Connecting SNES sockets to the Raspberry Pi: An assembly guide

In a previous post, I described my idea of a universal console with the Raspberry Pi. I presented, what I called, the SNESDev-RPi, which is an SNES-controller interface for the Raspberry Pi. A core element of this interface is a SNES-adapter PCB that I recently designed and that does nothing more than providing all needed connections between the GPIO pins and two SNES connectors. In this post I describe the details for assembling the SNES-adapter that I showed in the previous post. Furthermore, I show how a single SNES socket can be directly connected to the GPIO pins of the Raspberry Pi.

This post is organized in two sections: The first section describes the details for assembling the SNES adapter with the PCB. The second section describes, how a single SNES socket can directly be connected to the Raspberry Pi.

Before I begin with the descriptions I want to say that both described approaches need soldering and work with heat and electricity. This means that you should know what you are doing when following these instructions!

Assembling the SNES adapter with the PCB

In this section I describe how to connect two SNES connectors to the SNES-adapter PCB that I recently designed. The PCB replaces some wires and makes it easily possible to attach two SNES connectors to the Raspberry Pi. If you are interested, here is an illustration of the board layout (click on it to enlarge):

For the assembly we need the following components:

  • 1x SNES-adapter PCB
  • Ribbon cable – 26 wire
  • Ribbon Cable – 6 wire (from which we only use five wires)
  • 1x Ribbon Crimp Connector, 2×13 pins
  • 2x SNES connectors (I got these from two extension cables for SNES controllers)

As you might have noticed I left out the shrouded pin headers used for the prototype as shown in the previous post. I realized that these take quite a lot of space. To allow for putting the whole adapter into a nice small case I decided to discard them here. The assembly consists mainly of dismantling the wires and soldering them to the pins and pads.

Here is a diagram that illustrates all needed connections between the connectors and the PCB (tap to show it in large). To be on the safe side, use pin 1, which provides 3.3V! According to other sources the polling of the SNES controller should also work with 3.3V.

The red lines illustrate the connections between the GPIO connector and the PCB. Here I chose those GPIO pins that are used in the SNESDev-RPi implementation. The connections between the SNES connectors and the PCB are indicated by pairs of numbers or capital letters and are shown in purple.

For the sake of completeness also the pin out for two optional LEDs and a button is shown. A button can be attached between the “b”s. An LED can be attached (watch the polarization!) between “n” and “GND” or “m” and “GND”, respectively. As already mentioned, the LEDs and the button are not used here. But if you want to use them, you also have to connect the LED and BTN pins on the left of the PCB to the GPIO connector. Also, you need to solder three resistors on the boad to make the circuits work. I used 2.2k Ohm 1/4W resistors, but similar ones would also do here.

Connecting a single SNES socket to the Raspberry Pi

In this section I describe how to attach a single SNES connector to the Raspberry Pi. We need the following parts for this:

  • Ribbon cable – 26 wire
  • 1x Ribbon Crimp Connector, 2×13 pins
  • 1x SNES connectors

The following illustrations shows the connections between the SNES connector and the 2×13 crimp connector. To be on the safe side, use pin 1, which provides 3.3V! According to other sources the polling of the SNES controller should also work with 3.3V.

The wiring between the crimp connector and the single SNES connector is equal to the one of the second SNES controller when using the SNES-adapter board. Notice that the button mapping within the source code of SNESDev has to be adapted to your needs in this case! Alternatively, you can connect the data pin of the connector with P22. If you do so, no changes to the source code of SNESDev should be needed.


I hope you find these descriptions helpful. Please tell me, If anything is still unclear so that I can add the missing information. If you have any ideas for improvements for the SNES-adapter PCB it would be great to share them here. While I wrote this post, for example, I got the idea that it might be easier to have a 2×13 connector directly attached to the SNES-adapter board. Also, some over-voltage protection would be reasonable for a future revision of the board.

If there are enough people interested in the SNES-adapter board, I already thought about designing another revised version of it …

What do you think?


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17 Responses to Connecting SNES sockets to the Raspberry Pi: An assembly guide

  1. Bob Cool says:

    Looks awesome! I wish I had the know-how to build it…

  2. Smikey says:

    You use the 5V-pin to supply the SNES-Controller… Is the voltage between the other GPIO-Pins and the Controller also 5V? I thought the GPIO-pins only support 3.3V…

    • Florian says:

      Thanks a lot for pointing this out!
      To be on the safe side, use pin 1, which provides 3.3V! The Uzebox documentation states that the polling also works with 3.3V. I am not at home right now and I will test this as soon as possible … I have already updated the text, the illustrations follow in the next days.

  3. Nathan haslam says:

    Is the second snes connector connected in the same as connector 1 or does it use p22 on the ribbon cable instead for data? (sorry if it’s a noob question just starting out with this)

    • Florian says:

      The illustration above shows the SNES-adapter board with a connection between p22 of the ribbon cable and data out of the first controller on the SNES-adapter board. The data out of the second controller on the adapter board is connected to p15 of the ribbon cable. This pin out is used by the polling program SNESDev, but could be adapted to whatever you want … I hope this helps!?

      • Nathan haslam says:

        Thanks for clearing that up, I guess I’ve fount what I’ll be turning my RaspberryPi into.. When it arrives. (: and nice work btw it’s got to be personally the best thing I’ve seen one of these end up being turned into yet, the orignal snes controllers just complete it! Now all you need is a shell to hide it in and you could fool anyone!

  4. Can I use this with NES controllers. If so, how?

  5. Daniel says:

    Florian… you are doing an awesome job. I am seriously considering to follow your steps and build those ports for my raspberry pi. But actually I fail in getting SNES ports… I don’t have an old SNES which I could use 😦

    • Daniel says:

      ebay… as usual! Sorry for bothering you. I was looking for the ports themselves… until I found an extension cable! I think I will go with that 🙂

  6. Looking at the PCB: Voltage, Ground, Latch, and Clock should be common between both controllers. The difference should be pin 1 (data 1, data 2). Why use the circuit board intermediate? Wouldn’t short jumpers be just as good?

    • Florian says:

      Yes, you are right! I tried to point to this in the SNESDev post: “The SNES-adapter board really does nothing but to provide a clean wiring for the connectors.” Hence, you can replace it!

  7. Chad Johnson says:

    Hello Again,

    I am using one controller and cannot get the SNES to see my controller even though the terminal can see it and when I press buttons on the controller it types letters in terminal but still nothing in the emulationstation. Can you help me?

    • Florian says:

      Do you see the output of pad 1 or 2 (according to the SNESDev source code)?
      To check this, controller 1 should control the cursor in the terminal, controller 2 leads to the keys “a s d w” when pressing the D-pad.
      Try to run a ROM without retroarch first.
      I just found a post about a project that uses SNESDev at Maybe you can get a hint there as well!?

  8. DonKahones says:

    Is the controller supposed to operate the menu?

    • Florian says:

      In combination with the gamecon driver, SNESDev and Emulation Station it is possible to control the RPi as gaming platform with game pads only.

      • Donkahones says:

        Thanks for the reply. I installed everything per your script and wired the controllers up. Configured them using your They work fine in the games but not at the menu. Is there an additional step/setting change I need to do to be able to use them?

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