The Real Phoenix has just released an updated companion board for the NESRGB (not included) that allows for a no-cut NES RGB mod, as well as a new power supply circuit to be added to a front-loading NES. This project is an extension of Borti4938’s original design and it solves many issues, with not many downsides; The most common problem people might run into is the need to strip some of the insulation off your video cable for it to fit properly. I think almost everyone would rather strip some rubber off a cable, than cut the plastic from a classic console!
Purchase the board pre-made here: https://trp-retromods.ca/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=76
Here’s the Github for the design files: https://github.com/TRP-Retromods/NES_IO_1.5
Original design and installation instructions (pdf): https://github.com/borti4938/NES_IGR_for_NESRGB/tree/master/NES-IO
Here’s the full list of features, with more info below. Also, TRP posted both an overview and installation video above!:
- This board allows RGB, S-Video, Composite video and RCA audio to be accessed from the existing factory holes on the NES.
- The RGB connector is the same as the Genesis 2, so as long as the NESRGB is installed properly, it will be compatible with RGB SCART cables, HD Retrovision cables and the RAD2x. All Genesis 2 cable options can be found here: https://www.retrorgb.com/genesisrgbcables.html
- Change NESRGB color palettes with the NES controller
- In-game reset
- The original NES power circuit was reverse-engineered by Borti4938 and it’s compatible with the original AC adapter. More on this below.
- The audio is routed through both the RGB connector and the side RCA connector, which means it’s easily accessible regardless of which signal you’re using.
- The removable audio board can be replaced with custom solutions should people have a different preference as to how it’s run.
- Color changing LED addition.
I love this board for so many reasons. First, it’s the only #nocutmod solution for a front-loading NES that’s available to purchase today. This is something that’s become extremely important to the retro gaming world, as we’re already seeing older mods get outdated and as a result, people have to cut new holes into their consoles. Using boards like this allow for a 100% reversible solution, should a newer mod ever replace the NESRGB.
Next, the ability to change the NESRGB’s color palette on-the-fly by simply holding a button combination is awesome. See, there’s no exact RGB color palette generated from the original NES chip’s and while many people have put a tremendous effort into getting as close as possible, they’re all approximations of how colors generated in the RGB colorspace would look from a NES. As a result, many people think some of the community-created palettes look better on some games and not others…and heck, it’s fun to be able to change in-game to see how the colors might have looked, depending on what TV you were using!
Also, it allows you to run audio any way you’d like. In it’s current configuration, it simply routes the audio from the NESRGB’s mixing circuit to both L&R channels on the DIN, as well as the RCA connector. This is still mono, but allows audio from both channels on the DIN. Having a removable board like this would also allow any future audio solutions to skip the NESRGB’s mixing circuit and have one that plugs directly onto this board. This could potentially allow for different mix combinations of the NES’ two sound channels, as well as the Famicom’s expansion audio, including a “fake stereo” effect; Some people scoff at this type of setup, but I actually found a tiny bit of separation of the audio channels creates a cool effect that seems to add a bit of “depth” to the audio. That’s all preference though and this design will allow you to easily add whatever you’d like!
Lastly, the original front-loading NES had it’s power circuit inside the RF box. Unfortunately, it’s common that the big capacitor (as well as the others) inside leak and corrode the RF board. In the short-term, that means RF signal quality will be significantly reduced, however (like with all leaky capacitors) over long periods of time the corrosive fluid could destroy the entire RF board, including power circuit causing the NES to not power on. In my opinion, the capacitors in that RF box are extremely hard to replace and I’d much rather replace the whole thing with a new one than spend the time replacing the original. There is something to consider with this board though…
The power circuit in this board uses an OKI-78SR-5/1.5-W36-C DC-DC switching power converter, as opposed to the original 7805 LDO converter. I’ve seen this work perfectly in some NES and SNES’ and it’s even the same power regulator Tim Worthington uses in his rear NESRGB board for the original Famicom, as it doesn’t require a heatsink. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen it add diagonal jailbars in some scenarios. If you get jailbars after installing this board, you can try replacing that power regulator with a more expensive Recom r-78#5.0-1.5, that shouldn’t have any issues. Alternatively, you can always try installing a 7805 with heatsink to match the original. Unfortunately, power is tricky and can always cause some problems. Luckily, all three choices mentioned should be perfectly safe to try!
Overall, between the features and convenience added, as well as the fact the you don’t have to cut your original console, I think this board is a must-have for almost everyone installing a NESRGB into a front-loading NES!