Introduction: How-To : Giant NES Controller

Picture of How-To : Giant NES Controller
Here is my instructable on how I built a giant (working) NES controller/trunk.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

I added a downloadable file of the basic parts and measurements you need for this project so you can print it off if you'd like. If not here is a list of the basic parts needed.


Bolt/Screw - 14
Washers - 24
Switches - 8
Spade terminals ( 4 – 6 stud ) - 30 or more
5 pin plug ( both male and female ) - 1
P – Clamps - a bunch
Locking Nuts - 14
Small Springs ( must fit over bolts ) - 10 - 14
Non-Skid Protectors (felt ) - 14 or more
“Piano” Style Hinges - 2 ft at least
Different Colour Wires - 9
NES Controller - 1
Various amounts and sizes of screws

The Controller:

48 x 21 in. - 1 ( ¾ in. MDF )
48 x 3 ½ in. - 2 ( ½ in. MDF )
20 x 3 ½ in. - 2 ( ½ in. MDF )
48 x 21 in. - 1 ( 1/8 in. MDF )
47 x 20 in. - 1 ( 1/8 in. MDF )

The Trunk:

(all ½ in. MDF)  

48 x 16 in. - 2 
20 x 16 in. - 2 
47 x 20 in. - 1 
47 x 2 in.   - 2 
19 x 2 in.   - 2    
48 x 3 ½ in. - 2 

I also made up some blueprints for myself to follow. I photocopied my controller and placed a sheet of tracing paper on top of the regular paper that the controller was copied on to. the reason i did this was so i could write and erase measurements and whatnot. I then took calipers and measured the actual controller in millimeters and just transfered that to centimeters. These measurements are more of a guide line than anything.

Step 2: The Controller

Picture of The Controller

Depending on where you get your wood at you can usually get them to cut out the sizes for you. When i first started this project i had only a small idea of how big i wanted this thing. I Don't have a table saw, or one that works rather, so i had to rig up a jig so i could make straight cuts with the skilsaw. 

I then  took the 1/8 in MDF and cut out the raised parts of the nintendo controller. I relied on my blueprints and a rough estimate to get the spaces between the placing of the 1/8 MDF

For the sides of the controller i got a trim that was 3 1/2 in tall and 1/2 in thick. All i did was glue and brad those pieces to the bottom of the top piece to form a box. Once i got the sides on i then glued down the 1/8 MDF that way i had no nail holes to deal with.

Step 3: Controller 2

Picture of Controller 2

Once you have all the 1/8 mdf in place and glued i took the router router and recessed the space for the start and select buttons. i also routed out the hole for the D-pad. I then routed the edges of the whole top to give it a cleaner look.

I then took some fill to all the edges and later sanded it to clean up all the unwanted lines and imperfections.

The next step was to prime the lid.

Step 4: The Box

Picture of The Box

Im not going to take to much time on this part since all your doing here is building a box..
If you have any questions on building a box check out some of the instructables here.

The only major things i did to the box were routing all the edges for a cleaner took and i also added a lip on the inside to give it a little more strength and room for hinges.

I then Sanded, filled and primed the box to get it ready for paint.

Step 5: The Buttons

Picture of The Buttons

The  Buttons were tricky but fun to figure out. I got ahold of a 10cm hole saw bit and cut out my A and B buttons. Then got a 1in bit and cut out the holes for the start and select buttons.

The d-pad was cut out of 3/4in MDF and the arrows were cut out of the 1/8 MDF then glued them together and routed the edges.

To mount the buttons i cut out square pieces of MDF and used the Bolt/Screw to mount them with washers and springs giving it resistance and keeping it level.

To make the buttons actually work i needed switches. I found some momentary switches which you can get at hardware stores or tech shops like the source or radioshack.

For the D-pad i used a ball joint type bolt that my Dad found at work. it acts as a pivot point for the d-pad since it has to move in 4 directions. on the bottom of the D-pad i drilled a small dip so the ball could sit in comfortably. 

Once all the buttons were done i set them into the table to measure them for mounting and adjustments.

Step 6: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

In the pictures a made up a wiring diagram for soldering to the board and to the plug. 

Cut off the chord that runs from the board in the controller to the console and solder those wires to one end of the plug. The rest of the chord that you cut off gets wired to the other end of the plug. This way you dont always have a chord coming out of the chest and when you want to play your favorite NES games all you do is plug in the chord.

Now solder your wires to the other side of the board and run the wires out to its corresponding switch. I used P-Clamps to hold my wire harness down and i used spade terminals tightened down by screws for easy removal if i need to fix or change anything.

I cut a hole and mounted the plug roughly where a real controllers chord would come from.

Step 7: Painting

Picture of Painting

Time for painting! for the body of the controller i unfortunately couldnt use Krylon products because i needed to colour match the ones from the controller. I did use Krylon paint and clear coat on the buttons though. It was wanting to spray paint the buttons in the beginning since they are funny shapes and would be easier.

Once i had a few coats of the light grey on the controller i masked off a small portion and rolled on the dark grey. Then i masked off the rest of the controller and rolled on the black. When i peeled of the masking i was pretty stoked!

The box i put the light grey on the inside and the black on the outside. i didn't want to do the whole thing black cause that just didn't feel right :p but do what you like to yours if you decide to make one!!

Now that it was painted i needed to get the decals. i tried cutting them out myself but it just wasn't coming out how i wanted. so rather then take away from all the work i had done by using crappy decals i just went and got them professionally done.

Step 8: Final Touches!

Picture of Final Touches!

I wanted to make a cover for the underside of the table so you couldn't see all the wires and stuff. i added these spare pieces of wood to the inside and got some more 1/8in MDF and made a backing. Its held on by 6 screws so you can access the wiring fairly easily still.

I also routed out a recess for the hinge to sit in so it would be flush. I also added a chain to both sides so the lid wouldn't fly all the way back when you opened it. 

Step 9: DONE!

Picture of DONE!

So there it is! How to build a giant NES controller.

If you have any questions about this or how i did something just leave a comment or message and ill try to answer it the best i can!

Happy Gaming!


Buildit2017 (author)2017-08-10

I just purchased one of these from Etsy

BlackZeus1008 (author)2016-08-10

How many pieces of MDF were used for the project?

bigafmx (author)BlackZeus10082017-01-14

It only took 1 sheet of 4x8 MDF for me, but I didn't build the box underneath.

bigafmx made it! (author)2017-01-14

This was a very fun project!

BrionD (author)2016-06-21

A customer made one of these and brought it in for decals. We are able to make 100% official decals for your controller. Shoot us an email for the custom decals. $20.00 + shipping for the set.

Orleck (author)BrionD2016-07-13

as in decals, do you mean the word nintendo, et cetera, or a decal set to make the entire controller image/top? Im making a coffee table with just the image, interested to know more of this set you mention.

Orleck (author)BrionD2016-07-13

as in decals, do you mean the word nintendo, et cetera, or a decal set to make the entire controller image/top? Im making a coffee table with just the image, interested to know more of this set you mention.

marcforsyth1988 made it! (author)2015-03-18

Thanks so much for the instructional. To anyone building one of these, I found an easier method to the wiring process. I wired the momentary pushbuttons to the controller as normal, however instead of cutting and re-wiring the cord coming out of the controller to the nes, I left that cord intact and mounted the plug to the back of the coffee table. I then purchased an NES Extension Cable (has a male on one end and a female on the other) from So now, all I have to do is plug the extension into the NES and into the back of my table.

hkimpact (author)marcforsyth19882016-02-02

That's exactly what I did too. Seemed more efficient to me as well.

Hay marc could u possibly help me with the wiring stage ? Im stuck on the wires from switches to the board , if u have any photos i could use would be awsome

I didn't take any photos after completing the wiring stage. However, when I was wiring, I was confused as well, until I found the following photo online. This will tell you which button gets wired to which point.

Also, since 2 wires come from each switch (one of them being ground), most people I have seen put a random screw in the table and tighten all of the ground wires together using spade connectors.

The method I used is one that I believe is both easier and more organized. I took a terminal block (12 terminals but you need at least 8) and connected each button's ground to its own terminal.

For example, I connect the ground wire for the button 'UP' to Terminal 1 using a spade connector, then 'RIGHT' to Terminal 2, then 'LEFT' to Terminal 3, and so forth until all of the ground wires for each button are connected to its own terminal. Next, since my terminal block's terminals are NOT connected, I needed to connect them somehow so all of the ground wires would be connected.

To do this, I took an extra length of wire (only about 2 inches or so) and connected Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. Then, I took another two inch piece of wire and connected Terminal 2 to Terminal 3. And then Terminal 3 to Terminal 4. All the way up to terminal eight.

Now, you are free to connect the other wire for each button to the corresponding solder point on the controller board using the image I linked to above.

Sorry for the long description and if you need anything else, please let me know.

Also, I forgot to mention, after you finish the last step of connecting Terminal 7 to Terminal 8, you are going to connect a long piece of wire coming from Terminal 8 and solder that to the 'ground' connection of the controller board in the diagram.

Marc I have a problem I bought a new nes controller off eBay but it's board Is totally diffrent, I think it's easier to solder, if I'm right the circles next to buttons are solder points?? but we're would 2nd wire from Momentary switches go? to the random ground screw u mentioned? iv posted a pic so u can see and judge ur self

Sorry for the delay.

My guess would be that you purchased a generic brand controller? The process is basically the same.

Out of curiosity, what is under that black circle sticker? I only ask because you see those lines leading from each button to that black circle? That pathway is the electrical connection joining the buttons to the board. My hunch is that under that black circle would be a nice spot to solder, IF there was only one or two buttons. Since we have 8 buttons, it would be a little cramped and you would risk touching multiple solder joints together which is not good.

I do believe soldering to those little copper circles that are touching each button would do the trick, my only fear is that there is not a solid anchor point to keep the wires from ripping off over time. This is because a solder joint is intended to create and electrical connection, not to "weld" parts together.

If you are also worried about that issue, I would suggest drilling REALLY tiny holes either straight through the center of each copper pad, or near it, and feeding each wire through the backside and then soldering, similar to the 5 wires already connected to the board in your photo. This will add more security and less chance of ripping off. If you do decide to drilling, make sure its a VERY tiny drill bit, just big enough for your wire to fit through, and MAKE SURE you drill in REVERSE! This will "melt" a hole through the plastic, instead of drilling through and cracking the board!

As far as the grounding of the second wire of each pushbutton, those should go to the terminal block as I stated before, however its hard to tell where that terminal block should lead to without a diagram of where the ground solder joint on your specific controller board is located.

I am definitely no expert, so I can't say for sure, but what I would do is ONLY connect the ground wires to the terminal block and then give it a go and see if it works. If not, connect a wire going from the terminal block to an unused soulder point on the board and give it another shot.

Alternatively, you could buy a Nintendo branded controller and use that.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need any other help.

really appreciating your help Marc on this project, the black point on board isn't a sticker just part of board, im going to try solder on to the connection paths next tk each button, x fingers will do job, now all I gota do is find a nes I can borrow to test the table out lol, thanx Marc :)

mate your a star, photo didn't load sais bad link, but totally understand now from reading from your reply makes it so much easier to understand, really appricate your reply mate, thanx so much

hkimpact (author)marcforsyth19882015-03-20

I did the same thing, but then realized I wanted a longer cable. I can vouch that this does work though.

Msy121997 (author)2016-01-15

How many amps were the switches?

pachytrance (author)2015-12-29


WumboT1 (author)2015-12-12

Can this be done in one day?

Lily The Creator (author)2015-10-07

super cool I'm planning on making one for my brothers birthday...or mine :p

LukeY1 (author)2015-05-12

Hey man, I was looking at this and I really wanted to make this in the future. I have no experience with carpentry so is there any way I can buy the buttons pre built?

bfischer.1985 made it! (author)2015-05-06

loved this one, didn't make mine functional, but still had allot of fun doing it!

JakeT1996 (author)2014-09-26

Can anyone let me know what type of switches were used for the Dpad I can see that push switches were used for start select, a and b buttons but I can't identify the d-pad to save my life

doeboy1978 (author)JakeT19962015-05-05

Hay mate momentary swithes are used for all buttons there 99p for 5 on ebay and if your looking for the ball bolt thing the d-pad sits on its called a ball stud £3 on ebay

doeboy1978 (author)2015-05-05

Hay can any one help me with a more detailed how to wire the controler ( from momentary switches to board )

cheto1807 (author)2013-08-29

Hey one more question,

What size wires did you use.

thisissafety (author)cheto18072013-08-30

Mmm I used 16 but that's only because I found that whole wiring harness in the trash at my dads shop. I would recommend smaller. 18 or maybe even 20. 16 was a little clunky and hard to solder to the board.

hkimpact (author)thisissafety2015-03-20

I did 18 and couldn't imagine going with a thicker gauge! Props to you :)

hkimpact (author)2015-03-20

Has anyone considered trying a lift mechanism hinge for this? Could be cool having it lift up towards you and locking in place.

RakunnDesigns (author)2015-03-17

Im going to built my own!

Jonb270 (author)2015-03-14

I need the vinyl lettering. HELP!!

SammMoney (author)2015-02-16

I am unable to download the file I am only getting a .tmp. Anyway it can be reuploaded or can someone tell me where to get it.

brex1 made it! (author)2014-12-29


brex1 (author)2014-12-09

@ thisissafety, could you please email me your messurments can't get the file to open.. at jurassic262

joshwelch9 (author)2014-10-01

Very awesome man! Love this!

cbendahan (author)2014-07-07

could someone post links to some of these things i cant find them


Spade terminals ( 4 – 6 stud )
5 pin plug ( both male and female )
P – Clamps
Locking Nuts
Small Springs
Non-Skid Protectors

MarkD87 (author)2014-02-06

Is there any price-tag on this? As in the total cost of the build? I'm considering making one as a gift, but as a student my cup doesn't exactly runeth over with cash, so planning it out financially would be nice!

coolalvaro39 (author)2013-12-09

Dis is awsome

glapointe-stead (author)2013-10-22

Hey , I just finished making the remote, now I just need some decals. Did you go to a big name store to get yours done? If not, how/what would I look for when searching for a store? do you have any left over that I can buy from you by chance?

cheto1807 (author)2013-08-27

There are two wires coming out of each button right? Where do both of those wires lead? Please show me how you did it at

cheto1807 (author)cheto18072013-08-29

Thanks man. Now I can start.

cheto1807 (author)2013-08-27

I have a question: one wire from the button leads to the board; where does the other wire go to get the power? Please e-mail at

rgrifford (author)2013-08-22

That is really freaking awesome!!!

samgo44 (author)2013-05-31


You've unlocked something very awesome in this project.


poolshark162006 (author)2012-10-08

It is finally complete!, turned out better than I expected!, Works great on my projector.

If anyone needs vinyl lettering or decals let me know, will create some for you for cheap.

poolshark162006 (author)2012-10-07

Almost completed my NES Coffee table. Just have to cut out the rest of the decals , screw in rest of buttons and a lot of paint touch up!

I also have a vinyl cutter if anyone is looking for decals for there tables send me a message and will try to respond asap.

NESobsessed (author)2012-10-02

Hi there! I love what you did with this and I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to upload the instructions; I've just got one question: how much did it cost you to build this? (including the deceals and paint but excluding the tools) Thanks.

scream__dc (author)2012-09-23

I swear I love what you do XD

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