NESblinky - Nintendo Controller Bike Flasher




About: Daniel Bauen breathes new life into objects that have met their untimely demise in the junk pile.

I saw the "Light Up Your Ride" contest, and I pondered about what could be re-purposed to increase the visibility of my bike, all while hopefully blinding a motorist or two into a fit of retro rage. I happened upon an old broken Nintendo controller, which made me think of all the superfluous NES controller mods I had seen before. This sparked a very dim light in my head. I had yet to see an NES controller bike flasher, and what could be more tacky then modding it with ultrabright LEDs. I felt nausea at the thought, and had to run to the bathroom. After I cleaned up and recomposed myself, I returned to where the NES controller lay motionless and without light, and decided that this would be my entry into the "Blind Everyone Else on the Road with Awesomeness" contest.

To maximize the nausea inducing effectiveness of blinking lights emanating from the icon of a wasted childhood, it's designed to be easy to attach to so much more then your bike. Using velcro straps, you can attach it to just about anything, like your belt, bike seat, seat post, rack, handlebars, arms, ankles, shoes, curly hair, poodles, dogs legs, cats tails, dog collars, wool sweaters, tree branches, steering wheels, other peoples bikes, gerbils, wooden spoons, towel racks, broom handles, shag carpets, monkey bars, bike spokes, lamp posts, rattle snakes, extension cords, christmas trees, babies bottles, shopping carts, iphones, deer antlers, shot guns... I think that may be it, but if you have any more attachment ideas, please post them in the comments.

This also works as an effective theft deterrent. Just the sight of this is guaranteed to break down potential thieves into a fit of laughter (or explosive vomiting), bringing them to the realization that they have chosen the wrong path in life. Of course they will quickly forget once they can see again and notice the nicer bike next to yours.

All seriousness aside though, this is a really bright bike flasher which grabs a lot more attention then the generic rear flashers, and it's more interesting then sticking some LED's in a black project box.

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Step 1: Materials

You may or may not need the following items:
- NES Controller
- 12 Ultra bright LED's. I used 6 red, and 6 yellow. These were purchased off ebay a few years ago, and are really blindingly bright.
- Glue (Super glue slightly dissolves the NES controller plastic, but it's not bad, and actually seems to form a better bond)
- 2 AAA battery holder from Radio Shack
- Double sided velcro straps
- Pants (If you've read this far and still aren't wearing any, please for Instructables sake go put some on, because a little part of me dies inside when pants-less people read my instructables).

- Small phillips screwdriver
- drill with drill bit to make a hole just big enough for the LED's to slide into.

Step 2: Open and Gut

Remove the 6 screws from the back, open the controller, and remove the PCB. Wait, thats not my hair! This was not my controller, and there was a lot of nasty crap accumulated on the inside, hair, toejam, ants, and whatever else you could imagine would be growing in a NES controller. You might want to clean it out... I forgot to.

Step 3: Remove Interior Features

We need to create a flat area for the battery holder to live.

I used some electronics flush cutters to chew away at the plastic. It works quite well.

I also used a dremel tool to flatten out any bumps left by the flush cutter. You could use the dremel tool to cut off everything.

Step 4: Drill Holes for the LEDs

Mark the position of the holes for the LEDs.

For the front holes, I drilled from the inside out to make sure that I avoided walls, and screw bosses.
The holes at the bottom were drilled at a 45 degree angle, straight into the corner. I did this for max visibility from different angles.

For the side holes, 2 holes were drilled straight in at each corner. Then the center hole was drilled at 45 degrees.

Step 5: Glue in the LEDs

The top and bottom row of LEDs are Red, and will be connected together to light up simultaneously.
The left and right side are Yellow LEDs, and will also be connected together.
This will allow the red and yellow LEDs to be flashed separately.

Insert the LEDs into the holes, and glue them in. I started with superglue, but after noticing that it was taking a long time to dry because it was acting as a solvent to the NES controller plastic, I switched to a different type of glue. The superglue seemed to still work ok, it just takes a while to dry. Hopefully I didn't use enough to affect the integrity of the plastic.

I might file the LEDs down closer to the exterior surface, such that they don't stick out quite as far. This will also diffuse the light.

Step 6: Glue the Buttons Back In

Glue the buttons back in. Super glue works well for this. I left out the start and select buttons. The power switch will be installed in the select hole, and the battery holder will cover the start button hole.

Once the glue sets, the red A and B buttons have to be trimmed from the inside to match the flat surface. Use a dremel tool with a cutter bit to cut the buttons down flush with the inside surface.

Step 7: Wire Up the LEDs

The top and bottom row of red LEDs are wired together, and the 6 yellow side LEDs are wired together. This allows the circuit to blink between red and yellow alternatively.

The positive leads are all connected together, and will be connected straight to the positive battery terminal. I plan on using 2 AAA rechargeable batteries which create 2.4 volts. The rated voltage drop of the LEDs I was using is 1.9 to 2.5 volts. Since the supply voltage and LED voltage drop are practically the same, I used the smallest resistors I had, 3.3ohm. A resistor was soldered to each negative lead.

Step 8: Adding the Power Switch

I used a slide switch for the power switch. The sliding paddle was large so I whittled it down to fit in the Select button hole. It extends out just far enough to be able to slide it back and forth with your finger. Works great!

Step 9: Flasher Circuit

I was trying to use the simplest LED flashing circuit I could find. The Flip Flop circuit at the bottom of this page seemed perfectly suited:

However, I did not have the right size capacitors, and could not get any capacitor/resistor combination to work. The circuit below shows the values that I used. This was based from the circuit found here:
If you have any insight on how to make it work, please let me know. Is it because 2.4-3 V is not enough voltage?

I may give these circuit a try:

This circuit is interesting due to it's simplicity and unconventional use of a transistor. However, I do not know if it will work at less the 10V?

I did not have enough time to get the flasher working before I had to leave on a trip, so for now the lights are always on. I will work on the flasher circuit when I return and update the page.

Step 10: Add Velcro or Other Attachment Method

To attach the flasher to stuff like belts, bike seats, bags, racks, bike frame, etc, I chose velcro straps.

It would be easier to use double sided velcro straps, but the only velcro that I had on hand was the sticky back type. So, I cut 2 loop pieces to length, and stuck them to the back of the controller (I also used glue to give it permanent adhesion).

There's about 5mm of space between the edges of the back and where it is stuck down, because I didn't want it to start peeling away from the edge.
Then I cut hook pieces to length to stick to the backside of the loop pieces that were still free.

Step 11: Use It

When you ride, attach it to your: Belt, Bike Seat, Seat Post, Frame, Rack, Bag, Helmet straps, Etc..

You are wearing pants with a belt now right?
If pants-negative, please return to step one.

Step 12: Future Modification

To increase visibility to 360 degrees, I will be making an LED belt similar to this:

The NES flasher will be attached to the belt, providing power to the LEDs on the belt. The belt is strictly a visibility belt, and will provide no pants-holding-up-power what-so-ever. It can be worn on the outside of jackets to compliment the awesomeness of your pink fixed gear bike.

Light Up Your Ride

Participated in the
Light Up Your Ride



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      Indoor Lighting Contest
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      Make It Fly Challenge
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      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

    11 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

     I make one for my motorbike wearable version


    10 years ago on Step 3

    Ugh. You can see the coagulated sweat in the 4 way controller cutout.

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Ya, pretty gross, eh? Not only that, but 20+ years of coagulated sweat. I was disgusted when I opened the controller. Even worse that it's not my own being a yard sale find.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    If anyone needs a controller, check out Great use man, I'm thinking Halloween safety.... Very slick.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks tonnes for the guide. I'm quite proud of mine - I found a really retro switch, so mine looks just that bit cooler... but I guess the blackness of your makes it more authentic. Oh, and I made a belt too. Just cos I'm cool like that.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome, I love the hack. If you make the holes even smaller it will take quite a bit of force to install the LEDs then no glue needed :). Can you use a 555 timer and high power transistor (from a second-hand store r/c car) to blink it?

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Ya, that would work with the right size drill bit, which I didn't have. I really need to buy one of those nice indexed drill bit sets. The problem with a 555 is that it has a minimum operating voltage of 4.5V, so I would have to use more batteries, which wouldn't fit. Ideally I want to use 2AA and just cut a hole in the back for them to stick out and be easy to replace.


    Those are some sweet butt shots if I can say so myself! Also I linked to your LED belt on the last step because I want to make something similar to which this can be added on as the power pack.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This could work as a belt clip on or belt buckle too!