Original Post

Hey all- I decided to make a new topic for my controller conversion since not everyone may have seen my other thread about it, I hope that’s cool 0:). After one somewhat botched try, I was later able to get a fully functional and fully awesome Virtual Boy controller working on my NES.

What you need:

-1 VB controller
-1 NES controller; only the intact cable is needed, so this is a good use for dirty or worn out paddles 🙂
-Soldering iron with a fine tip and a flat/blunt tip
-Desoldering braid
-Flux paste and solder wire (both non-acid)
-Screwdriver to open the controllers.

Overall, it’s pretty simple. Just open the controllers to expose the respective PCBs. The VB PCB has 6 additional screws inside (3 around each L/R trigger casing) that you need to remove as well. Once inside, take your preheated soldering iron with the flat/blunt tip and use the desoldering braid to remove the NES controller’s cable. It was impossible to take a picture of me doing this, but picture 1 shows the NES PCB from the “top” side with the 5 colored wires that go to its cable removed. If you’re unfamiliar with desoldering, just watch a YouTube video- it’s easy.

Then, you remove the VB’s set of colored wires from its PCB. You can see in the next pics that the wires here are held together in the blue plastic clip, which makes removing them all at once after desoldering with the braid pretty easy. I used a small screwdriver to pry up the little “tabs” on that clip, while pulling gently on each wire to remove it.

While you have an unwired VB PCB, you should then add a couple small wire pieces to bridge the circuit traces (see pics). The purpose of those little red wires I soldered on is so the A/B buttons function as you would want them to. If you just exchange console cables themselves, A/B are actually mapped to down/left on the VB’s right D-pad when plugged into an NES. While that does make for some interesting playing techniques as well, I figured A/B should remain A/B for NES use :). I scraped the traces gently with a tiny screwdriver to clean their protective coating off and buff up the copper for soldering (a fiberglass pencil helps too). For the top of the two wires, I found it ok to solder to both the 2nd and 3rd traces at the microchip. This may be hack technique, but I had trouble getting that tiny wire fragment to stay in place and it only makes a redundant connection along the same trace anyway.

Then, just insert the NES wires through the proper pads on the VB circuitboard. I won’t bother listing how each wire corresponds between systems yet, but all you need to do is line the NES wires up as seen in my picture. Note that the most inner hole (#1, as enumerated on the VB PCB) should be empty when you are done. Dab some flux on the pads and the wires, and solder away with your fine tip.

I “flossed” some rubber from the cuff of a latex glove in between each of the wires when I was done, because I wasn’t sure if the wires might touch when I was looping the cable out of the controller. Despite having one less wire, the NES cable actually seems to be a little thicker in diameter. So, it’s a bit tricky closing the VB controller in the end- but some firm pressure and tight screwdriving solved that for me.

Some follow-up questions I have:

-I tried using this on my friend’s Famicom last night; it worked, but had a definite delay in response on-screen. Is this because of the Famicom’s hardware, or something else like a controller extension cable or the adapter we used to play a US NES game?

-I’m |this| close to finishing my VB SNES controller as well, but when I push A or right D-pad down, it seems to perform both the A function and a repeating right trigger action. So, when playing Super Mario Kart, my kart would accelerate with A but also keep hopping up and down the whole time. Thoughts on that matter?

Also, thanks to DogP, Thunderstruck and RunnerPack for their assistance on this project! After some research and critical thinking of my own, I ended up seeing that the project had already been done here: http://s9.zetaboards.com/Nintendo_64_Forever/topic/7368828/1/

But I wanted to post my own rendition for Planet VB users to enjoy anyway!

5 Replies

Woops- lost the first draft of this post, and forgot to add the most important picture!

Cool stuff. Nice to see you sticked with it to the end. I hope you figure out what’s going wrong with the other systems.

HP Lovethrash wrote:
… After one somewhat botched try, I was later able to get a fully functional and fully awesome Virtual Boy controller working on my NES…

Very nice! I bet playing NES games with a Virtual Boy controller is totally awesome! (and certainly more comfortable than using one of those original, rectangular NES controllers)

Fantastic mod! Great job! How’s it feel?

It feels great- I realized that the shape of the old NES ones was bad enough but even a dogbone one is hard to use because it’s so small. The handles on the VB make it super easy to grip. Next up, I ordered some XBOX replacement thumbstcks that I’ll try to mount on the D-pad…

I’ve basically finished my SNES one as well, turns out you just have to attach the 2 extra wires that make A/B function in a different manner than for an NES. Also, you have to sever the original traces coming from A and B to the microchip, that’s what was screwing up the functions as I mentioned above…The B-button is like 97% responsive because I salvaged a PCB with prior failed mods, so I have to re-do it properly soon 🙂


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