If you grew up in the late ’80s and early ’90s then you likely have fond memories of popping those grey cartridges into your Nintendo Entertainment System. The hours of seemingly endless fun we’ve all experienced have almost certainly stuck with you throughout the years. Whenever I see an NES game I immediately recall simpler times when my biggest worry in the world was whether my friend Danny would come over and help me beat the latest game.
Here we are 25 years later and video games have changed tremendously. Some may say for the better, while others, like myself, still remain somewhat turned off by the complicated story lines, and almost too-realistic graphics we have today. One man named Frank Zhao may have a quasi-solution to my retro gaming addiction.
With the help of his Ultimaker 2 3D printer, Zhao has created one of the coolest video game accessories I have ever seen, merging the present, his Playstation 4, with the past, 3D printed NES cartridges. These just aren’t any 3D printed NES cartridges though. They actually are created for current game titles, and actually run these games on the PS4. That’s right: Zhao is creating NES cartridges for games like Grand Theft Auto V, Need For Speed Rivals, and The Crew. When these cartridges are inserted into a special drive he has created for his PS4 (also thanks to 3D printing) the games are actually executable.
So how did he do it? It’s actually simpler than you may have imagined. First he prints out the cartridge replicas on his Ultimaker 2 3D printer, along with custom labels on his 2D printer. The files to print these have been uploaded to the YouMagine website. Next it’s time to 3D print the housing which the games are inserted into on the PS4 and lastly use some engineering skills to set up the electrical components for this project.
The internals of each game cartridge consist of a 2.5″ hard drive, where Zhao uploads the specific game. Now in order for the hard drive to connect to the PS4 and be easily read, Zhao next had to place a SATA connector attachment inside the game housing that he eventually attaches to the PS4 console. Connecting the SATA cable to the motherboard was the trickiest part, as Zhao explains:
“This was actually pretty hard, I ended up gluing a popsicle stick to the connector first, and then used the stick to poke the connector inside and into the motherboard’s connector.”
Once this was done the 3D printed housing unit was attached to the console and games could be inserted. Once a game is inserted into the unit, the hard drive within the cartridge connects to the SATA hard drive reader and within seconds transmits the game to the PS4 console’s motherboard.
Yes this is not the most economically feasible hack — however, it’s certain to impress your retro-gaming friends. Let us know if you have taken on this project. Discuss in the PS4 3D Printed NES Cartridge forum thread at 3DPB.com. Check out the video below from Zhao, showing this hack in action: