NES Cartridge 2.5" Hard Drive Enclosure




First of all I have to give credit to cr0ybot and his instructable as that's where I first saw this mod.

This mod is a bit different. I wanted to kept the original look of the cartridge. The only tell sign is the mini USB port on the side.

Tools used:

Hobby drill
Soldering iron
Steel mini saw blade on a screw mandrel
Ruby grinding stone
Steel milling cutter
Modeling knife with flat blade attached
Custom 3.8mm Nintendo screw tool

Parts used:

Manhattan 2.5" IDE Hard drive enclosure
Old 2.5" 60GB IDE HDD (Hard Disk Drive)
NES Airwolf Cartridge

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Step 1: Creating a Custom Tool & Opening the Cartridge

The cartridge is secured with the Nintendo 3.8mm screw. Since I could not get my hands on the specific tool tip I created my own custom tool.

I used a Pilot ball pen cap and with the steel milling cutter made it thinner in order for it to fit into the screw canal. I then used a lighter to soften the plastic and pressed it firmly into the canal, leaving it there for a few seconds to cool. After that the tool is ready for use!

Step 2: Stripping & Modifying Parts

For the IDE to USB converter the circuit board form a Manhattan External Enclosure was used. The circuit itself is glued to a plastic cover. By applying pressure on the glue in the direction of the plastic straps using a modeling knife, the glue snapped off the circuit board releasing the board from the cover.

The board has a DC power input socket, which in this case is not needed as the HDD powers up through USB without the need for external power. The socket was desoldered using the soldering iron.

Step 3: Modifying the Cartridge Casing

Attach the circuit board to the HDD and line it up onto the back part of the cartridge.

Align the setup and note down where you need to carve the plastic in order for the setup to rest into the back part of the cartridge. Then transfer the same marks onto the front part.

Carve using the steel milling cutter and ruby grinding stones.
Wear protective eye gear!

There are several other parts that also need to be carved out in order for the disk to fit into the cartridge.

Step 4: Cutting the Game Circuit Board

In order to stick as close to original look as possible, the game circuit board was kept. The specific board was bigger than other game boards so in order for it to fit, a piece needed to be removed.

Using the mini saw blade, cut the PCB so it fits in the cartridge along with the HDD.

Some circuits boards do not have the extra "row" that needed to be removed, so they might fit in into the cartridge "as is", in which case you will have a working NES cartridge hard drive enclosure!

Step 5: Assembly

Taking the front part, place the HDD into position.

Use a glue gun to glue the game circuit board to the front panel, if needed.

The HDD stays in place. No extra padding is needed.

Screw in only the two bottom screws. The cartridge stays firmly closed even without the middle screw.

On the IDE to USB board there is an activity indicating LED, which will be visible through the plastic next to the USB socket.

Step 6: Enjoy!

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    12 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    What type of hard drive did you use? I know it's 2.5 inches, but is it a disk or solid state?

    1 reply
    bad pixelaHanwell

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Its an old IDE hard disk that I had lying around! You can use whatever you like as long as you can fit the electronics within the case!

    Good luck, and enjoy the built!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I think I'm sorta in love with you right now. I was on etsy and some guys was selling pretty much the exact same thing from $160. But i wanted one soo badly! so why not just make my own?

    1 reply
    bad pixelDavidAreCool

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    no, not this one, but an older cartridge that has a smaller circuit board would fit unmodified into the mod and you'll have a playable enclosure

    nickmhbad pixel

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 6

    Or perhaps a newer game with better memory chips would take up less space?

    9 years ago on Step 6

    nice. I wonder it super mario bros has a small chip? Then I will have a game and hdd all in one :)

    I actually just finished mine.  Used a cheap enclosure from a local junk shop, a new 160 gb laptop drive, a thumb drive and a zelda cartridge from a local game store.  and everything works....surprisingly.  So i can play zelda and have a map up on my laptop so i don't get lost....while my buddy is plugged into the thumb drive playing mario on his laptop.  its actually kind of neat.  i'm gonna make another one tonite to send to my brother overseas.  thanks for the tutorial.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This is great! Every time someone sees my NES HD, they tell me they're going to steal it. So keep an eye on this beauty.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nicely done. I so would do this if I had the talent and the cartridge. Nice instructable, too.

    1 reply