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August 7, 2005

If you are like me you get really excited when you find two Nintendo controllers at the Salvation Army. One was priced at $1.00 and the other at $.37 (i didn't fight the pricing). Of course, they get home and meanwhile occupy a part of my brain that is like a broken stove. There is this back burner that is constantly on. Ideas get on there and just simmer away. So the idea for one of the controllers was to make it a card reader that i can plug my sd or compact flash cards into to transfer files. Sunday morning i came up with my idea for the second one... make it a mouse.
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What you'll need for this project:
A nintendo controller
A optical mouse
A Dremel tool
Small screwdrivers
Super glue
A hot glue gun
Wire cutters
A soldering gun and solder for electronics
Two (if you do it right) replacement buttons
Four or five hours

First open the donor and recipient up and dremel out some space for the guts (the mouse i used was perfect. I just had to leave out the scroll wheel.) Clean up the mystery child's coagulated sweat with a powerful cleaning product.

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Aw heck, i don't have the patience for a complete tutorial - i just spent the better part of the day working on it. Here's the narrative... Hack and cut. make the guts fit. Open a hole for the sensor to shine through on the bottom. Glue the sensor's clear plastic reflector thing down in place. Remove the buttons from the mouse circuit board carefully. Solder spare wire (i used telephone wire but you could use the wire from the Nintendo controller) onto the board so that you can use the A button as your left click and the B button as your right. Solder carefully. Attach the replacement buttons. Mine were from a dead stereo. Yes, i keep dead stereo electronics around. You should see the collections of crap i have. I had to bend some sort of barrel thing on the circuit board in order for the case to fit. One of the contacts pulled out of the board (as i had expected) and i soldered an extension for it. I cut a piece of the nintendo controller off to fit behind the 4 way rocker so it would feel like it iriginally did. The start and select buttons didn't have enough space behind them to allow that. I hot glued the hollow part of the A and B buttons so they would contact the buttons i had put behind them. I hot glued the mouse board and the replacement buttons in place once that was all calculated out. I wrapped the cord for the mouse around the posts that prevent the cord from being pulled out. I reassembled and tested and had to take it apart and carve out some hot glue because the A or "left" button wouldn't click. Here are some pictures...
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On the topside the only apparent difference is that the cord is grey and it has a usb plug at the end. The bottom side had the opening for the sensor. The only thing i would do differently is to cover the inside a little better - there are a few points that red light penetrates the sticker on the top of the controller because the plastic case has holes drilled in it. I considered putting the scroll wheel in because i really prefer my mice with them. It could be done fairly easily but i wanted to keep the form factor. The wheel would have come out right between the red buttons and the "Nintendo" logo. Using the controller you put your palm over the 4 way control and your index finger on the A button.

I have uploaded some better photos of the modifications here.

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