Original Post

I know this has been discussed a bit in the past, but I suspect several more people have succeeded and/or failed to make one since it was last discussed. I wanted to create a topic and ask people to contribute how they actually ended up making their adapter, pictures, lessons learned, etc, rather than just explaining hypothetically about how one might do it.

The basics seem simple enough since it is passive… all you need is the pinout. But specifically, I’m wondering a few things:

-how you handled the power situation (and does anyone know the proper female adapter to use the factory SNES AC adapter?)

-what kind of switch did you use?

-is there anyway to or did you yourself create a microcontroller to change the button mapping? I’m not an expert, but I could envision some kind of setup where with the appropriate microcontroller one could hold Start when powering on for one mapping; hold Select for another… and so on.

Thoughts/pictures/write-ups? Discuss.

23 Replies

The US SNES uses a custom DC barrel jack connector. It’d be a lot easier to simply use a SFC AC adapter, or something compatible with it (Famicom, Genesis, Master System, JPN Virtual Boy etc).

I haven’t made such an adapter because I think the VB controller is plenty good on its own. In fact, I’d rather see the VB controller on other consoles.

Ok. After playing Hyper Fighter I have decided that the SNES-to-VB adapter project will take on more urgency due to the game’s hardcore awesomeness. I actually didn’t find using the right d-pad and triggers for the punch/kick buttons that bad, but I found doing special moves motions with the left d-pad awkward. Not to mention the muscle memory I have with an SNES controller from countless hours played on the various SF games. But I digress.

I have a vision for this adapter. So you have a simple project box. Out of opposite ends are the VB cord and the SNES cord (obviously the VB plug comes from a donor controller and the SNES from an extension cord). On another side you have a typical switch and opposite that you have the SNES AC adapter port. I did some looking and the back panel to the SNES is readily available online for about $12 bucks (http://www.ebay.com/itm/190682841531?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT) among other sources). So if you could cut out just the portion needed for the AC adapter and affix that to the last free side of the box you would have a clean, sleek adapter (since all the soldering would be inside the box) that required no extra accommodation.

Problem is, my soldering skills suck and my dremeling skills suck even more. I know there are many out there with these talents though. I am ammasing the parts now, but I’m hoping there is someone out there who might undertake this project for an appropriate fee and/or the fun/challenge. It would also serve as a prototype for the rest of the community that has such skills to make one for themselves.

Any thoughts/takers?

Here my quick hack for such an adapter I did a while ago. I always wanted to show it on my Youtube channel together with some other VB stuff, but didn´t have time for that yet.
I simply use a stabilized power supply set to 9 Volts DC output to power the VB and a SNES extension cord and some VB controller cable. The ugly soldering job is hidden within a shrinking hose, so no case here.
It works but for someone like me that didn´t play with a SNES back in the days it does not really make much difference, but of course for gamers that had a SNES it is a completely different story. I still have to test if the SNES arcade stick with the micro switches brings any advantages in some of the games though.

Thanks for your input VectrexRoli. I am interested in putting a 2 position rocker switch in line with mine as well. I also bought a replacement SNES power socket so I can use an actual SNES AC adapter to supply the power. VBmills provided this handy pinout wire translation in another topic:

Virtual boy pad wire colours:
Yellow – data
Blue – +5v
Brown – latch
Orange – clock
Black – ground
Red – battery supply voltage

Snes pad:
Red – data
White – +5v
Orange – latch
Yellow – clock
Brown – ground

What I’m confused about is how to handle the power aspect of the wiring. First I connect the data, +5V, latch, and clock wires on the VB cable to their corresponding wires on the SNES cable.

Do I connect the ground wires too, or does this come into play closing the loop on the system power.

I have succeeded in confusing myself about how to handle the power so I’m going to put this out there and ask if someone would be so kind as to explicitly tell me how to do it.

So I have the following:
1.) battery supply wire and ground wire from the VB cord
2.) 2 way rocker switch (3 prong: power, accessory, ground)
3.) AC adapter plug (positive and negative terminals)
4.) ground wire on the SNES cord

So how exactly do I connect these pieces together and not blow the whole thing to hell?

I also found it interesting that I check with my voltmeter and my SNES AC adapter puts out a stead 14V DC. I guess the VB steps this down? Or do I need to have a component in-line to step this down if it had previously been done in the AC adapter tap or the VB controller?

Anyway, thanks in advance to whomever it may concern.

I cannot remember the details how I connected everything, as it was month ago, but yes, you connect clock to clock, latch to latch, and so on. You also need to connect ground to ground. “+” of your DC Input from your power brick you connect to “battery supply voltage” and “-” to Ground I would say.
As the VB accepts a range of Voltage input I assume there is some kind of voltage regulator built in and as I didn´t check any schematics how that thing works I went for just 9 Volts input to create not any unnecessary heat. I canot use European SNES adapters anyway as they have AC output instead of DC. But US SNES adapters should work fine.

If you want to use a switch as a power switch all you need to do is to put it in between your power supply voltage line.

Roli got it right, but here it is in a nut shell:

1. Connect all ground (-) wires together (VB, controller, and AC adapter).
2. Connect the positive wire from your AC adapter to one side of the switch.
3. Connect the other side of the switch to the battery input of the VB (not the +5V wire).
4. Connect all other controller wires to their corresponding wires on the VB (latch, data, etc.)

The reason you’re measuring 14V at the AC adapter is that the adapter is unregulated, and the volt meter doesn’t provide much of a load. You’re seeing what is called the “open circuit” voltage of the adapter. Once it sees a load from the VB, the voltage will be closer to what is printed on the sticker. Even if it did provide 14V under load, the voltage regulator in the VB could handle it.

RunnerPack wrote:
Roli got it right, but here it is in a nut shell:

1. Connect all ground (-) wires together (VB, controller, and AC adapter).
2. Connect the positive wire from your AC adapter to one side of the switch.
3. Connect the other side of the switch to the battery input of the VB (not the +5V wire).
4. Connect all other controller wires to their corresponding wires on the VB (latch, data, etc.)

The reason you’re measuring 14V at the AC adapter is that the adapter is unregulated, and the volt meter doesn’t provide much of a load. You’re seeing what is called the “open circuit” voltage of the adapter. Once it sees a load from the VB, the voltage will be closer to what is printed on the sticker. Even if it did provide 14V under load, the voltage regulator in the VB could handle it.

Wow man. Thanks! Good to hear from you again. It’s super weird because not 10 minutes ago I was thinking I should contact you directly about this because you did all that great work for me about soldering the LEDs a year or two ago and I was left with the impression that you really knew your shit.

So that all makes sense and I think that should about take care of it. One small point of clarification. You say to connect all the grounds for the VB, controller, and AC adapter. I presume you then connect those to the ground terminal of the switch?

That totally makes sense about the open circuit voltage. I know just enough about electronics to convince myself to know what I’m doing and subsequently fry shit. Incidentally, in doing my checks I noticed that the terminals of the AC adapter tap were measuring a steady 13.8V to my bare AC adapter’s 14.0V. I don’t know what’s in there, but I guess the tap is putting a little bit of load on the circuit which knocks down the voltage a little?

Anyway, thanks for all the input from you and Roli! I’m hoping I can eventually find someone willing to button this all up into a nice, clean, contained project box, but my ghetto mockup will work until that time.

astro187 wrote:

RunnerPack wrote:
Roli got it right, but here it is in a nut shell:

1. Connect all ground (-) wires together (VB, controller, and AC adapter).
2. Connect the positive wire from your AC adapter to one side of the switch.
3. Connect the other side of the switch to the battery input of the VB (not the +5V wire).
4. Connect all other controller wires to their corresponding wires on the VB (latch, data, etc.)

The reason you’re measuring 14V at the AC adapter is that the adapter is unregulated, and the volt meter doesn’t provide much of a load. You’re seeing what is called the “open circuit” voltage of the adapter. Once it sees a load from the VB, the voltage will be closer to what is printed on the sticker. Even if it did provide 14V under load, the voltage regulator in the VB could handle it.

So that all makes sense and I think that should about take care of it. One small point of clarification. You say to connect all the grounds for the VB, controller, and AC adapter. I presume you then connect those to the ground terminal of the switch?

Thanks for the kind (though a bit profane ;-)) words.

A switch has no “ground terminal” (although sometimes the frame of the switch is grounded for safety). On the switch itself, there are only two terminals which are either connected together or not, depending on the position of the lever/rocker/etc. One is “hot”, and the other is either “hot” or disconnected. Connecting either one to ground would make a dead short, along with some heat, smoke, and possibly fire 😛

Just connect the three ground wires together and insulate the connection so it can’t touch any of the other wires. Insulate the other connections, too, of course.

Thanks for the info RunnerPack. I think I’m finally ready to go create my Frankenadapter. I had said the ground of the switch because the rocker switches I was looking at had 3 terminals (labeled positive, ground, and accessory). I was confused as to why more than 2 terminals were needed and I saw ground and thought connect grounds there, then when I thought about it more I realized that didn’t make any sense whatsoever, so thanks for setting me straight on that.

As for the kind words, I did think better of my particular word choice after posting since I don’t know the etiquette here very well, but I didn’t see where I could edit the post once it was live. Apologies to any members whose sensibilities I may have offended 🙂

Ok, so I took some baby steps into my project this weekend and learned some things and hope to learn some more things from you guys. Recall, I am a soldering super-novice.

Knowing my limitations, I decided to try to do the SNES-to-NES controller mod (simply splicing a NES cord onto a SNES controller) to get experience working with the small Nintendo controller wires. Results were mixed. The final creation did actually work but I wasn’t very happy with it. I want some technique advice from y’all experts.

1.) MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: What general technique do you use for these tiny wires? I twisted the stripped sections around each other lengthwise, then put the iron on top of the wire(so the excess solder bulb would flow onto the wire) and moved the iron along the wire dabbing the solder along the way. This seemed to work ok, but not wonderfully. I had to do a few again because it didn’t seem to coat them enough to keep them braided together sometimes.

2.) Which wattage iron should I use? I would presume a lower wattage would be preferable for such small wires? Currently I have a 25W and a 40W.

3.) Something seemed to be getting burned in the middle of the wires, well away from the colored insulation. This was evidenced by little black sections on the soldered section of the wires and black bulbs that would form on my iron. What even was that?

4.) Did you guys heatshrink each individual wire, then the cluster, or electrical tape the small wires and heatshrink the cluster, or do something else?

Any info or advice on any or all questions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

astro187 wrote:
1.) MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: What general technique do you use for these tiny wires?

Your technique is okay, but it really helps to have a source of external flux, rather than relying on what’s inside your solder. This goes for 99% of all soldering jobs, so you should definitely invest in some rosin paste (it’s super cheap from the usual online retailers).

Another method would be to tin the wires, then twist them, then just heat them until their respective solder coatings fuse (adding a little solder, if needed).

2.) Which wattage iron should I use?

Generally, lower wattage for smaller masses of copper, but higher wattage just means you have to work faster.

3.) Something seemed to be getting burned in the middle of the wires, well away from the colored insulation. What even was that?

I think they include plastic (nylon?) fibers in the wire to make it stronger. This is another reason tinning each wire end first is a good idea.

4.) Did you guys heatshrink each individual wire, then the cluster, or electrical tape the small wires and heatshrink the cluster, or do something else?

I don’t remember exactly how I did it, but I didn’t heat-shrink the “cluster”, because I put the wire joints inside the shell of the power switch. I also kind of “potted” them with hot glue. Come to think of it, maybe I coated the joints with the glue, too…

I hope that helps.

Here’s a version I just built for someone for playing Hyper Fighting.
VB connector with cord switch to 2.1mm jack power supply. SNES controller adapter to VB using a SNES extension cable.

I like this red and black retro-bit controller. May even have a sticker made so it looks like the controller in the HF manual.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by mellott124.

That’s a spectacular design, and honestly looks like an official peripheral.

Dreammary wrote:
That’s a spectacular design, and honestly looks like an official peripheral.

Thanks.

I’ve had some requests for more of these but it’s limited by the VB connector. If enough people want one I could design and 3D print the VB connector. If anyone is interested please PM me. Just collecting an interest list for now.

Now with controller.

Okay that looks absolutely fantastic!

I would be interested as well! I finally finished installing the guts of a wireless Retro Bit SNES controller into a VB pad, so it would be cool to use your adapter for the receiver. Sometimes the short VB controller cable adds to my playing discomfort so I’d like to be able to move my hands around more freely.

These old RetroDuo controllers look pretty nice next to a Virtual Boy (they almost look official), but too bad they’re literally the cheapest feeling controllers I’ve ever held in my hands. They feel like dollar store controllers, or something you would get in a McDonald’s Happy Meal 😬

Have you tried swapping new silicon pads under the buttons? Sometimes a really low quality controller can feel substantially better with just that swap. Or swap the guts entirely from a official SNES controller, I’m sure you could find a functional but horribly beat up one for cheap.

vuefinder83 wrote:
These old RetroDuo controllers look pretty nice next to a Virtual Boy (they almost look official), but too bad they’re literally the cheapest feeling controllers I’ve ever held in my hands. They feel like dollar store controllers, or something you would get in a McDonald’s Happy Meal 😬

I bought those colored versions as well. Yes they feel cheaper than the original controllers but I wouldn’t say dollar store. You have to consider what you paid for them. I paid $12 for two. For that price I think they’re just fine. Just my opinion.

 

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