Like everyone else in the world, I grew up with a love for video games.  Specifically games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  I don't know why, but I can't really get into playing all the modern games.  The nice thing about newer consoles is that they are easy to keep out of sight (wireless controllers).  Unfortunately to get your daily fix of NES, you need to dig through the closet, find the "good" controller, all the wires, etc etc and half an hour later you are playing.  My goal was to prevent this from happening.  And no, emulators just won't cut it.

I've always enjoyed the feel of playing with an arcade controller.  Sure the NES Advantage is OK, but it doesn't give you that authentic feel a real arcade machine does.  To solve that, I was inspired by a friend to build a NES Bartop Arcade machine.  I could have gone the easy route and built a MAME console, but I find emulation just isn't the same.  And thanks to Brian from http://www.retrousb.com I can have all my games at my fingertips with the PowerPak.

I could have made things easier by using a NOAC (NES On A Chip) system that fits a NES in the size of a credit card.  These have all sorts of problems though, sound, game incompatibility, color problems, and overall bad build quality.  Since I like my games 100% authentic, both sight and sound, the only option was the original NES hardware. 

Also, I want to be able to use a genuine arcade controller when my NES is hooked up to the big screen so I am doing something that has never been seen before (by me anyway). The controller part is detachable from the rest of the unit!

These were my goals for this project:

Keep it as small as possible
Make something that hasn't been done before
Maintain a good quality build
Inspire others to try something similar

I think I have accomplished all of these goals.  The final footprint is 31" High x 14 1/2" Wide x 15 1/2" Deep.  The cabinet has two unique features I've never seen.  It has the detachable controller, and it has and actual NES mounted on the monitor with a GameGenie connector soldered directly to the motherboard.  I didn't take any shortcuts with this build, and everything is strong and sturdy.  Finally, I've already had people tell me they want to build one of these!

So without further adieu, I give you The Genuine NES Bartop Arcade.

*Check out the NES rom I made to show off the cabinet (future instructable?)*

**for some reason it is showing up as a .tmp file.  Just change it to a .nes file and you should be able to run it on your emulator or PowerPak

Now I know your screen doesn't light up, what screen did you use? It doesn't say in the lists. Also, where would you get the arcade buttons?
WhatULive4 (author)  MinerDave5672 years ago
Please read my previous responses about the monitor. There are many places to buy buttons online, a quick google search will aid you in your quest.
Hey I was wondering if you've had any lag/latency issues with the screen you used. I've tried playing my NES on my flatscreen tv and had a horrible time with latency. Playing games that needed quick reaction speed like Zelda II was pretty much impossible. I'd love to make a bartop cab like this, but I'm hesitant to use an lcd monitor without knowing how latency will be. Also, just wondering, how does the joystick feel compared to the D-pad of the original controller?
WhatULive4 (author)  ThisIsJherin2 years ago
I'm pretty used to a bit of lag since I primarily play NES on a fullsized LCD. This LCD doesn't have any fancy graphics modes or anything on it so there isn't much noticeable lag.

As for the joystick, it really depends on the game. It works great for some games, and others not so well. I think because there is such a dead zone between directions it can be hard to do complex quick manouvers when you are used to a D-Pad. You can probably get more sensitive sticks though, I just used what I had laying around.
jswartz22 years ago
Nice design!!!I know this is super late but are you selling these? I am looking for functionality not flair...
WhatULive4 (author)  jswartz22 years ago
No I'm not selling these. I basically made it out of spare parts I had lying around. I would probably change a lot of things if I was looking to mass-produce and sell these.
How do you wire the joystick and the buttons? and where did you get the graphic for the controller box??? great ible
WhatULive4 (author)  joeydavies28693 years ago
Step 10 shows pictures and an explanation of how to wire the controller. You are basically just replacing the NES contacts with the arcade buttons. First you connect all the ground pins on your arcade switches, then connect those to a ground spot on your controller.

Then you connect the wires to the corresponding pins/switches as I've shown in the diagram and pictures.

The artwork on the controller box was done by my wife. Basically a bunch of copy/paste from sprites obtained online.
wow apparently im blind i read this ible 2 before i commented on it. where is the best place to ground out the buttons?
WhatULive4 (author)  joeydavies28693 years ago
In the picture showing the buttons and everything wired, you can click on the [i] button in the corner. It will show you the picture at the original resolution. The spot I chose was the bottom pin on the right side of the controller. There is also a hole you could solder to.

You'll be able to see better once you view in full size.
vonmunster3 years ago
i love this instructables.... great job by the way... i did have one question... what about games that entail 2-Player mode? does this setup allow for 2-Players, or just 1-Player? let me know and thanx again
WhatULive4 (author)  vonmunster3 years ago
The connector for the second player still exists. I was planning on mounting a 2P plug on the controller section, but haven't gotten around to doing it yet.

So now you would have the 2p controller coming out the top. There would even be room to keep it plugged in all the time and just store it in the top by the speakers and light. I haven't used it for multi-player (since I have a regular NES connected to my tv), so this hasn't been a priority to add the plug.
zombeastly4 years ago
SOOOOO do u accually put in a nes syestem?
kewl instructable dude!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WhatULive4 (author)  zombeastly4 years ago
Heck yes!

Thanks man.
bclayton4 years ago
I like the overall outcome. Just a suggestion: for the Nintendo Logo, try to use window tint film. Just apply it to the plexi surface, cut out the logo, then place in a layer of red light tint film. You can get sheets of these for pennies. Looks good as is, just for another project, maybe you'll wanna give it a try.
WhatULive4 (author)  bclayton4 years ago
Good suggestion. Maybe if I win a laser cutter I can do it that way =)
Laser cutter would be nice, but major overkill. Just an exacto knife and a stencil. Good luck.
mary candy4 years ago
so cool
ronanry4 years ago
Just one question (sorry if it's already mentionned but i have not seen it) what kind of screen did you use ?
However, a wonderful instructable and a wonderful project !
You put me in mind to do the same with a Snes (famicom)
WhatULive4 (author)  ronanry4 years ago
The screen is from a Samsung SyncMaster 150Mp. I am almost positive they aren't manufactured any more. I just happened to get this one for free, so I couldn't even direct you to a better alternative. Most LCD tv's these days are widescreen, which isn't ideal for NES playback. Also, I can't necessarily recommend that monitor. The speakers that come in it were horrible and unusable. It also has to warm up for ~6 minutes before it shows a clear picture (that being said, it looks great after the warm-up).

Also, keep in mind that with an LCD you will not be able to use the lightgun. So if that is something you want, then design your cabinet around a CRT instead.
wilhouse4 years ago
very cool. If you were to sell it, or make one for someone, what do you think you would charge?
WhatULive4 (author) 4 years ago
So proud of you sweetheart! I'll admit, it's beautiful (even more-so in person). Our children will truly learn to appreciate REAL Nintendo as much as Mom and Dad and proud to know their Daddy made it!
WhatULive4 (author)  WhatULive44 years ago
Thank you hun, I couldn't have done it without your help. But you could have logged into your account first. Now it looks like I am talking to myself :)
Oh we all know you were really posting to yourself ;)
I can't believe that last week it was just a piece of board with 5 holes in it and now it is this! WOW! So impressed I had to vote for it! Okay, let's be honest even if I wasn't I would have voted for you but it really is quite amazing that you thought of this and made it come to life!
Celt WhatULive44 years ago
Where did you get your joy stick assebly? that is the only part that worries me. BTW, nice idea on the internal power strip! Makes things easier to manage for me.
Dont worry, my wife does that too ..... keeps people guessing.
but I do like the work and thought that was put into this. after buiding one MAME cabinet it may be time for a NES and possibly a C-64 one in our household
Celt4 years ago
HAHAHAHA. Great post. I attempted something like this with an old play station, but it was accidentaly fried when I had some wires crossed. My electronics knowledge back then was limited. I don't know if I have the guts to rip into my precious....(NES) that is. Maybe one day.
... ebay my friend, grab one for cheap
I now have an extra computer moniter....... Im thinking on buying a console emulator( one that plays regular NES and SNES games) at game fellas. Now that I have an ible I can properly do this!
StereoKills4 years ago
andytt114 years ago
are you Chris Marquette?
great ible
WhatULive4 (author)  andytt114 years ago
Haha, nope. I have never noticed that resemblance!
DeanGPotts4 years ago
Brilliant, i had ideas of my own last year of something very similar, i dont have the time, money or space for one though but its good to see others have done it