Hacking a PAL SNES to output 50Hz or 60Hz with a single switch

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[Derecho] grabbed a PAL format Super Nintendo but wanted to make it play nicely with a 60 Hertz NTSC screen. His hack added a single switch to choose between 50 Hz and 60 Hz.

Take a look at the image above to see his alterations to the mainboard. The jumpers soldered to the two chips at the top are by far the trickiest part of the project. Each of the pins he soldered to needed to first be lifted from the PCB pad so that they no longer make contact with the etched traces. The technique he used involves heating the pin with an iron, then gently lifting it with a pin or a razor knife/blade. If you’ve got some experience populating SMD boards with a handheld iron this shouldn’t prove too difficult. The rest of the hack involves adding a 3-position switch (along with a 2k2 resistor) to choose between output modes based on what format game is being played.

Retro gaming just in-case

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You can look and look, but you won’t find a Super Nintendo inside of this retro gaming rig. [Webrow] is giving his vintage hardware a rest, and taking this all-in-one game emulator suitcase wherever he goes.

The machine at the heart of his build is of course a Raspberry Pi. You really can’t beat the ubiquitous board for cost, power, and hardware extensibility. An LCD panel from a broken laptop comes along for the ride having been mounted in the lid. For a long time there was no hope for reusing these panels, but [Webrow] found an adapter board (for nearly the same price as the RPi) which converts the DVI from the Pi to the LVDS needed by the screen. The connections and mounting scheme for the screen were where most of the project work was done. Connecting the controllers simply involved soldering some SNES controller sockets to an RPi breakout connector. We do have to compliment him on the red bezel which hides all of the power cords and other unsightly bits. The case look sturdy and ready to play!

Super Nincoffee Jr.

Your morning routine doesn’t include enough old-school gaming. Break the caffeine habit and get your Mario on at the same time with the help of the Super Nincoffee Jr.

[Luigifreakout123] shares the details of the build in the video clip after the break. He starts by revealing that this is the second version he’s made. The first wasn’t a Jr., but instead used a full-sized Mr. Coffee unit. Neither make coffee, but instead serve as an enclosure for the gaming hardware. The on/off switch and original power cable are used to control the electricity to the console. Openings have been cut in the tops and front for a game cartridge and the two controller ports. A composite video and stereo audio cable comes out the back of the machine next to the power cord.

Yeah, it’s super simple, but sometimes that all it takes for a project to be a delight like this one is.

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Interfacing SNES controllers with your Raspberry Pi

This lovely set of wires lets [Florian] connect stock Super Nintendo controllers to his Raspberry Pi. The IDC connector in the upper left plugs into the GPIO header on the RPi rather than going the route of using an intermediary USB converter.

The setup lets you connect two controllers at once, so you’ll have no trouble going head-to-head on Mario Kart as seen in the clip after the break. The ports themselves were pulled from a pair of SNES extension cables. Since button signals are pushed to the console via a shift register there’s just five wires needed for each (voltage, ground, data, clock, and latch). As far was we know the Raspberry Pi pins are not 5V tolerant so you probably want to add some level conversion to this circuit if you build it yourself.

[Florian] wrote a C program which shifts in data from the controllers and converts it to HID keyboard inputs. This should make it extremely flexible when it comes to emulator setup, and using the technique for different styles of controllers should also be pretty easy.

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Overclocking a Starfox game cartridge

Some of our younger readers will never have experienced this before, but back in the day your video games would slow way down if there were too many moving objects on the screen. The original Castlevania comes to mind, but many will remember the problem while playing the fantastically three-dimensional Super Nintendo game Starfox. [Drakon] isn’t putting up with that hardware shortfall any longer, he hacked this cartridge to run at 42 MHz, twice as fast as the design spec.

We only occasionally look in on the cart hacking scene so it was news to us that three different versions of a pin compatible chip were used in this hardware. The first two suffer from the slowdown problem, but the final revision (SuperFX GSU 2) doesn’t. It can also be overclocked as high as 48 MHz but because of the video frame rate you won’t see added improvement with the extra 6 MHz.

[Drakon] used a Doom cartridge as a guinea pig because it offers the most RAM, and set to work rerouting the traces for the ROM chip to an EEPROM so that the hardware can be used with different games. He also took this opportunity to patch in the faster clock signal.

Funtendo connects all your Nintendo controllers to a PC

For those of us who can’t be bothered to dig out or N64 whenever we want to play Ocarina of Time or our NES whenever we get the urge to play Battletoads, emulators are a godsend. There is a problem, though. A keyboard doesn’t provide the right experience as a the classic NES ‘brick’ or the N64 tritopus controllers. Enter the Funtendo, a breakout box that converts all your well-loved controllers to USB.

The Funtendo uses the Gadget Gangster Propeller Platform with a terminal block module. Putting together the electronics is fairly easy; just strip the ends of the controllers and screw them down to the terminal blocks. N64, NES and Wii Classic Controllers are supported by the Funtendo. Going for the Classic Controller over a Super Nintendo controller reduces the complexity of the build. The Classic Controller can play SNES games and uses an I2C bus, making it easier to wire.

For interfacing the controllers to the computer, the Parallax Propeller Tool, Parallax serial terminal, and PPJoy convert button mashing into readable buttons for the emulator. The build may take more time than pulling an NES out of the attic, but even with a large project box it takes up much less space.

Check out the demo of the Funtendo after the break.

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Upgrading an old Super Scope

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[Brian Knoll] still uses his Super Nintendo with relative frequency, and he just can’t get enough Super Scope action. If you never owned one, the Super Scope can be a ton of fun, but it’s also an incredible battery hog. It eats through AA batteries by the caseful, so [Brian] wanted to make the switch to rechargeable cells. Since NIMH AA batteries just don’t cut it in the Super Scope, he put together a rechargeable solution of his own.

He started off by calculating what sort of battery he would need for 8 hours of game play, then he started work on designing his circuit. The board he built contains both a DC/DC converter to provide the 9V required by the Super Scope, as well as built-in LiPo charger. He had his board made by BatchPCB, and after working through a small production error, he put everything together and gave his revamped scope a shot.

Things worked great, and while he says that he really should have built a low-voltage shutoff into his circuit, he is very happy with the results.