Nintendo Switch: How to Debounce Your NES Controller’s Buttons for Use in Arduino Projects

Introduction: Nintendo Switch: How to Debounce Your NES Controller’s Buttons for Use in Arduino Projects

If you need to use several switches on your next Arduino Uno project get rid of the pushbuttons and use a classic NES controller to free up 5 digital pins - Build a "Nintendo Switch".

My Instructable will show you how to make a simple circuit to run 8 switches to control 8 LEDs separately using only 3 digital pins for the switches - The 4021 8-bit shift register IC in the controller makes this possible (read more about it in Step 5 of my Nintendo Remote Control Instructable).

This quick project is a continuation of my previous Light Switch Instructable however I have modified the sketch, making the code consistent by referring to all button states as 0s or 1s - 0 = button pressed (LOW) ( as in a usual pushbutton switch with a pull-up resistor ) and 1 = button released (HIGH).

Step 1: Equipment

  • Classic NES controller
  • Arduino Uno
  • Breadboard
  • 8 x LEDs
  • 8 x 330Ω resistors
  • 9 x Jumper wires
  • USB cable
  • Computer with Arduino IDE
  • Power supply

Step 2: Make the Circuit

  • Red wire from Arduino +5V to NES Controller Pin 7 (+5V)
  • Black wire from Arduino GND to NES Controller Pin 1 (GND)
  • Orange wire from Arduino D2 to NES Controller Pin 2 (Clock)
  • Yellow wire from Arduino D3 to NES Controller Pin 3 (Latch)
  • Green wire from Arduino D4 to NES Controller Pin 4 (Data)
  • Black wire from Arduino GND to - Rail Breadboard
  • Red wire from Arduino D5 to Anode of first LED
  • 330Ω Resistor from Cathode of first LED to - Rail
  • Orange wire from Arduino D6 to Anode of second LED
  • 330Ω Resistor from Cathode of second LED to - Rail
  • Yellow wire from Arduino D7 to Anode of third LED
  • 330Ω Resistor from Cathode of third LED to - Rail
  • Green wire from Arduino D8 to Anode of fourth LED
  • 330Ω Resistor from Cathode of fourth LED to - Rail
  • Blue wire from Arduino D9 to Anode of fifth LED
  • 330Ω Resistor from Cathode of fifth LED to - Rail
  • Purple wire from Arduino D10 to Anode of sixth LED
  • 330Ω Resistor from Cathode of sixth LED to - Rail
  • Grey wire from Arduino D11 to Anode of seventh LED
  • 330Ω Resistor from Cathode of seventh LED to - Rail
  • Brown wire from Arduino D12 to Anode of eighth LED
  • 330Ω Resistor from Cathode of eighth LED to - Rail

Step 3: The Sketch

The sketch is below - Feel free to modify for your own needs and save some digital pins for other uses (Please note: if you remove millis(), lastDebounceTime[], and debounceDelay you will get unpredictable results) :

#define NUMBER 8 // define number of buttons and LEDs - In this sketch one button controls each LED.

#define nesClock 2 // NES controller clock pin plugs into D2
#define nesLatch 3 // latch pin plugs into D3
#define nesData 4 // data pin plugs into D4
byte controllerData; //8-bit data received from NES controller by Arduino (e.g. B01111111 when RIGHT BUTTON PRESSED)
byte led[] = {5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12}; // LEDs plug into D5-D12
byte ledState[] = {LOW,LOW,LOW,LOW,LOW,LOW,LOW,LOW}; // LEDs are OFF
byte buttonState[] = {1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1}; // 1 = HIGH - No NES controller buttons currently pressed
byte lastButtonState[] = {1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1}; // 1 = HIGH - No buttons were pressed last time around either
long lastDebounceTime[] = {0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0}; // No buttons pressed last time around so last debounce time = 0 milliseconds
long debounceDelay = 200; //200 millisecond debounce delay works well in this sketch
void setup() {
// put your setup code here, to run once:
Serial.begin(9600); // Open serial montior
pinMode (nesLatch, OUTPUT); // LATCH is an OUTPUT pin
pinMode (nesClock, OUTPUT); // CLOCK is an OUTPUT pin
pinMode (nesData, INPUT); // DATA is an INPUT pin
for (byte i = 0; i <8; i++){
pinMode(led[i], OUTPUT); // LEDs are OUTPUT pins
Serial.print("Checking LEDs");
Serial.println(led[i], DEC); // Check D5-D12 and each LED works
digitalWrite(led[i], HIGH);
digitalWrite(led[i], ledState[i]);
void getControllerData(){ //Extract 8-bit data from NES controller
digitalWrite (nesLatch, LOW);
digitalWrite (nesClock, LOW);
digitalWrite (nesLatch, HIGH); //Trigger latch pin
digitalWrite (nesLatch, LOW);
controllerData = digitalRead (nesData);
  for (int i = 1; i <=7; i ++){
digitalWrite(nesClock, HIGH); // Pulse clock pin
controllerData = controllerData <<1; // and bit-shift
controllerData = controllerData + digitalRead (nesData);
delayMicroseconds (4);
digitalWrite (nesClock, LOW);
void loop() {
// put your main code here, to run repeatedly:
for (int i = 0; i < NUMBER; i++){
buttonState[i] = bitRead (controllerData, i); //Look for at state of each button in order
getControllerData(); //Get 8-bit data from controller (e.g. if B01111111 received from control // ler RIGHT button pressed
// e.g. If RIGHT button pressed and last time round RIGHT button was pressed for long enough:
if (buttonState[i] == 0 && lastButtonState[i] == 0 && millis() - lastDebounceTime[i] > debounceDelay){
if(ledState[i] == HIGH){ //e.g. If LED plugged into D5 is ON
ledState[i] = LOW; // Turn it off
Serial.print (led[i], DEC); // See it happen on serial monitor
Serial.println (" is OFF");
ledState[i] = HIGH; //e.g. If LED plugged into D5 is OFF
Serial.print (led[i], DEC); // Turn it on
Serial.println (" is ON");
lastDebounceTime[i] = millis();
digitalWrite (led[i], ledState[i]);
lastButtonState[i] = buttonState[i];
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    2 years ago

    you need to just sell those online I would buy all of them


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks. NES controllers are readily available at pawn brokers for about $AU 9 here in Australia. They’re pretty easy to plug wires into and experiment with and to make the projects yourself.