Instructables
This instructable will detail how I went about modifying an SNES controller into a USB controller with built-in flash drive.  This is not a very fancy method, just pulling together bare hardware bits to get the job done.

Full credit for the general idea goes to this howto for a similar project with an NES controller. My brother inherited my NES from me, so all I had to work with was an SNES controller... and since it lets me play a wider variety of games it seemed like a perfect thing to do. The project ended up being a bit more difficult than I expected, and I tried to document as much of the process as I could.

Soldering/desoldering work is required for this, and I'm assuming you have some general knowledge of working with a soldering iron and continuity tester. I'm a software/networking person, though, and not an expert with a soldering iron by any means. A steady hand and a lot of patience can be a big help.

This is my first instructable, suggestions are definitely welcome. I apologize in advance for some horribly bland photography.
 
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Step 1: Collecting Parts

It's probably possible to find cheaper parts than I used, especially if you shop it around online. Just be aware that there's always the possibility that a part may not fit the available space, and try to evaluate what you're buying as much as possible ahead of time.  Smaller is better, though your soldering skill may factor into it as well.  If you use different parts or have a different controller (see below) then you'll have to improvise your own methods, but the general ideas I used should cross over.

I'd suggest taking a look at the next step (with the controller apart) before getting any parts.

Once you have parts that you know will work, considering getting a backup set in case you mangle something. Naturally, the only part I did not get a spare for (the keyboard) was the only one I ended up breaking in the process.

Parts used:
1 x SNES controller - I used an old one lying around from my younger years.
1 x USB hub - I found a tiny four-port hub that even had a clear casing so I could see the shape/size of the board inside. Roughly $12.
1 x USB keyboard - I used an "Alaska" keyboard. $12 from the local computer store.  This is a bit harder than the hub, since there's no way to tell what the inside components look like.  The cheaper the better, since you may end up needing to try a different model.
1 x thumb drive - a 4G Sandisk Cruzer I had lying around since I upgraded to an 8G drive recently

Equipment used:
soldering iron - a cheap one from Radio Shack worked for me. Check the wattage, you want the cooler ones for electronics work... but you can make do with a hotter one if you're careful.
solder - basic rosin-core electronics solder
multimeter - A simple continuity tester will work, I just used it to check for shorts.
dremel - I did need to modify some of the circuit boards. There's a lot of possible substitutes for this, but you'll need something you can make precise cuts with.

A note about SNES controllers: when I started this project I had only one old controller that I got with my original console, so I ordered two online to use as spares. When they arrived, I noticed that the area around the buttons was greenish (almost a pale lime green) and the "Super Nintendo" logo was different, so I set them aside as last-ditch spares. Towards the end of the project I pulled one of these spares apart to test something and found out that they were a completely different design, with the controller board pushed almost flush with the backside of the controller rather than close to the front (among other changes). This would have made it impossible to use the layout method I used, so be sure to check the controller insides and plan your parts accordingly!
Was at the thrift store a couple days after reading this and saw a usb keyboard with 2 usb ports already built into it for $3. I said to myself, "now I HAVE to build that controller." Will let u know how it turns out.
nani0san3 years ago
I don't actually want to instal the flash drive so could i basicly only connect the keyboard card toe the controller and leave the usb connection attached?

and thanks for all you help =3
Nonentity (author)  nani0san3 years ago
You certainly could.

It might be easier at that point to go with a conversion kit (like the retrousb.com one JJiGz mentioned), though, since the only thing you'd be messing with would be the keyboard controller. Of course, you don't get to play with multimeters and chop up the controller's circuitry to do your bidding if you use the kit route, so it depends on what you're going for. ;)
JJiGz3 years ago
you can do this much easier now than ruining a usb keyboard.. http://www.retrousb.com/product_info.php?ref=11&products_id=44&affiliate_banner_id=1 makes ur job 1000x easier making it usb, the trick now is adding the hub/flash drive.
Nonentity (author)  JJiGz3 years ago
Absolutely, I've been looking at similar ones for a while. It looks like that wouldn't cost much more than my keyboard did, and be easier to cram into the case due to size.

This would basically replace steps 4 and 5. Since the wiring diagram they provide is based on wire colors, you'd have to keep track of the controller's wire colors when desoldering the old controller cable in order to wire it to the chip properly. Then use the USB cable they provide and a continuity meter to work out which contacts on their chip should connect to which contacts on the hub.
Nonentity (author)  Nonentity3 years ago
*cough* It's been too long since I wrote this instructable, I completely blanked on the fact that the snes controller has a handy plug connector for its cable rather than needing desoldering. You could probably cut those wires off short to solder to the retrousb chip, unless you wanted to remove the plug and solder replacement wires to the controller board in order to leave more room for placement.
davidzzs3 years ago
sry to comment again i forgot to say good job and i found out u could use a bluetooth keyboard and there are some out there with a usb with it so u could make it bluetooth
Nonentity (author)  davidzzs3 years ago
Making the controller bluetooth would probably be possible... and since bluetooth keyboards are usually a lot smaller, it's possible the hardware would use less space as well (though I've never had a chance to take apart a bluetooth keyboard, so I'm not sure on that).

The issues would probably be:
- you would need to provide power to the bluetooth hardware, and the needed batteries probably wouldn't fit into the controller case without major modifications
- adding a bluetooth USB hub would increase the power and space requirements further, to the point that you would be adding significant weight and bulk to the contoller to carry it.

Of course, that's just initial thoughts without looking at specific hardware possibilities, so I could be wrong.
davidzzs3 years ago
hey can you add bluetooth to this so we can hook it up to phones like a android phone
meestermole4 years ago
nice tutorial. i used a program called keytest.exe (a keyboard tester) to map my buttons as i touch the contacts. i couldnt figure out the traces on the flexiplastic. i took great time and care to trim down all my circuit boards to the smallest needed sizes. , then spent almost 2 days carefully planning out how i would run the traces from the original controller. i also removed the chip on the board and used tiny tiny 32 guage wire to make all my connections. that stuff is nice and flexi, so it makes it a bit easier to route once its connected.i left an extra usb spot open in case i decide to add a usb port for expandability. i dremmelled the case a teeny bit to get things to fit, but the usb stick fit underneath the board,and the hub and keycontroller nicely one over the other. my only regret, no pics to show :( i might also add the LED an a tiny switch mapped to ESC in the future. Thanks for the instructable!!!
Nonentity (author)  meestermole4 years ago
Great, I'm glad it was useful. I may need to add some additional detail to the section about mapping out the keyboard portion. It is sometimes possible to use a multimeter in continuity mode to nail down which traces lead to which points on the controller, the parts under the keys are conductive so that they can make a connection when you press a key. Congratulations on using the space where the controller's chip was, that is a small space to work in and the chip (at least on the controller I used) is secured rather solidly!