- Posted on September 20, 2002
Console fanatic Flagon500 (not his real name
- we hope) has got every console under the sun, but so far
all attempts to assimilate Nintendo's First Born into his
collection has resulted in a rather inert pile of grey bricks.
So one day he attacked one with his dremel, swapped out the
lifeless innards with an EPIA 800, figured how to interface
with the NES controllers, installed some emulation software
and made... um... a NES. Read how he did it here (including
how he persuaded the EPIA 800 to talk to his NES controllers
with the aid of a soldering iron). Then look at 50+ images
in the NESPC Gallery.
So when will someone interface Nintendo's R.O.B
robot into their Mini-ITX conversion? In fact, while we're
on the subject...
"Things we want converted into Mini-ITX"
2. Speak and Spell
5. Game and Watch (bonus point)
Mini-ITX powered R2-D2 (two bonus points)
Do you have a Mini-ITX based project we should
be seeing here? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
with details, you'll win a delicious case
- Raison d'Etre
- Connecting the NES Controller
- The inevitable Dremel...
- Action Shots
- The NESPC Gallery
1. Raison d'Etre
I was tired of the blinking
screen on my TV whenever I powered up my beloved NES. I would
clean the connector, and blow until I was dizzy, but the blasted
thing still would not work. I bought quite a few of them for
less than $5 at Good Wills, but most of them never worked.
I can't stand emulators because you have to
watch the game on your computer screen. I wanted to play my
games with original NES controllers on my TV.
Connecting the NES Controller
First I went looking for a way to connect
NES controllers to a computer. I found several sites with
diagrams for connecting to the parallel port. I ended up using
something called PSX Gamepad for the driver, but there are
others. The most confusing part was how to wire the damn things
up. There was no consistency as to how the pins were numbered.
Here is a junk diagram to show you how my pin numbers went.
This is from the perspective of looking at the back side of
the connectors. This is what you see when you are soldering:
Parallel Port <--> NES
2 <-- 6
3 <-- 5
4-9 <-- 1
18-19 <-- 7
10 <-- 4
If you have more controllers, pins 1,5,6,7
all go to the same port for each controller. Pin 4 is the
only one that changes and it goes on the pins following 10
(11, 12, etc). On pins 4-9, you are supposed to have diodes
which allow current to go to the controller, but not backwards.
You can use the cheapest ones that Radio Shack sells for this.
Now that you have the controller(s) all wired
up, install your software, and go into the control panel and
see if it works. If it doesn't, you probably are not getting
enough voltage out of your parallel port. Check it with a
voltmeter. I was getting something like 4.2 volts, so I had
to search for another source. Hard drives have a +5v, so I
tapped into that. So my pin 1 on the NES went to the +5v (red)
on my hard drive line, and my pin 7 on the NES went to the
ground (black) on the hard drive. This picture attempts to
show the mess of wires that was created because of this:
OK. Now that we have
the controllers working, we need a way to play the games.
The only emulator I could find that supported my controllers
was RockNES, so the choice was easy for me. There are probably
others, but who cares, this one works. The only thing I don't
like is that I cannot select games with the controller - you
need a mouse or a keyboard.
The inevitable dremel...
Now we have a working system that plays games.
It is now time to cram the computer into little NES box. For
this I used the EPIA 800 main board. It's super small and
has on board TV-Out, Sound and Network (among other things).
I added 256MB ram, 20 GB hard drive and installed Win2K. This
board can use a normal ATX power supply. I did not have room
for one, so I searched for an external one. The Morex Cubid
2677 has an external powersupply. Instead of figuring out
where they got theirs from, I just bought the case and stripped
out the power supply.
Next comes the fun part. Buy a cheap broken
NES and gut it. Then take the dremmel and cut everything except
the 4 screws in the corners.
In the NES case, you need a spot to plug in
the power supply, audio out, video out, and a network port.
You also need the parallel port wired directly to the controller
ports. And, you need the NES's power button to turn the whole
thing on. The original NES power button locks in place (AT
Style). Since this is an ATX board, I just wired the reset
button of the NES to the power input of the board.
Connecting the joystick and power cables:
Connecting the Sound and Video:
The Motherboard and the PSU fitted nicely
in to the bottom of the NES. But I couldn't figure out how
to mount the hard drive. I wanted it to just sit on top of
the board, but it might short something out that way. Then
I got a brilliant idea, I'll just wrap the bottom of the drive
with electrical tape...
Now its time to put the lid on and test
it out. I was too excited to properly mount the external ports,
but who cares, I'll save that for a day when the power goes
out - I want to play some games!
It looks nice with my others:
A few side notes... I had to put it under
my Master System because in all my excitement I lost the screws!
I think I should add another fan because it might get hot
The finished product.
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