Drop-in board for NES ROM chip makes cartridge reprogrammable

Here’s the guts from [Dext0rb’s] Super Nintendo cartridge. It’s easy to pick out the dark-colored board which lets him reflash SNES ROMs via USB. We’ve seen this done a number of times, but this is a much cleaner option than hacks that just add a dead-bug-style memory chip.

The board he designed has a double-row of pin headers sized to fit the footprint vacated by the original ROM chip. The board has a mini-USB connector which can be accessed through a hole he cut in the side of the cartridge enclosure. This is in the right place so that you cannot plug it in when it’s being used in the SNES (which would cause damage). The ATmega32u4 chip handles USB connectivity and programs the 32 megabit flash chip which stores the ROM. He’s posted a few articles on the blog portion of his site which you’ll find interesting. We suggest starting with this hardware teaser.

Simple trick for replacing Game Boy cart batteries while retaining game saves

[Adr990] wants to make sure his Game Boy game saves aren’t lost to aging batteries. They’re stored in SRAM with a small coin cell inside the cartridge to keep the memory energized when the game is not being played. But if you pull out the battery in order to replace it the data will be lost in the process. It turns out that you can hot-swap the battery without too much effort. As shown in the video after the break, he disassembled the case of the cartridge, then replaced the battery while the Game Boy is switched on. The edge connector feeds power which will keep the SRAM active while the backup battery is removed. We’re sure this could be done with a bench supply as well, but you’ll need to do your own testing before risking those prized game saves.

The other option is to backup your SRAM before replacing the batteries. We’ve seen an AVR-based cartridge dumper, and also one that uses an Arduino. Both should be able to read and write SRAM data. Continue reading “Simple trick for replacing Game Boy cart batteries while retaining game saves”

Re-manufacturing inkjet cartridges for 3d printing


[Nullset] uses inkjet printer technology for his 3D printing needs. We usually think of hot-plastic printing like the RepRap or Makerbot when we hear about rapid prototyping, but this setup uses a liquid bonding agent to turn powder into a solid structure. Standard inkjet cartridges can be used to precisely place the bonding agent, but it’s hard on the heads and you have to replace them often. [Nullset] is getting pretty good at it, and decided to write a tutorial on the modifications necessary to print with bonding liquid.

At its core, the method injects binder into the cartridge through one port while using a second for drainage. [Nullset] found that the needle fittings used to inflate a basketball work great for this. He drills a couple of holes that the threaded end of the needles fit into. That connection is sealed with some epoxy, and the tubing that delivers the binder is zip-tied to the needles. A bit of purging is necessary to get rid of any old ink, but after the initial flush you’ll be up and running pretty quickly. He figures the whole process can be one in around 10 minutes once you get the hang of it.

Munchausen makes NES a cartridge programmer

What a beautiful image of NES cartridges showing their private parts. These are the raw materials for the Munchausen Flash Cartridge project. A combination of a modified game cartridge and special USB cable makes it possible to program NES cartridges while inside an unmodified console. The cartridge has an added flash chip that is running a bootloader. By connecting a USB-to-NES cable to the second controller port a game image (or custom code image) can be flashed to one of the three game slots on the¬†writable¬†cartridge. The bootloader provides a menu at power-up to select between the three stored images, or can go straight to the previously selected image by holding down A when the console is turned on. There’s even a recovery routine in case of problems. Check out the demo after the break.

One thing we find interesting from the forum thread is a mention that it is technically possible to run code on the NES directly from the PC. That would sure make it easy to perform live chiptunes on NES.

Continue reading “Munchausen makes NES a cartridge programmer”

USB ports hidden inside gaming mouse

[Gigawatts] built a pair of USB ports into his mouse and there’s enough room to plug-in small USB drives and dongles. After seeing Thursday’s storage mouse hack he decided to tip us off about the post.

He started with a Logitech G5 gaming mouse. The wireless version of this mouse has a battery pack, but on the corded version this space is used for a weight cartridge. Since he didn’t really care about that feature he ditched the weights, added a USB hub inside, and positioned the dual ports as seen in the photo. The void is deep enough for the mouse to function normally while hosting medium to small-sized devices. This is a fantastic solution that’s at least as impressive as Apple adding USB ports to a keyboard. We’d love to see it as a factory option.

Update: Video after the break

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PET-Gaming Computer Module

This 64×48 full color LED display goes much further than we expected at first glance. The display is actually a computer with a Zilog eZ80F91 core utilizing an FPGA for the hardware interface. Some nifty applications currently built include mostly games, but there is also visualizations, network file systems, video streaming, and even a MIDI synth.

It originally looked to be more of a console, with controllers, game pads, and cartridges, but the latter ended up not working out. What else would you do with a giant LED display?

Portable Atari the size of a Game Boy

This portable Atari is the result of [Mario’s] toils. The core system is an Atari Flashback 2, an embedded system released in 2005 with several built-in games. The stock titles weren’t enough so [Mario] added a cartridge slot in order to play whichever games he wishes. The case was originally the packaging for an iPod touch so you know it’s sturdy. We also like the free-formed audio amplifier as seen in the work log. Does anyone know if the Flashback 2 has a pause feature?