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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:10 pm 
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I mean, you can built a pbc for close to 4 dollars and a shell costs 5 and 6 dollars?

Isn't it just a piece of plastic?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:24 pm 
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Getting the mold made for Injection molding costs thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.

AFTER that huge up-front cost, the cost per unit is usually 10-50 cents. But you still have to recoup that upfront cost.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:40 am 
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Interesting.
Maybe in 10+ years they can get cheaper after the initial investment was recouped.

How good a wood shell would work?
Wouldn't it overheat the circuits or even have some risk of fire?
I think it could potentially be more expensive, but if it's a hobby and the producer has a lot of free time that can be worth it.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:26 am 
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Molds also have a life cycle of a number of injections, though i don't know how many. Probably thousands.

Crowdfunding a mold could sweeten the deal for the one making the shells, but it's essentially advance payment each publisher will still have to calculate into their costs.


I guess you could CNC wooden shells, though they'd be expensive per piece, so not really an alternative unless that's the expression you want.

Accordning to this handbook, the lowest recorded(?) temperature of wood autoignition resulting in an accident is 77ºC (170ºF) (effect of long-term low heat). But there's a lot of factors playing into that.

http://www.doctorfire.com/low_temp_wood1.pdf

please don't take my reference as a guarantee everything below that temp is safe.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:51 am 
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Fisher wrote:
How good a wood shell would work?
Wouldn't it overheat the circuits or even have some risk of fire?
I think it could potentially be more expensive, but if it's a hobby and the producer has a lot of free time that can be worth it.

I don't think there's risk of fire. None of the components on the PCB would be touching the wood, but I don't think they're hot enough to burn it even if they did?

The bigger problem is just wood as a material is not good for this purpose. I'd imagine it would either end up feeling too thick, or be too brittle, plus it expands and contracts with changes in humidity, and is very much subject to wear and decay. A splinter in your cartridge connector doesn't sound like a good time to me.

Plastic injection moulding has a nice advantage that you're not really wasting material to make it, or doing much manual labour. With wood, you're probably starting with a solid piece and hollowing it out. You could also try gluing pieces together but I think that would be too fragile?

Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure I saw a picture of an NES cartridge shell made from popsicle sticks a while back, so I think it's been done, sort of. Solid wood crafts in the shape of an NES cartridge also seem to be a popular thing, but obviously that doesn't hold a PCB inside.

FrankenGraphics wrote:
Molds also have a life cycle of a number of injections, though i don't know how many. Probably thousands.

I think it's more like a million.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:08 am 
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What about changing the cartridge design to cheapen the deal? Would it become too fugly and lose buyers?

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:20 am 
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As far as wood goes, a little materials research might go a long way.

On top of my head, acacia would be the best material i know of:

-hard enough
-inflexible (minimal swelling)
-pretty strong, too, despite inflexibility
-doesn't soak
-doesn't scratch
-doesn't splinter
-doesn't develop heat marks easily
-plentiful (ie not threateded by extinction)
-while naturally growing in australia, it is cultivated for manufacture throughout east asia including china

and:
-pretty nice to look at too, IMO.

Might be suitable for cartridges for the same reasons it is suitable for soup bowls and serving platters.
Question is price point and if it is suitable at all for tooling (hardness may play into that negatively).

---
Mystic Searches has a wooden deluxe variant, btw.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:40 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
Mystic Searches has a wooden deluxe variant, btw.


Hunh, well there you go:
http://austinmckinley.com/8bit/the-shop.html

I had seen that in the kickstarter campaign but I had assumed it was just a solid wood block. Not sure if that prototype in the photo actually contains a working PCB but they're accepting orders so I guess they intend to make good on it either way.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:58 am 
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Looks like wood is more expensive and not the best material for a case, wich I still think plastic is the best.
That may fit better on a kind of woodcrafted case, some kind of comemorative stuf.
I could have written on it "Handmade with pride". :lol:

Maybe some metal like aluminium, steel or even iron?
I have no idea of how this would be molded.
Maybe with small pieces made of metal and hold together with screws or soldered?

nesrocks wrote:
What about changing the cartridge design to cheapen the deal?

I remember seeing some 72 pin cartridges with cases that were about the same size of the 60 pin ones.
Have you guys ever seem cartridges like these ones?
I think they were more or less common here in Brazil.
Looks like the manufacturers just got a bunch of MSX cases and used them for their NES pirates.
I have one of these and needed to trim the case on the sides to allow it to be inserted easily on my nes clone.
I'm not sure how easy would be to insert on the original NES console.

Heck, I've read sometime ago that on the jail an arrested guy killed another with a knife made of toilet paper! :shock:
But I gues a case made of toilet paper would be very odd and probably expensive to make too.

Edit: Great Rainwarrior!! That's a very nice wooden case!!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:03 am 
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And while we're designing a new shell, would it be worthwhile to make it take labels in the sizes standard by Avery instead of what I guess is an oddball size? Or is the NES cart label size some Japanese standard?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:30 am 
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Quote:
Maybe some metal like aluminium, steel or even iron?


It's not uncommon to either cast or tool aluminium for products which need to be rugged (game paks needn't). You can anodize or powder paint aluminium with good, sturdy results (Naked aluminium will scratch and indent because it's soft). You don't need a casting matrix, just a vector file for your tooling machine. You're not going to be near beating the price per unit of plastic, though, + this method is a little wasteful, resourcewise.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:35 am 
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I've had a few thoughts on making alternate shells over the years, but never had reason to actually try one of them.

Fisher wrote:
How good a wood shell would work?
There are some tricks to making a wooden shell work better—namely not making it a "shell" at all but starting with a solid wood blank and milling out just enough to hold the PCB. The required thinness of the plastic lips around the card edge will be hard to make structural.

rainwarrior wrote:
FrankenGraphics wrote:
Molds also have a life cycle of a number of injections, though i don't know how many. Probably thousands.
I think it's more like a million.
Yeah, roughly 1 to 10 million per mold. Towards the end it'll have visible erosion and dimensions won't match well. How many you can get depends on how much precision any mating parts have. Parts that have really run past the life cycle of the mold will have really obvious flashing along the parting line.

nesrocks wrote:
What about changing the cartridge design to cheapen the deal? Would it become too fugly and lose buyers?
While making a more complex mold does make it more expensive, the NES shell just isn't all that complex in the first place.

Fisher wrote:
Looks like wood is more expensive and not the best material for a case, wich I still think plastic is the best.
That may fit better on a kind of woodcrafted case, some kind of comemorative stuf.
I could have written on it "Handmade with pride". :lol:
You certainly could do some kind of reference casting; we know that pirate SNESes made copies of the original shells by making some kind of negative impression and somehow using that to make many new positive impressions.



Another possibility that occurred to me is using PCB material to make cases. Not clear how practical this is; I've never run the math. But certainly it's comparatively inexpensive and high precision.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:39 am 
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lidnariq wrote:
You certainly could do some kind of reference casting; we know that pirate SNESes made copies of the original shells by making some kind of negative impression and somehow using that to make many new positive impressions.

This is exactly how western vinyls got pirated and distributed underground in the east bloc (even though tape was more common/less spectacular). Famous example are the x-ray plates which students re-pressed and cut with a scissor into vinyl records. A cigarette would burn the center hole.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:03 pm 
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As for label sizes.. i see no problem with the current label size? measure it, enter some vectors in illustrator, add bleed margin and you're done

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:05 pm 
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Roentgenizdat are a little different: each one was carved in the same way as making a phonograph master. I can't remember where I found that excellent long-form essay about them, but apparently there's an english-language book about them now.

I was more thinking something like making silicone negative molds.

FrankenGraphics wrote:
As for label sizes.. i see no problem with the current label size? measure it, enter some vectors in illustrator, add bleed margin and you're done
The idea behind starting with a standard Avery size is just that the more mass-produced parts you can use, the easier and cheaper production is. ... well, in the US.


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