64 drive, Altera Cyclone IV FPGA, FTDI FT232H USB chip, Nintendo 64, nintendo 64 development tool

Red Hot PCB: Retroactive’s “64 Drive” Development Tool

This emerald beauty was manufactured and assembled in our shop for Retroactive and is for their “64drive” which is a new development tool for the venerable game console (Nintendo 64, from 1996).


The design allows people to quickly test out custom software for the N64 – running the show is an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA that interfaces to an FTDI FT232H USB chip, 256MB of DDR2 memory, and loads files from SD-compatible memory cards. A Texas Instruments power mux allows the circuitry to stay powered from either USB or when the game console is turned on.

Reactive printed circuit board

There’s also a battery backed real time clock, a PIC micro-controller for housekeeping, and a WiFi module. So far it’s been popular with people doing fan translations of Japanese-only games that were never released in English. Users can load stuff from a memory card, or they can transfer directly from the computer where they are working, over USB. People have also been using it when archiving or unearthing rare and unseen game prototypes in case the original fails.

Nintendo 64 drive development tool

Shout out to Marshall from Retroactive for his contributions to this week’s Red Hot PCB.

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