Nintendo Entertainment System – Raspberry Pi

A while ago I was at my in-laws, after a garage sale, and found an old Nintendo Entertainment System.  I remember many days playing all those great games.   They were going to throw away the N.E.S with a bunch of games.  I thought this was abominable and requested to take it home with me.  I had no idea if it even worked or how much blowing on cartridges it would take to play the games, but I could not let it go to vide game heaven.  So I took it home.  And there it sat for over a year.

I located it a few months ago in the storage closet and rekindled the idea of playing it.  I called the kids down to the basement, hocked it up and BOOM! nothing happened.  the screen just blinked on an off, the red light on the front also just blinked.  So I turned it off, removed the cartridge and, much to my children’s amusement, blew on it.  I told the it was ‘what you needed to do’ to get it to work.  They were very skeptical.  I powered on regardless.  I placed the cartridge back in the system and powered it on and…nothing.  Kids left.  I felt defeated.  Worst. Dad. Ever!

The New Idea

Since I knew that the system was no a large door stop.  I had a choice to make.

  1. Clean it up, display it in the Nerd Cave
  2. Throw it away
  3. Figure out how to repair it.

Choice one would be the easiest.  It was in pretty great shape to start so that would be easy.  Choice 2 was not really an option for me but Maria would have loved it.  Choice 3 seemed logical, until I researched it.  Getting parts and pieces are difficult and I honestly don’t have a lot of great electronics skills.  But then I found choice 4.  Its a split between 2 and 3.  After a little research I found a page describing using a Raspberry Pi to create a functional NES system using the original controllers and case. Brilliant!

I was able to do this over a couple of months, working mostly at night, to get an emulator that plays every NES and SNES game.  The system uses the original NES controllers, has extra USB ports for adding other controllers (SNES)  and if there is an issue with the system, I can connect a mouse and keyboard.

Since I really just copied the great minds online, I did not document most of my stuff.  However here is a list that might make it easier for you to build your own:

That will get you going from a hardware perspective.  Other items that you may need, depending on your level of detail.

  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Velcro
  • Electric Tape or Shrink tubing (for connecting wires)

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