NES XL is a gigantic Super Nintendo controller built by Arnov Sharma. It has functioning buttons and Raspberry Pi hidden inside, so you can play retro games and pretend you’re a Borrower at the same time.

Button management

Every button on SNES XL controller has its own custom PCB, created using PCBWay an online service for producing PCB prototypes. Each board is shown fully working by Arnov on YouTube. Tactile switches on the custom boards are positioned just below the 3D-printed buttons, such that pressing a button toggles its switch. Each of the switches is wired up to a pin on a XIAO SAMD21 development board from Seeed Studio (see Figure 1). When SNES XL is connected to a computer (in this case Raspberry Pi 4), the Seeed XIAO appears as a gaming controller icon and can be selected for gameplay.

Figure 1: The buttons are switches wired up to a pin on a Seeed XIAO SAMD21 board

Too big to print or hold

Arnov designed the controller housing in Fusion360. It had to be 3D printed in three separate parts due to its size, before being superglued together. More videos and images can be found on Arnov’s Instructables.

Retro game emulation here comes courtesy of Recalbox. Power Pi, a Raspberry Pi dock/enclosure with an integrated lithium cell battery pack that Arnov also designed, provides power.

Inside the giant 3D-printed case

Arnov has to set the controller flat on the table to play games, because it’s too big to hold comfortably. Our favourite Raspberry Pi builds are the ones that are so absurd they turn out to be unusable for their originally intended purpose. The BFG would have no problem, but we’re still not sure if he’s real or not. We’ve let Nessie and Bigfoot go, but we’re hanging onto our oversized childhood friend.

Gamer geek

Arnov has graced us with his Raspberry Pi-powered gaming kit twice before. The first time was with SANDWICH DOT IO, an all-in-one desktop gaming system based around Raspberry Pi 3B+ and featuring on-board power as well as a dedicated cooling layer.

The SNES XL is fully working (although hard to hold). Here, Arnov is using it to play a game of Doom!

PALPi, a handheld games console with a retro aesthetic that’s powered by Raspberry Pi Zero W, is another of Arnov’s creations. Let’s start taking bets on what he builds next. We’re thinking he might go to the other end of the size spectrum and come up with something miniature. Maybe a teeny, tiny, thimble-sized Wii controller for dainty indoor tennis and golf.

From The MagPi store


Subscribe to the newsletter

Get every issue delivered directly to your inbox and keep up to date with the latest news, offers, events, and more.