Original NES Guts Upgraded With RetroPie

NES RetroPi

If you have an old broken NES lying around and have no idea what to do with it, you may want to check out [snoius’s] latest project. He replaced the guts of his old NES with a Raspberry Pi. [snoius] started out by removing most of the electronics from his original NES to make room for the Pi. He left the original control panel board so he would be able to use the original power button and power LED. The NES power switch is an on/off toggle switch. [snoius] decided to just route the 5V USB power input directly through this switch. The result is a hard power switch for the tiny computer. The original power LED is wired up to the Pi’s 3.3V GPIO header through a 330 ohm resistor. Now when the Pi has power, the LED lights up.

The next step was controllers. It looks like [snoius] is using some USB SNES controller clones. He wanted to use the original NES controller ports but obviously the NES did not utilize USB. [snoius] used a saw to cut the backs off of the controller ports, leaving a flat surface. He then used a utility knife to carve out a hole in the shape of a female USB port. He mounted some ports in place and then wired the inside up to some short USB cables with male ends. These were plugged into a USB hub that is hidden inside of the NES case.

The Pi is also hooked up to a short HDMI cable and a short power cable. The loose ends of the cables are mounted to a small block of wood. Notches are cut out of the wood to better fit the cable ends. The rear of the NES has two holes cut out where the original connectors used to be in order to accommodate the new connectors.

With all of the hardware taken care of, [snoius] still needed a way to actually play his games. That’s where RetroPie saved the day. RetroPie is a Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi that is specifically created to make it easy to play old video games. It includes emulators for many old systems including NES, SNES, SEGA Genesis, Gameboy, etc. [snoius] installed RetroPie onto an 8GB SD card and copied over all of the ROMs he could find. The end result is what appears to be an original NES at a glance, but is in fact multiple retro gaming systems in one. It also contains hundreds of video games in on board memory instead of requiring a large library of physical cartridges.

[via reddit]

21 thoughts on “Original NES Guts Upgraded With RetroPie

  1. I don’t get all that retro-gaming hype. What the hell? 90s have passed, it’s time to move on. Buy a Play Station, play some GTA, have fun. Why waste your life on some pixelated crap with ridiculous difficulty?

    1. Now I’ve seen it all: a Playstation guy telling retro game fans that they’re “wasting their lives”. Tell you what dude, you can head out to Costco to get your week supply of Cheetos and spend 200+ hours on a single game, most of which is shallow on-rails fluff and cutscenes, because we all know THAT is not wasting your life at all. Thanks for the sage advice, but I think I’ll go fire up 2-3 different games, grab my 30 minute fix of “pixelated crap with ridiculous difficulty”, then go out in the world and live my life.

      1. Now I’ve seen it all, a retro gamer telling a modern gamer that they’re wasting their time. Tell you what SIR, you can head to costco to get your week supply of Smartwater and spend 30 minutes(probably more) on a single game, most of which are shallow platformer, because we all know THAT is not wasting your life. Thanks for the sage advice, but I think I’ll go fire up 2-3 different games, grab my 1 Hour fix of “shallow on-rails fluff and cutscenes, with open-world exploration(on Insane mode)”, then go out in the world and live my life.

        1. Now I’ve seen it all, a pc gamer telling a retro gamer that they’re wasting their time. Tell you what SIR, you can head to costco to get your week supply of fruits and vegetables, maybe some saffron rice and a nice cut of top sirloin for a roast, slow cook it until it’s absolutely tender, freeze it into serving sized sandwich freezer bags, then you’ll lots of dinners with only one cooking and cleaning session. Then you have time to talk to your friends about a cool movie you saw on the weekend or maybe keep working on your guitar hand positions, because you know you’ll never be a rock star, but you enjoy expressing yourself, albeit clumsily, because you play for you. Call your mom, too, because she’s missed you since you got that job in another state.

    2. Are you a spoon-fed gamer ?.
      Prefers Cut-scenes and pre-rendered sequences with button mashing.

      Do you pre-order digital downloads and buy exclusively EA and Ubisoft titles ?, Consider that a PlayStation 4 and Xbone are both Dumbed down APU poor mans laptops sets with = power of a laptop, And you criticise 8bit gaming GTFO.

      Guarantee that +90% of readers on HAD have been gaming or into other segments of it and consoles past 1994 apart from some handhelds, hold no real interest to hackers or actual gamers who actually play instead of so simulation of playing by pressing that same worn button from the previous title which fed you the same crap.

      Sony have the worst Input over wireless the latency absurd.

      1. If you don’t send it to the tip line you won’t see it. Just think about sending it to HaD when you next stumble across a cool hack or even better if you’re the hacker!

    1. That’s crap. For all you know, he might be saving the case from the landfill.

      I have a small pile of NESs that can’t be internally restored specifically for this purpose. I get them from a guy who makes money by restoring video game systems, and by the time I get them most of the innards are either bad or used on other consoles.

      1. The linked article actually states that the NES was bought from an online auction and it is unknown whether it worked. Apparently the disassembly was done gently though.

        1. I made one of these some time ago with a micro atx, laptop components, and tons of work. Pretty cool that one can be made now in a weekend that is far more powerful than the one I built for 500 bucks.

          On to my point, most of the time the component that goes is the cartridge connector. 72 pins and very fragile. For some time it was very difficult to fix. Now replacements can be had. Most restorers and owners just aren’t aware that every piece of an NES is being manufactured by someone somewhere now. It has turned into a market similar to car restoration. You can build an NES from all brand new components save for one; the case. But really, if a system is more new than original, is it really the same anymore?

          It’s the Ship of Theseus, gamer edition.

          In the end recreating the feel and function is as good as keeping the original most of the time. If he gutted a cartridge however, that would be entirely different.

  2. This is awful. Ruining an original console by turning it into something that is generic. A Pi can come in way better packages but you chose to ruin original hardware that can play carts without lag. A shame really as NES’s are super easy to fix by simply replacing the cart connector.

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