The article has been split into two parts:
In Part 1 (below) I’ll be making a trimmed down Wii-Mote base that can be used as a starting point for more complicated mods.
In Part 2 I’ll use that base and makes it into the Mini-Mote & Nunchuk, a very minimalistic mod.
Or you could skip all that and go see the results posted here
Word of advice before starting:
(disclaimer:) Mod at your own risk! Consider the Mote and Nunchuk you’ll be modding as lost until proven otherwise. Don’t start modding unless you can afford a replacement (or at least don’t care if you/others can’t play).
With that said; while you should always try to be careful when handling electronics, in reality I’ve dropped, prodded, miss-glued and over-filed more than sheer accident would allow for (really to the point of seeming entirely too intentional). But, lo and behold – they live. So don’t overdo it and treat $60 worth of electronics like it should only be handled in clean-room conditions, you won’t have any fun and it will take forever as long to finish.
And remember: None of it is my fault, ever.
Note: My terminology has a couple of thousand holes in it…
Cutting them down to size.
Stripping most of the casing, buttons and other things from the original Mote & Nunchuk (without compromising the structural integrity too much). Below is something of a recipe that leaves me with enough free room for some serious modding/restyling (without getting a ridiculous bulky device).
Step 1: Bunch of Tools
Besides a Wii-Mote & Nunchuk Set you’ll need:
-A tri-wing screwdriver. Highly recommended because you’ll probably strip the screws if you use any other. Death to special screws!
-A saw. Choose a kind you are comfortable with. I used the above set because of my leet lower-school skills (and because it’s cheap, easy and useful when cornering) A specialized miniature modeling saw-set would be better.
-Power glue. Any kind with the magic combination of sticking to all surfaces/materials fast, while being a little bit forgiving on misplaced fingers. I use one that comes with a small brush for great control ’till about halfway through the bottle.
-Surgical knife set. Does not instill surgical skills and makes cutting yourself an almost entirely painless affair (practically guaranteeing either your full and immediate attention, or the pleasure of discovering that power glue makes awesome band-aids.)
-File set. A large flat file and a standard set of small hobby files.
-Clamps. Clamps, vices, third hand, comatose and rigid friends. Basically anything that allows you to work in strange positions for a while.
-Modeling Clay. Can’t really recommend a brand yet since all I’ve tried have had their faults. Good luck.
-Tape. All sorts.
-Pencil. Marks places
The cheap versions of all of the above should not set you back more than 30-40 bucks.
Opening up the Wii-Mote.
Remove the battery lid to get access to the screws hidden underneath.
Remove the 4 Tri-wing screws. The Wii-Mote is then only held together by two plastic hinges hidden from view on either side of the D-pad. It is easiest to just pull the top casing off, taken from the back and pushing forward with a bit more pressure than feels comfortable (none broken yet). Alternatively use the screwdriver to push one hinge inwards from the side and open it that way.
Inside the Wii-Mote.
8 buttons + the D-pad, 3 rubber pads, transparent LCD protector, some structural plastics and a removable speaker (Which seems easy to extend for different placement).
I would advise you to tape the rumble node in its place while playing around. This will spare you the fun of having to reattach it later on.
Opening the Nunchuk.
The Nunchuk is 2 screws easier to open. Remove them from the holes on the bottom of the Nunchuk and pull the top casing off by grabbing it from the back and pushing forward again. voilà, the Nunchuk revealed.
Inside the Nunchuk.
Most of the Nunchuk is air, leaving you only with a very small piece of hardware. This gives you plenty of space to create something unique (unlike the Wii-Mote where you are basically stuck with the size, shape and orientation of the large circuit board).
Getting the Wii-Mote casing down to size.
From the Wii-Mote I’ll discard most of the top plastic casing and cut the bottom one until about half it’s size.
I’ll be keeping the part that props up the batteries and a bit more to the front and back of it. Without this piece the pressure needed to keep batteries in place would cause the main circuit board to bend too much. The extra length helps protect the rumble node and the large components towards the back port.
The rest of the plastic, including the sides of the Wii-Mote, has got to go. (Do not bin but saves them)
- – - – - – - – - – - – - Point of no return – - – - – - – - – - – - -
Make sure you’ve removed all the parts before starting to cut and keep all the leftovers to be salvaged/re-used later on. Also: when sawing the friction from the blade melts the plastic. This is annoying. The blade will either gets stuck when pausing a second or is impossible to remove backwards. Try to avoid this…
After removing all the plastic, using a file to get rid of the plastic saw dust melt, and roughly evening out the edges, you should end up with something a little like this:
The White plastic filler.
At the front of the Wii-Mote there is a big white piece of plastic that cradles the rumble node, holds the B-button, and gives a bit of general structural support.
If you need it not to be there go right ahead and remove the entire piece. I’ll be keeping it here to support the board, only removing leftovers/spacers without function.
the underlying circuit board.
There are two different kinds of rubber padding underneath the buttons. The power button and the “- Home +” row are “clickers” which work without the rubber padding if so desired (I’ll keep the rubber for protection here). The other buttons are dependent on pads contained in the rubber to complete their circuits. I have no reason to make my own, yet, so I’ll keep most of them as well.
The only thing I’ll be removing are the right upstanding edges. This to make it easier to rebuild the button holes later on. The rubber is easy to cut using a knife or just scissors. I’ve also reduced the stubs on top of the 1 and 2 buttons slightly to even out the heights with the other buttons when finished.
I won’t be changing the rubber pads off either the B-button or the Nunchuk for this mod but cut as needed.
The battery lid.
The battery lid is probably one of the nicer/harder parts to mod. It needs to be strong, have hinges, a closing mechanism, and I’ve just removed most of these with a saw.
For the Hemp-Mote I used a shortened piece of the battery lid and attached it to the body, using glue and bendable rubber, in order to recreate the front hinges. The back-end is held in place by a tight fit/sideways pressure from the compression-able hemp and a small hemp hook (mostly there to look good).
This time I tried something different. Using the original battery lid I reconstructed some of its mechanisms while creating a different look.
I removed a piece from the center of the lid, shortening it just enough to recycle the original closing mechanism. I also cut the sides short, made a hole in the middle and rounded all edges.
To recreate the back edge the lid closes in I cut the original one to its essentials (see pile of sawn off stuff from before). I fit this small plastic piece snugly against the base that holds the batteries (without covering the reset button). You can see it in the pictures below where everything has been glued in its place.
Keep in mind that whatever you use for the battery lid it is a always a good idea to have it covering the battery contact pads. The rest… not so important.
The laser Window.
The black window at the front of the Wii-Mote is wider than the underlying part needs so I’ll cut it down to size as well.
Making a speaker mesh.
The speaker, being fragile and on top, is best covered with something relatively hard. A fine metal mesh cut into desired shape would work well. Here I re-use the original by cutting out a circle from the plastic top cover and filing it down to fit the speaker exactly.
LCD light protector.
Using a flat file I’ve shaved a bit from the top and bottom of this transparent piece of hard plastic. Easy to break and easy to glue.
Glueing the Wii-Mote & Nunchuk together.
When you are satisfied with all of the above, and have tested that everything is still attached/functioning(!), it is time to glue the parts in place.
Some advice on glueing:
-The plastics and board really bond well together, so make sure that your done messing about before continuing. Take special care with the rubber padding. They do not come of looking nice.
-When applying the rubber pads, make sure to only glue/press/touch the outer edges of the padding and not the center. Gluing the center could impede the clicking buttons and leave the others in a permanent contact state. This ruins the board. Remember this.
-Move your fingers more than once per second when applying pressure or get stuck.
-Buy the good glue or work in a well ventilated area.
When everything is in its place you should have something like:
I’ll call this BASE camp.
You now have a working Wii-Mote & Nunchuk stripped to their bare essentials. Use these as a starting point to make lots of different designs using putty, buttons, texture and whatever tickles your fancy.
As said, I’ll be finishing this one in a most modest way.
Making The Mini-Mote & Nunchuk.