Introduction: Nintendo Controller MP3, Version 2.0

Picture of Nintendo Controller MP3, Version 2.0

First of all, I offer recognition to Morte_Moya for his instructable "NES Controller MP3 Player". I built one following his instructable and it worked great!
I let my imagination go on a second build. I utilized the original NES circuit board found inside the controller. Using the NES circuit board eliminates purchasing micro-tactile switches and gluing buttons.
My son got this for Christmas and hasn't put it down!

Step 1: Items to Score:

Picture of Items to Score:

NES Controller
Coby MP200-1G, 1GB MP3 Player
Blue Ray Gift Card (Mine came from Target)
Soldering Iron (Low temp ~ 6w - 15w)
Desoldering tool
Razor Knife or Exacto-Knife
Wire Cutters
Small Needle-nose Pliers
Super Glue
Small amount of Baking Soda (trust me!)
Round Tooth Picks
Finger-Nail Polish Remover
Kitchen Sponge or Tempurpedic Memory Foam (Send away for a sample!)
Female USB Port (Goodwill Thrift Store - I got 4 in an old USB Hub for $0.99!)
Computer Ribbon Cable (Goodwill Thrift Store or computer parts pile)
Male to Male USB Cable (Dollar Store or make one)
Random maker gear

Step 2: Let the Fun Begin! - Disassemble the Controller

Picture of Let the Fun Begin! - Disassemble the Controller

Take the controller apart by removing the 6 screws from the back of the controller.
Keep the screws!
Cut the cord short to the NES circuit board or just begin desoldering the cord.
Desoldering the rectangular chip is optional.

Button Layout:
UP= Play/Stop/On/Off
LEFT= Back Track
RIGHT= Forward Track
A- Button= Volume Up
B- Button= Volume Down

Step 3: Time to Study!

Picture of Time to Study!

Here is where you take a look at the NES circuit board.
Study the board, you will mark a spot on each side of the switch where you will drill a tiny hole for a single wire next to each side of the buttons you will use.
Don't mark too close to the black button areas. Getting your solder point or wire under the buttons would interfere with normal operation.

The upper right corner is marked for deletion
**CAREFUL** Use a small file or Dremel tool to make an electrical separation between the UP button and the RIGHT button.

Step 4: Like a Surgeon

Picture of Like a Surgeon

Begin making your cuts and drilling.
Scrape a bit of the light green protective coating off of the circuit track near each hole you drill, corresponding to each button you will use.

As an added precaution, I use the Dremel tool to make additional electrical breaks in the circuit track.
This part is a little tedious. Take your time and make it pretty.
When trimming your wire down prior to soldering, pull the wire through from the back, trim and leave just a little wire coming to the front. Strip and solder.
If you mess it up, just separate a little more ribbon cable in the back and pull a little more slack through.

Cut the ribbon cable into about 6 inch strips
Use 6 wires for the UP, LEFT, and RIGHT buttons
Use 4 wires for the "A" and "B" buttons

*If you are really motivated, you could run a 10 wire ribbon cable but I think it would be more difficult to work with than it is worth.

Step 5: Remove the Sticker and Prepare for the Light Show

Picture of Remove the Sticker and Prepare for the Light Show

Remove the NES Sticker and place it on some wax paper for safe keeping.
Lay some wax paper over the top portion of the controller - probably sticky
Use a razor to cut out along the lines around the buttons - you are making a template the same size as the sticker.

Disassemble the Blue Ray gift card and remove the short end clear plastic pieces
Lay it over the sticker with the wax paper template covering it.
Line it up over the "Nintendo"

At each end of the plastic, mark the wax paper with a sharpie and transfer the marks to the controller
Get ready to start cutting.

Step 6: Lets Get Cutting

Picture of Lets Get Cutting

Transfer your marks to the controller top
Scribe around the clear plastic

**Scribe a little smaller than the actual piece.
You can always trim a little more to make the piece fit. Hard to make a tight fit if the piece falls through freely!

I used only my exacto-knife to slowly cut out the marked area. The razor has more control that the dremel too, but takes more time.
Fit the piece and press it in so it does not rest raised above the surrounding plastic.

Step 7: Making the Fit

Picture of Making the Fit

After trimming and making the best possible fit:
Drop a line of super glue to one side of the length of the plastic screen.
Immediately use a small flat blade screw driver or a pinch of baking soda to cover all the wet super glue.

The baking soda acts as a bonding agent to make a built up, strong bond.
Repeat on the other seam.
Shake and wipe off the excess baking soda.

Take a moment to admire your progress.

Step 8: The Tedious Part...

Picture of The Tedious Part...

I placed 5 or 6 round toothpicks in a small container an immersed just the tips of the toothpicks in some stolen (borrowed?) fingernail polish remover.
Use the soaked toothpicks to carefully remove the red paint from each letter
Careful as you work on the edges of the letters - the fingernail polish remover will take the black paint off too.
As the toothpicks dry out, swap with a waiting toothpick and continue.

*If you are careful, you can remove the paint from around the "Registered" logo. Give it a shot, working in light circular motions. If you mess it up, tape it over with a small square of black electrical tape.

This is kind of a one shot deal, if you mess it up too much, you'd be looking for another sticker
The nice part about this is that if you go to a pawn shop or something to find a controller, you can get one that looks pretty hammered - as long as the sticker looks good, you can try again. You can get the more ugly or broken controllers CHEAP!

Step 9: Crafting the Battery Compartment

Picture of Crafting the Battery Compartment

I decided to use some scrap plastic from a broken controller to make an awesome battery compartment.
First, cut a 90 degree corner from a spare controller backing or some other piece of plastic. Make it a bit shorter than the AAA.
Next, place the AAA battery in the upper right corner of the controller.

Drop 4 or 5 drops of super glue to the bottom of the 90 degree piece and place it up to the battery once you have the battery in the right place. Make sure the tab of your 90 degree piece faces away from the battery.

From the Blue Ray gift card, I pulled off the battery holders. You can use any similar metal that conducts electricity and is bendable.
I trimmed the edges off and made it into one long rectangular piece.
I used a 4 to 5 inch long piece of 22 gauge wire to solder to the fabricated battery connection
Make 2 - one red, one black.

I replaced the battery, fit my battery leads, and twisted a cardboard Q-Tip into the open space between the battery lead and the screw post.
Cut the Q-Tip long enough to touch the bottom of the space but flush with the top of the screw post.
Fill the Q-Tip with a handful of drops of super glue. It will harden quickly and rocks as a filler!
( I used chunk of plastic previously which I had to trim down and test fit repeatedly - It still did not fit as nice as the Q-Tip filler!

Trim and fit the battery sticker from the Coby MP3 player if desired.

Step 10: Wire the MP3 to the Controller

Picture of Wire the MP3 to the Controller

In these steps, you connect the MP3 to the Controller's original circuit board.
Use computer ribbon cable of possible
Score it from a broken computer or see if your local thrift store has something laying around that could work.

Make sure to leave yourself 4" - 5" of ribbon cable to work with. This will give you plenty of opportunity to mess up, practice soldering, and flexibility once assembled. The ribbon cable also folds nice and works to immobilize the MP3 player once assembled.

Trace your wires in pairs to each button. Try test fitting before soldering and trimming to make sure everything reaches and looks good. - Double check your plan.

Once you are comfortable, begin soldering.
Use a low wattage soldering iron! My first controller, I used a 30 watt iron (it's what I had). My second controller, I used a 15 watt iron. My third one, I used a 6 watt, battery powered soldering iron - Works AWESOME!

Step 11: A Few More Things to Wire

Picture of A Few More Things to Wire

In this step, there are just a couple more things to wire up.
The MP3 player comes with a male USB soldered to the circuit board. I got a female USB connection from a USB hub I picked up from Goodwill - it had 4 female USB connections!

I marked on the male USB and circuit board before desoldering.
Plug in the female USB to the male for reference.
Desolder the male USB, loosen the holding tabs and remove.

*Important! - To make the connection properly, do not rotate the USB to connect the female USB, instead, flip it over. The female connections will appear upside down, but this will keep the contacts lined up properly. Worst case scenario, you device will not be recognized by your computer and you will have to desolder the USB and fix it.

Use a ribbon cable, 4 wires, use a length of 3" or so. Solder the MP3 circuit board to the upside down female USB.
Solder the positive and negative battery leads to the circuit boards.

CAREFULLY desolder the headphone jack!!!! I have ruined 2 MP3 players at this point. If you force it, you will tear the solder pad off the circuit board. Remove as much solder as you can. I ended up using a micro screwdriver to incrementally lift the jack in very small stages by heating up a solder point while applying light pressure, then moving to another point and repeating. It takes 8-10 small movements to free it from the circuit board.

Step 12: I Got a Fever! and the Only Cure... Is More Baking Soda!

Picture of I Got a Fever! and the Only Cure... Is More Baking Soda!

The circuit board should be all wired except for the LEDs. I'll cover that in the next step.

I begin by preparing the headphone jack base.
I used my Exacto knife to shave the inside of the headphone hole just a bit to make the jack stick out a little more once installed. If you decide to do this step, make sure to shave the same amount from both halves of the controller.

I took 2 small pieces of plastic that are about the same size as the main part of the headphone jack. I stacked the 2 pieces and glued them together with super glue. I then glue the stacked plastic mounting base to the controller back - the same side as the battery holder.
Drop a few drops under the plastic mount to hold in place. I also put a few drops on each side of the mount and filled with baking soda as a filler.

I did this because this portion of your controller will take the most abuse, pushing and pulling headphone jacks into the device.
To maximize my surface area, I notched the mounting base to accommodate the pegs that are under the headphone jack. I super glued the jack down as well, followed by the baking soda to make it as strong as possible.

Mount your Female USB in place. I used a small thin rectangular piece of plastic under the USB to make a mounting base and level it. Glue it down to the USB using some baking soda, then glue that down to the controller. More baking soda

Step 13: Let There Be Light!

Picture of Let There Be Light!

Almost done.
Desolder the small red LED. I haven't been able to extract this LED without melting the leads and ruining the red LED. If you can do it, you are the solder master!

Take a 3" - 4" piece of 2-wire ribbon cable and solder them to the 2 point for the LED.
Before soldering the lights, put a battery in and turn on the MP3 by holding down the PLAY button for a few seconds. With stripped leads on the LED ribbon cable and the black/red wires on the blue light, hold or temporarily solder the wires together to test for polarity. More importantly, just make sure the blue light comes on.

Once you get it worked out, push the blue LEDs into the plastic lens, one at each end. Drop 2 or 3 drops of super glue on the lights right at the top of the arches. You can probably omit the baking soda at this step since the glue wicks into the crevices and makes a good bond. Plus it makes for an easier light change in case you come up with some different colored LEDs you want to install.
Wrap your solder points with tape or heat shrink tubing to make it clean looking.

Here is where took a piece of Tempurpedic Memory Foam (TM) (my wife wrote the company for a free sample - weird stuff!) You could also use a chunk of kitchen sponge. This piece will serve as a battery hold-down to keep the AAA from moving out of the battery compartment.

OPTIONAL - I placed a piece of black electrical tape over the lens. You could omit this step and end up with a blue glow seeping out of the nearby USB jack.

Lastly, make sure you have the clearance. Remove 2 posts opposite the headphone jack and trim down the circuit board line-up pins. For the line-up pins, remove a little less than half from the pins and test fit. If the controller closes, good, if not, trim a little more. Do not remove the line-up pins because these will hold your circuit board in the correct position for the buttons.

I glued down the edges of the button pads just enough to hold them in place while I put it together. A little baking soda helps here.

Start tucking all your wires in and under. The USB wire can fold under the MP3. The button wires can fold down under also. Crease the LED wires in half and tuck them under the MP3 also. The goal is to make sure nothing will interfere with the operation of the buttons.

Close it up. Make sure the circuit board alignment pins are inserting into the circuit board where they are suppose to. If it doesn't come together relatively easily, peek inside while holding the halves close together to see where you are hung up. Put the 6 screws in the back.

Turn the MP3 on by holding down the UP button for a few seconds. The lights should come on. Push it again and it will play a pre-loaded music track. Test your functional buttons for proper operation.

Enjoy the coolest toy on the block.

Run to the bedroom at 3am to wake your wife to show her the cool blue lights.
Show it to your ex-wife's boyfriend so he can start pre-selling them for you to everyone he knows!


techboy411 (author)2012-12-30

you placed it backwards, (CENSORED)

CHRIS1701 (author)2009-08-05


milkywaybar (author)CHRIS17012012-07-04


genericusername5 (author)2012-01-23

My MP3 player has different buttons just a small domed circle do you think i can use this? or will i have to get a different one. they are 5mm diameter. please anybody get back to me as soon as possible its for a birthday present.

You won't know until you crack it open. Once you get it open, take a look at the circuit board and test it out.

Good luck

"If you can't open it, you don't own it!" ~Make

Yeah i opened it all up but the size I gave is the actually button size inside the MP3. I'm just not sure i have space to solder. Do you think i could take of the top of the dome and connect the dome and the pad underneath it to some tactile switches?

zombeastly (author)2011-08-03


hammertong (author)2011-06-09

You REALLY need a low watt soldering gun. I went ahead & tried this with a 30 watt gun, and noticed the copper strips were coming up from the controllers board. After trying for awhile to get them to stay down, they just broke off. I didn't have enough room left to wire anything together, so I gave up. I'm waiting for new controllers to come in the mail so I can try again.

Enzomatico (author)hammertong2011-07-06

same here:(

Enzomatico (author)2011-03-26

Hi I'm really considering doing this but I want to use an mp3 player with a bigger capacity. Could you tell me if you think I would be able to use this one? 

ryan97128 (author)Enzomatico2011-03-26

You probably could, but what will you do with the screen? I think the screen is likely an integral part of this MP3's functionality You could make a cut-out for the screen, but then it starts looking less and less like an original controller. '

Consider an iPod shuffle as your MP3 player - check this one out:

Good luck!

Post a pic of your finished product :-)

Enzomatico (author)ryan971282011-03-29

Yeah I would be alright with the screen cutting part but the main reason I liked that mp3 player was that it used micro SD cards instead of internal memory. Seemed like a neat idea. Hmmm I think I will go with the shuffle. Definetly will post pictures once I finish.

Thank you for your help :)

Snowtrooper514 (author)2010-07-16

I know the gift card is for the free lights but as I saw in latter steps you use other materials from the card, such as the clear plastic what should i use instead, and maybe you should a substitute to the list?

ryan97128 (author)Snowtrooper5142010-07-16

Try any thick chunk of clear or mostly clear plastic. You could probably find something to disassemble from a thrift store like Goodwill or something. Good luck

Snowtrooper514 (author)ryan971282010-07-18


technoguy94 (author)2010-04-26

It would make a little more sense to me if "A" was Play/Pause (and "B" was On/Off if they were two different buttons originally) and up/down on the Dpad was volume up/down...

ryan97128 (author)technoguy942010-04-26

Call Coby USA
Toll-free: 800-727-3592 (8:30AM to 9:00PM on weekdays, 9:00AM to 5:30PM on weekends)
Good luck! :-)
JK, other MP3 players may have different button arrangements, this one happened to combine many functions into one

young modern (author)2010-04-10

i want to make this proyect.. but watching the pictures and reading.. i'm wondering.. you didn't mention nothing about the on/off button or the button for cancel every button operation to put nes control in the pocket and walk freely without push a button by accident. why is that? i mean.. it is possible do it?

greetings from chile. and congratz for that nice control.

ryan97128 (author)young modern2010-04-10

The ON/OFF/PAUSE/PLAY buttons on the controller all are one button. In order to turn the device on or off, the button must be depressed for approximately 3 seconds. This eliminates accidental button pushing.
Hope that helps. Good Luck

can i put the a button as the play/pause/on/off
and the up and down buttons on the d-pad as volume up and volume down?
if so, do i have to drill the holes and make the breaks in a different way? or just solder the wires to them.

You can use whichever buttons in any combination you wish. You would drill according to which buttons you plan to use. Study the circuit board to make breaks where appropriate to isolate each button you  plan to use. Good luck!

oh, ok thank you

willie19a (author)2010-02-09

Since your not using the two centre buttons, start and select, you could use an ipod mini and fit the screen here. I was going to use my sony walkman nwz-a816 but if i break it i cant afford another one lol. Damn kids! anyway, just a thought. Nice TUT aswell.

inventordude14 (author)2010-01-23

  this is cool! 

skygunner58203 (author)2009-12-16

If I used an MP3 player with an internal rechargeable battery would that work in place of the AAA?  I like the player i have and the functionality of it...but would LOVE the controller mod.  The player is a GPX ML648S player - 2 GB version.

ryan97128 (author)skygunner582032009-12-16

Go for it. Here is an example from ihrtglfx10. Here is his Instructable that uses a iPod Shuffle - which has an internal, rechargeable battery, check it out:

Good luck!

MrKill (author)2009-10-13

nice tut but i couldn't find a blu ray gift card like that :/

ryan97128 (author)MrKill2009-10-13

well, the blue-ray gift cards are just a source for free LED lights. Try finding LED lights from some other device or buy some. Good luck!

DFree (author)ryan971282009-11-29

If you use a slightly better mp3 player with a screen you could just use the light from that. The screen only really tells you what your listenin to

ryan97128 (author)DFree2009-11-30

But then you would not get the intensity of color through the Nintendo lettering.
If you do make one using the MP3 screen for light, throw it up on Instructables so we can check it out!! :)

rambertron (author)2009-11-27

lol i epicly failed this, i'll ask my dad for help next time, luckily you can get really cheap nes controllers off ebay.

Sick_Nixon (author)2009-11-26

 man!!!!!!that's really awesome!!!!!! and i really like the idea of using the original nes buttons.very nice instructable.

stitch201 (author)2009-10-10

Would it be possible to use the start and select buttons as on/off instead of having the on/off be the same button as the play/stop?


ryan97128 (author)stitch2012009-10-10

Not possible with this particular MP3 player. This Coby MP3 player uses the play button as the on/off button by holding it down for 3-5 seconds. If you found a different MP3 player with a separate power button, then you certainly could hook that up! Good Luck!

dokcal (author)2009-08-24

I don't have a Coby MP3 player, but from others I've hacked, I'd be willing to bet that one side of the buttons on the Coby are connected to a common ground, as are the buttons on the NES controller. You could use that common ground and avoid having to break all these traces... and only have to solder six wires instead of ten.

ryan97128 (author)dokcal2009-08-25

Sounds plausible. Give it a shot and let me know if it works! Good Luck!

CHRIS1701 (author)2009-08-05


ryan97128 (author)CHRIS17012009-08-06

You could meter the wires that are already on the circuit board to determine which wires are for which buttons. That is a good idea and could save you alot of work. However, I would solder the controller wires to some smaller wires for soldering to the MP3 circuit board. The circuit breaks are only a precaution. If you look closely, it looks like some of the circuit track might share the same run with another button. So, as a precaution, I cut the track to isolate each button. Experimentation is the fun part of this process - if you make a good improvement, be sure to post it on Instructables!!

TREKER1701 (author)2009-08-03


ryan97128 (author)TREKER17012009-08-05

If you don't mind opening up the case every time you want to add/remove your music, then it would totally work if you mounted the USB connection on the inside. That is actually a good idea. As for the buttons, you can test your soldering job with a multimeter and test for continuity. Lay the button overlays back over the circuit board, press, and check your meter. If you don't have one, just solder it up as best you can and test it with the MP3 player.

eichermacher (author)2009-07-23

Could you use this method to just add LEDs to a controller and still use it for the NES?

ryan97128 (author)eichermacher2009-07-23

I would think so. You would have to carefully meter the circuit board with power applied to discover suitable power. Good luck!

irishjim68 (author)2009-05-01

"Volume Down", and "Volume Down" buttons... definately a parent building this. :D

SpydR (author)irishjim682009-07-19

how can the volume go down if it never went up?

ryan97128 (author)SpydR2009-07-19


crrimson (author)irishjim682009-06-20


ringleader369 (author)2009-07-14

Is there any way to make it easier to change the battery? (want to make it as a gift and not have to keep changing the batteries for em' )

ryan97128 (author)ringleader3692009-07-15

yes, visit this instructable:

This guy used an IPod Shuffle which has a rechargeable battery. Also, there is no need to cut a hole for the USB connection. The nice thing is that the Shuffle gets all its info and charges through the headphone jack.

The only thing this guy did not work out was the LED light, perhaps you could do that and post a new instructable!!

Good luck.

Prodigity (author)2009-07-14

*suggests to change 'The Tedious Part' into 'The Really Insanely Tedious Part'* How long did this step take you? (It's taking me ages)

ryan97128 (author)Prodigity2009-07-14

It took me about an hour to get all the red paint off. Place your toothpicks into the fingernail polish remover - about 1/4 inch deep or so. After soaking, I etched off the red letters, using the soaked toothpick like an eraser. Give it a bit of pressure, except near the black edges, to get the process started. Also, change out your toothpicks every minute or two.

About This Instructable



More by ryan97128:Travel-Size Toothpaste USB ModVolkswagen 4GB USB Flipkey for My MK2Nintendo Controller MP3, Version 2.0
Add instructable to: