Fun projects for your NES

Take your NES apart

Step 1: Turn your Nintendo on its back and remove the six screws highlighted in the image below. A magnetic tip screwdriver will save you some grief and help you keep track of the screws as you proceed. Lift the bottom half of your NES up and turn it right-side up again. Now that the top of your NES case is free, scrub it down with some soap and water or toss it in the dishwasher.


Step 2: Remove the 7 screws from the shiny metal shield on top that covers the slot where your games go.

Step 3: Remove the 6 screws on either side of the black cartridge loader with the spring. Note that the two silver screws in the middle on each side are slightly longer than the other screws in your NES.

Step 4: Remove the last two screws holding down the circuit board and bottom shield.


Step 5: Lift up the bottom metal shield that’s holding the circuit board and the cartridge loader. Rest it on the plastic pegs sticking out from the bottom of your case. Now, gently slide the cartridge loader off as shown in the image below.

Above: Sometimes this piece can get stuck. Don’t be afraid to use a little force when sliding it off 

Step 6: Flip the shield and board over gently, because there are still wires attached. Remove the two green controller ports and big blue plug that leads to the power and reset buttons. Sometimes the controller ports are difficult to remove. So use your fingernails to pry them loose if they’re giving you trouble.

Step 7: Now that you’ve removed the three plugs, remove the bottom metal shield from the board with the old 72-pin connector. 

Step 8: Slide the old 72-pin connector off of the board. It may feel a little stiff. Don’t be afraid to use a little force as you slide it off.

Step 9: Now that you’ve removed the 72-pin connector, you should clean both sides of the blade before putting your new connector on. We rubbed a pencil eraser on the right side of the blade in the image below. But you can also clean it with some Brasso and isopropyl alcohol like we did with the cartridges. Can you see the difference?

Step 10: When you’re done cleaning the blade, slide your new 72-pin connector on and reassemble your NES. You may feel a little bit of tension when sliding your new connector on. Don’t be afraid to use a little force when pushing the 72-pin connector onto the blade.



This NES was a mess and had been sitting in a closet for over 10 years. Inside, we found a few dead bugs, lots of dust, and a dirty blade for the old 72-pin connector. Needless to say, it didn’t load games at all. But after cleaning our cartridges and console, and replacing the 72-pin connector, it loaded every game in our library like a brand new console. It will feel tight when you slide in games from now on. That’s a good thing, because it means that there’s a solid connection between your new 72-pin connector and your games.

Above: Now you can enjoy all your favorite 8-bit classics again! Next, we’ll show you how to mod your NES controllers


  • nyef - November 9, 2009 2:52 a.m.

    another way to get your nes working is to open it up until you reach the 72 chip, but instead of taking it out and replacing it... just take a soft bristled toothe brush and some rubbing alchohol and start scrubbing. thats what i did with the one my friend gave me that was in his closet for 10 years and it works fine
  • chinesesoldier - November 6, 2009 5:18 a.m.

    My old tech teacher was doing a project on turning his NES into a computer. He told us all he needed was a smaller motherboard and a way to change the controller ports to USB ports. I don't know if he ever got it done.
  • waynski1457 - November 3, 2009 4:11 a.m.

    I am lucky enough to own a second, broken NES. I turned it into a PC. It's pretty decent just for messing around on.
  • Tatts4Life - November 2, 2009 2:06 p.m.

    I'll have to try this out when I can get a new pin connector. My system has been harder to get to work and it's been sitting in my closet for years now.
  • Cyberninja - November 2, 2009 11:57 a.m.

    can you do one of these for my broken dreamcast please
  • matt588 - October 31, 2009 5:01 a.m.

    hmm.. maybe I should find and dust off my old NES, and the first game I'll play?? ABADOX
  • iluvmyDS - October 31, 2009 4:35 a.m.

    I'm going to say thank you in advance, my NES was being temperamental, and we had a flood that might have killed it completely. I will use this to bring it back.
  • Sidnapolis - October 31, 2009 4:29 a.m.

    I never owned an NES, but I might have to open up my SNES sometime and give it a good cleaning. Also, I'd love to recommend to you guys, which is a Java-based, online NES "bemulator" that is actually legal. They were able to work around the copyright law by not allowing people to download the games (only play them in your browser) and by only hosting games that they legitimately purchased. Much better than GameTap, and it works with the NES-USB adaptor.
  • Styrophoamicus - October 31, 2009 3:57 a.m.

    The last time I hooked up my NES it didn't work, and the last time I hooked up my SNES the only game that would play was Mario Kart. For some reason, I forsee the Wii sharing the same fate
  • JoeMasturbaby - October 31, 2009 2:27 a.m.

    i have 3 NES's that dont work. and like 30 games too. thanks!
  • Amnesiac - October 31, 2009 12:18 a.m.

    Clean cartridges? Feh. Real men just blow into the carts.
  • NotBraze - October 30, 2009 10:24 p.m.

    I never had and NES but I do have a SEGA Genesis sitting in my parents basement. I'd love to take a spin on Aladdin on Sonic 2 again but I can never get it to work properly. You should do a cleaning guide for the Genesis so I can take the old 'broken' system off to my dorm room.
  • kissmeimgreek - October 30, 2009 10:19 p.m.

    Great read! i however dont have a nes... but i do have a barely working n64 and would love an n64 cleaning guide... hintity hint hint
  • Brutus - October 30, 2009 10:07 p.m.

    hm, I think I'll give this a try, I picked up an old nes and 20 something games at a yardsale for $12 and it didn't work, been sitting in my room for months.
  • iKOemos - October 30, 2009 9:59 p.m.

    This would be great!.... if I had a NES.... Still a fun read though, thanks Tyler.
  • Dawlish - October 30, 2009 9:45 p.m.

    ACE WHY WHY WHY? move with the times
  • IIIIIACEIIIII - October 30, 2009 9:34 p.m.

    Hehe my NES, SNES, Megadrive and Master System all work fine and I use them near enough every day :P
  • Nin10DOH - October 30, 2009 9:27 p.m.

    thats cool, i should try these out

Showing 1-18 of 18 comments

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