3D Printed Top Load NES Mod – Part One

Part two can be found here… 3D Printed Top Load NES Mod – Part Two

and part tHREE… 3D Printed Top Load NES Mod – Part Three

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my 3D printers. I have two Tevo Tarantula type kit printers that I purchased for around $200 each some time ago (good machines for the price, but that’s for another post). As with any cheap 3D printer kit, there can be a lot of bugs to work out, but that’s part of the fun.

two tevo tarantula type printers

My temporary printer set-up

I also have a deep rooted love for gaming, especially for the systems I grew up using the most. The NES has always had a special place… in hell. Of course I mean the “blinking light” issue, brought on by Nintendo’s attempt to appeal to the US market by transforming the NES into some sort of VCR-like abomination. Due to this design decision, we now have the front loading, spring-tension mess we all know and love. I know the region lockout chip isn’t entirely free from criticism, but a good solid connection to the cart is paramount.

NES glitch gif

This is definitely not how I remember it

After reading and hearing about the later remodeled top loading NES systems – touted for their reliability – I started thinking of a way to implement that into a standard NES. Top Loads are outrageously priced and hard to come by, especially when compared to their thrift store dime-a-dozen front load counterparts. My goal is to provide a lower cost implementation of that top loading design and reliability using a stock front load NES, a couple hundred grams of PLA filament, some wire and solder, and time.

wont fit

They don’t fit, I’ve already tried…

The top half of the NES case is easy enough to replicate. Under the hood there are just 6 screw posts to match up, and a lip along the edge to hold the two pieces in alignment. Since we’re eliminating the front load mechanism altogether we don’t have to model the front flappy bit. The lid is a little too large for most hobbyist 3D printer beds so we have to split it down the middle, easy enough right? Honestly, I haven’t even built that part of my model yet as I’ve been primarily concerned with the bigger issue of converting the edge connector from horizontal to vertical orientation.

nes slot open

Constituent parts of the design

After much measuring, sketching, head-scratching, and prototyping I have something I think will work. This slot design holds the 72-pin connector in a vertical orientation at a 90 degree angle to the lid. Originally this slot was canted to allow for the slight downward angle on insertion into a front load console. Even when printed at draft quality settings, this part is good and strong; I’m fairly confident in its ability to withstand even heavy-handed geeks.

nes slot joined

Joined together

I feel like getting the slot out of the way was the bulk of the work. I hope to make good progress on the rest of the lid now. Expect to see a continuation of this project soon and STLs made available as soon as I’m confident in this design.