p

If anyone wants to perform this build please let me know and id be happy to share the 3D printed parts either through thingiverse or as Fusion 360 files as well as a description of what parts i had to buy to build this.
Josh also wouldn't mind creating some of these custom "Gamecube / Wii" front bezels should anyone be interested. If interested please reach out to him for details and price.

 

Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
Silver Supporter
Jun 12, 2015
1,866
4,431
www.nfc-systems.com
Wait, you had F360 files and you made me make them from scratch??!!!?? You are a naughty. XD

My brain melted for a bit trying to figure out WTH the ATI heatspreader was doing on the back of a Nvidia GPU...it took me 5 mins to figure out what you were doing and it was a terribly confusing 5 minutes. Yes, I know, I was a noob and didn't re-read your above posts.

I love this build...totally cool. Thank you for doing this mod!
 

rsjo

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Nov 13, 2016
41
88
I only have Fusion 360 for the clams, controller mount and sensor bar mount - so no front-bezel :)

A GameCube was harmed doing this build; GPU, CPU and serial number was transferred over to the new patient :)