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VB Link Cable

VB Link Cable Building Instructions
Based on a guide by Alberto Covarrubias.
With pinout and additional technical information by DogP.

The Virtual Boy GameLink Cable never became reality like the dream of playing games like Mario's Tennis against a friend. After all, none of the released games seems to have a link mode left, but this should not hold anyone back from 2 Player VB gaming, since DogP's "Tic Tac Toe" and "3D Battlesnake" support linked play, so "all" you need to do is building 2 flash carts and a link cable. The following guide explains how to build a link cable by modifying two Nintendo AV Cables to make plugs fitting into the VB's link port.

Needed components and tools:

▪ 2 SNES or N64 Audio/Video cables (these pieces will be mutilated so take this on mind before you attempt to continue). You can find them for up to $3 USD at any game store, or if you don't care about playing your SNES/N64 with an RF Switch cable... then go ahead.
▪ A cutter or knife to cut some plastic parts of the AV.
▪ Optionaly A sandpaper to polish some parts to make the piece as perfect as possible.
▪ A Cat5 cable to connect both plugs.
▪ A soldering iron to solder the Cat5 cable to the plugs.
▪ Optionally hot glue to give the plugs a cover piece.

Making the plugs:

1. First of all, check that the AV has at least 6 pins to be sure that your plug will work; if not, you can continue taking in mind that you'll need to make at your own a substitution for those pins, using either a cooper wire or a small cooper plate. Scart plugs have 8 pins so if you use one you wouldn't need to make this parts, but you can use you imagination or destry several AV plugs if you need to do so.

2. Remove the big piece in the middle which covers the inside components of the AV. Use a screwdriver on every corner arm to remove this piece, or you can use brute force. I recomend the screw because you can make a shroud for your plug out of it later. The plug part of the AV is very important, so be careful and harmless with this piece. If you mess it up with this piece, your attempt to make this plug will be over.

3. You will notice that the plugin has the wires directly from cable to pins in the AV plug, so the next step is to remove the pins on the AV plug to issolate the plug. Also remove the pins carefully because this pieces are also very important. You can use again your screwdriver, a small nipper, or whatever you want that keeps these parts safe of the next step.

4. This is the most important step because if you don't have precision here, all your work will be vanished. We will perform here 2 complete cuts to convert this 12pin in a 8pin plug. I repeat, the precision here is really important, so I recomend to see you plug in the front, identify where are all pins and make the cuts based on the first diagram below and on you own calculation. The green part on the diagram shows the 2 parts that joined will bring us a plug for the gamelink port, the blue part is the tolerance of our cut that can be polished and the red part must be removed on both cuts. The second picture explains this process.

5. If you're in this step, then everything is ok and you've in your hand both pieces. Now check if this 2 joined pieces fits with the VB Gamelink port, if they don't fit in width then you'll need to continue the polish until they fit, you can also polish the upper and lower parts of the plug if they don't fit in height. Then, glue both halfs together.

6. Finally, put the pins on the holes and your plug is ready for any electronic issue. You could also solder it to a PCB, a parallel port or what ever you've in mind. The plug shall be as the following picture.

7. Repeat steps 1 to 6 for the second plug.

Connecting the plugs:

Now that you have build the two plugs for your link cable, you need to solder them to the Cat5 wire.Looking at the socket on the VB, here's how the plugs should be connected to work.

Mark the upper side on both plugs, because the cable won't work if you insert a plug the wrong way round.When you have connected both pins, you should check if the cable is working correctly. Flash a linkable game on two flash carts, connect 2 VBs and see if they are communicating, or in other words, if you are able to play via link. If they are not, here's a list for trouble shooting:
▪ Check your solder points if they are not shorted by touching each other
▪ Check your pins if they are not bent in too much, or are too short
▪ If your cable still does not work, your pins might not have contact, so you have to make your plugs fit in height by polishing off a bit from the top of them using a sandpaper.

Final touches (optional):

You can also cut and glue the cover pieces like the plugs to make them fit around the plugs again to get a nice shroud and make your cable look much better. To do so, lay the lower half of the cover on the table and put the plug with the attached cable in. When it fits in, fill everything between the pins and cables with hot glue to make the whole thing more stable. Don't forget the cover itself, beause after you did that you will put the other half of the cover on top, so don't use too less hot glue as well to fill out the whole shroud.

Technical information:

The bandwidth of the link running half-duplex is approximately 50 kbit/second - The test sent 100kbytes (800kbits) of data one byte at a time from a variable and read each byte to a variable in approximately 16 seconds, also did with no reading or writing to variables in approximately the same amount of time, and also switching from master/remote for every send/receive in approximately the same amount of time.
You can also use the link running full duplex, but it makes it more timing dependant because you can have it wait for data as remote, but you can't wait for data as master. When you tell it to transfer as master, it transfers whether the other is ready or not. Full duplex can be useful for some special cases like if for some reason you need to transfer up to 100kbit/second.