Ben Heck Tears Down (and Repairs) a Virtual Boy

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 27, 2016 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: virtual boy, RISC, Nintendo, nec

I was one of the lucky kids who got a Virtual Boy, which was actually quite fun for nine-year-old me. It wasn’t beloved by the masses, but when you’re in a hotel, moving across the country, you best believe I’m going to punch that Teleroboxer cat in the head, over and over. It was quite an interesting piece of technology, despite its crippling flaws.

To see for yourself, Ben Heck published a full disassemble, with his best-guess explanations. He then performs a repair by 3D printing a clamp to put pressure on a loose ribbon connector.

From a performance standpoint, the Virtual Boy was launched with a 32-bit NEC RISC processor, clocked at 20 MHz. Keep in mind that, one, this is a semi-mobile, battery-powered device and, two, it launched around the same time as the original Pentium processor reached 120 MHz. The RAM setup is... unclear. I’m guessing PlanetVB accidentally wrote MB and KB to refer to “megabit” (Mb) and “kilobit” (kb) instead of “megabyte” and “kilobyte”, meaning the Wikipedia listing of 128KB VRAM, 128KB DRAM, and 64KB WRAM is accurate. The cartridge could also address up to an additional 16MB of RAM, meaning that specific titles could load as much as they need, albeit at a higher BOM cost. Shipped titles maxed out at 8KB of cartridge-expanded RAM, though.

Ben Heck’s video will be part of a series, where he will try to make it smaller and head-mounted.

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November 27, 2016 | 06:31 PM - Posted by CNote

A friend let me borrow his for a week... Played Mario tennis maybe an hour before I got a headache and never used it again.

November 27, 2016 | 11:33 PM - Posted by Esso (not verified)

Still have mine from back in the day, it has a vertical line down one lens now :(. For all the people that do get headaches from this, after many consecutive hours it has never bothered me, I've always wondered why it happens to some. Galactic Pinball & Red Alarm ftw!

November 28, 2016 | 11:44 AM - Posted by CNote

I used to wear glasses for reading on the blard so it could have to do with that.

November 28, 2016 | 01:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Well the device has some collectors value as well as some of the games(worth more than the device itself)!But headaches and cookie tossing go hand in hand with any VR gaming for some more than others!

I wonder if it can be turned into a projector maybe with a fog machine and some Roger Waters and the band playing sorts of uses.

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