SNES gamepad extension working

Over the last few days I implemented firmware support for SNES gamepads, with each gamepad appearing as its own USB keyboard for maximum compatibility. Thing is, though, that SNES gamepad connectors can nowadays hardly be obtained in larger quantities, so I have to leave this as a little soldering exercise for those who want to retrofit their Retrode with controller inputs.

The procedure is really really simple, so everyone should be able to do this on their own – or at least ask a friend who has some basic soldering knowledge. Here is an example I prepared using two out of the five connectors from a 5+1 player Tribal Tap:

Gamepad connector from multitap adapterGamepad connector wiring
As you can see, all it takes is five straight wires per connector. The wire colours were chosen in a purely random fashion so as to cause some more confusion :)

Since the Retrode will behave like a keyboard, it will map all SNES controller buttons and the D-pad to keycodes. Which brings us to the next question: for those of you who play their emulator using a keyboard, which is your favorite key assignment for controllers 1 and 2? (Please comment)

11 comments to SNES gamepad extension working

  • I normally use the following keyboard layout:

    A S D
    Z X C

    L X R
    Y B A

    SNES (fighting games):
    Y X L
    B A R

    (With Enter as Start and Space as Select)

    That allows for a quick access to all 6 buttons in two lines, with every button retaining their original positions (in the first case). For player 2, I use the number pad’s for directional control, the small Enter as Start and 0/Insert as Select, and Ins, Del, etc for the buttons using the same layouts as above.

    By the way, a bit off-topic but, rather than .BIN, the official file extension for MegaDrive/Genesis ROMs seems to be .SGD, according to some ROMs that were obtained from SEGA vaults, as well as the contents of the Virtual Console releases for the Wii.

    • Also… I was wondering if there’s there any plans for the following (or similar) adaptors:

      NES-Master System
      Virtual Boy-Game Boy Advance

      And how about single-system adaptors without the controller features? Wouldn’t those be cheaper to manufacture?

      • I just updated the FAQ to cover the “other game consoles” part of your question.
        By the way, you would be surprised how little of the total cost comes from the material itself (connectors, electronic parts, etc). The support for gamepads causes no (zero) extra cost at all, it’s just a bunch of wires on the PCB. On the other hand, there are immense one-off costs, such as for tooling and setup, CE/FCC compliance testing, etc. If there were different models, say, a sega2usb and a snes2usb, these costs would accrue several times.
        Ah yes, and don’t forget the taxes, but these are per unit of course.

        Update (Oct 10): There is now a FAQ Special Edition with more information about cost factors.

    • Thank you also for your comment on the file extensions. There exist indeed various suffixes but they also correspond to different file formats. However, there is only one that doesn’t involve weird interlacing business, and that is .BIN.

    • Jesse V

      Nah, you see .bin is the standard it identifies them as binary roms or proper dumps the other name for them would be .gen which are non-proper dumps. I don’t know where you got sgd but that’s probably some dumper making up his own extensions

      • “Proper” or not, the document where I found this information must be at least partially trustworthy, since the description of the file format itself seems okay :-)

  • Jesse V

    Did you actually get in contact with him?He does make them from scratch I just don’t know how quickly he makes them or how many he can produce within a certain amount of time, on his website go to info and styles (or tutorials) you’ll see he makes his own for most of his projects (including snes), he molds them himself .

    Oh yeah with my keyboard I use different layouts for different games, but for street fighter I use the number pad’s 4 (Y) 5(X) 6(L) 1(B) 2(A) 3(R) and enter for star and del for select otherwise I use A (Y) S (X) X(A) Z(B) Q (L) W (R) SPACE (SEL) ENTER (START) and for both I use d-pad for d-pad.

    • Ah yes, found his comment on some forum. He writes that he uses “a moulding kit [he] found”, and from what I see in the photos, the quality is in accord with that. Casting resin is brittle and not a material I would pick for a gamepad connector. If it is a composite material, there will probably be residual gunk which I would have to to account for (mind the RoHS directive). And if the actual fabrication process only takes a few minutes, we would already be way above budget — unless we are talking prison/child/slave labour.

  • Bencao (ç?) and Jesse,

    Thank you both for these hints. However, I would reckon these folks do not actually make their own connectors but take them from existing hardware instead. In small numbers this is perfectly fine, for instance I got five connectors from a Tribal Tap adapter I ebayed for only a few bucks. Unfortunately, this is not an option for the production version of the snega2usb, for at least three reasons:
    (1) I am not aware of anyone who could supply hundreds of multitaps.
    (2) Unsoldering the connectors cannot be automated.
    (3) They will contain traces of lead, which I have to avoid according to the RoHS directive.


  • Hi,

    connect Paul from

    He has made controller adapters for nearly all console. Sure he can help


  • Jesse V

    Hi, I know someone who makes retro adapters, and I’m sure I could ask him about getting you some connectors if you’re interested.