How to Convert a NES Game Cartridge Into an External Hard Drive




Have you ever wanted to turn that old boring looking hard drive into something unique and stylish? This instructable is just the thing you're looking for! This tutorial will show you how to turn an old Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game into a portable hard drive.

Completing this project will cost roughly $50 and will consume about 2 hours of your time.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

To complete this project you will need (from left to right in picture):

1. Coarse Sand Paper - $1-$2 found at Home Depot
2. NES Game Cartridge - $5 on EBay
3. External Hard drive (WD HD320 GB) - $40-$100 depending on capacity (must be thinner than 0.5")
4. Small Flathead Screwdriver - $1-$3 found at Home Depot
5. X-Acto Knife - $1-$2 found at Hobby Lobby
6. Box Cutter - $2-$3 found at Home Depot
7. Super Glue - $2-$3 found at Hobby Lobby
8. Needle Nose Pliers - $5-$20 found at Home Depot

Step 2: Cartridge Disassembly

Steps 2 -4 will guide you through the disassembly of the game cartridge.

Using flathead screwdriver, remove screws from the backside of the cartridge

***Tip - Some games have different types (security or flathead) or numbers of screws (anywhere from 3-5). For this game we had only 3 screws which were all flathead.***

Step 3: Cartridge Disassembly

Pop both fastening tabs apart

***Tip - Some games will have 5 screws instead of the two top tabs***

Step 4: Cartridge Disassembly

Once all screws have been removed, split the two pieces of the cartridge has shown in the picture, also remove the internal circuit board (outlined in picture) from the left half of the cartridge.

****Tip – Be careful with the circuit board, if the game was not damaged the circuit board can still be used.***

Step 5: Hard Drive Disassembly

Steps 5-9 will vary from user to user depending on the hard drive purchased. The device used in this tutorial was a Western Digital 320 GB hard drive and costs around $40 new.

Step 6: Hard Drive Disassembly

Use flathead screwdriver to pry open both sides of the protective casing

***Tip - Each hard drive is different, for the one we used, use moderate force when prying, if you see the plastic casing flex and begin to stretch and turn white, use less force.***

Step 7: Hard Drive Disassembly

Once the hard drive is release from the outside casing, the hard drive and the black surrounding piece should slide easily out of the grey casing

Step 8: Hard Drive Disassembly

Remove hard drive from its surrounding black plastic casing and the 4 rubber pads (see picture). Also set aside 2 of the rubber pads for reassembly.

Step 9: Hard Drive Disassembly

Slide the metal casing away from the hard drive.

Step 10: Cartridge Modification

Steps 10 -17 will be performed in order to ensure that the hard drive fits properly into the game cartridge. Be careful of plastic shrapnel!

With the X-Acto knife and box cutter, remove all the plastic tabs in the yellow boxes

***Tip – Other tools can be used such as Dremmel and hot powered knifes, for this set of instructions we believed the more basic the better.***

Step 11: Cartridge Modification

With the X-Acto knife, remove the right peg (keep this piece for reassembly) and the center screw hole, keep this piece for reassembly (see picture).

Step 12: Cartridge Modification

Using the coarse grit sand paper, sand the surfaces where plastic was removed to a smooth finish.

*** Tip – You do not have to sand everything flat, this just helps with fitting.***

Step 13: Cartridge Modification

Position the hard drive at the right edge of the cartridge (see picture).

Step 14: Cartridge Modification

Once you have the hard drive in the best fit position, next make two marks on the side of the game casing where you will make the cuts for the USB connector

***Tip- To ensure the best fit, measure the height of the USB connector and measure that distance down on the case to allow for the right amount of clearance***

Step 15: Cartridge Modification

Once cut, set the hard drive into the game and check for fitment issues.

***Tip – The fine grit sand paper works well here, as it takes little material off and cleans up the finished cut.***

Step 16: Cartridge Modification

Prepare the two plastic pegs to help support the hard drive

***Tip - Be careful with the super glue as you can glue your fingers together***

Step 17: Cartridge Disassembly

Pop both fastening tabs apart

***Tip - Some games will have 5 screws instead of the two top tabs***

Step 18: Cartridge Reassembly

With the hard drive finally mated with the backside of the game cartridge, all that is left to do is reattach the front face.
Using the small flathead screwdriver, re-install two screws from the disassembly process. The third screw will no longer fit due to the presence of the hard drive inside.

Step 19: Cartridge Assembly

The side should look similar to this when completed.

***Tip - The top piece may need some light sanding for proper fitment.***

Step 20: Enjoy

Plug your mini USB to USB cord in and start saving away!

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Multi-Discipline Contest

      Multi-Discipline Contest
    • Robotics Contest

      Robotics Contest

    18 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Make sure you don't use a rare or valuable NES cartridge unless you don't mind making the other copies rarer and more valuable or want an expensive external hard drive.


    7 years ago on Step 20

    thanks for the instructable!!! I didn't go out the side like you did, but still, an awesome idea!

    Please don't do that to working games. And with working games i mean proper games. Pirate games like Action 52 and Cheetahmen II can die since they don't work.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    omg somewhere i have a banch of NES catridges....Also liked very much the blue frame of the images.......

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 20

    The harddisk drive is creating heat. That container are not reducing the heat. But it still a nice idea. Keep creating

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 20

    I have this Hard Drive and it produces almost no heat. Also, the stock case is just a piece of plastic to protect the HD. I love this instructable, I have been looking for ways to mod my HD. Thanks.


    7 years ago on Step 20

    Great idea, and very simple to create it ! Thx


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Try to get a smaler drie and find a way to makeit soyou can still play the game and keep it an external drive

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    sorry bro, but as of right now, unless you get a flash disk drive, there are no smaller drives on the market. the 2.5" internal laptop drive (as pictured) is the smallest hard drive commercially available. but i really like your idea. maybe sometime in the near future we may see something smaller come to pass. then i would definitely jump on the dual use that you'd suggested!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I noticed the Wizards & Warriors game, too! That game was sweet but the sequels were also pretty sweet.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    i almost wonder if a SNES or N64 might be a better size. I have a FFIII case!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable, photos were awesome. I agree, it's very a unique and stylish way to store data, but I'd like to add that it's also an easy way to hide data in plain sight! One could even go as far as to say it might help prevent theft! As long as it's unplugged, it doesn't appear too valuable to the average person.

    +1 for implementing fun, style, economy, and safety. Given the materials required, this project is easy, clever, cheap, and provides multiple functions. I think the cartridge might even be of a heavier grade plastic, giving the hard drive a little more durability when traveling!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Not the NEs Game!

    Kidding, get a broken game and go for it, this is pretty neat