You ever want to do something with those old and broken NES controllers? They seem too valuable to just throw away but once the cord is ripped off they're basically useless unless you can find away to give them new life! I like to combine them with other electronics.
In the past I put mp3 decoders inside of them to turn them into a neat mp3 player but this time I came across this tiny arcade machine that's more of a gimmick than it is playable and decided to take its guts and rehouse it inside of an NES controller. You can play up to four classic games using the NES controllers buttons! Its fun, neat to look at and an interesting project!
For this project you'll need a mini arcade machine and a hopefully broken NES controller. This particular arcade machine set me back around 15 dollars and the NES controller was bought broken with this project in mind.
Unfortunately during the transfer of these images from my camera to my PC some were lost and unable to be recovered. I wanted to share this with you in written form the best I could but all the information lacking from the written form can be found in the video in the next step.
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Step 1: Give the Video a Watch! Its a Bit Long But It Covers a Lot More Than Just These Pictures.
The video goes into more detail about this hack. It also shows how to squeeze more games out of this particular arcade machine.
Step 2: The Initial Modifications
I first took apart the mini arcade machine to see what I was working with. After slimming down the arcade as much as I could mounted the main board on the back of the NES controller board. I then ran all of the controls from the arcade to the controller. I cover all of the wiring in the video. I needed a really small battery to power the nes arcade and lucked out with one I had on hand.
Step 3: Case Modifications and Button Wiring
In the video I explain that you can 'unlock' all the games installed on the mini arcade by closing certain paths that are left open during the manufacturing process. Four games are installed on this arcade machine but only one is used for selling purposes. The game is picked by placing a 0ohm resistor in one of four spots. Shout out to BEN HECK for pointing this out!
In order to take advantage of this I used buttons to select a game to play when powering up the unit. The buttons just close one of the four paths and load the corresponding game. I wanted to keep this as slim as possible so I got creative with my buttons and used a borrowed dome switch segment from an old led remote in combination with thin wires ran through the controller shell. There are five connections involved with the buttons, one for each game and a common connection all the buttons close to. I ran thin copper wire through the shell of the NES controller and placed the dome switch button array over it. Once the dome switch is pressed it closes one of those four game signals to the common connection and loads that game. You could easily use other buttons but I wanted to make it as slim as possible. To keep the thin wires in place I just used my soldering iron to melt some of the plastic around them to stake them in place. The iron was cleaned immediately! All of the thin wires were then ran to a piece of perfboard for more secure soldering later on.
For the case I had to cut out a decent chunk to allow for the screen to fit through, I also made a hole for a power switch,and a micro usb port for charging.
Step 4: The Rest of the Wiring
I wanted to contain as much of the electronics as I could on the back of the NES controller to make wiring easier. I won't be able to show all the progress pictures due to losing them but I can explain the final form as best I can. On the back we have a mess of wires and boards. From the left we have a tiny board that charges and discharges the lithium ion battery. This is called a charge controller and it takes the micro usb 5 volts and safely charges the battery and then safely discharges it. Next to that is the giant 180mah battery, the arcade board and a tiny speaker for sound. All of the wiring is covered in depth in the video. All of the grey wires run down to the button board used for game selection.
Step 5: Close It Up Carefully and Do Your Best to Avoid Having to Open It Up in the Future!
After soldering all the connections I closed the NES controller up and crossed my fingers and hoped everything worked. IT DID. This is by far one of the cleanest NES controller projects I've done in terms of wiring but I don't ever want to open it up again. I hope this inspires you to make something out of an old NES controller and if you do please let me know! I'd love to see what you can make! Thanks for making it this far! I will see you next time!