1 year ago

Classic NES: Build your own Raspberry Pi version

An excellent guide to building a real NES emulated system in an original Nintendo game cartridge

Build your own NES Classic 

Nintendo has released the NES Classic. The reboot of its classic console packs 30 games into a smaller version of the original case.

The new NES isn’t the traditional console by any stretch. You don’t get a 6502 processor inside, and it doesn’t use cartridges.

A teardown by Polygon reveals an ARM-powered system with 256MH DDR3 RAM and a 512MB SLC NAND Flash. It turns out the new NES  isn’t even as powerful as a Raspberry Pi Zero.

It’s also rumoured that the NES Classic is running a custom build of Linux. We think makers would be better to just make their own NES from a Raspberry Pi and RetroPIE.

The thought certainly occurred to Snazzy Labs. They just uploaded this video demonstrating how to assemble a Raspberry Pi Zero inside an NES cartridge. You can install RetroPie on your DIY NES and play all the games you want.

DIY NES Classic Mini Killer

It’s an excellent guide to building a real  NES emulated system in an original Nintendo game cartridge. It combines a Raspberry Pi Zero with a central USB hub and USB Gamepad.

DIY NES Classic parts list and build instructions

  • Raspberry Pi Zero
  • iBuffalo USB Gamepad
  • Amazon Basics USB Hub
  • Mini HDMI to HDMI
  • USB OTG Cable
  • Micro USB Extension
  • NES Security Screwdriver

Nintendo is releasing their NES Classic Edition console this week,” says Snazzy Labs. “It’s exciting to see the Japanese gaming giant excited about their old games again, but the $6o mini console only offers 30 games and is in short supply due to limited quantities and high demand. We suggest an alternative – one that is half the price and half the size – but can hold thousands of games from over three decades of consoles.

They don’t use an original NES controller with this build. But there are plenty of NES-style USB Controllers around, like this NES Controller from Amazon.

We love the look of the NES Classic but building your own will deliver a much more versatile system.

  • singleflow

    This is a great project. But I can’t help but wonder if Nintendo is going to eventually start going after ROM sites, and DIY sites that describe how to commit software piracy.

  • Dustin Wood

    It’s been going on for way too long for them to be able to stop it now. The only people they’d probably go after are the ones who are trying to sell systems with the games already loaded.

  • singleflow

    Fair enough. I was just thinking, since they’re finally trying to monetize these games again, they might be inclined to take action. I just remember what music piracy did to people back when the Napster crackdowns started.

  • Vomov

    They do, but they don’t really have much to go on; these sites usually cover themselves with statements such as “this is not meant for playing games, but a proof of concept or training exercise”, or “you’re only allowed to play the games if you own them”.

    Nintendo is being quite childish, as of late. Shutting down Pokemon Uranium is just one of many, many examples.



  • singleflow

    Nah man, you gotta build your own. That’s the fun part. That said, you CAN technically find these on eBay, pre-configured. You might have to find your own game ROMS, because it’s kind of piracy, and some sellers don’t want that headache.

  • singleflow

    Just get a Raspberry Pi 3 with a case. It’ll have Bluetooth, wifi and all the usb ports you’ll need. Trust me, it’ll make things way simpler. After shipping costs, you really won’t save any real money buying the RPi zero.

  • singleflow

    FYI, when using the Pi 3, you can also setup a PS3 or PS4 controller to connect via the built in Bluetooth. A PS3 controller is only about $30, and also gives you the option to connect via USB if setting up the Bluetooth proves to be too cumbersome. Nostalgia aside, this option may give you a more familiar controller, of a higher quality than many of the USB knockoffs.

  • Jim

    “DIY NES Classic Mini Killer” is it just me who has a problem with this title? I don’t know about you guys, but trying to “kill” one of Nintendo’s new products sounds a bit dickish.

  • Jason Kibbe

    I think the point is that it ‘kills’ the NES Classic since it can hold thousands of games and is not limited to only NES.

  • Canucks Fan

    You do understand how copyright infringement works right?

    Sony or Microsoft would be doing the exact same thing shutting down fan made games if they involved a major property of theirs

  • Vomov

    Yes, and it’s more complicated than people think. Nintendo actually has to enforce their copyright, or lose it, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for fan – produced content. Most companies tolerate fans making stuff, since it’s free marketing, but Nintendo is on top of every single thing in a very unpleasant way.

    Pokemon uranium is a good example: the devs notified Nintendo every step of the way, and didn’t get a response, negative or otherwise. When they’re finally done, THEN the lawyers pounce.

    Also, it’s possible to get permission from a company to use their property on a per – case basis. Microsoft is quite loose with this, which results in them getting a lot of free marketing, as well as a good name.

  • vice86

    its just you.

  • Dylan Alexander

    Awesome project but very expensive to get the Amazon Basics hub in Australia. Sadly very hard to find a working alternative too.

  • Joe Holliday

    And it ‘kills’ it in availability. Even now, 2 months later, it’s damn near impossible to get an NES Classic without paying a scalper for one.

  • Daniel Hodges

    I have done the build but when I have everything plugged in it boots up then says no game pad detected. I am using the inBuffalo pad what am I missing?

  • +1

  • old_liquid

    I think chinese generic hub will be enough and WAY cheaper, also recommend to get rid of these bulky USB A connectors, just cut, strip and solder these wires directly.

  • EiM

    Nintendo doesn’t risk losing their copyrights by failing to enforce them. I believe you have copyright law confused with trademark law. It’s trademarks which must be zealously enforced, so that an example of lack of enforcement isn’t later used as a defense by another party clearly infringing on the trademark.

  • Vomov

    Legalese confuses me on the best of days. You’re right, it’s trademark law, not copyright law.

  • It’s an excellent guide to building a real NES emulated system in an original Nintendo game cartridge. It combines a Raspberry Pi Zero with a central USB hub and USB Gamepad.

  • singleflow

    Um… Okay. I think that much was clear.

  • mike

    Nintendo does this to themselves…hyping a product, then making it in such limited amounts that it’s impossible to find one. Also, the ne s classic mini is a very watered down, weak device. But their price certainly doesn’t reflect this. That, and not giving a cheap abt their fanbase, just a matter of time before this was created. Not to mention its much cooler design and more powerful