How To Make A Videogame Cartridge Connector For Neo Geo Pocket (or Gameboy, NES, SNES, Genesis, etc.)June 19, 2012
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I just finished editing a tutorial video to instruct other makers and hackers how to make their own NGPC cartridge socket (or any other videogame cartridge socket). These cartridge connectors are impossible to find, unless you remove them from a console. If you’re lucky (or unlucky as it may be) enough to own a non-working system, you can just pull its connector. Otherwise, you probably want to make your own connector.
The video specifically shows my father and I cutting a PCI socket to make two NGPC cartridge connectors. To make other sockets/connectors, the same process can be used, but you may have to start with a different edge connector. Just choose something with the same pin pitch as your project, grab a Dremel tool, and start hacking.
Here’s the video. Below it, I will lay out some of the steps involved. Please leave a comment (especially on YouTube) about the project you’re working on.
Here are the steps shown in the How To Make A Videogame Cartridge Connector video. Also, the images below are in the same order as the steps.
- The PCI socket has 2 openings. One is large enough to accommodate a Neo Geo Pocket cartridge. Then there’s a “key” and a smaller area of pins. Cut the PCI socket right at the key to remove the smaller area of pins. It’s useless to us. (Images: Cutting, Cut, Cut Angle 2)
- Turn the PCI socket so that the through-hole legs (for soldering to the PCB) are toward you. Cut the socket in half the long way. Be very careful not to nick any pins or legs. Do not allow your cutting wheel to get too deep as to enter the edge connector portion of the PCI socket. It’s better to too shallow, because it’s easy to break apart later. (Image: Just After Cut)
- On each end of the PCI socket, there should be a bit of plastic. Carefully slice this plastic vertically. Again, do not allow the cutting disc to contact any of the pins.
- With a pliers and flat-head screwdriver, crack the remaining bits of plastic to end up with 2 halves of the PCI socket. Each of these halves can produce a cartridge connector.
- Using some sort of guide (or carefully counting pins), mark the center. The NGPC cartridge has a “key” here, so we need to provide a slot for the key to enter. Pull out one pin from either side of this center mark.
- Similarly, find and mark the final pin. Pull out one (or more) pins after the final pin. On one half of the PCI socket, you will be marking the right side. On the other half, you will mark the right side. It’s hard to explain via text, but I think it will be obvious especially if you watch the video.
- Make a vertical cut for the center key.
- Make a vertical cut for each end of the cartridge.
- Make a horizontal cut on each end to create a “shoulder” for the cartridge to rest on when inserted into the socket. This step is not strictly necessary. The ends of the socket can be completely straight down to the PCB, but the shoulders really help insertion and alignment and alleviate stress from the socket.
- Feel free to round or widen any of the edges. I find that if you’re doing it all by hand, it’s best to cut it a bit wide (or skinny in the case of the center key slot). You can always file it down. However, if you make the connector too skinny (or the key slot too wide), the cartridge may fit in sloppily and the connectors may not properly align.
That’s about it. Here’s the finished product. Of course, you have to have a PCB or breadboard adapter that will accept this newly created socket.
Hopefully you found this interesting. Maybe you just wanted to know how we did it, but maybe you’re going to use the info for your own project. Either way, I’m curious what you’re working on or playing. Leave a comment on YouTube and share your reaction.