Where do I start to properly get into modding/electronics in general?

Discussion in 'Modding and Hacking - Consoles and Electronics' started by LG2, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. LG2

    LG2 Member

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    I was wondering whether any of you had any good starting points, sites, books, videos etc that you could recommend me to start getting into electronics and ultimately console modding?
    My recent troubles with an original playstation that have been documented here has shown I really don't know enough and need to go back to basics.

    There is obviously a huge wealth of info online but I don't really know where's a good place to begin or whether there are some really great go-to sites or videos that everyone agrees are great.

    Any recommendations?

    Many thanks. :)
     
  2. Nully

    Nully Dauntless Member

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  3. Zeigren

    Zeigren Robust Member

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    If console modding is your goal then improving your soldering and troubleshooting skills is probably where you want to spend your time, besides learning some electronic basics. I would consider buying some basic soldering projects/soldering training kits not necessarily those ones but stuff like it, just get cheap ones on eBay or whatever. Start with through hole then move onto surface mount ones with larger packages that are designed for hand soldering. You could also try and fix broken electronics (bonus points would be to work on consoles) find stuff in thrift stores/Craigslist/Facebook/etc or even just remove and reinstall components on them for more soldering experience.

    There are a ton of channels on YouTube that I would recommend checking out. Afrotechmods, bigclivedotcom, EEVBlog, ElectroBOOM, GreatScott!, RetroGameTech, and many more. I highly recommend checking out videos before even bothering with books, pick up a book when you need a deeper understanding of something or find an article online. If you're fixing something or trying to understand a circuit look up the parts and check out their datasheets or any relevant app notes from the manufacturer, although this mostly applies when you have learned a bit.

    If you're looking to make your own electronics projects start off by replicating other peoples projects and mess around with those before trying to make your own design. Start with just hardware before getting something like an Arduino where you'll also need to worry about programming.

    As for equipment this can be tricky, buying cheap stuff at first is usually a good way to go but can also be frustrating and end up being a waste of money. If you think you'll really get into this and will do it for awhile I would recommend a decent soldering iron before anything else really. Variable temperature soldering irons can be had for not too much, you can also buy used more professional soldering irons. I think there are a bunch of threads here that cover that kind of thing plus lots of opinions online. I personally prefer irons that use a cartridge instead of a just a tip, I think all irons from Metcal and JBC are like that so is the Hakko FX-100 however these are quite pricey.
     
  4. Mord.Fustang

    Mord.Fustang Fiery Member

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    What consoles do you want to mod?
     
  5. LeHaM

    LeHaM Site Soldier

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    I started as a kid, breaking electronic things, putting them back together and making my little brother "test" them (while I stood around the corner waiting for a bang)
     
  6. StriderSubzero

    StriderSubzero Active Member

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    I personally like the method of just jumping in. I learned by recapping Game Gears, and my first go at it wasn't very successful, but you learn a lot more just jumping into what you want to do IMO. I wouldn't start with anything too crazy or you'll get frustrated, but maybe watch the Youtube tutorial posted up above and buy a Radioshack soldering iron and some flux and solder, and just pick up something at a thrift store to tear down and solder/desolder some components on the board to get used to the mechanics of it. Then just jump into a simple console repair or something.
     
  7. segasonicfan

    segasonicfan Robust Member

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    Gamesx.com that place help me so much in much in learning how to do basic mods to game consoles many years ago.
    Though nowadays there's a lot more available, with lots of kits that you can learn from.

    For the love of God though, please, please don't start out working on expensive game consoles. You will break stuff (a lot of stuff), it's part of the journey. I just hate to see newbies working on a CDX, or a laseractive, or PC engine Duo. Start off with common and inexpensive systems from your local thrift store.
     
  8. davesandell

    davesandell Rising Member

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    I did electronics at college....
    i did GCSE electronics too...

    But I learned to solder (properly!) with my Dad...

    Certainly the teachers I've encountered over the years can't solder anything properly for toffee!
    Practice and patience is vital....

    Just remember - learn from my mistakes - PCBs (older ones!) contain lots of heavy metals - Lead etc. (modern equipment conforms to RoHS...) Flux is nasty stuff - you really don't want to be breathing it without a suitable mask etc!
     
  9. Lostdotfish

    Lostdotfish Active Member

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    Buy a decent solder station. Have a look at this video and then buy the items linked if you want a cheap and very good starter iron;



    I also recommend this screwdriver set;

    https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/...HU2eDfD8ewMgpdXLdL6KMOiwpNZmsNR8aAhBiEALw_wcB

    Next, I'd recommend buying some electronics kits to build - loads of stuff on Adafruit and ebay etc. Start with through hole component stuff then move up to kits with larger SMD components. I recommend kits rather than just messing around with old PCBs and solder practice kits as you'll actually end up making something that works and does something. This is rewarding and will encourage you to keep going.

    Next, I'd start practicing on smaller SMD kits and probably time to buy a hot air rework station. Something like this would be fine,

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/BK-858D-SM...iu_dIPoD-JlWeZHb-JQw:rk:1:pf:1&frcectupt=true

    Try desoldering things with the hot air, then resoldering them. Practice on the kits you build and see if they still work. Buy a SNES or something similar and some cheap sports games cartridges. Use your hot air to remove the rom chips and any special chips. Resolder them and see if the cart still works.

    Buy now you're probably ready to tackle most modding tasks. Pretty much any mod you can buy will have good installation documentation. Just follow the recipe. The majority of modding is 90% fine motor control and soldering skill, 10% actual electronics knowledge.
     
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  10. segasonicfan

    segasonicfan Robust Member

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    Excellent post, I really enjoyed that video. My only gripe is I wish they had shown some of the flaws of that station. I'm sure there are some, nothing's perfect. But they're getting some kick backs for the promotion. Either way, looks like an amazing piece of gear that I didn't know about!
     
  11. Lostdotfish

    Lostdotfish Active Member

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    Yup, that solder station is very much a "I don't want to think about it too much" purchase. But Voultar is an excellent modder and I trust his judgment implicitly. I've nearly picked one up as a second station a few times but I have a Metcal SP-200 and I just don't think I'd use a second station enough to warrant it.
     
  12. Nully

    Nully Dauntless Member

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    You just need to invest in yourself. The $50 I spent on a Chinese SMD rework station paid for itself many, many, many times. Just take one of those sales you get for some work you did you buy something better then you aren't out of pocket for it. I still use a $40 hot air station because I don't see the need to upgrade, I've heard the vacuum pump pickup tools are always trash on the more expensive ones so you don't gain anything spending over that amount. I'd like a preheater, but again I don't see the point I've never had issues with just the wand and manually heating the surrounding area. My favorite tool and best investment has been my $150 desoldering gun/station from some Chinese brand, I will NEVER desolder anything through-hole without it again, it's absolutely amazing how easy it is with this. I put a region-free DIP BIOS in a model 1 Saturn with it (with absolute ease) and then it paid for the station once it sold, it's that easy.

    Every kid who watched Voltair or Mr. Mario has an eBay store nowadays so competition is tight, but just be consistent and customers will come. I have about 60 or more (plus tubs of broken crap I never got around to caring about fixing) different consoles at my house right now. Never had something break or had someone contact me about issues, something I get into every couple years. I love cracking open a box of 10-20 consoles and bringing them back from the dead, I try to undercut everyone I can because it's mostly a labor of love as it gives me something to do for a few hours a day to zone out. Definitely recommend getting into it but be sure you aren't going to burn someones house down and read what the top dogs like Bad_ad and the actual electronics engineers here have to say about repairs and modding as you aren't a professional no matter how good you think you are being self-taught.

    Seriously watch that video I posted from the 70s; not some random guy on Youtube giving overly simplified tips with ADHD editing that makes it "interesting". (this isn't directed at anyone in-particular)
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2019
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  13. segasonicfan

    segasonicfan Robust Member

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    Oh I don't doubt Voultar's excellent work. I'm just saying it's hard to trust a review 100% when it's obviously sponsored by the product being reviewed and the person making the video doesn't have a single negative thing to say.
    Good to know that you recommend the station as well. I'm considering picking it up.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  14. Bad_Ad84

    Bad_Ad84 The Tick

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    Those irons are basically just hakko clones. They work well, I have one in my "on the road" toolkit and it's perfectly functional.

    There really isn't anything bad to say against them. They work as advertised and cheap too.
     
  15. AUSTIN PEYTON

    AUSTIN PEYTON Gutsy Member

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    I recently bought the hakko fx 888d and its worth the money. In ten seconds it gets to 700 degrees while my older capped at 400. The tips are well made and if you take care of them they should last awhile. I was thinking of getting a hot air station especially since a lot of the electronics I fix use smd components. Quite a pain getting caps off especially corroded ones.
     
  16. segasonicfan

    segasonicfan Robust Member

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    No product is perfect. Nothing in the world is perfect. If you give me anything to review I can tell you where there is room for improvement.
    Good to know this has another vote of confidence though. I'm definitely interested in picking one up.
     
  17. Bad_Ad84

    Bad_Ad84 The Tick

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    No one said its perfect. Does it have curry point tech like the metcal? no, but I wouldnt mention that in a review, nor would anyone reasonable.

    For the price, you cant complain. Its not saying its perfect - but you also don't expect it to be for £30. If a £500 iron didnt do something, id probably mention it. If my £30 one didnt, I wouldnt.

    There is no downside for its price. It has auto off/sleep. Its ready to solder in about 4 seconds. It does everything the hakkos do. If you really want a "negative" - it doesn't come with a stand. But its £30, just buyingone is reasonable at that price!

    If you review things and just point out everything thats wrong with a product or could be better without consideration of its price point or specs- thats just insane. You would have every car review saying "well, its not as fast as a Telsa". Lets try to be less pedantic and understand how the world works.

    "someone gave me £10, while thats nice of them - it wasnt £100 and that would have been better!" hopefully you are understanding how you seem to be coming across.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
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