A Nintendo NES powered robot.

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The goal of this project is to build and program a Nintendo NES to drive motors and servos. We want to build it so that the NES can power our bot without any internal modification. The plan is to use the expansion port connector on the bottom of the NES.

We are going to strive to use the NES processor as much as possible, and not rely on a microcontroller to do all the heavy lifting. This means that the program must be executed from a real cartridge, just like it would back in the day. 

Some of the expansion pins are mapped to the directly to the cartridge. Since the NES CPU has very little periphals, we could place any needed peripherals (for example, a timer) in the cartridge itself.

Right now, we are programming the cartridge using Atmel EEPROM chips and a hand modified cartridge.

NES-NEEPROM-256 rev 1-0-0.PDF

Schematic for modified cartridge to accept AT28C256 EEPROM chips

Adobe Portable Document Format - 453.28 kB - 08/12/2017 at 20:50


  • Resurrecting NES Hardware

    Matthew08/09/2017 at 23:20 0 comments

    Since this is my first post, I will do an introduction.

    Hello, I'm Matthew. I am an electrical engineering graduate and 1/3 of the robot team. I have a knack for fixing things, but I don't like just hacking things together. I'm the kind of guy who would design a PCB for a mod rather than leave wires loose inside. I programmed the PWM for my LEDs to have a curve because the brightness of an LED is non-linear to our eyes. It didn't matter if no one else noticed it. I had to do it because it just didn't look right. I'm the guy at your workplace with the obnoxiously loud mechanical keyboard.

    I've worked on robotics teams before. I consider myself an expert C programmer, but I run the other way when it comes to assembly language. Whereas Nick, other the hand, takes pleasure in diving head first into the 6502 instruction set. So, when he talked about making an NES robot and using the original CPU I was on-board immediately. I hope to learn some 6502 assembly from him during this project.

    For this project I'll be working on electrical design as well as anything necessary to makes things go smoothly. Whether that be building a programmer, drawing up schematics, hacking cartridges to accept newer EEPROM chips, or even fixing Nick's oscilloscope.

    I'll be putting up schematics on the Github page soon of the EEPROM cartridge that we're currently using. In my research, I've found a lot of pinouts and diagrams which were just ASCII drawings. I want to eventually redraw some of these NES schematics to make them look a little more professional. 

    I got another NES from eBay yesterday for my own personal use. When I took a look inside, I noticed something wrong with it. So for the end of this post, I will leave you with a link to my PSA about putting the cartridge tray back together properly.

  • $8000 | Androids dream of whatever you want

    Nick Overacker08/07/2017 at 01:17 1 comment

    Saluete and はじめまして, and also a "hello" for good measure. My name is Nick; I am a computer engineering student with a fetish for languages, both the natural and computer kinds. I like traveling, bit-banging, bending the universe to my indomitable will, and kind of medium-shortish walks on the beach. I'm also bad at self-introductions, so I'll stop there.

    Let me tell you a little about this project. We (Matthew, Fernando, and I) are returning contestants in the OSU Mercury Robotics Challenge. We have all participated several times in the past, but this is the first time we are pooling our talent together as a team. We have all had our experience with the basic process of designing and building a robot from scratch; it's a challenge, but it's the same challenge we have already solved repeatedly. We want to do something new.

    A couple years ago, I found Jon Erickson's Hacking: The Art of Exploitation at my local bookstore, and I also read Kevin Mitnick's Ghost in the Wires. These awakened an already barely-latent fascination for using devices in ways that their designers had never even dreamed of. It wasn't long before my mind turned to my dust-covered NES; I opened the case and was surprised to discover that there was a hidden expansion port underneath it. I knew then that my next robot was going to be built with the Nintendo Entertainment System.

    I took a one-year hiatus from engineering as an exchange student in Japan, then assembled a team as soon as I returned. We are now starting to gain some momentum, and the way forward is getting clearer every week.

    Expect more updates as we continue to make breakthroughs. We will share our work here, and finalized designs will be available for all to see. This will be a non-destructive console mod; the robot's program will run exactly like a regular game cartridge. The only direct rework necessary will be to break the cover from the expansion header underneath the console.

    That's all for now. We are happy to answer questions and take suggestions!

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