Jul 29, 2016 | By Benedict

Tech blogger DaftMike has built a mini 3D printed version of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System. The machine runs on RetroPie emulation software, uses NFC tagged game cartridges, and anticipates Nintendo’s official NES Classic Mini, due later this year.

On July 14, Japanese video game giant Nintendo announced it would be relaunching the classic Nintendo Entertainment System, first released in 1983, in a special miniature edition packaged with 30 preloaded games. The nostalgia-friendly console is due to be released on November 11, and has had many 30-something game-lovers salivating with anticipation. Some, however, are a little less excited—not because they have lost any love for Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and other classic NES games, but because they have already been playing them for the last few years on emulators.

Game-loving readers of 3Ders.org will undoubtedly have noticed stories about unusual 3D printed games consoles such as Adafruit’s PiGRRL Zero and Tom van den Bon’s Pi Zero NES Controller, homemade machines which use classic console emulators like RetroPie to bring beloved games of the past back to life, both virtually and physically. So when some tech-lovers raised their eyebrows at Nintendo’s forthcoming miniature NES, they weren’t being unduly cynical; they’ve just seen the same thing before, programmed and 3D printed by some tech-savvy maker with time on their hands.

Many gamers are, of course, very excited about the forthcoming mini NES, and rightly so—it’s only going to cost $60, after all. Having the official Nintendo seal of approval also guarantees a few things: game quality, proper aspect ratios, and potential resale value. For those who prefer the homemade touch, however, tech blogger DaftMike has put together his own mini NES console which is 40% the size of the original and which adds some nifty features not present on the official Nintendo re-release. (To his dismay/amusement, Mike actually carried out the entire project just before Nintendo announced the official NES repackage.)

In a lengthy blog post, Mike explains his love for the classic Nintendo console, detailing how all the machine's features—not just the games themselves—stir up fond memories for him. “The ergonomics of the whole experience are something I still remember very clearly 20+ years later,” he writes. Minute details like the front-loading cartridge slot, the satisfying click of the loader, and the sound of the power button are, according to the blogger, some of the most important characteristics of the NES. “All of that is just as much part of my nostalgia for the system as playing the games themselves," Mike says.

To revitalize not only the gaming experience of the NES, but the entire ritual of powering up and loading the console, Mike has built a mini 3D printed NES replica which actually takes plastic cartridges, instead of just using an on-screen game selector. These aren’t the official cartridges of old, however, but 3D printed versions equipped with near field communication (NFC) tags. With an NFC reader implemented into the console itself, the machine can recognize which game cartridge has been inserted and fire it up on-screen. It’s a superfluous feature, sure, but it’s a fun one, giving players a true retro gaming experience.

At its core, Mike’s NES emulator uses a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie and Python scripts for the NFC tag feature. The box itself was designed using Autodesk’s 123D Design, and 3D printed using monotone filaments from Faberdashery. Mike even 3D printed a 40% scale controller for the NES—probably too small for adult hands, but a nice novelty nonetheless. At present, the designer has no plans to release his NES design as a rival to the official version, but his project demonstrates some impressive design skills and is therefore worth applauding.

“This project took longer that I first thought, but I enjoyed it immensely,” Mike writes. “It sharpened up my Arduino coding, I learned some Python and used Linux properly for the first time. I also really improved my 3D printing ability, both in CAD and the printing process itself. In the end I'm very pleased with how this project turned out. I met all of my initial goals and finished with a cool, functional piece of hardware that's pretty unique.”

“Unique” doesn’t seem like quite the right word, Mike, but we love the 3D printed console nonetheless.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Jake wrote at 7/30/2016 12:22:39 AM:

Could have told us at the beginning that he wasn't going to release the design.

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