I have made two of these cases using Intel PC’s that are the mini-ITX form factor. It is the ideal size for the NES case at 170mm x 170mm. The first one was in 2009 and I think the second one was done shortly after in 2010. To date I have bought three of Intel PC’s, all with soldered down Atom processors. The two best sites for ordering mini-ITX hardware are mini-box.com and logicsupply.com. For almost everything other than playing hi-definition video games the Atom based PC’s are great. At around $100 for a board, ram, hard-drive, and a case you have a complete computer for your TV or a normal desktop.
For the first case I used standoffs as pictured above and left the inside of the case closer to original. With the second case I wanted more room so I cut out more material in the NES to lower the installation height of the board. Then I soldered (melted) a sheet of ABS over the bottom of the case. That worked out much better than the first case with the standoffs.
I handled the power and reset switches pretty much the same in both cases. The original switches on the NES take up a lot of space. I started with them, but I threw out the board they were attached to, leaving only the metal frame and buttons. The switches and the LED were just some generic parts from a local computer store meant for use with any regular PC power/reset/HDD/LED header connection. I bent the metal frame to hold them in place and the LED slid right into the original power light.
Later on I had some extra space in printed circuit board I had made so I used it to create my own switch plate. It uses the original standoffs for mounting, gets rid of the clear plastic in the power light, and all of the switch parts except for the button faces. It gives you more room inside of the case for mounting the motherboard. There are also very clear solder points for the wires to it. The switches and LED were ordered from Digikey. It costs a little more but works much better than trying to recycle the NES metal switch frame.
Here is a shot of the first case before I installed the USB ports at the front. I used a piece of protoboard mounted to the standoffs to secure the DVD drive. With the second case I cut several pieces of ABS and soldered them to the roof of the inside of the case. This let the DVD drive slide into place through the front of the case. This was much cleaner and made working on the case easier too.
An 80mm fan is actually an exact fit from the top to the bottom the inside of the case. You barely need anything to secure it, but a little double sided tape is about it. The the right of where the fan is in the picture is where the RCA connectors were on the NES. Since they are low, and already holes in the case, they make for great cool air inlets. The vents on the roof were left alone. The hard drive is on the outside standing up. Next to it on the white USB extension cord is a wireless USB network adapter and the receiver for the wireless keyboard.
In the picture above there is a single screw through one of the vents at the top of the picture. It is not as robust as I would like, but it is screwed into one of the hard drive mounting points to hold it in place. You can also see the sheet of ABS that was used as the base on the inside of this case (the second one built).
Here is a shot of the back of the first case. I used the metal plate to cover the connectors that the board came with. The Dremel was used to cut out the top and bottom of the case. On the second case I made, it was low enough that I only had to cut into the bottom of the case. I used my own ABS plastic to make a connector cover.
Notice the coax cable coming in? I was able to fit a TV tuner card into the PCI slot on the board. That was another thing that just barely fit. The clearance against the DVD drive is as close as it gets.
The two controller ports were changed to USB ports. I used a Dremel tool, a vice, and some steady hands. There really is no easy way to make these ports happen. Here are several other pictures of the second case. The TV tuner PCI card is not installed in these pictures:
I always wanted to make an even better case that was a kit that anyone could assemble on their own without too much skill. The only problem now is that to make one of these after it is all said and done will cost about $400 to $600 depending on parts. Then you have a computer for the TV to do what? There are so many choices out there for something that is almost a computer for your TV for much less than $400, and it’s already built for you. My LG TV with Netflix, Amazon, and everything else built in does a great job at being a media player with only an external hard drive plugged into one of it’s two USB ports. In 2012 Intel released a new line of boards that almost make me want to build another case. The DN2800MT looks like a great candidate too.