I don't need an iPhone, but that hasn't stopped me from spending the week tempted to go buy one. In order to bolster my resolve to have enough money for school, I opted instead to retrofit my existing cellular phone, a fourteen-month-old Motorola SLVR, with a new case, a twenty-one year-old NES controller.
A few months back I read about this guy, whose phone was slightly too large for the controller housing, and had to wrap the sides of the controller phone with electrical tape. A basic eye-balling of the SLVR and the controller gave me the impression I'd be able to fit the internals in the casing just fine, so I assembled some tools and got cracking.
Step One: Gutting the Controller
After unscrewing the case, I removed the internal electronics and found a bunch of pegs on both the front and back halves of the casing. The pegs on the back posed no problem, as I melted around them with my soldering iron to make room for the screen and keypad (Picture).
I initially hoped to keep two of the screw wells to re-secure the casing later, but the length of the phone required I melt each of them in half for a snug fit. I used pliers to knock out the narrow pegs on the front half of the casing, and some decent nail clippers to trim down whatever was left. I tested the casing halves to see if they would close with the phone inside, but the D-pad and buttons protruded too deeply inside the controller. I removed the back cover on the phone, which bought me a little space, but not enough. Since the SLVR isn't a phone you can easily break down to further compress the components of, I instead took a look at reducing the distances the buttons and D-Pad pushed into the casing. I started with the D-pad, making eight easy cuts with my nail clippers to remove the plastic on the diagonals (Picture). With the cut D-pad placed in the face-down front casing, I melted the two together, and sanded down the result. I also melted the A & B buttons to the front casing, and sanded them down as well that they might not intrude too deeply either (Picture). Using scissors, I made four cuts on the rubber Start and Select buttons: two to shorten the lengths of the buttons, which were originally intended to be recessed much deeper into the controller, and two to remove the thick flanges that once held the buttons in place.
Step Two: Cosmetics
The controller casing now closed neatly around the phone, but I realized that I was going to need to make a few finishing touches with the soldering iron and sandpaper before I'd be happy with the design. Most importantly, I melted another hole in the side of the controller to allow access to the USB connector for charging and my headset. Since the connectors I use are have rubber around them, I opted to melt the smallest hole possible in the side of the controller, and shave enough rubber off of them to plug them in easily. By modding those two connectors, I was able to avoid melting deeply into the back half of the casing, which I think makes a huge difference aesthetically (Picture).
I considered also melting holes for the four side buttons and the light sensor on the top of the phone, but I rarely use the side buttons and didn't feel the need. The light sensor was more of a toss up, but I decided to do without. Using the soldering iron, pliers, and sandpaper, I made another pass over the hole in the back half of the casing and round it off a bit. I twisted a strip of sandpaper around a screwdriver to clean the four remaining screw holes and the hole the controller cord once occupied. I'm going to use sticky tac to close the unit up, and if all works well after a week, I'll melt it shut in a more permanent manner.
Step Three: Using the NESLVR
Despite their concealment, the speaker and microphone pickup seem to work fine from my tests (Picture). I personally prefer to use the hands-free headset, which fits perfectly into the former top of the controller. The charger also works well with the finished product (Picture).
I'm happy with the results overall, but feel there's definitely room for others to take this further. If that's you, then best of luck and enjoy.