N64 RGB "Tall Boi" & Buddy "Long" Board Assembly and Installation Guide

Posted by Fragol Roc on

This mod is meant to restore the RGB signal in consoles with the NUS-VDC encoder using a more modern cleaner video amp. This allows the RGB signal to be razor sharp and have minimal noise/interference. Please note, however, that this mod is designed to only work on early revisions of the N64. Later models didn't have a video processer that had RGB outputs, so a different RGB solution is needed for these consoles. If your console has a serial number that begins with "NS1xxx" then you likely have the correct model. However, it is important to open the console and confirm that the video encoder says "NUS-VDC" for this mod.

Assembly and Install Video

 

Assembly Guide

This assembly guide is meant to guide you through the process of adding the components to your N64 RGB Tall Boi board. Please note that I do not test every individual component of the kit and it could be possible that you received a dud. If this is the case, please contact me for support.

For assembly of this mod board it is recommended you have the following:

  • Narrow Chisel Soldering Tip (Hakko D-12)
  • 60/40 Pb/Sn Rosin Core Solder
  • Flux (No-clean, paste, tacky, etc.)
  • Angled ESD Safe Tweezers
  • Magnification Lens/Microscope
  • > 90% IPA (Cleaning)
  • Soft Bristle ESD Safe Brush (Cleaning)
  • Multimeter (Troubleshooting)
  • Organizational Placemat (Printed)
  • Assembly Infographic

It should also be noted that your soldering station should have precision control over temperature. Cheaper soldering stations can run hot and burn the solder pads right off the PCB. This can also be dangerous for components like the THS7374. Make sure you are using a setting that is no higher than 320 degrees Celsius.

Start with confirming and organizing your SMD components. Components of this size are small and easy to lose. Using something like the above placemat, organize and confirm you have all the parts before starting. Components like the ceramic capacitors do not have markings to indicate their values, so be careful where you place them. Your component list should match the following diagram.

Assembly of the actual board is straightforward, you put the components on the proper pads and solder them into place. Soldering of small components can be tricky if you have not done many mods or projects that use them. A common method for attaching small components like resistors or capacitors is to pre-tin one of the pads (I choose the right) and then reflow the solder and slide the component onto the pad. Once the component is in place, continue to hold the component and then remove heat. When the solder has cooled you can release the component and solder the other side. IC's like like the THS7374 will take a little finesse, but can be done in a similar fashion.

Although order of assembly does not matter, it might be helpful if you start in the center and work your way outward to the edges. Once a component has been soldered into place it can be hard to work around. Start with the THS7374 and the work on components around it until you have reached the perimeter of the board.

 

Resistors and ceramic capacitors do not have polarity and do not require any special orientation. The THS7374 does have a correct orientation and needs to be placed properly for this mod to work.

The THS7374 has a small divot on top that indicates pin 1. This divot can be hard to see, but is located in the lower left portion of the chip. There is a white silkscreen dot on the board, the divot should be oriented towards this dot.

The Low Pass Filter (LPF) for this board is set to off by default. If you experience video noise or jailbars, consider enabling the LPF by bridging the pads with solder. LPF will clean up the image, but could soften the picture slightly. Most people will likely not notice the softened image from an enabled LPF, but the option is there for those that need it.

 

Additional Information

If you are installing the Buddy "Long" Board, there is some prep you need to do to the N64 main board. The Long Board is designed to force you to remove the native sync circuit of the N64. The native sync is slightly out of spec with the standard which could cause issues with devices that are looking for that spec. The N64 RGB Tall Boi corrects the sync levels and outputs the proper spec. However, in order for you to use this feature, you need to remove a cluster of components where the Long Board is install.

The components circled in RED should be removed.

Once these components are removed, you should be able to lay down the board and solder it to the appropriate pads. Please note that although the "anchor" point is made to hold the board down, it has a hard time soldering to the capacitor. After testing the install, I have determined the anchor is not necessary and will be removed from later revisions of this Buddy Board.

The Long Board should look like this after you are done soldering it down.

This board is open source and free to the public. You can find the design files for this board on GitHub by following these links:

https://github.com/FragolRoc/N64-RGB-Tall-Boi

https://github.com/FragolRoc/FT-N64-Buddy-Long-Board

If you are looking to bypass the hassle of fabricating your own boards, you can buy a DIY kit from the shop!

https://fragol.tech/collections/kits-parts/products/n64-rgb-diy-kit-ns1-only


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