Ben Heck Builds The Ultimate Combo Gaming System
Professional modder Ben Heck recently built the Ultimate Combo Gaming System, which combined a PlayStation 3, an Xbox 360, and a Wii U into a single box. One lucky viewer will be able to take this system home. The contest officially ends on April 12 at 10 am CST. You can find out more about that contest here, and watch Ben Heck Build the machine here, but before you leave check out Heck's response to a few quick modding questions.
Where did you get your crafting experience? What got you started modding things?
I used to be a graphic artist so a lot of my layout experience comes from that. As a kid I enjoyed electronics, but then didn't work with them again until my mid-20s. I wish I'd just kept it up; I would be a lot further along by now. Oh well. But working with Element14 on “The Ben Heck Show” over the past few years has given me the opportunity to build even more cool projects for the gaming, design, and electronics communities.
Where did the idea for the Ultimate Combo Gaming System come from?
Building combination systems is a very common request from show viewers as well as random people emailing me. We figured we may as well finally build one!
How challenging was it to build this system? Would you do it differently the second time around?
It wasn't too difficult, mostly time consuming. A lot of time is consumed by drawing the geometries of the systems into 3D so they can be assembled into a case. It's a fine line between enough detail, mounting holes, positions etc. to make it work, and not drawing in everything for lack of time/no reason.
How many other systems have you combined before? What has been the hardest thing to work with?
Long ago I combined a PS2 with an Atari 2600, putting both systems in the Atari shell. I also built a combination portable NES and Atari 2600. This was before the age of smartphones rendered the project irrelevant.
It seems like all of your stuff looks professionally built. Why do you put so much emphasis on the aesthetic?
Well, I do things like this for a living so technically it is professionally built. It goes back to how much cool detail can be included in a reasonable time frame. You could draw in detail forever, but what it adds to the project isn't going to be worth the time you spend.
What has been your favorite recent project?
I did a bunch of PC mods with AMD for a SXSW presentation. One of them involved turning an old restored gas pump into a jukebox. It was heavy, hard to ship and difficult to mod internally, but looked pretty slick when done.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to mod their own equipment?
Take it slow, only mod one thing at a time so if it breaks you know what went wrong. Don't mod anything you can't afford to break.
Do you have any ideas for what to do with Sony’s new PS4?
I build a lot of Controller Latency monitors for the gaming industry (recent games that have tested with them include Crysis 3, Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite) so I'll certainly look into making next-gen versions. I'm also planning to make myself a living room PC, like the Steam box, so I can do some living room PC gaming.