NES Controller iPod Remote

By embedding a PIC microcontroller into an NES controller, it can be converted into a replacement for Apple’s iPod remote.
(Only 3rd and 4th Generation iPods have this, it is a the small oval port next to the headphone jack).

Update (8/26/2011):
It’s been quite some time since iPods have used this iPod remote connector, but the dock connector (the one used on all iPods except the shuffle, iPad, and iPhone) has the same Rx/Tx pins, as well as a 3.3V out.  A simple breakout board can replace the hacked connector at the end, and you can get this to work with any recent Apple products.  You can buy breakout boards at:
(The mini one is pretty nice, and they also have pinout information).NES Controller iPod Remote

Step 1: Parts

Microcontroller- dsPIC30F2011 These can be sampled from Microchip’s sample site

Programmer- the drawback to using a dsPIC is the complicated programming procedure. The easiest way to program it is to use a Microchip ICD2, however these run fairly expensive. I have not tried this, but apparently the utilities found at can be used with a homemade JDM Programmer.

IC sockets- I used 2 8-pin DIP sockets(a single 18 pin or 16 pin would have also worked). These are necessary for removing and replacing the IC for programming and debugging.

NES Controller

Dremel with a cutting bit

Sharp knife

Soldering iron and small gauge electrical solder

Desoldering pump

Flush cutters, or wire cutters

Needlenose pliers

Standard Ethernet (CAT-5) cabling

A good amount of small gauge wire- I used the innards of extra CAT-5 cable.

3G or 4G iPod.

A plug for the remote jack on the iPod. This is the most difficult to acquire. Several suggestions are made at iPod Linux’s site.
I used a small piece of a shattered old memory module that perfectly fit the remote plug, but any of the other solutions also work.

Step 2: NES Controller Prep

Unscrew the controller with a small Phillips head screwdriver, and remove the PCB. The only components that need to be added are the PIC and the sockets to hold it. This way the original look and feel of the controller is completely uncompromised.

First, the NES chip must be removed. If you do not have a desoldering pump, then the IC can be cut off the board with flush cutters, and the pins can be removed with by heating them with a soldering iron, and pulling them out with pliers.

The original NES cable also must be desoldered from the board in a similar manner.

In order to make room for the PIC, a small portion of the board must be cut away from the top-right corner. Only just enough to allow the IC in the socket to sit across the board inside the controller case should be removed. Carefully use the dremel to cut away a section about .25″ by 1″.

Step 3: Schematic

The circuit within the controller will essentially be the below picture. This picture is difficult to follow, but is a better explanation of how the controller works. The following steps detail my application of this schematic.NES Controller iPod Remote schematic

Step 4: Wiring the Sockets

Because of the simplicity of the idea, the only electrical work that needs to be done is attaching the IC sockets to the board, and the controller cable to the board.
The wiring of the controller is very simple in theory, but is complicated by the usage of all original components (the black lines covered with green transparent tape are, in fact, pull-up resistors.)

Much of the wiring can vary based on how much of the board was removed with the dremel. Some of the traces that were cut must be replaced with wire, especially any that connect to the button pads or the pullup resistors.

Note: the pads for the old NES chip are counted counter-clockwise from the notch printed on the back of the controller. PIC pin numbers are counted in the same way.
The colors refer to the colors of the original NES cable wires, and are printed on the back of the board (not the colors in the parenthesis).

PIC pin 1 (Master Reset) --- V+ (NES pin 16)PIC pin 2 (IO 0) --- UP (NES pin 4)PIC pin 3 (IO 1) --- DOWN (NES pin 5)PIC pin 4 (IO 2) --- LEFT (NES pin 6)PIC pin 5 (IO 3) --- RIGHT (NES pin 7)PIC pin 8 (Transmit) --- yellowPIC pin 11 (IO 4) --- A (NES pin 1)PIC pin 12 (IO 5) --- B (NES pin 15)PIC pin 13 (VSS) --- ground (The empty pad near the top right corner that is farther away from the edge)PIC pin 14 (VDD) --- V+PIC pin 15 (IO 7) --- SELECT (NES pin 13)PIC pin 16 (IO 6) --- START (NES pin 14)PIC pin 17 (AVSS) --- ground (Same empty pad as above)PIC pin 18 (AVDD) --- V+


For more detail: NES Controller iPod Remote

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