Jan 16, 2016 | By Kira

No matter how advanced, realistic and complex today’s video games have become, it seems as though our love for the flat, two-dimensional world of 8-bit games will never die. Indeed, thanks to super low-cost computing system Raspberry Pi and maker technologies such as 3D printing, retro-gamers have seemingly been able to hit ‘pause’ on gaming evolution, by either repurposing or 3D printing retro gaming consoles and running them on Raspberry Pi. The trend has even grown into an entire online community project, known as RetroPie.

We’ve seen quite a few 3D printing/Raspberry Pi projects revive retro gaming in their own ways, including a 3D printed Game Boy and even entire 3D printed arcade cabinet, both of which used a Rasbperry Pi B model board. The newest trend in retro gaming, however, makes use of the new, slimmed-down and insanely affordable Raspberry Pi Zero to revive the classic Nintendo controller.

Essentially, the project is as easy as opening up your old NES controller, inserting the Raspberry Pi Zero, and wiring it correctly to the NES’ buttons. However, after you’ve gotten all of the wiring hooked up, you’re likely to find that the original back cover of the Nintendo controller will no longer properly close. In need of a small, custom-made piece of plastic, are you? Sounds like a job for some simple, desktop 3D printing.

Various 3D printable models for NES controllers exist online, however two in particular were designed specifically to fit the Raspberry Pi Zero: Tom Van den Bon’s straightforward Pi Zero NES Controller, and the souped-up RetroPiNES Zero, both available as free downloads via Thingiverse.

Van de Bon designed his Pi Zero NES Controller as a simple way to turn his Raspberry Pi Zero in a real NES Controller to satisfy his retro gaming passion. “This is my attempt at building a Raspberry PI Zero into a real NES Controller. The NES controller is wired onto the GPIO and I'm using the gamecon_gpio_rpi software for interface to the NES emulator,” he said. “I decided not to dremel the back part of the controller, but rather design and print a new one with proper Pi Zero ports.”

Taking that original design up a notch, Thingiverse user w3ace added a few significant upgrades, including a thicker base and mount points to screw down the Pi Zero.

“This hack combined three of my favorite subjects,” said w3ace, “retro gaming, electronics (lite) and micro computing.” Neither of the 3D models requires rafts or supports, which should make them relatively easy projects to get started on, and detailed images regarding the wiring can be found on each user’s respective Thingiverse page.

With its ultra-affordable and barebones computer models, Raspberry Pi has played a huge role in bringing coding to the masses, and is the perfect base for countless 3D printing projects, including bringing these old-school game controllers back to life. And at just $5, the Raspberry Pi Zero is the perfect place to start no matter what your experience level or game console preference.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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