Building an NES Into a Vintage CRT TV

Insomniacfactory built their own NES-in-a-TV inspired by the Sharp C1.

Cameron Coward
2 months agoGaming / Retro Tech / Displays

While they were virtually non-existent in North America, Japan has a long history of releasing TVs with built-in video game consoles. The Sharp C1 is an interesting example built by Sharp and Nintendo that put the internals of a Famicom (the Nintendo Entertainment System) into a CRT TV enclosure. That provided some measure of convenience, but also better video quality as it didn't require a composite video connection. Sadly for retrogaming fans, it is almost impossible to find a working Sharp C1 for sale today. Undeterred, Insomniacfactory built their own NES-in-a-TV inspired by the Sharp C1.

Video game journalists of the era liked to take advantage of the Sharp C1's superior video quality to capture gameplay photos and pictures, but there is very little reason for a modern retrogamer to shell out big money for a Sharp C1 today. It is possible to get much better video quality using mods and emulators. However, the Sharp C1 is still very cool and a fun piece of gaming history. Insomniacfactory's project replicates that without the massive expense with an affordable TV and real NES hardware.

To get the best results, Insomniacfactory mixed and matched parts from two different CRT (cathode-ray tube) TV sets. The CRT itself and the speakers came from a TV manufactured in 2006, while the enclosure came from an older TV manufactured in 1981 that better fit the aesthetic. The CRT control board was new — though it isn't clear how Insomniacfactory sourced that part, since CRTs are not "universal" by any means.

This project required some modification of the NES motherboard, so it isn't for the purists. Those mods removed the power adapter so it could share power with the TV, and removed the RF (radio rrequency) adapter so it could output composite video directly to the TV.

Most of the work went into the modding the TV enclosure to fit the NES parts and to give it a new face plate. Insomniac made the face plate using pieces from the original NES and from a clone console made by Yobo a decade ago. Those were attached to the TV enclosure using superglue. With primer and paint, the seams blend in very well.

In photos, the finished project looks original. If we hadn't explained this, most would assume that Insomniacfactory's NES TV was a real product from the '80s. And while it isn't quite as cool as an actual Sharp C1, it comes very close.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist.
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