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This project all began when I decided that I wanted to turn my broken NES, yes broken (I would never do this to a working one) into an HTPC. Prior to all this I had been using an xbox 360 solely for streaming movies and other media from my desktop computer to my TV. So I sold the 360 and used that money to fund this build.

Parts List:

  • Biostar A68N-5000 AMD A4-5000 Quad Core APU Mini Itx
  • Samsung 128GB SSD
  • Mushkin Silverline 240pin DDR3 1600 4GB
  • LG Slim Super-Multi Blu-ray DVD+/-RW internal drive
  • 150W PictoPSU w/ adapter. You can pick this up in 80 W model for about $20 bucks cheaper which is plenty to run a mini ITX set up, but with adding lights and fans I wanted to be sure I had enough power =)
  • (2) 50 mm fans with fan guard and filter
  • (2) BitFenix Alchemy 6" White LED Strips
  • 4 pin Molex On/Off switch for LED's
  • (2) USB Header Cables
  • Motherboard Lead Cables
  • Logitech K830 Illuminated Wireless Keyboard

Step 1: Take Apart NES and Removing the Insides

First step is to take about the NES and remove all the components. I kept all these parts until the end just in case I was able to use something during the build. Be sure to save all the hardware though since some of that will be needed in order to put it back together again.

Step 2: Start Mapping It Out

Next you're going to have to take out all the standoffs from the original case. The only ones you will need in the end are the four corners and the front middle as well. (I didn't remove them all at once the first time around but realized as I went along that they all have to come out other than those five).

Step 3: Motherboard Placement

Now that you have an idea of where the motherboard is going to sit, the back on the NES needs to be taking out in order to gain access to the ports and mount the I/O Shield. I took duct tape and tapped the two half's together to hold while using the dremel to the cleanest cut possible. It looks rough now and i slipped with the dremel as you can see towards the top, but I will clean that up later on.

Step 4: Image Cut Out

Next I decided to get the image outline cut in the top. I printed the image on cardstock, traced it out and cut it with the dremel. This part was extremely difficult since the dremel melts the plastic as you move along causing build up and making it tough to see where the lines are. I suggest getting a hot knife (this is an xacto knife that heats up like a soldering iron). This will cut through the plastic like butter leaving a cleaner cut. Once again the cut is a bit rough and uneven in places but sand paper and shaping will fix this later on.

Step 5: Power, Reset & LED

In this step I took some wire caps and one the standoffs (since I kept them) and glued them down where the buttons and LED will go. Now there are some mods I have seen that show people using the original board and switch assembly from the NES and simply soldering the lead cables into it. I decided to ditch the board leaving me with just the buttons and LED housing because the motherboard would not have enough room to sit. If you decide to use the original button assembly then you would have to mount the motherboard all the way to the right of the case in order to fit. I decided against this since the USB header cables would not fit in the controller ports. Also that open space will be perfect to tie up and organize all wires. The other option would be to reverse mount the motherboard to the top half of the case (this way will not work if you plan to add a DVD/CD drive since it will sit right in front of the cartridge door).

Step 6: Fans

Now its time to get the fans cut out. I took the fan and traced the opening and then took some black paint and marked the screw holes on both sides. I used a dremel again on this to cut out the circle in triangle pieces and then took a sanding attachment to get it as round as possible. The fan on the right is the exhaust so I made sure to get this as even as possible since it would be seen. The fan on the left is the intake and since I was attaching a filter, it did not have to be perfect.

Step 7: Standoff Placement

I took some of the left over standoffs and glued them down where the motherboard would mount to. I only used three and left the top right off since the SSD will be sitting underneath.

Step 8: Mobo & SSD Mounting

In this step you can see where the SDD will mount underneath the motherboard and block the fourth standoff. This is no big deal since the three provides plenty of support and once the case is put back together the I/O shield will add more support. Also in this step I drilled out the hole where the power will plug into.

Step 9: LED Switch

This is the rocker switch that will turn the LED's on/off. Since I was using the right side of the case for cable management, I decided to mount it here. I traced the shape and cut it out with the dremel, then took the sander attachment to round it off.

Step 10: USB Header Cables

Next it was time to figure out how to mount the USB header cables and get them to sit where the original controller ports were. If i just screwed them in the port would have been too recessed in the case due to the design of the cable. Also it would have left a decent sized gap and caused some light pollution when the LED's where on. So I took some PVC and notched the port out to get a tighter fit and glued it to the inside of the case. Next I modified the USB cables by cutting off the mounting holes and moving them back a bit. This would allow the port to extrude from the case sealing it off. After that I drilled holes where the screws would hold the cable in place (if you have a countersunk bit, which I did not. Use it so the screws lay flush with the case and will allow the cover to go back on easier later on). The opening was still a bit rough but that will be fixed later.

Step 11: CD/DVD/Blu Ray Drive Slot

I took the DVD drive and notched out the bay so it would slide in. Now since this is a slim drive it will leave a gap and make it almost impossible to get a tight fit. This would also cause a lot of light pollution since the LED strips are going to mounted right above. So I took some more PVC and built a tighter housing so the drive would hold straight on its own (since I have the image on top there is really no place to mount a bracket so the drive had to be supported in the front).

Step 12: Paint Prep

Now that everything is mapped and cut out it was time to fix all the imperfections and fill in some gaps with some bondo. Once everything was dried it was time to sand the whole case in and out to get it as smooth as possible and prepped for paint. Also remember to use rubbing alcohol along with soap and water to clean it really good after sanding. Since this is plastic you want to make sure there is no oil or residue prior to painting.

Step 13: Painted

I decided to two tone the case with glossy black and glossy white spray paint. Now this part was a lot harder than it should have been due to the fact there are very few types of spray paint that will work good on plastic. I ended up using Rustoluem 2X cover for plastic (2x cover is the only type rustoleum makes for plastic). This paint is garbage in my opinion because it lays down an extremely thick coat of paint and makes it extremely hard to blend and feather out. Now my plan was to clear coat this case to make it as durable as possible which caused my next problem. The top of the NES is more coarse than the bottom and allows the paint to soak in allowing a clear coat to be applied. The bottom of the case is thinner and extremely smooth and when a clear coat was applied it attacked the paint and melted it right off (of course i found this out the hard way). Even with sanding and roughing up the whole case prior to this the clear coat still attacked it. So I had to re-strip the bottom half of the case and repaint. Now the top of the case has a layer of clear coat so in order to get the two even in terms of the shine. I did 2 - 3 coats on the bottom and let it cure for a few days before even touching. This made the two half's blend nicely and still added some durability to it.

If you plan to use spray paint get krylon fusion which is a much better paint than rustoleum (it also has a wide angle nozzle to allow for a more even spray). In order to get the paint to adhere better so you can clear coat, you want to use Duplicolor paint adhesion. This is going to lay a thin adhesive coat down allowing the paint to grip the plastic much better (I didn't know about this product till after). So after preping you will spray the paint adhesion down, then your base coat of krylon fusion. Now krylon takes up to 7 days to fully cure, so after the 7 days then you clear coat. This seems to be the best process from my research and wish I knew before doing what I did.

**If you have the equipment and the weather is right I suggest using a single system automotive paint with clear coat. I have seen some people use this method that the quality is unmatched to what you get from spray paint. Also using a spray gun and compressor will allow you to clear coat with multiple layers giving you the best depth and finish possible. I painted this in the middle of the winter but plan on doing another one in the summer and will use this method instead.**

Also rule of thumb for both spray paint and automotive paint. The two types of paint are acrylic lacquer and acrylic enamel. When it comes time to clear coat, enamel will cover lacquer but not the other way around. Do your research so you know what is compatible and what is not.

Step 14: Image Mounting

Next it was time to get the image mounted. I printed the image out onto white inkjet vinyl, sprayed it with a photo protector and adhered it to a piece of clear acrylic. Then I took mod podge and brushed it over the image, which acts as a sealer and will protect the image. Now since my printer is a dye ink based, the photo protector is a necessity prior to the modge podge. This is because dye based printers are water based so the inks will run or streak when brushing the mod podge on (If you are using a pigment ink based printer you can skip the photo protector step and go right to the mod podge since it will not streak the image). Once dried, I then took some epoxy and glued the acrylic to the underside of the case (let the epoxy fully dry and cure). Now since the image is mounted on the under side of the case it will leave about an 1/8" recess. I then took a 2 part epoxy resin and poured it out over the image. I used a level prior to pouring the resin to make sure the case was laying completely flat. The constancy of the resin will form around the cut of the image nice and even. The resin takes about 72 hours to fully cure with a glass like shine to it.

Step 15: Assembly

While I waited for the top of the case to cure, I started assembling everything. Now since the case LED that came with the lead cable package I purchased was green, I decided to splice in a nice purple one to accent the top image. Then I laid everything out and mounted the power connector along with the SDD and secured the SDD with some small computer screws through the bottom. Next I drop the motherboard in and secured it to the standoffs right above the SSD. Then started mounting the switches, USB cables and fans. Now for the USB cables, I painted the heads of the screws black to blend them with the case. Once everything was connected I hooked it up to my TV to test everything and started installing the operating system.

Step 16: CD/DVD/Blu Ray Drive Mounting

Now that the top half is cured its time to mount the trim pieces, LED's and DVD drive. I made a backplate for the DVD drive out of some sheet metal along with a hanging bracket that I was able to fit next to the acrylic (this metal was the heat shield from the NES components). This allowed the drive to fit nice and tight.

Step 17: Finished Product

Once you have the drive in, connect the LED's to the rocker switch and Molex cables. Next slide the the top half onto the bottom half and secure the top screws for the fans to the top half of the case. Now screw the two halves together from the underneath. Finally hook it up to your TV and enjoy! =)

If you have any questions or perhaps need some custom work done, please feel free to contact me!

<p>Are the LEDS optional? Because I dont see a picture with them on</p>
<p>I'm inspired. I have two busted consoles so this would be perfect. Is this build appropriate for a gaming PC? I would love to play some of the newer games on it. Maybe with the small size that wouldn't be possible?</p>
Not sure what games you are looking to play but keep in mind this is just an Nes. A high end gaming pc requires a beefy power supply and video card which requires the appropriate space to install them. No possible way to fit that inside a Nintendo. The on board video card on the motherboard I used for this will run some games but on a low setting and certainly nothing high end.
Looking to play The Witcher 3 and gta5. Basically anything that can be played on ps4. Space is tight in the nes case
Yea not going to be able to play anything like that. You would need a dedicated PCI video card and a power supply to power that. No way to fit that inside an Nes. I use this to run emulation station and all roms up to N64. Even using the on board video that this particular motherboard has it gets a bit choppy play golden eye or perfect dark.
How much do we have to pay for you to build the whole thing for me?
<p>Hi just saw this message.</p><p>Figure parts alone are about $450 (not including keyboard) and about 20 hours of fabrication then paint.</p><p>If you want to discuss possible builds further send me an email: jason@meltingink.com</p>
Incredible! I have seen many builds and yours is the best I've seen so far!great build, keep it up.
amazing...
<p>This is by far my favorite version of this project! Did you provide the decal template?</p>
<p>Thanks! I pulled the image off line, redrew and resized in illustrator then printed on vinyl.</p>
So can this thing function like a normal computer when connected to a monitor?
<p>That is correct, it is a windows based PC with HDMI output.</p>
<p>Also has VGA output as well</p>
<p>How much would it cost to have you make me one of these?</p>
Hey shoot me an email at Jason@meltingink.com <br><br>I will break out the parts cost on this exact build and we can talk about different parts to use and costs, etc..
Thank you for this...definitely some good ideas to help me with my build! Great instructable!
Most welcome. Good luck!!
<p> Really cool but I think i'll go with a decal for the mushroom</p>
<p>Friction creating so much heat it melts the plastic is a common problem with a lot of power tools. The solution is to reduce the speed as much as possible and maybe use a lubricant such as a flow of water onto the spot being cut. You can also adjust your technique. Instead of one long steady cut, only cut for a second then let cool for a second, then repeat until finished.</p><p>Before there was Dremel, a popular tool was the nibbler.</p><p>http://www.amazon.com/Parts-Express-Nickel-Plated-Nibbling/dp/B0002KRACO</p>
<p>Thanks for the tip! Although water and a dremel (mine is a plug in not battery) scares me lol. Problem with reducing speed is that it starts to shutter and vibrate alot which makes it very difficult to remain steady. I recently purchased a hot kinife and will try with the next one which will hopefully work better. Practice makes perfect.</p>
Nice
A micro arduino and bluetooth would be cool to cram inside the controller and chop the cord off. And use a small linux kernel. What os are you running?<br>
<p>Win 7</p>
What switches did you use for the power and reset buttons? I don't them in the build list. I was attempting a build like using the original switches, even had them modded to work with my board, but (as you mentioned) I was having placement issues with the motherboard.
<p>They're motherboard lead power cables. $6 bucks from new egg. </p><p>http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811993022&amp;nm_mc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-PC&amp;cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-PC-_-pla-_-Case+Accessories-_-N82E16811993022&amp;ds_e_ad_type=pla&amp;gclid=CJbd153OjMMCFdcUgQodtowAag&amp;gclsrc=aw.ds</p>
Thanks! It looks like I'll be taking another stab at this project.
I really wished I had kept the old NES now
<p>you can find borken ones on ebay cheap </p>
<p>A Much better place is any local game store that deals in Classic Consoles. I bought 6 non working nes consoles from a play and trade for 20 bucks a while back, </p>
<p>How much did all of the computer components cost in total? If you don't mind me asking.</p>
<p>I pieced everything together via new egg and ebay. I spent around $430 on everything in end, and that includes the keyboard I used which is $90 alone.</p>
Wow looks great! Some plastic primer could've helped in the painting of it.
<p>Thanks! Yes primer of Dupilcolor paint adhesion would have helped greatly.</p>
<p>The idea is very appealing, what temperatures do you get?</p>
<p>it has never gone above 39C while watching 1080 P movies or running roms. The two fans on both sides work great.</p>
<p>Great job!!! I've seen a lot of these builds...yours is definitely up there...again great job!!!</p>
<p>B E A Utiful.</p>
Nice
<p>WOW! great instructable!! I was planning on doing something like this myself with my NES case, now that I see yours I have a good picture of what I need to do to make it possible. I was thinking of using a Bananna Pi to save costs though (so I do not have to buy RAM for the motherboard) Thanks for the cool idea!</p>
<p>Brilliant!</p>
Well done. This looks very sharp.
This is like beyond words
<p>Amazing work! I love it!</p>
<p>sweet build... Makes me wish I'd seen this a few weeks ago, I'd have built my desktop like this instead of just using a cheap tower case :(</p><p>Ah well</p>
<p>So excelent!</p>
Rad!

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