Make a NES Altoid Controller! (fully Functional)

About: My name is Taylor, I am an electrical repair tech by day and an engineer by night, after work or free time.

after taking apart an NES controller to use its housing as an audio amp enclosure i was left with the circuit board of the controller after a few days i ended up stepping on it and breaking off the dpad :( i almost threw it out but i for some reason decided to repair it and use an altoids can as its enclosure! i figured it would appeal to a lot of people of this website do to the popularity of NES and altoids. if you broke your controller or just want to make an altoids nes controller then you are in the right place! ok now lets get started!
(if you are new to soldering then i would advise getting some practice in before doing this. this requires soldering in small spaces and a steady hand)

Step 1: Things Needed

now before you run off to your local electronics store look around for old outdated electronics to see if you can repurpose some of their componets, like tact switches.

now things needed

altoids tin
NES controller circuit board (plus dpad buttons, a/b buttons)
soldering iron
8 tact switches (desoldered them from an old vcr)
hot glue gun+glue
wire (i used some old ethernet wire)
exacto knife
de soldering iron (optional)
helping hands (optional but really helpful)
super glue
wire strippers. 

i didnt take a picture of the items needed but you will see them throughout this tutorial. 

Step 2: Preparing the NES Circuit Board.

we need to re connect the d-pad to the circuit board using wire, in order to do so you must solder, in order to solder you need to expose the copper of the broken paths. You use an exacto knife for this step, just simply scrape away at the film covering the copper paths, do this until you are certain you can see the copper. 

NOTE; for some reason i seem to have lost the dpad picture with the copper exposed. be sure to expose the copper on that side aswell!!

Step 3: Putting the Board Back Together Using Wires.

after exposing the copper on both parts of the broken board simply apply solder to all the exposed paths (this part can be a little hard ,sometimes the solder wont flow  because you didnt scrape away all the film and failed to expose all the copper just scrape some more and retry) then strip and tin 6 wires ( atleast two and a half inches long), use these wires to reconnect the paths. you need to use somewhat long wire so we can make it fit inside of the altoids tin. after soldering all the wires be sure to inspect them to ensure they are connected and no paths cross by a solder bridge.

Step 4: Making the Board Smaller in Length.

after reconnecting the d-pad to the rest of the board you will need to fold it back and hot glue it to the IC on the back of the circuit board. doing this allows the controller to fit smoothly inside the altoids tin.

Step 5: Preparing the Buttons.

in order to connect the tact switches you need to scrape away the black film over the button connections on the board. scrape away at the black film until you see the shiny copper. scrape all 8 button connections. after exposing the copper apply solder to all the button connections.

Step 6: Altoid Tin Button Layout

this part is by far the easiest, you simply mark where the tact switches will go. the only hard part of this is perfecting the d-pad buttons. after marking where the buttons will go just drill a small hole using a drill bit a little bigger than the button of the tact switches. keep in mind you can have the buttons where ever you like, i used this layout because its similar to the controller layout

Step 7: Hot Gluing the Buttons in Place.

use hot glue to secure the tact switches is place, be sure to secure them in a way where you will have enough room to solder wires without crossing anything.

Step 8: Soldering Wires to the Boards Button Connections.

after doing the tact switch layout step you will now need to run wires from the controller buttons to the tact switches. solder wires to the boards button connections ( 3 inches at least) . the wires will be connected to the tact switches and they will replace the old buttons. 

Step 9: Connecting the Wires From the Controller Buttons to the Tact Switches.

this part looks hard but if you do it button by button then it will be very easy. connecting the dpad buttons first is the easiest in my opinion. simply connect one button at a time, from the board to the tact. make sure you run the wires to the right switch, that can be a little confusing so just mark the buttons on the altoid lid. after soldering do a quick look over to ensure all connections are solid and no unwanted connections are being made.  (i used the diagonal leads of the tact switches to make the connections)

Step 10: Finishing Up! (the Cord)

drill a hole for the cord to run through and reconnect the cord if you disconnected it earlier. I plan on using a plug to connect and disconnect the cord easier but for now i just kept it simple.

Step 11: After the Cord Is Reconnected...

after the cord is reconnected push all of the circuitry inside of the tin (make sure you insulated the tin using electrical tape to avoid shorts) and secure it using hot glue. I recommend testing it before advancing to the next step. after youve tested it and evrything works properly then continue.

Step 12: Just About Finished.

super glue the lid shut. it should look like this (see picture) the cord isnt connected in this picture

Step 13: Making It Official

after all the soldering is done and the controller is sealed up its time to give it that official NES look! just add the stickers (taken from controller) and button covers. Use a very small amount of super glue to secure the button covers in place and you are done!! now its ready to use and show off! i think this is actually more comfortable to hold than the original but i still love the original. Hope this was fun and easy! if you need any help just message or comment :) 



    • Stone Concrete and Cement Contest

      Stone Concrete and Cement Contest
    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest
    • Games Contest

      Games Contest