Apple NesRemote

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Introduction: Apple NesRemote

About: I'm just a regular guy who likes to build stuff, discover things... you know the drill. I'm a bachelor in electrical engineering. I love learning new things everyday. Oh, and I like cookies....
This idea started when I saw someone on the web putting an iPod Shuffle into a NES controller. I thought it was was a great idea. Then I got the idea to do the same thing, but instead of an iPod Shuffle, I would use the Apple Remote.So, here it is !


Step 1: Before Begining

Here what you will need to do the project :

- NES controller
- Apple Remote
- Soldering Iron, Vacuum plunger or solder wick. (Trust me, you will make mistakes)
- Dremel tool (or a saw, with a lot of skills and patience)
- Small screwdrivers, Needle-nose pliers, wire cutter, cable stripper
- Wires (I think I used 22 gauge, but it can be a bigger gauge. It needs to fit in the controller's holes)
- Safety Glasses
- Spare time
- Patience

Optional:
- Multimeter or Voltmeter

Warning : Safety first. When soldering and desoldering, use glasses ! It's important. You don't want to have tin in your eyes. So , be careful.

Don't forget to take your time.

Also, I assume you have some skills in soldering. I'll try to explain the best I can, but I might jump over some obvious steps. Still, if you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them :).

All right, let's start !

Step 2: Opening NES Controller

Take the NES controller and remove the 6 screws behind it. Don't lose the screws. Open it, and you'll face a green PCB, a chip and a cable. Don't be afraid of mid-80's technology, it is pretty simple

In this step, we are going to :
- Desolder the chip on the PCB
- Cut & desolder the cable
- Modify some of the case

Pictures :
1 and 2. Front and back of the simple PCB.
3. The top controller is unmodified and the bottom one if the modified case. I used my dremel tool to cut the plastic.
4. Other part of the NES case.

Step 3: Soldering Wires on the NES Controller

There we go, we have a chip-less and cable-less NES controller PCB.

In this step, we are going to :
- Learn what to solder where
- Solder wires on the PCB

Here's the pinout of the holes.

Starting from bottom left :
1. Ground
2. Right
3. Left
4. Bottom
5. Up
6. Useless
7. Useless
8. A button

Starting from top left.
1. Useless
2. Useless/
3. Useless
4. Useless
5. Start
6. Select
7. B Button
8. Useless

As you can see in the 3rd picture, I soldered the A and B button together and Start and Select together. I wanted to Play/Pause with either A or B and use the Menu of the remote with either Start or Select. I use some Veroboard (strip-board) to solder both buttons together. It's optional. I wanted my remote to be like this, but you don't have to.

Then, you just need to solder wires from each necessary holes. Take long wires, because it's easier to cut them at the end, than the opposite.

Step 4: Discovering the Apple Remote

Now, we are going to work on the Apple Remote. We need to remove the guts from the plastic.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures yet of the disassembly of the remote (I'm going to post them later). It's not that hard, it's just a pain in the ***. But, I'll try to describe the disassembly the best I can.

First, you'll need to remove the battery and the white caddy by pressing the button with a pencil or a small screwdriver at the bottom of the remote. Using a reallllly small screwdriver, you'll have to remove the visible screw. It's hard to unscrew, so be patient. After removing the visible screw, you need to remove the other, which is under the little gray cap. To remove the gray cap, use a small screwdriver and press the edge of it. There is a spring under, so, be careful.
After removing the cap & spring, you can see the screw. This screw is also hard to unscrew, so, be patient and take your time. After removing the screw, you can slide the remote by holding the black part on top; it should slide out pretty easily.
Next, you'll need to unscrew the 4 last screws. After that, you'll be ready to modify the Apple Remote so it can fit the NES controller.

(05/20/2008) EDIT : I added photos of the Apple Remote. I didn't opened it up because it's not mine. But, after removing the screws, it's pretty straight forward.

Step 5: Modify the Apple Remote

Now that we have uncover the Apple Remote, we need to do some modifications.

1. Modify the battery section.
2. Modify the IR LED wires.

First, you'll need to modify the battery. Right now, it takes too much place and it's too 'rigid' to take place in the controller. So, you need to desolder the current battery holder. As you can see on the second picture, I made wires shaped in T. After soldering both wires on the board, I hooked up the battery and electric taped it. In the third picture, it is shown how I protected the positive side of touching the negative side. When you'll fix it to the remote, make sure the connections are good and steady.

(05/18/2008) EDIT : You have to make sure the wires going to the battery are connected hard to it. If not, the remote won't work... I only used electric tape, but I think some hot glue would do the trick. Just make sure the connections are steady.

(05/18/2008) EDIT 2 : Well... electric tape wasn't enough. I didn't glue the wires to the battery, but instead I put a little piece of plastic on the top the battery... so the NES controller's PCB pushes it down, keeping the wires on the battery.

Second, since the hole where the IR LED is going to be is far, we need to desolder the IR LED and add some wires. 2 things : 1. Watch out for the polarity. In my picture, black wire = negative. 2. Again take longer-than-needed wires so, at worst, you'll just have to cut and re-solder.

Step 6: Prepare Apple Remote for Soldering

Now that you have completed the battery and IR LED part, let's go with the buttons control of the remote.

On the side with buttons, you'll notice a thin layer of plastic tape. In order to access the buttons, you'll need to remove it. By removing it, you'll also remove the tiny metal pieces that would press the buttons. From now on, I'll refer as 'naked remote'. Now you are in front of a naked remote. But, before soldering anything, you want to make sure the naked remote fits in the NES controller. The picture is to illustrate how I put the naked remote inside the controller. As you can see, it's tight both in width and length.

So, after struggling to put the naked remote down there, it's time for some precise soldering !

At this point, you can test if the modifications you made to the remote work. Point the IR LED in front of a WebCam, digital camera, iSight, and if the LED lights, then it works. If not, check the battery and the IR LED wires.

(05/18/2008) EDIT : I got a bug today. When I was pressing the area over the Select, Start and Nintendo section, the controller was doing the Left control. I added some electric tape over the pins and now, everything works great.

Step 7: Solder NES Controller and Naked Remote

So, now it's time for soldering. It's pretty easy : you solder the A/B button to the CENTER of the Play/Pause button. You have to be really careful to only solder and touch the inside metal. If any of you tin touches the outer ring of metal, there's going to be a connection and the key will always be ON or pressed down. So, again , be careful. After soldering all buttons, you'll have one wire left : Ground. This is is really tricky because you'll need to solder the wire to one of the outer metal ring of the button (all grounds are connected together). I know the metal ring is small, but if you are cautious and solder slowly, it should be OK. It took me 2-3 times to get it right. Watch out, the ground mustn't touch the inner metal circle, otherwise it will short.

You can see in the first picture how I managed to solder wires around. It's pretty messy, but hey , it works !
On the second picture, you can see how I also managed to get wires from the top to the naked remote. It's kind of tight but everything fits and the case closes perfectly.

Step 8: Get the IR LED in the Hole

We are almost finished. One of the last thing to do is to put the IR LED in that former-cable hole.
It's also a good time to try the Apple NesRemote before closing it.

Step 9: Final Step!

There we go, close the Apple NesRemote carefully.
Test, if it's work, congratulation, if not, check the battery, wires of the IR LED. Check the soldering of the buttons.

That's it ! I hope you guys liked my first Instructable

See ya !

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    46 Comments

    I have three for sale:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190800018638

    I mounted a battery holder on the NES circuit board this time. You still have to open the case to the change the battery, but considering how long these batteries last, it's not a big deal.

    IMG_5412.jpg
    1 reply
    user

    Awesome project, planning on doing the same but with this for my linux: http://tinyurl.com/3ksx8l3

    For the desoldering do I have to use the pump thing or can I just heat it up and yank the cable out? Like is it necessary to have it go through the holes?

    1 reply

    To remove the cable, you can heat of the solder and yank the cable, yes.

    But, to solder back the remote's wires, it's going to be easier, more solid, and sturdier if you solder back the wires INTO the holes, instead ON the holes. I think that's what your question. Id you don't have a pump, you can get one on ebay for cheap, or get some copper brass... it'll do the trick wonderfully

    I will likely be attempting this fantastic mod this weekend, albeit with the new aluminum remote (for an Apple TV 2). Do you have any tips/hints/pointers that have not already been mentioned? Thanks!

    6 replies

    Not really. As I said in an earlier post, the only major difference between the 2 remote is the added middle button. Either than that, it's pretty straightforward.

    Thanks for commenting !

    The other major differences appear to be the battery and the infrared LED. The LED does not appear to be a traditional LED so I'm not sure how to extend it/position it in the hole. Anyway, I understand this is past the scope of your guide, so I'll jus thave to wing it. Thanks for the excellent 'ible.

    Yeah, I see what you are talking about as not a traditional LED. The new remote uses a surface mount LED instead of a thru hole one. I think this is going to be your major bottleneck.

    But I have an idea you could try : You could try to place the remote in a similar way I put mine, but without touching the LED. Near the hole, you could place a small mirror at 45°. That might be a quick and easy solution you might want to consider. At least, I think it's worth a shot.

    I like the idea, and I believe aluminum foil also reflects infrared light, so I'll probably try that.

    So far all I've done is disassemble the NES controller (haven't desoldered yet) and re-assemble the Apple remote with the battery outside of the aluminum casing. The aluminum remote is much harder to work with than the first generation white remote, though a little electric tap and hot glue is keeping the battery attached to the remote.

    I plan to desolder the controller wires and chip tomorrow, and then solder 22 AWG wire from the remote to the controller within the next couple of days. I'll be sure to post back with my findings and pictures of the setup with the new remote.

    Desoldering went fine, though two of the center pieces on the Apple remote broke off while soldering, so looks like I'll be abandoning the project :/
    Thanks for all the help!

    Sad news ... You could try to buy a second hand one on ebay. I think you can get one for less than 15 $ shipped. Or, you could try to solder back with tiny wires the broken arms. Good luck on whatever you try.

    I don't see why you couldn't. The teardown process with obviously be different but the rest should be similar. The main difference between both remotes beside the casing is the addition of a button in the aluminium remote. But still, it should work with the new remote, yes.

    Here's a teardown blog entry of the remote.
    http://manirazaghi.com/mechanical-design/disassembling-the-unibody-aluminum-apple-tv-remote/

     and the mac???

    Does it need a battery door?

    Do you still have this? If you do...How much would you want for it?

    Congrats !

    For anyone interested, know that these instructions are perfect, and i LOVE my new NESmote!!! A few pointer for those attempting this: DON'T use a "ColdHeat" to solder electronics. They're ridiculously hard to use, and more than once i thought i had totally destroyed my project. (had i messed up, new apple remotes go for $10 on ebay, and i was able to find old NES controllers for $5 locally) Also, I did my solder points on the NES controller on the opposite side than the one shown here. I found it was much easier to fold the wires down than to wrap them over the top. Anyways, thanks again Agurri, you rock socks! Now if only there was a way to incoroporate an iphone into something like an old gameboy.....