Introduction: Turn a Super NES Into a Universal Game Player

About: Vigo is an electronics enthusiast with a passion to bring back the nostalgia of the past. His goal is to share major projects that anyone can follow and do, especially those on a tight budget.
Don't you wish you had a system that could play all your favorite games from the past? Mario? Sonic? Gauntlet? Yes!

Well with this magic system you can play all your favorites on a 4-player system that uses authentic Super Nintendo Control Pads. It has the capability to play games from NES, Super NES, N64, Neo Geo, Gameboy Advance, Commodore 64, Sega Genesis, arcade games and more! It is cartridge free, and plugs into any TV with HDMI. Take it to any friends house, because this puppy is very portable! The secret is there is a mini computer inside of the Super NES that runs whatever classic games you choose.

I started with just an old Super Nintendo, and with about $200 and some time on my hands, I was able to turn it into pure gaming gold. You can do the same thing as well, just follow this instructable!

This console is:
• 4 player and super portable - have a gaming party at anyone's house!
• Cheap to build
• Able to use authentic SNES controllers (4 player with additional wireless controllers.)
• Solid State, no moving parts
• Cartridge-free! Store all your games on a SD card.
• Can be used in Modern TV's even if your real Nintendo is cannot be accepted by your TV.
• Going to make all your friends jealous   ^_^

Check out a demo of the player right here:

The emulators I use are all 100% free. Keep in mind if you build your own player, it should be used for games that you legally own.

Step 1: Everything You Will Need

OK, before we begin, there are a few basic skills you need to complete this project:

• Basic soldering skills
• A bit of computer know-how (Installing operating systems, emulators, tweaking computer settings)
• Some Mechanical know-how as well (Putting together computer components)

Here are the tools you will need

• Screwdriver set
• Glue gun
• Soldering gun, solder removal gun
• A thin 4mm socket (for removing those pesky Nintendo screws)
• A cresent cutter.
• SD Card Reader
• Keyboard and Mouse

Here is the parts you will need, see the photo for details on each item below:

• An old Super Nintendo with controllers
• A mini ITX Motherboard with processor (Must have HDMI output, have an external power supply, and must be no more than 4 cm high) I personally used a ZOTAC IONITX-C-U. The nice thing about the Zotac is that it does not get hot enough to need a cooling fan.
• Stick of RAM for the computer
• SD Card SATA Solid State Hard Drive
• 16 GB SD Card (goes in the solid state drive)
• USB Super NES dual port controller adaptor
• HDMI Cable and HDMI adaptors
• 2 Cherry microswitches
• Some standard internal computer cables
• Some wire and solder
• (Optional) 1 or 2 wireless dual shock style controllers if you want 3-4 players (These are also needed to play N64 games)
• Speaker grating for cool ventilation.
• 4 philips head 1/2 inch machinery screws for putting everything together.
• Windows XP or other operating system

Step 2: Take Apart the Old Super NES

1) To take apart a Super NES, you must remove the four screws underneath the system. Now these screws have special security heads that would normally require a special screwdriver. I did find that a 4mm thin socket will do the trick in removing these screws.

2) Once the Super NES is open, unscrew and remove all the "innards". The only things that will be kept is the case shell, the power and reset switches, the back port plate and the front controller port plate.

3) Cut away all unneeded plastic from the inside. From the top half, cut the inside plastic away from the eject button. From the bottom half, cut all plastic from the bottom center of the case.

4) Your Super NES case is empty and waiting to be filled. If your old SNES is one of those that turned a really nasty yellow, now is the time to paint it if you like. This is only an optional, cosmetic step...I personally left mine unpainted. There are some great console painting instructables out there if you choose to paint!

Step 3: Put Together the Controller Port

Here we will take apart the USB Super NES controller adapter and solder it to the original controller port.

1) Open up the adapter by removing the screw from the bottom.

2) With a desoldering iron, remove the solder points from each pin of the controller port. The ports should come off. There will be 7 pins for player 1 and 7 pins for player 2.

3) Take the controller port from the Super NES. On the back side will be a green circuit board. Desolder the two rows of 7 pins and the green board will come off.

4) After you take the green board off, desolder the red LED light. This can be attached to the computer later as it's power light.

5) Solder 3-4 inch wires to the leads on the SNES port.

6) Keeping the wires in the same order as the pins on the USB adapter, solder the wires carefully to the adapter circuit board. Each player has a section of 4 leads, followed by 3 leads.

7) Hot Glue the circuit board on the groove of the Super NES controller port. Also, the red LED gets placed on the port as well after you have soldered some computer case wire to it.

Step 4: Add Switches and Vents, and Hard Drive

Now it is time to add those little things that are necessary before we start mounting in the guts.

1) Solder the microswitches to computer case powering wires, then hot glue the switches on the top of the case as pictured above.

2) Cut the speaker grating to the shape of the holes on the top of the case. Hot clue the grating right onto the case.

3) Hot glue the Hard drive to the top of the case as well. It is light and will not move.

Step 5: Put the Guts in the Case!

Now everything will come together. It's just a matter of carefully assembling the components.

1) Before you mount anything into the bottom half of the case, be sure to test it out to make sure everything fits properly. This will be trial and error until you find a good method to fit everything.

2) Hot glue the motherboard in place, If you are good with using motherboard mounting screws, you can used these as well.

3) Screw the DC power plug of the motherboard into the back panel.

4) Hot glue one of the HDMI adapters to the hole for the multi out. If there is any gaps, just fill it with hot glue.

5) With your remaining HDMI adaptors, feed the area from the port to the motherboard HDMI slot.

6) Plug the USB Super NES controller adapter to one of the USB ports and and place the port back on the front of the Super NES.

7) If you have wireless controllers for player 3 and 4, plug the wireless receivers in.

Congrats! You are now finished with the physical build. Now it is time to load in all the computer applications and games!

Step 6: Load in Operating System and Games

It's time to get digital! Your console now needs an operating system and applications.Plug your keyboard and mouse into usb ports on your system. You will be keeping these in until you have everything set the way you want it.

1) Install your operating system. I have attached instructions below on the process for installing Windows XP using a computer and an SD card reader.

2) Now with the operating system up and running, you are free to get all the games, emulators and application you want. The easiest way to load these games on your hard drive is by taking out the SD card and plugging it into your computer with the SD card reader. Just drag and drop all the games and emulators in a folder on your SD Card. You are free to put whatever games and emulators you choose on the card, but they need to be games that can be mapped to your controllers. See the appendix attached to step 8 for my recommended emulators.

Step 7: Roll Up All Your Games and Emulators Into a Frontend

You got your games, but you want to access all your games easily using your Super Nintendo controllers. This can all be done with an interactive application launcher called a frontend. There are many out there to choose from. I reccomend MaLa because it is free and easy to use.

1) While you still have all your SD Card plugged download and copy over a frontend. You download get MaLa from You can now plug your SD card back into your SD card hard drive and boot up your video game player.

2) Boot up MaLa (or your Frontend of choice) and it will take you to the initial set up process. You can go to the options screen and browse for all the your emulators that you will be using.

3) Go to the controller options and set the controls to be read from your Super NES controller. When you hit OK, you can now access your games from using your gamepad.

4) In the options screen be sure to also to check the "Start with Windows" box. Everytime you turn on your system, it will be load up your frontend.
5) You can customize your frontend to look however you want. Check out the appendix on step 8 for some great resources on customizing your frontend . Otherwise, you are done with the set-up.

6) You can unplug your keyboard and mouse and close up your system. I recommend if you are going to screw together you Super NES, use a different set of screws that have a regular head, just so you don't have to bother with those Nintendo screws anymore! I recommend using 1/2 inch machinery screws to close your system.

Step 8: You Are Ready to Play!

You should now have everything you need to plug and play in any HDMI TV.
• Your Super NES Video Game Player
• The power supply (It comes with the motherboard).
• HDMI Cable
• 2 Super NES controllers
• (Optional) Player 3 and 4 controllers

You can now enjoy endless gaming fun!

If you are interested in seeing a quick startup demo of my Super NES player, check out this video:

Finally, I would like to provide an Appendix to provide a little more support if things get confusing. This includes a helpful FAQ, some recommended emulators and some great resources to help you along. challenge

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