Igor's Blog

Raspberry Pi is a great project computer, it's cheap ($35), runs Linux (or Risc OS) and has lots of resources available aroudn it.

When mine arrived, I didn't really know what to use it for, but then it hit me: I can build an emulator box for all the NES and SNES games that I loved to play as a child.

The goals for this project were:
  • Build an emulator box to play NES/SNES games
  • Use the original NES case
  • Use the original NES controllers

I picked up a non-working NES from eBay, it came with two controllers and a game. So much for the game, it will be of no use, but the rest is what I needed. The NES is really easy to take apart and just uses standard screws.

Here it is taken apart.

The power and A/V connectors were attached to the main circuit board block, it was a bit of a pain to pull them out and a part of the PCB got damaged in the process. No big deal on the damage, I didn't need the whole PCB intact.

I desoldered all of the components on the A/V PCB so that I can solder in my own wiring later.

The front panel with the on/off and reset buttons and the on LED is removed. I added single pin Dupont connectors on all of the wires except for the power button, there I soldered on single pin headers. The idea with the power button is to have the pins plug into the wiring I will have running from the power socket and either close the circuit or not.

Testing out some of the connections.

Everything from the front panel screwed back into place and connected.

A quick test and the LED works! I did have to splice in a 10K resistor in the LED wiring. This should be visible on the white wire above, the resistor is mostly covered by heat shrink.

Some more testing using the USB hub to supply the power to the Raspberry Pi.

I took the USB hub out of its case and soldered in some wiring so it can be connected to the NES power port.

The rest of the external connectors are wired in.

I cut the positive (red) wire from the power port to the USB hub about half way and added the single pin Dupont connectors into it, this is where the power switch plugs in.

The wiring looks like this, the positive wire is basically spliced and the negative wire is left alone:
(+ wire from port)------[###]-----/pwr switch/----[###]------(usb hub)
(- wire from port)-------------------------------------------|

[###] = Dupont connector

The USB hub, A/V block and the front panel all connected and in place.

Testing the connections with the Raspberry Pi.

Continue reading the next part of this post: Raspberry Pi in a NES Case - Part 2 - Connecting the controllers and finishing up


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Short Link: http://kr0m.in/6eu1OBd
Posted by on Tue Jan 8 21:27:00 2013
Tags: [ DIY, Electronics, Modding, RaspberryPi, Games, Console, NES, SNES ]
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acer video conference 5315 on Saturday, March 9, 2013 - 20:32:21 Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do
a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from
this post. I am very glad to see such magnificent information
being shared freely out there.

John Baker on Friday, April 12, 2013 - 06:50:55 Hey, I have a quick question from a total Raspberry Pi and electronics newbie...
Can the NES "Power" button function without the use of the original NES power source. I guess that is to say, can it be wired into a circuit as just a regular open/closed switch?
I'm planning to wire it into a circuit to cut and establish power to the Raspberry Pi, and I just wanted to know if that's something that's possible without too much difficulty.

ikromin on Friday, April 12, 2013 - 14:36:39 Hi John, the power and reset buttons are on a separate board and can be used without the original power supply. It's just a normal push button (push on, push off). It's pretty straight forward to figure out where to solder your wiring into on that board since it only has two switches and a LED.

Nav Nav on Monday, June 10, 2013 - 10:41:56 I wanna wire the LED to light up as well. I'm pretty much basing my project off of John's. (If anyone hasn't seen it definitely check out his reddit post.) You say you used a 10k resistor on the white wire. Looking at my local radio shack I see 2 kinds. 10k ohm 1/4 watt and 10k ohm 1/2 watt. Which is the correct one? also could you point out which gpio pin you plugged it to?

ikromin on Monday, June 10, 2013 - 16:26:03 You can clearly see which pins it is plugged into in one of the photos above, it's the +3.3V and the GND pin, which are pins 1 and 6. A 1/4W resistor should do, there is not much current running through there.

Nav Nav on Monday, June 10, 2013 - 18:36:27 Thank you. Also great job on yours. It looks amazing

ikromin on Monday, June 10, 2013 - 21:25:28 Thanks, glad you like it :)

Anomnomnom on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 10:43:04 Simple question, do you run into issues with trying to play snes games with only 2buttons?

ikromin on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 13:39:08 Yep, it was not playable like that so I've converted SNES controllers to plug into the NES ports: http://www.igorkromin.net/index.php/2013/02/15/converting-a-snes-controller-to-connect-to-a-nes-controller-port/

Paul on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 15:36:57 What raspberry pi do you need to build this? The double USB w/ LAN port or with just 1 USB port and no LAN? Also, could you send exact instructions to me for this? I want to try this with my nes too.

ikromin on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 16:45:27 I used the model B, although the model A should work too, you really do need the 512Mb or RAM though. This is as close as you will get with instructions sorry, I suggest you get one of these and go for it, improvise and improve on what I've done, it's a learning experience :)

Hugh on Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 03:14:04 Awesome project, preparing to do a build based off this. I just have a couple of questions:
1. Am I right in assuming that your reset button resets the raspberry pi? Do you have another way to get back to the emulator menu? If so, how do you do it? I assume you don't reset the entire device every time you want to play a different game.
2. How do you perform a controlled shutdown? I am assuming just cutting the power to turn off the pi all the time isn't necessarily good for your SD card, but I could be wrong, I really have no experience with this sort of thing.


ikromin on Monday, October 21, 2013 - 15:00:24 Thanks :) The reset button is connected to the Raspi reset pins, so yeah it will hard reset the CPU. To get back to the emulator menu I used a broken keyboard and wired one of the keys to a push button inside the case. The emulator has an option to do a controlled shut down, just press Start and select shut down.

T on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 02:52:54 Nice project !
How can you quit the current emulator and go back to roms list ? you need a keyboard, right ?
Do you RasberryPi shutdown properly when you press the Power button on the nes ?

Thanks for your help !

ikromin on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 13:53:32 I've answered the question about going back to the emulator in a comment just above. Regarding the power button, that just kills the power, so you have to shut down properly first, I didn't add anything to automate this, although that would be cool to work on.

JiveTurkey on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 06:07:54 I hope you still check this, but I had a question about the wiring of the power and reset button. I can tell you added the two pins to add the reset option, but cannot tell exactly what pin all the wires are going to. Anyway you can update where each color goes and if you added a wire to go to another location. Also just to verify, you added a 10k resister to just the white wire? Thanks in advance.