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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

NES Controller TV Remote - a somewhat thorough walkthrough

Ever wanted to control your TV with an old school Nintendo controller? No? Well, I have and now I do. A few weeks ago the I picked up an old school Nintendo controller from eBay and began thinking of a project for it - then it hit me! Controlling the basic functions of my TV through a NES pad would not only be awesome, but it would make me one step closer to that darned Captain-N.

When I decided to do this project, I initially wanted to use a universal remote that I could use with any TV I will have. However, after I made a trip to BestBuy, bought the smallest remote I could find and took it apart, I saw that the circuitry was much too complicated. Also, it would be rather hard to program a universal remote for each individual TV with only 8 buttons. So, I took the original remote for my own TV and used it for my guinea pig-like project.

The first step was to remove the innerds of both the NES pad and the TV remote. I then took my dremel tool and began sanding down the inside of the NES to allow space for my remote. Next, I removed the printed circuit board from the remote and began studying it. I looked at where I needed to make my connections in order to bypass the needed controls (channels, volume, etc) to the NES circuitry. Then I began the fun part.

Above, you can see my first step of the make. Obviously, the remote as it was was too big to fit in the NES pad. So I had to cut a portion of the circuitry out and rewire the connections to the diode by hand. This included scraping off some of the green solder mask and soldering wires to it to complete the connection. This allowed the remote circuitry to fit in the NES controller and allowed me to bend the diode to the cable/cord hole of the original NES case.

I then cut up portions of the original NES pad circuitry to fit with my remote. Here in the picture I scratched off the covers of the leads I needed and labeled which lead would be tied to what. I then began to solder the bypassed connections from the remote to the cut up pieces of the NES pad.

Above is a glimpse of this ugly process. Here I have only soldered power connections to the battery and the channel up button - still several more buttons to go.

Here is the layout I had to use in order to fit all the components in the case. Pictured is the backside of the remote, the directional pad (for channels up/down) and the diode panel. This process was continued until all the buttons from the TV remote were connected to corresponding NES buttons.

Finally, here is all the NES pad buttons soldered to the remote control functions I want them to control. Amazingly, it all fit perfectly. The last thing I needed to do was to attach a battery. The remote used two AAA batteries and those obviously wouldn't fit in my casing, so I had to make an adjustment. One AAA battery produced 1.6 volts, so somehow I had to provide about 3.2 volts and cram it inside the space left in my case. I looked around and found that a few types of coin sized watch batteries actually produced 3 volts. So, on a limb I bought a cheap watch that contained one of the 3 volt batteries, took it apart and used the battery and the battery casing from the watch and placed them in the NES case.

Here you can see that the battery casing just fit within the NES pad. Even more surprising is that when the battery was placed in and conected to my power and ground wires, the remote actually functioned!

All I had left to do was reapply the rubber pads for the buttons, stick on the plastic button covers (pictured above) and then replace the other half of the NES pad case. BAM, there you have it a completely functioning NES Pad TV remote control. If you have the time, check out the 20 second video of the remote in action.


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