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Hacking Video Game Consoles: Turn your old video game systems into awesome new portables (ExtremeTech) Paperback – February 18, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Space Invaders and Asteroids are back!

Loved that Atari® when you were a kid? So did Ben Heckendorn — so much, in fact, that he successfully resurrected it as a slim, go-anywhere portable. When Playstation® and Nintendo® aficionados got jealous, he created miniaturized, fully functioning, battery-powered versions of those too. Now it's your turn. Every secret is here — complete instructions, materials lists, tool tips, even advice on finding parts. Just wait 'til they see this at the high school reunion.

Ready? Let's get started

Plans and instructions for building eight handheld, classic video games

  1. Choosing a game system — Atari®, Nintendo®, Super Nintendo®, or Playstation®1
  2. What you'll spend
  3. Electronics and soldering 101
  4. Hacking portable TVs for their screens
  5. Building the case — CNC or freehand?
  6. Yank the cord, install the batteries

About the Author

Benjamin Heckendorn is a graphic artist and independent filmmaker who fell in love with Atari at age five. While waiting for New Year's Eve festivities to begin in 1999, Ben decided that if Y2K did not cause the end of life as we know it, he'd find a way to bring back those beloved games of his childhood — and here it is.
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Product Details

  • Series: ExtremeTech (Book 16)
  • Paperback: 574 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 18, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764578065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764578069
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #762,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jared M. Wolpert on August 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is simply incredible! If you have ever wondered what to do with your old systems that are around your house, this book provides the answer.

The book is extremly easy to follow, ever for people like me who have never soldered anything in my life. The book describes step by step how to take apart a screen from either a portable tv or a portable PSOne screen. He also gives two different portable ideas for each of the four different systems featured in the book (PSOne, Atari 2600 - 4 switch, NES, and SNES Mini).

Just by showing how to take apart the units and describing what is being done, this book opens up posibilities for making any system you own portable (Check his website for proof).

The only complaints that I have about this book is that there are a couple of misprints for some diagrams. All of this is fixed in erratas on his site. Other than that, I wished he would have shown more systems and how to make them portable.

I just couldn't get enough! And I bet you'll love it as well!
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This book surpassed my expectations. If you are a tinkerer this book will be great for you...if you also like retro-gaming, this book becomes a must have. He is so thorough in his descriptions of the projects, that even if you aren't already handy with electronics you will have no problem completing these projects. I also liked the fact that for each project he has two versions: one full-scale project; and one that can be accomplished without any expensive tools. Highly recommended!
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I've been following Ben for almost 2 years now since I found his website for the original PSp (PlayStation Portable). The humor on his site is great and he did an excellent job of carrying over his writing style for the new book. It's a good light read, and doesn't require a whole lot of previous knowledge. Specifically in the department of understanding electronics. I can personally recommend this book if you love tinkering with electronics or if you actually plan on building one of these portables, it's clear and the pictures corresponded amazingly well to the descriptions. Great Book, Great Work.
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Benjamin Heckendorn put his heart into this book. The love I have for my NES and SNES playing days (which still occur about every weekend) is felt from Ben's words, and it makes the in depth details even clearer. Written with a passion and understanding for all things video games, this book is just about all one would need to build a game creation of their own. Fallowing the book step by step is made easy and shameless, but even making your own creation can be easily supported by this book. With photos showing you each step, tips & tricks to get you by, and even corny jokes now and again that lighten the mood (Sorry Ben, but I did laugh at some of them!), this book is inspiration and information at their best.
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this isnt just some book that puts all the weight on your shoulders to make sense of it and track down hard to find parts and make this some kind of impossible task. its the real deal!! you really can do this yourself with only basic electronics skill. the best skill probably is a love of video games, which will pretty easily overcome any challenges for technical expertise you might not have...tho little of that is necessary anyways. stop by his web site asap!!! the real thing!
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This book has a lot of great information. It's easy to understand and gives good cookbook recipes for different types of handhelds. It's mostly geared toward novices, which I don't think is a negative. It has a very conversational style and feels like Ben Heckendorn is there coaching you through the process.

The big complaint I have is that the book only addresses one specific version of each game console. For example Ben only uses the SNES mini and says little about the original SNES. He only uses the toaster style NES for his projects and says nothing about the later top-loading machine (which I have). It would be nice to have more/some discussion on the differences in layout between the various console versions and how they impact potential use in portables.

That complaint aside this is a good primer to get you on your way to chopping and soldering on your game system. If you have any interest in turning an old console into a portable system this book is where I'd start. Also Ben has a website with forums for folks that do this kind of thing which is handy as well.
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awesome read and very informative, the only thing in the process that is really tricky that made me not want to attempt some of the projects was the enclosures, but Ben H. does offer some for sale through the book / website
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I've been watching Ben Heckendorn do this since his old Atari 2600 Portables site launched almost 6 years ago. It'll be awesome to finally know how to do everything he does yourself!
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