Introduction: (Another) Working Giant NES USB Contoller for Big and Little Players. in Metric System!
Hello everyone. I’m part of Instructables since 2009 being a passive consumer of wonderful information with some occasional comments and likes. But after all this years it’s time to make my very first instructable. Yes, never it’s too late to begin and I’m ready to start showing my stuff.
I’m from Spain and I’m mainly a designer formed as product engineer. Recently I started a new career as a full stack developer. I define myself as an expert amateur. I think I have touched, learned and fixed almost everything with more or less success. I love music in all senses, synthesizers drive me mad, I’m a noob eletronics geek, I love cooking almost everyday, photography, video, drawing, robotics, 3D printing, CNC machining and much more.
Also I apologize for my faulty English grammar and vocabulary skills.
THE BEGINNING: NEEDS, INSPIRATION AND DESIGN THOUGHTS
So after introducing myself let’s begin with this instructable. Everything started in the middle of spring 2016 when my sister was looking for introducing a new event in her wonderful bar in Madrid, the Twist & Shout Bar, a place where strange chupitos (drink shots), party and good vibes are the rule, with themed and seasonal parties all the year long, events like weekly trivial and much more.
She was looking for something to fill a day of the week with a new activity. Then is where I came with the idea of making two giant NES controllers for her bar. The inspiration came directly from the user thisissafety and his Giant NES Controller instructable. With this my sister agreed to make two of them and have a new weekly event on her bar: The Video Game Afternoon.
So with the confirmed intention I started to adapt the instructable from thisissafety to the needs that had to be covered. I have to say that, like almost any other thing I make, this is a process full of improvisation. In fact wasn’t intended to be an Instructable. When I decided to write this I didn’t even remember that my sister took some nice photos of the beginning of the process, so part of the merit of this instructable itself it’s also for her. Literally yesterday I went to the bar and I took some detail photos of one of the controllers. Also in some moment of 2017 when the controllers were officially released I took some good photos of them in the bar, but for some reason the metadata of the photo files have a date of 2015 (OMG).
In the thisissafety's design I loved so much the pivot system of the cross control, it was simple but elegant and effective, solved with that ball joint bolt. The problem was that that precise piece wasn’t easy to find in Spain, at least in that time, so I decided to look for an alternative. Instead of looking on Internet I went to some local hardware stores in Madrid to find inspiration. In the second one I visited I saw the perfect solution: a ball spherical drawer handle with a diameter of 18mm (never forget your caliper when you are looking for parts); cheap smooth and shiny golden.
For the controllers I simply looked for the cheapest ones I could find online, and for 3.99€ each bought 4 SNES like controllers. Why SNES controllers? Because those was cheaper than the USB NES ones, and in the wiring round the only problem to solve were going to ignore some buttons. Those had buttons with a very poor quality to be used as they came, but good enough to drill some holes and use their boards in the project.
So with the two basic problems solved I started to take measures of a real controller and porting it to a CAD software. With that action I designed part of the system, letting other aspects to solve them on the go. The result of this were a 1:1 scale blueprints to use as template on the buttons/electronics (wood) board, and a template to cut out the buttons and the cross holes. Also I decided to draw in Inkscape the graphic design of the NES controller using a NES like font to put the name of the bar and order a print of two giant stickers with the design of the controller as it was going easier to make, clean and in case of damage, change them easily.
For the buttons, cross and other pieces of the controllers the idea was to use a blueprint as reference with the needed measures which I was going to delineate directly over the wood.
All the buttons are simply placed over the switches and there it's no other support than the top bottom cover and the buttons itself. They work fine, it's just a little tricky to open and close the lid, but nothing too hard, and you can mark the shapes to make easier this. Or even put a cord from the bottom part of the buttons tu te bottom of the top cover can be more useful.
This parts were going to consist on a stack of three layers of same kind of 1.5cm plywood. It’s form its intended to get stuck under the top wood board.
You can find all templates, blueprints and stickers on this step.
BILL OF MATERIALS PER CONTROLLER AND TOOLS
- 770x320x5mm plywood
- 900x1150x15mm plywood From this plank you will obtain:
- Two 800x350mmx15mm planks for top and bottom controller box covers
- Two 800x80x15mm planks for rear and front controller box sides
- Two 320x80x15 planks for left and right controller box sides
- Two 800x50x15mm planks to cut out spacers
- One 156x156x15mm plank for cross controller lower plate
- Two 136x136mm planks for mid and top controller plates
- Three 40x40x15mm squares for the pivot base stack
- One 326x156x15mm plank to cout out the A/B and Select/Start buttons parts
- 1x Ball Drawer handle, 18mm diameter, 20mm height
- 2x (or 3) soft closing hinges
- 1 Cylinder key lock
- About 16 30x3mm wood screws ( Optional if glue, but recommended)
- 16 10x3mm wood screws for 2 hinges
- 2x four-pounged M8 steel nut
- 2x M8 60mm screws
- 1x Metal base or something to make a base for the controllers
PAINT AND GLUE
- Woodworking glue
- Hot glue
- Gray Paint for the box
- Red paint for the buttons
- Black Paint for the cross and select/start buttons
PRINTABLE AND EDITABLE
- Button board template
- Top cover template
- Sticker for top cover design
- Blueprint and cut order diagram (see attachments)
- 1x USB controller with at least a cross controller and 4 buttons (SNES or NES like ones recommended, important it must have access to metal terminals in buttons, no matter if directly under rubber pad or in the legs of the integrated circuit)
- 8x Push button switches like these
- Some red 0.5mm red and black rigid cable
- A 9 connection contact block
- Solder tin
- Circular or manual saw to cut rectangles, squares and straight lines
- Manual or electric jigsaw to cut details
- A Dremel to with a circle guide and with milling bit and carving bit
- A hand drill for the screw holes with a 3mm drill bit.
- A column drill with a drill with the same diameter of the spheric handle drawer or the pivot of your choice.
- Hand or electric sander with some sand paper
- Exacto knife or scalpel to cut stickers
- A 1mm drill bit to make holes in the USB controller board.
- A soldering iron
- Screwdrivers and other common tools
- Paint brush
- Hot glue gun
- Dust mask and glasses
- Ventilated area
- Patience with your neighbours in both directions
Step 1: Cutting Wood
So with almost everything ready to begin, at a warm afternoon nap time (the time of a nap that can be between 15 minutes and 2 hours for a lot of people in Spain) I started to cut out the main boards with my circular saw mounted in a table on my parent’s garden.
What could happen after only 15 minutes of harmonic, efficient and peaceful circular saw sound? Well, a neighbour woke up very angry from his nap and shouted and insulted me ( he loves to build horrible bird jails and also makes a lot noise in hours that may be annoying for others). I told him some serious words. Days after we had a friendly talk and peace came out again. But remember if you are in Spain pretending to use your free time to make something noisy, be careful with neighbour’s naps. (See diagram above).
The process of straight cut can be more efficient if you follow the cut order in the diagram above
To cut the A and B buttons I used the Dremel circle guide. You have to drill the center of the circle, but there is no problem as you can use the non drilled side to put it on the top of the stack.
For the select and cross plates I used an electric jigsaw.
Step 2: Glue Buttons Pieces and Pivot System
With the buttons and cross plates cutted out it’s time to glue all the levels of each piece. You can see the result above with 4 years of difference since this process was achieved.
Once it has dried it’s time to make the pivot base of the cross control. The measures will vary depending on the kind of spherical pivot you found. It’s important to make this part first because the dimensions of the pivot will vary as there are tons of different spherical drawer handles. You must calculate with the ideal fitting of the top hemisphere introduced into a the bottom side of the cross.
In this case the height of the handle was 20mm, so I was so lucky because with a stack of three 15mm plywood squares the total height of 65mm was good enough to reach this ideal model.
So with this you can make a drill to fit the ball in the bottom side of the cross piece. The hole must have the diameter of the sphere of the drawer handle and a deep of its half. The drill bit could have a slightly higher diameter. So much better if you can make the hole with the help of a column drill, otherwise a battery drill and a firm procedure will do the job. Don’t worry if it goes too adjusted, a little bit of sanding will make it fit like a glove in your hands ( a glove of your size, obviously). When drilling better drill in little steps and go testing the fitting with the cross and top cover of the controller.
Step 3: Buttons Board
With the help of the button board template you can start by cutting the rectangle and then the holes. You can see in the photo the amazing finish of the center pivot hole, so perfect, so circular ( irony mode off).
The switches holes must be adapted to the diameter of the momentary switches you will use. In my case I used cheap industrial momentary switches. Those ones were made in a poor quality and had to be replaced after about a year or so of use. It’s a good idea to invest on good quality ones if you don’t want to fix them all the time. By other hand this kind of switches (the good quality ones also) gives the controller a very nice feel without needing extra springs or supports, they are strong enough to support the weight of the buttons and cross but they move so well ans back again to rest position when you play with the controller.
As this design was open to improvisation there was not a clear view of the switches board. A simple rectangle and the template of the switches and pivot holes was the base and then after some tests, the final shape will came. After putting the switches in place it’s time to test the shape of the board and its relation with other parts of the controllers, like: Where the cable will be? Where the board? Where the holes for hanging the controllers when they are not in use? And most important, where and how many spacers will be needed to mount the board taking into account that must support the hits and pushes over the controller?
You can see the answer to this questions in the photos of one of the finished controller that I’ve made yesterday.
Step 4: Controller Box Assembly
First, as I did, you have to mount the front, rear, left and right planks over the bottom board. You can use screws, glue or both better. I you use screws the best procedure it’s to first drill the holes, then glue and screw.
After you can start by adding the hinges. The best way here it’s to start fixing the hinges into the top board. Use a piece of 15mm plywood as a guide and with the hinges in closed position, use this guide as reference as it were the front panel. You can see the diagram above to get an idea.
Then with the hinges closed you will see that it’s easy to figure out the final position in the hinges respect the front panel, as the top part of the hinges should be coplanar with the bottom side of the top board.
Step 5: Spacers
The design of the spacers it’s simple but effective. For this design, the spacers have a height of 50mm. The rule to find their position is that spacers must support the edgess of the board and each switch on the board at least from two opposite sides.
You can see the approach in the photo below. Each button have at least two spacers surrounding. You can even see marks in the bottom that represents the switches holes. You can use the button board itself as template to mark this points and leaving some free space you can put the spacers in a very simple way. In my case the spacers were fixed with hot glue.
Step 6: Sanding and Carving
It’s time to sand. But before you must cover the defects and/or screw holes with some kind of wood wax or wood repairing paste. For sanding you can use any kind of sanding tool to do this. We decided to sand all the top external edges from the top and the lateral ones until got them rounded. Also we sand a little bit the shape of the buttons holes. And of course we sanded all surfaces that were going to be painted.
In engineering Spanish jargon we call this process ‘to kill the edges’ (Matar las aristas). Also all the touchable edges from buttons were exterminated.
The details of the cross pad were patiently carved by my sister with a Dremel.
Step 7: Electronics
The process of adapting the board of the USB cheap SNES controller sadly it’s not photographic documented, but it’s easy to achieve. This controller are so cheap because the they are made with a drop chip (I don’t know the real name but it's like a drop of plastic instead a normal rectangular encapsulation of good quality chips where you can see the pins). Fortunately the contact board had metallic contacts instead of black graphite like ones.
So the technique here is to locate the ground (negative) and positive terminals on each button contact on the PCB. The ground ones will show continuity from one to any other on a polymeter using the continuity function, usually marked with a speaker symbol. It will beep when there is continuity. You can see the diagram above, that is so much better than my verbal explanations.
After locating ground contacts, you can drill one 1mm hole in one or two common contacts of the PCB and then solder a cable that will pass through all of one of the two pins from each contact switches, as shown in the connection diagram above.
For the positive terminal of the switches you must drill one hole in the contact board and solder there a cable that must reach the other free pin of each correspondent switch.
I decided to use a terminal block to connect the board cables to the switches, it’s not necessary, but it will help to have cables in order and not hanging directly from the board. Also I used Faston terminals to solder there the wires coming from the block, so change the switches, as we had to do it’s an easy task.
At this point it’s a good idea to test the button board.
Step 8: Painting and Stickers
We decided to use brush paint instead of spray. Why? The precise gray color for the controllers that was available at the store wasn't a spray. Also it’s easier to apply a thick layer of paint, as we needed to cover the rough borders of the porous sides of this poor quality plywood.
After paint it’s dry it’s time work the sticker. First you have to cut out the shape of the sticker with the help of an exacto knife, scalpel or some kind of sharp cutter (not scissors please).
There is a fun fact with the name of this kind of tool, because ‘exacto’ literally means ‘exact’ in Spanish. And in Spain we call that kind of tool ‘cúter’ a phonetic derivation of English word ‘cutter’. What a curious language exange.
For cutting it’s good if you use the help of a big rule for the exterior and straight cuts, but for the inside ones you will have to be precise like a surgeon, as there are round edges to cut. Don’t forget to use a wood under the sticker or even better a cutting map, not only will save your table but also will make easier the process. You can see me with a wild no-haircut and a three day beard, What times.
Step 9: Finishing Touches
With almost everything done there are some things to solve. The idea was always to use the controllers while standing up, but the controllers should be hanged in the walls while not in use. We could find in a big hardware store the perfect support in functional and aesthetic way; a grey metal stands with prepared holes, firm and light.
To remove the stands easily I used four-pounged steel nuts, only two for each controller, diagonal placed in the bottom. Sadly I don't have detalied photos from the supports appart that you can see in finished controller photos, as the supports were thrown away during Madrid lockdown, as they were stored on a community storage that was emptied to reform.
The last holes to practice over the bottom were two holes to hang the controllers with the help of hooks and the USB cable hole, that can fit the cable when they are hanged.
Also a cylinder key lock was added to the controllers.
Step 10: Result and Final Thoughts
Finally, almost a year later, on April 2017 the controllers were officially released. I made some photos with my DSLR and you can see the result.
I think that the best use for this controllers, more than play one player in each controller, it’s to play two players per controller. Any game became a two player collaborative game. To play Super Mario Bros in this way it’s all a new challenge. And play 2 vs 2 in Mario Bros or Joust it’s also very fun.
About making an instructable for first time, well... As I mention, whem I desgined and made this controllers the idea of making an instructable was not in my mind, Even my initial intention was to made it with so much less information and photos, but when my sister's photos appeared, it was a must to try to do the best.
I know this instructable may be too extense and lacks some photos and, but I tryed to give it a touch of humor and some diagrams tryng to give a good guide. For my next instructables I'll try to be more concrete, but this is what it is.
Thank you so much for reading,I hope you have enjoyed.
I'm open for comments.
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