Turn your old NES cartridge into an external hard drive, just like this guy did, except with better step-by-step instruction.

I altered the built-in LED so that I could have custom red lights coming out the bottom. This is an optional customization; if you aren't comfortable with cutting some wires and adding your own stuff, don't do it.

Necessary supplies:

NES cartridge (one that you can bear to open up to take away its playability)
External hard drive - a SMALL one (4.5"x2.75" bare, about 5"x3.5" with the case on)
Screwdrivers, of various sizes, philips and flat head
Dremel or other multi-tool
Electrical tape

Might-need supplies:

Pencil & paper
Tin snips

Optional supplies:

2 small LEDs, I chose red to fit with the NES color pallet
Hot glue gun
Soldering iron
Hookup wire
Wire clippers
Helping hands (not your little brother's hands, a stand with clips for holding things while you solder)

Oh yes, and I am so NOT liable if you screw up your hard drive. Perform the operation at your own risk.

Step 1: Open Her Up

Older cartridges have flat head screws. "Newer" ones have custom screws which probably require a "socket wrench" type thing to remove. I do no have this "socket wrench" type thing, so I decided to open up the old, crappy cartridge.

I've heard that melting the tip of an appropriately-sized plastic thing with a lighter and sticking it in the hole to let it cool will result in a little tool that you can use to unscrew the custom screws. I'm not responsible if you end up melting a Knex piece to your hand.

Anyways, unscrew the thing, whichever way you need to do it.

And remember to save ALL of the screws!

Open the cartridge and take out the little circuit board. Smaller than you thought it would be, huh? Keep the cartridge; you might use it in some wacky art project some day.
i bet thats not the smallest external HD u could find... would be cooler with a small enough to fit inside the cartridge and still not take too much space so u could still have the NES game in it !! then just put the usb port on top of the whole cartridge...
Like a Hitachi ZIF Drive 1.8" they are the hardrives used in the old 80gigs ipods
RIP my Mario HD. It bit the dust a while ago. I'm considering doing a "NES Catridge Ext. HDD 2.0" some day, keeping all of your great suggestions in mind. This time around I won't mess with any LEDs, and I'll get the correct components to go into it instead of cannibalizing an existing external HDD.
Radioshack was selling enclosures for $6.00, so I snagged one. I think it might be thin enough to do this with. (With just the inards and the drive of course)
if the game was dead, i don't see why not.
how could you
I made something very similar before finding this instructable and made a vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ss_-pbTzgQ - A "portofino" drive fit much better inside the cartridge. The next step would be finding a way to store the USB cable inside as well.
This kinda sucks cause thats the game iv been tryin to find for a long time, cool idea tho. :>}
Go to fleamarkerts. I have doubles of all my favorite NES games, 3 systems, and all but the original system were bought at fleamarkets. Made sure I can play them the rest of my life XD
There are places online where you can order the security bits nintendo is notorious for using.  I bought a couple a while back.  Man, they are a lifesaver for jobs like this or for general maintenance of games.  I got mine from nintendorepairshop.com
One thing I've done for interesting screw heads like the trigram screws (and a few others) is I take an ink pen that&nbsp;I don't mind sacrificing (super cheap BIC pens come to mind), pull its cartridge out of the pen, leaving just the barrel and the plastic tip there.<br /> With a lighter or another heat source (AH!&nbsp;Fire HOT!&nbsp;:O), I gently heat up that tapered tip until it's slightly soft and malleable (and not dripping plastic goo. Plastic goo that can cling to your skin <strong>hurts</strong>).&nbsp; The first time, I tend to pinch it together to make that narrower and ready for shaping. Then I heat it a little more, and press it down against what I&nbsp;need to unscrew, hold it a few seconds, and then lift up.<br /> Let the plastic cool!<br /> Have a refreshing drink or something, give it a few minutes, and come back.<br /> <br /> And there you go, impromptu 'screwdriver' of sorts. :)<br /> Good for when you can't afford the 2 week wait for the part to be shipped. :)<br />
This is almost like &quot;inserting a cartridge&quot; into your computer, especially considering the possibility of accessing ROM&nbsp;images for NES&nbsp;(and far more complex consoles consider multi-gigabyte storage) for use on emulators.<br /> <br /> I think its time we start making cartridge-like flash drives on console-like computers, and devise new plug shapes for USB&nbsp;to give the retro console aesthetics; thereby creating a new market for gaming PCs in a new form.<br />
You could also use a CF card and appropriate adapter to get this setup. If I manage to get hold of a cartridge I can bear to part with I may pull this off. Get really creative and you can make the NES multi card reader!!
nice instructable - last pic of the led's working.. are those your tin snips in the bones cup in the backround? stalking us with their menace.. lol
I was just wondering how hot this type of enclosure will get. I really want to make one, but most of my external hard drives are on most of the day and I don't want to burn down my house.
I'm not promising anything. I only use it for the occasional data storage, so my drive is not on for days on end. I will say that I have not noticed much heat at all.
This is a fun mod, and I totally think that if you could make this compatible w/ an NES PC it would be awesome. As for leaving the cartridge chip in it, I think the new Solid State HDs are pretty small aren't they? SD chips are also pretty big now too... Has anyone made something that uses the NES card itself as an interface so you have like an HD/external storage for an actual NES?
How could you do that to Mario! Great idea tho. 4 Stars
Pretty cool mod. If someone made a nes pc that still could use the cartridge cage (or maybe not even go down since that takes up space) with this that'd be awesome. (Have a usb male poking where the usb port is on the cartdrige/hard drive)
I completed the install with side interface and the game will still work, all of the card is intact .
That's awesome! You should post an instructable. ;D
will do soon im making one from my friend so ill do it with that one.
Wait.... And what was the point of this? It looks cool and all, but does it help out in anything other than holding a NES cartridge?
Nope. Just a nerdy customization project.
I would have left the card edge still there and made the usb port on the top side . just an idea.
Someone else suggested that too. I don't think my drive would have fit if I kept the game in it, though. Still a good idea if you could find a smaller HD. That could probably look a lot "cleaner" too.
I think a laptop drive with the guts of an enclosure. The boards in them are really small. Newegg.com has alot of them for under 20$
If you make another one, you should use a cartridge that isint so beat-up looking. You can get a mario/duck hunt cart in good condition for about $0.25. Just a thought, condsidering your putting a hard drive in it that cost probably $100 or more...
Haha, you're absolutely right, but I just wanted to start with stuff that I wouldn't have minded if I ruined (though the hard drive WAS expensive...). In the first picture you can see my nice clean mario/duck hunt, but I still wanted to play that.
very cool! but I would have put the usb port on top too. still sweet!
Awesome Idea! +1 I beat you GM.

About This Instructable



Bio: I am a Game Design graduate from the Cleveland Institute of Art.
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