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    element14's The Ben Heck Show

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    Ben and Karen redesign a Nintendo Virtual Boy console as wearable virtual reality gaming headset. The new unit is sleeker and has different focus controls to allow it to be worn on your head like a modern VR helmet. It flips up like a welding helmet and promises portability not found on other VR systems!

     

    Episode 264: Ben Heck’s Virtual Boy Part 1: Teardown

     

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    Previously, the Ben Heck team took apart a Nintendo Virtual Boy to see what was inside and how it worked.  In this episode they take those same parts and rebuild it in a new way. They’re going to try to make it a little smaller, a little lighter, have different focus controls and make it so you can wear it on your head like a modern VR helmet.

     

    Ben prints out two layers of plastic.  The first layer prevents the mirrors from hitting your eyes or acrylic.  The second layer is a solid layer that completely blocks you off from the mirrors. Between these two layers, stiffening creates a solid unit. Additional screw hole tabs so that whatever else they build is easy to attach.  Adding extra screw mounts gives you someplace to add the next thing.

     

    Ben designs from the “inside out” to ensure enough room for all critical components. He repositions the servo pc from the back to the front. He removes the cams that work the focus as that can be rebuilt later as they still have access to the focus tabs. He also removed the left and right mirror control connectors.

    Looking for additional ways to make the unit more compact he drops some capacitors down underneath. He does this while keeping track of the polarity. He attaches additional cables for added flexibility and also attaches servo cables directly to the circuit board.

     

    Ben recombines everything from the virtual boy into a more compact unit. The servo driver board is on the top instead of the back. He’ll add sliders for the focus rings when he goes to build them as an attachment. 3D printed clamps are on the end to hold the ribbon cables into place. On the bottom the main PCB has been moved back a little bit. A custom acrylic base has been added and connectors have been flipped around to connect through the bottom for added space.

     

    Next, he goes to work finding the best way to create some sort of head mounted unit. Ben opts to leave the battery pack and the controller the same as he decides that having a cable that runs down to your hand isn’t any less burdensome then controlling a modern day VR helmet. Karen and Ben go to work designing the head mount for the new “virtual man” device.  In order to add the ability to flip the unit up and out of the way when not in use they take a face shield and remove the plastic front from it. They go to work figuring out the correct angle for viewing the two screens.    After taking some measurements and cutting a few paper patterns they arrive at a solution.

     

    Ben laser cuts some side pieces for the virtual man out of pet g, a stronger type of plastic than acrylic that is still able to be cut with the laser. These pieces will mount to both the sides of the unit and to 3D printed parts. After the spacing mounts are finished printing, Ben screws everything together and makes sure it’s still functional.

    For aesthetics, Ben laser cuts some plywood pieces for the top and bottom of the unit to make it as sturdy as possible and give it places to mount controls and ports. Finally, he cuts a skin out of red and gray plastic that will go over the front, top, and the bottom of the unit to give it a more polished look. Once the decorative skin is cut they form it to the curve of the unit using the heat gun.

     

    Ben recuts the top of the unit to include a 3D printed strap support idea Karen came up with to prevent a nose smashing problem they ran into initially. He also adds some focus knobs and designs the top skin so the knobs would have physical limits that would prevent them from hitting the lenses. He also makes the holes big enough so they wouldn’t have to remove the knobs in order to remove the top of the unit. The final step is buttoning everything up.  Karen sews a support strap for the virtual boy while Ben glues and screws everything together. Ben and Karen take the virtual boy outside for a test run!