Machining Cartridge Connectors From PCI Sockets

[Ed] needed a bunch of edge connectors for video game cartridges. He was unable to source parts for Neo Geo Pocket games and ended up building his own from PCI sockets. But it sounds like this technique would work with other console cartridges as well.

From the picture you can see that this is a bit more involved than just slapping a cartridge into a socket. Because there are multiple steps, and many connectors were needed, [Ed’s] dad lent a hand and built a few jigs to help with the cutting. The first step was to cut off the key and the narrow end of the socket. These NGP cartridges are one-sided, so the socket was cut in half using a board with a dado cut in it as a jig. From there the plastic bits can be cleaned up before pulling out two center pins and cutting a groove to receive the cartridge key. There are also two shoulder cuts that need to be made after trimming the piece to length. The video after the break will walk you through this whole process.

These PCI sockets are versatile. One of our other favorite hacks used them to make SOIC programming clips.

7 thoughts on “Machining Cartridge Connectors From PCI Sockets

  1. I haven’t seen this video before, but knowing Flavor’s current work with NGPC stuff, I saw “cartridge connectors” and “PCI sockets” and knew it was him :)

    NGPC is by far my favorite handheld by the way…

  2. Hands down, this is awesome. It irritates me when someone guts older consoles for one project or another. (I’m looking straight at you Flashback fans). Finding an alternative source for connectors for some game cartridges is going to be quite handy.

    Sure it’s a lot of work now, but it’s going to be a lot more work in the long run when people start throwing away their crappy projects.

  3. One thing that’s not in the article/video is how to harvest PCI (ISA, PCI-E, etc.) slots. If you only need to make a couple connectors and have some old motherboards around, you can pull them off.

    Trying to desolder a PCI socket is very tricky, but there’s a very easy way to get usable sockets and plenty of other interesting parts (pin headers, USB, etc.) that I’m sure is known to many.

    Heat up the back side of the motherboard with a small propane torch (like used for plumbing). Once the solder is melting, whack the motherboard, and the sockets will fall off. You can whack it one way to get some solder off and then whack it the other way to get the parts off.

  4. Here’s an idea. Design a tool for cleanly cutting the back end out of PCI express sockets.

    Why? Because PCIe cards will all work down to x1 but are physically limited to fitting into slots long enough to accept them.

    Many motherboards have PCIe slots that are actually only partially connected. An x16 video card could be plugged into any PCIe slot and work, if the end of the connector was open.

    There are PCIe to ExpressCard adapters for laptops. The boxes have an x16 size slot but ExpressCard is only PCIe x1 with USB added. You *can* connect that monster video card to a laptop, but it’ll be drinking data through a swizzle stick sized data bus.

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