Ah, the Nintendo Entertainment System. Brings me back a lot of good memories: Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, Megaman. It also brings back not-so-great memories. The agony of changing cartridges, blowing until you're dizzy and still getting nothing but a flashing screen when you start the console. When you finally got the cartridge to run, it could freak out at any time from the smallest dust particle in the connectors.

Luckily, those days are gone now. NES emulators can be found for the PC. These nifty little programs are designed to run NES games as accurately as possible. All you need is the emulator itself, and a ROM for a NES game. Remember, owning a ROM without owning the original game cart might be illegal where you live.

'Now, on to the topic of the instructable':
I wanted to play NES and other oldish consoles on the NES PC, and also play Divx/DVD videos etc.
Playing NES games on your computer is fine, but I wanted more of an original feel to it. I thought I'd be able to put a PC full with hard drive and DVD drive inside of a NES case, attach some controllers to it, and hook it up to my TV.

Here's the full list of consoles my NES PC currently has installed.
- Super NES
- Sega Mega Drive / Genesis
- Sega Master System
- MAME (Arcade)
- Game Boy (Color)
- Game Boy Advance
- Sega Game Gear
- Turbo-Grafx 16 / PC-Engine
- Sony Playstation (games run from CD drive)
- Nintendo 64

The NES PC is used without mouse or keyboard! Everything is be done using the gamepads, which makes it feel more like a console (like it should!)

Step 1: Parts You'll Need

1. A NES (duh)

You're free to use a non-working one, as the only part you'll be using is the case.

2. Computer parts

You will need a motherboard and processor. Because of the tiny size of the NES case, you're not going to be able to fit a normal ATX motherboard. I used a mini-itx motherboard. They are 17cm by 17cm, so it's a great fit for the NES case. Mini-itx boards can be bought at least here. I bought a 'Jetway 1.5GHz C7D' board. It was relatively cheap and powerful enough for my needs. Mini-itx boards come with an integrated (built-in) processor, sound card and video adapter. This is great when space is a luxury you can't waste. You should make sure the processor won't generate too much heat. There's little space for air to move around in the case, so it might get a bit too hot. I learned this the hard way...
It's also important to have a tv-out connection: either S-Video (preferred) or Composite. If you have an LCD screen you might want DVI or HDMI.
The motherboard needed DDR2 memory, so I got a 1gb stick of that.

I already had an old 40gb 2.5" laptop hard drive. It won't work with a standard IDE connector, so I got a 44pin->40pin IDE adapter.

I also had a slimline DVD/CD drive from the same old laptop. It also needed a slimline -> IDE adapter to work.

You will need a PSU. There's a problem, though. ATX power sources are too big to fit inside the case. I ended up using an 80 Watt picoPSU. It's a tiny DC-DC power source. It works like a laptop's power source: you attach an external power brick that handles the AC/DC and provides the picoPSU with 12V DC power.

You will need leads to attach the power led, power switch and reset switch to your motherboard. I got them from an old computer I had lying around. I also ended up using some old case fans I had. If you've chosen a cooler motherboard/processor, you might not need extra fans. There are some very cool fanless VIA EPIA boards, but they're not very powerful performance-wise.

You won't be needing any special tools other than a Dremel or something similar. It's used for cleaning out the case bottom and cutting out the hole for the backplate. You'll also need to solder some wires for the power/reset switches.

NOTE: Take care when handling the motherboard, memory, etc. They are pretty sensitive to static discharge, so make sure you're properly grounded!

Step 2: Preparing the Case

Following the example of other NES PC builders, I got rid of all the original NES hardware except for the power led and power/reset switches. The power switch originally stays in when you press it. This can be fixed by removing a small metal part on the top part of the switch (compare the power and reset switches: the power switch has the metal part, the reset switch doesn't).

Next, I marked which plastic parts I'm going to need with a gloden marker. Basically, only the four corner stands and the plastic parts keeping the reset/power switches in place. I also marked part of the case bottom to be cut off (marked here with a red line) to make space for the hard drive that will sit under the motherboard.

Step 3: Preparing Switches and Power Led

Next, I unscrewed the switches and power led from the case and soldered the motherboard leads for them. Make sure there are no shorts that could cause problems. The PCB is nice and big, 80's style, so you shouldn't have trouble.

Step 4: Placing the Hard Drive

The hard drive will sit under the motherboard to maximize space efficiency. First I covered the hole I'd cut (see step 2) with some plastic so the hard drive bottom wouldn't be seen from the outside.

Next, I placed the hard drive (marked red in the picture) and covered the top with duct tape so as not to short-circuit the mother board, which will sit directly on top.

NOTE: I later found out the 2.5" laptop HD I had was broken, so I ended up using a regular 3.5" 160gb one. It fit just as well, but was a bit higher so the motherboard had less space vertically.

Step 5: Cutting a Hole for the Backplate

Next I placed the motherboard on top of the HD. The other end of the board sits on top of the power/reset switches. I measured where the I/O backplate would come and carefully dremeled a hole in the top and bottom halves of the case to fit the plate.

The picture shows the hole. A tad ugly, but the picture was taken before I did any sanding. It's much nicer now. The fit was alright, so I used hot glue on the bottom half to make sure the plate stayed in place.

Step 6: Placing the DVD/CD Drive

I decided to use heavy-duty duct tape to fix the optical drive to the top of the case. Slimline optical drives are very light, so the tape worked fine. I had to cut off a part of the case (check the picture) to fit the drive.

Step 7: Putting It All Together

I connected the IDE cables, the power for the HD and DVD/CD, drilled a hole for the PSU connector and squeezed the case-halves together. After some considerable violence, I managed to screw the case closed.

NOTE: I later noticed the processor was running too hot (over 70C!) so I added two extra fans. One to the top (see pic) and one where the original controllers were attached. Because of this I can't put USB connectors to the controller ports...they have to be attached to the backplate. Oh well :/

Step 8: Testing It All / Software Installation

With trembling hands I attached the power, keyboard and mouse. I then connected the tv-out to my television and pressed "Power". Success! The red power led happily turned on and I was greeted with the BIOS loading screen. I put my Windows XP installation CD in the drive and started installing.

After installing Windows, drivers, an internet browser etc., I moved all my games to the NES PC's harddrive. Next, I set up the frontend that will work as my "operating system", though not in the strict sense of the word. As soon as Windows opens, the frontend will automatically start fullscreen, hiding the Windows interface. I also went through some extra steps to make the NES PC seem less like a computer:

Using Stardocks Bootskin, I switched the default loading screen to a more Nintendo-ish picture.

My Windows booted straight to a Welcome screen, where you're supposed to select which user to log in as. I got rid of the screen by following these steps:

Start Menu -> Control Panel + select User Accounts.
Select "Change the way users log on or off"
Un-tick the "Use the Welcome screen" + apply options. Close the User Accounts window.
Start Menu -> Run and enter control userpasswords2
Un-tick the "User must enter a username and password to use this computer"
Enter the password for the person you want to login as.

Next, I removed the "Loading settings" message that appears when Windoze is starting up:

Start Menu ->Run and enter regedit
Navigate to entry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE> Software> Microsoft> Windows> CurrentVersion> Policies> System
If there is an entry for "DisableStatusMessages" set it to 1 .
If there is no entry, right-mouse click the System word, and select New->DWORD value, and enter DisableStatusMessages, right-mouse to edit the value of it, and enter 1

To turn off the obnoxious pop-up info balloons in the right bottom corner of the screen:

Start Menu -> Run and enter regedit
Navigate to entry: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Explorer\ Advanced
If there is an entry for "EnableBalloonTips" set it to the decimal 0 (the digit zero)
If there is no entry, right-mouse click the "Advanced" word, and select New->DWORD value, and enter "EnableBalloonTips", right-mouse to edit the value of it, and enter the decimal 0 (the digit zero).

Lastly, and most importantly, I added the frontend to the Startup -folder in the Start Menu. That way, when Windows is started, the frontend is automatically launched!

Step 9: Current Use

The NES PC is currently attached to my living room TV. I use two Dual Shock (Playstation) controllers via USB adapter. They work great. I have an emulator frontend that works entirely with the gamepads, so I don't need to have a keyboard or mouse attached to the NES PC at all. The frontend lets me choose games and play them, watch Divx/DVD video, listen to internet radio etc.

The following consoles currently work perfectly on the NES PC:
- Super NES
- Sega Mega Drive / Genesis
- Sega Master System
- MAME (Arcade)
- Game Boy (Color)
- Game Boy Advance
- Sega Game Gear
- Turbo-Grafx 16 / PC-Engine
- Sony Playstation (not 2)

UPDATE: Nintendo 64
I've added another console for the NES PC: The Nintendo 64. It is by far the most resource-intensive console to emulate, so I tested a few games to get a better idea of how playable it was. I used the Project64 emulator with 640x480 resolution and 16-bit colour depth. No anti-aliasing or texture effects.

Super Mario 64: CPU usage averaged around 80%, with peaks at 90-95%. The video was perfectly smooth and gameplay was responsive. Occasionally, with a lot happening on the screen, the audio would clip for a moment resulting in a faint clicking noise. All in all, the game is perfectly playable!

Star Fox 64: CPU usage was constantly >= 90%. The game menus had occasionally jerky video and some audio stutering. Gameplay was near perfect though, with no in-game video problems and occasional audio stuttering. Not a perfect score, but very playable.

GoldenEye 007: This was obviously the hardest game to pull off. CPU usage was at or near 100% all the time. The video and audio were both jerky/stuttering in both the menus and in-game. The framerate couldn't stay at acceptable levels, which resulted in poor responsiveness. I won't call it unplayable, but the jerkiness makes it a bad choice for my current setup.

Conclusion: Most Nintendo 64 games will be very playable if not perfect, but a lot of the more resource-intensive ones will not be very smooth. All in all, I'm positively surprised by the results and happy to add another quality console to the list :)

I hope you enjoyed my Instructable.

Step 10: Final Form

As requested, here's a few pics of how the NES PC looks at the moment.
I built a NES PC last year, and it's fairly easy once you have everything you need. If you're going to build a new NES PC, I suggest using a Zotac IONITX-A-U motherboard, since it comes with a 90W power brick that connects to the NES like the original NES power connector. It also has a dual core Intel Atom processor, and Nvidia ION graphics, which are capable of running 1080p Bluray movies. The Silverstone TOB02 is the only slimline Bluray drive I know of. I use a tri-color LED for the Power LED, it lets me use it for power and HDD activity. I have a third color available if I ever need it. <br />
&nbsp;Great job, that looks fantastic, other than the USB ports being slightly uneven from each other (I'm a nitpicker hehe, srry). &nbsp;My questions for you are:<br /> <br /> - how did you go about connecting the tri-color LED to the motherboard<br /> - the frontal USB ports, did you use a custom mounted board or something and if so how did you attach it to the board<br /> - do you still have any information from this project like schematics, etc?<br /> - how many fans did you use and what size<br /> - did this require much more cutting etc?<br /> <br /> Thanks in advance. &nbsp;I've got most of the components already picked out... not looking to rush in until I'm sure I can do this!<br />
Lots of hot glue to attach the USB ports, and all you need for the LEDs is to wire the single ground of the tri-color LEDs to both the grounds on the board (for the Power and HDD activity LED headers) I didn't think it through too well, I just did it. More pics at http://img198.imageshack.us/g/img2409t.jpg/ if you want to see how it looks inside. I used the fan that came with the motherboard, and 40mm fans. I&nbsp;should have cut some of the plastic covering the top vents off on the inside so it actually vents some air, it's pretty much an oven right now. I also used lots of hot glue for the motherboard headers. It required a fair bit of cutting, but not too much. <br />
&nbsp;Wow thanks for the awesomely quick reply. &nbsp;That's pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking, except i had no idea wiring in the LED was so simple, thanks! &nbsp;<br /> <br /> After looking at your imageshack photo's I have one additional question. &nbsp;Where your blueray drive slides out, it appears to have two &quot;faceplates&quot; I guess you could call them, one white and one black. &nbsp;Is this a feature of the drive or did you rig this up? &nbsp;I'm considering using a regular CDR/DVDR slim drive (laptop style) for this, just curious how yours works. <br /> <br /> &nbsp;When you open the drive does it open the NES cartridge hinge automatically or do you need to pre-open it? &nbsp;Not a big deal, just curious.
you could use some thick (or strong) wires to make the drive open the door on its own. with a normal drive you could use the guiders onthe sides to pull the door open
The slimline drive I use doesn't have room for a motor in it to open it automatically, so I'd also have to add a motor. It's basically a laptop drive; you push the button and pull it open.
well, then i guess you got me there. i wish i had a nes to use, but i dont want to wreck my only one. (and it works)
Put the working insides of the NES in an old broken toaster or something, instead of toast going in you put a game in? :o
<p>You don't put toast in a toaster</p>
great idea, but i still probably wouldn't do it until i bought a new nes first. you should make an instructable though!
I used the Silverstone TOB02, which comes with both a silver and black bezel. <br />
<br /> This posting has won today&#39;s &quot;I Made It&quot; Challenge. For winning you will receive a 3 month pro membership!<br /> <br /> Thanks for using instructables!<br /> <br /> https://www.instructables.com/community/June-is-I-Made-It-Challenge-Month-Win-a-Pro-Mem/<br />
This is great - thanks for the MB&nbsp;recommendation. Does that MB require a fan? Is it loud / quiet? I'm wondering if you've experienced any problems with heat in such a small case.<br />
It comes with an optional slim fan but I didn't have room to put it on the way it was meant to go, so I used a 40mm fan to blow from the side. I'm not sure how loud the fan is by itself, but I know that I've used so many 40mm fans in it that it's really loud. I could optimise the airflow a bit more but I've kinda just left it. The atom gets to 80C under full load sometimes, but it should be fine. The ION gets to about 55C. <br />
It is with great sadness that I share the news of hatsuli's death. You can read more about it here:<br/><a href="https://www.instructables.com/community/Build-a-Nintendo-NES-PC-author-hatsuli-dies-of-can/">https://www.instructables.com/community/Build-a-Nintendo-NES-PC-author-hatsuli-dies-of-can/</a><br/>
<p>anyone know of a 3D case like this i can send to print. i would love to make this my next gaming pc for work/ take around and stuff. I can't seem to find anything. </p>
<p>duct tape is conductive. </p>
<p>Great Idea!</p>
Um.... I don't know how to put this....but... THAT IS SO ADVANCED AND AMAZING!!!
would be an wlawsome steam machine
<p>I recently made one.</p><p><a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/NES-PC-AMD-Quad-Core-AMD-Radeon-HD-8400-4GB-RAM-500-GB-HDD-USB-3-0-All-in-One-/111628353837?" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.com/itm/NES-PC-AMD-Quad-Core-AMD-R...</a></p><p>I need rent money so I'm parting with it. 600 or best offer.</p>
<p>sooooooo advanced</p>
I want to build one of these, and have been looking around for my options. I came across an acer one that has hdmi out with a broken screen on ebay. intel atom 1.66, 320gb hdd, 1 gig of ram. I checked dimensions, and the components should have no problem fitting in NES. This would even make the little retro box wireless if ever needed. What are you thoughts? I could snag this cheaper than mini itx mobo.
Just like to say a big thanks for this idea, its taken a while to sort out !
I made a couple cases like this. Welding/soldering with ABS plastic also looks good with some practice. <br>http://www.speedlimit88.com/indoors/snes/
How about an external USB for the HDD? Or if you don't mind a little extra expense one of the SSD's for internal.
As you could get a really small one and run an old windows or something like XP or whatever is handy.
I was thinking SSD would be nice too.
Great Job on this project! now i just need to buy a nes! just a suggestion but if you put a piece of wood or something under the lid at an angel, then the drive when ejecting will push the lid up when it opens. nice project!
anyone ever thought of using a mini/bare bones pc such as a Foxconn?<br> <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856119056" rel="nofollow">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856119056</a><br> figure rather than struggling with space constraints just use a pc built with space constraints in mind.
I was thinking the same thing. By the time the build is done you could spend $300, or just buy a mini pc or an old netbook for under a $100. It's cheating for sure, but it is quick and painless. Of course, this is a 5 year old instructable so I'm sure that's what he would have done now.
Here is the NES Media PC I have put together. http://bobinc.blogspot.com/
https://www.instructables.com/id/Xbox-Hackintosh/ Mine is similar as yours. Btw you cant put graphics card to a pci slot... pci slot uses something like wireless and other computer accessory. but very good work!
<a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Xbox-Hackintosh/" rel="nofollow">Xbox hackintosh<br> <br> a</a>nd<br> <br> <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-tablet-pc-from-an-old-laptop/" rel="nofollow">make Laptop tablet pc</a>
You could also use the switches from <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/item/ISW-4/700/PUSH_SWITCH_ASSEMBLY_.html">here</a>. They are much smaller, and can still be mounted in the case the same way.<br/>
Here is an updated link for the push switch assembly in case anyone wants to order one.<br><br>http://www.allelectronics.com/make-a-store/item/ISW-4/PUSH-SWITCH-ASSEMBLY//1.html
You can just remove the copper part on top, and the pin under it and use the original switches just fine, turns it into momentary. Reset is already momentary.
Heh, you're right :) I didn't know those existed.
It doesnt cost much to do this.. The NES i got on ebay for 15$, the cd drive i got from an old PC, the4 motherboard i bought on newegg.com for 115$ it was an mini itx as well.&nbsp; the cables r cheap.. u can get them on dealextreme for like 2$&nbsp; the picoPSU goes for around 60 bucks with the adapter included<br /> so all and all it will cost 250$<br />
If all you want is to run emulators, one could skip the hard drive and install a small OS to a flash stick. Most modern mobos can boot from them. That would save space, heat, power consumption and some money on IDE adapters.<br>There are some even smaller form factors than itx that have processor, ram, graphics, sound and storage all on-board, meant for embedded systems but would work for this build too.<br>Also if one was clever he might add a piece of structure that would push the cart lid up as the cd tray slid out. Slick.
How would you remove the plastic? I dont own a dremel and Im not planing on spending &pound;50+ for a single use.
soldering iron, heat it up and melt the plastic, or a handsaw. or a cheap dremel from harborfreight
any clue if a dreamcast emulator would run on this?<br />
I'm not THIS tech savvy, but I know a lot more than my piers. Dreamcast emulators are very heard to set up. You need a lot of things. The only tutorial movie I've seen uses the dreaded torrent file.<br />
whats wrong with a torrent file.
I got dreamcast working with ease on my laptop, so it must be possible
im thinking about doing this, but im gonna wire up the controller ports to either parallel or serial and map them so they can still be used
do you know how much ths would cost? i would love to make one, but have a very tight budget

About This Instructable




More by hatsuli:Build a Nintendo NES PC 
Add instructable to: