nes cartridge raspberry pi emulation system NES

Have you ever wanted to have all of your NES video games in one place, hooked up to your HDTV, without the need for a huge amount of space for cartridges or a bunch of adapters? The NES Cartridge Raspberry Pi Emulation System is the solution you’ve been dreaming of.

***DISCLAIMER: Pirating games is illegal, so please only use ROM backups of games that you ACTUALLY OWN to play on your new emulation system***

The idea for this system came from a Howchoo article detailing the step-by-step process of creating your own NES Cartridge Emulation System:

Pi Cart: a Raspberry Pi Retro Gaming Rig in an NES Cartridge

I just put 2,400 vintage games (and an emulator to run them) into an NES cartridge for about 30 bucks. Computing power has finally become small (and inexpensive) enough to make such a project possible. What a wonderful time to be alive. 🙂

The basics of what I’m calling the Pi Cart (great name, eh?) involve a Raspberry Pi Zero, an old NES cartridge, a small USB hub and adapters of various sizes. Unless you want to get crafty or save a few bucks on adapters, no soldering is required.

This guide will show you how to build your own Pi Cart. When you’re done, you will be able to connect the Pi Cart to your TV or monitor and get playing.

Since I was going to be cannibalizing one of my prized NES cartridges, I wanted to use one that I owned multiple copies of and that wasn’t worth much on the eBay retro games market. Although Ice Hockey is a great game, sports titles are a dime a dozen and these carts can be bought for the equivalent of an elementary schoolkid’s lunch money. It wouldn’t be a huge loss.

The only modification I made to the above device was adding a couple of these NES to PC USB Retro Controller Adapter Converters for use with my OEM NES controllers. Other than that and a cheaper Micro SD card I found at BJ’s Wholesale, the setup and materials are exactly the same as in the linked guide.

I highly suggest, if you have any interest in retro gaming, that you test out your own Raspberry Pi and install RetroPie once you get the basics down. It can support emulation of any system up to (but not including) the n64. If you read the RetroPie’s extensive documentation, you can see guides on how to get it to work with all kinds of different devices from handhelds to arcade machines.

Find something cool around the house to fill with your own Raspberry Pi innards and feel free to send me photos or videos showing off your work. I’m more than happy to feature any particularly interesting project.

If you’re curious about what the end result looks like, I made a crappy little video to show off the completed project. Please keep in mind that this was recorded on a smartphone, so don’t judge me too harshly on the audio/video quality.

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