First off, we need a busted NES. These are reasonably available on ebay, about £10-20, and you can also sell the internal bits on after.
Unfortunately after 30 years, some slight cosmetic wear is expected. But you're about to screw with it anyway, so sod it. First off you need to dump out all of the old bits including the controller ports at the front, leaving behind the shell and the power buttons (we'll use those later).
Next comes the task of deciding what you're actually going to put in it, which is tricky. Generally following other examples online, I figured I could put a CD where the cartridge slot used to be, and put a small motherboard in to run the thing. In fact for my build, I used:
- One CD drive, ITX motherboard, ram, hard drive, CPU etc.
- CPU fan (needs to be a small form factor to actually fit in) as well as three small 40cm case fans. Try and get as quiet a fan as you can, as you'll be surprised the noise cheap ones can make.
- Power. I've used a pico-box 300w PSU, which is basically a circuit board taking DC power from a laptop adaptor. This was actually the single most expensive bit of the build, and I would probably have gone to 200w if I didn't originally want to shove a graphics card in there.
- Finally little bits and pieces, such as molex connectors (four pin plugs that usually power motherboard etc), USB ports, DuPont pins (to hook the power buttons to the motherboard) and a specific length of motherboard power cable, which was apparently rare as hell. Also, what can be described as a "crapload of Sugru".
First modding job is to saw away any now useless plastic bits inside the case, as well as widen the cartridge slot to be big enough for a CD drive.
Next up was putting the USB ports at the front, which is the first of the many uses for "a crapload of Sugru". If you're attempting this, be patient, this is one of the most sweary-inducing bits of the build.
Then came to repurpose the original buttons. The power button still had a clicker, which wouldn't go well with a modern PC, so I took out the internal pin (although you can just take out the metal bit on the top of the switch). I then wired up the power, reset, and LED to DuPont pins - although it's worth noting that there are only five wires on the board as the negative of the reset and the LED are the same. No biggie. Just solder on another one and scratch away the channel on the circuit board and boom! Well not boom. Shazam? Let's go for Shazam.
Then comes the case fans, and you *will* need these else the thing will more than likely overheat. Luckily the NES has a 40cmx120cm vent on top, which is perfect for 3x40cm fans. You'll need to glue them together, then maybe wire them into one Molex pin (I did this to save space inside). Finally sugru it, the CD drive, and the power connector to the top of the NES case.
Penultimate step is making sure everything fits inside. I originally envisioned removing as little as possible from the case and having all the wires connect through the original ports. But you know what? Fuck that noise - it's impossible.
Finally - shove it all in there. I was careful about placing everything in available space, sliding the HD under the motherboard, taping down the wires, but it was still like closing an overloaded suitcase.
But perseverance will eventually yield you your NES PC! BEHOLD AND REPENT!
You can see here the fans and the back of the thing with all the LAN/power cables hanging out.
You're then free to play as many things as you like. Why hello there, Rogue Leader...
Nice to see you again, Yoshi's Island...
How's the wife and kids, Breath of Fire 2? Oh... oh really? With a dermatologist you say? Ah... err... well, nice chatting I guess?
So there you have it. NES PC.