I was able to successfully modify my top loading NES-101 to be able to output in full composite video thanks to the fine folks at retrofixes. I’m not sure any of you have an idea of exactly how excited I am about this.
Real F’ing Excited
There are a few top loading NES models that were produced to output in composite (Red, White and Yellow wires), but they are exceedingly rare and pretty pricey on ebay.
The top loader I have had in my possession, and even used to race during Big 20 #6, has only been able to output through RF.
What? Are you for real?
Yep. Nintendo produced a console in 1993, after the release of the SNES, that would only output through RF and connect through your TV’s antennae jack. What in the flying fuck, Nintendo?
It’s not like the technology didn’t exist, the original front loading VCR-like NES was able to output in composite!
In fact, the ease of this mod is due in large part to the NES already being capable of producing composite video!
You read that right.
The top loading NES produces composite video output already and then passes it through the on board RF unit.
Por que, Nintendo?! POR QUE!?
Enter our hero:
Retrofixes sells a very affordable PCB that can be wired between the composite output of the NES, bypassing the RF unit, and into some new composite output jacks you install yourself. They’ve got a guide on how to do the composite mod yourself available on their site.
Really that easy?
Of course not, this isn’t a plug and play mod. There’s some soldering know-how involved. The PCB they provide is very small, and the contacts you’ll be soldering 6 wires to are very close. If haven’t used a soldering iron before, don’t know how to use flux, or are skittish about drilling into your top-loader and cutting a pin, this might not be the mod for you.
If you have a bit of soldering know-how this wasn’t too bad. I mentioned before it’s just 8 wires to solder to the small PCB. The construction is very high quality and I didn’t have trouble at all with the help of a set of “helping hands” from Radio Shack.
I’ll admit to being a bit skittish when it came to cut the composite video pin on the NES. That was the real point of no turning back.
No worries though:
Everything worked flawlessly when all was said and done. I think my only real hiccup was I didn’t measure properly before drilling the holes in the back.
If I had to do that part again I would probably mock up a template in Photoshop and print it, then drill through the template on the back of the NES.
One feature I didn’t mention is that the chip also has the ability to provide “enhanced audio” separating the two sound channels on the NES into left and right. It actually sounds pretty good although it was a bit jarring to me at first how different it sounded.
That will take a bit to get used to, but overall I’m enjoying it.
Here’s a couple sample Twitch clips to see the before and after. You can really see the low quality of the RF, making the whole game look like a bad VHS copy.