Pi Cart: 2,400 Games In One

What’s the quickest way to turn one game into 2,400? Cram a Raspberry Pi Zero running RetroPie into an NES cartridge and call it Pi Cart.

This elegant little build requires no soldering — provided you have good cable management skills and the right parts. To this end, [Zach] remarks that finding a USB adapter — the other main component — small enough to fit inside the cartridge required tedious trial and error, so he’s helpfully linked one he assures will work. One could skip this step, but the potential for couch co-op is probably worth the effort.

Another sticking point might be Nintendo’s use of security screws; if you have the appropriate bit or screwdriver, awesome, otherwise you might have to improvise. Cutting back some of the plastic to widen the cartridge opening creates enough room to hot glue in the USB hub, a micro USB port for power, and an HDMI port in the resulting gap. If you opted to shorten the cables, fitting it all inside should be simple, but you may have to play a bit of Tetris with the layout to ensure everything fits.

Using a Back To The Future game cartridge encapsulates the essence of this project, considering its contents would be nearly science fiction back in the 1980’s — a nice touch. We’ve featured plenty of RetroPie setups — each with their own unique flair — but if you’re looking for a more period appropriate gaming station, you could simply gut an NES for the purpose.

14 thoughts on “Pi Cart: 2,400 Games In One

    1. Still, I find that strangely appealing. Yes, it opens up the hack to solderchallenged people, but I don’t think that is why I like it. I think it is because it adds another restriction on the build. Just the fact that we have come this far, that this neat build can be done without soldering, is amazing in its own right.

    2. I’ve recently started making my mass-market designs all solderless, simply because the number 1 thing I hear about my projects is “Aw man that’s so cool, I wish I could do that but I don’t have any tools”

      It’s a pretty fun challenge to see how far you can get your design with just what is on McMaster/Amazon without heating up your iron :)

  1. PLEASE don’t desecrate perfectly good hardware for crap like this, 3d print a replica cartridge! You can print as many as you want without destroying an increasingly rare piece of history in the process. Of course if the thing you’re building is genuinely awesome and requires a specific cartridge, whatever. otherwise, at least use a cartridge for a game that sucked.

    1. Everything that isn’t in production is technically “increasingly rare,” but let’s keep things in perspective. There are ~150 copies of this on eBay right now, and you can get one for $5. Plus the mod leaves the PCB intact, should you want to play it in the future.

    2. Since over 40 million copies of this game was sold, as you say it is super duper extra rare.
      Would you consider purchasing my 6 copies for the low collector price of two million dollars?
      It’s up to you to preserve this game for future generations and the history books. Just ignore the part where the history books already rank this game as the #3 worst NES game ever made right after Friday the 13th and Dr Jeckel & Mr Hyde.

      Please, send payment soon, before there are no copies left in the world and the game disappears from all human memory. You simply can’t let that happen!

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