The Rotary SNES is a circuit bent Super Nintendo Entertainment System with twenty-two intermittent video bends made available to users through two twelve positions rotary encoder switches. The Rotaty SNES is able to play any unmodified SNES video game cartridge and provides glitched, bent versions of the game for folks to play in real time on the console. Instead of simply framing the glitch and viewing in as one would a painting, the Rotary SNES project is interactive at its heart and encourages visitors to play the game, and to become comfortable with the glitch.
Circuit Bending a Super Nintendo
The bends are found by opening up the consoles case and probing vias on the motherboard near the unit’s graphics processing ICs as seen in the image above. Vias are holes in a circuit board that provide an electrical connection from one side of the PCB to the other side and were chosen at the primary subject for the Rotary SNES’s circuit bends due to both their abundance and ability to play host to a foreign cable. To test the vias the SNES it powered on with a game inserted and connected to a TV. The vias are bridged to the system’s ground through a low value resistor, one at a time while watching the video output to see if any interesting glitches occur. The glitches vary from changing the color blend, mismatching tile data, inserting random noise, and even removing textures. The Rotary SNES can play any standard SNES game and allows its users to switch between bend variants using two 12-pole rotary switches. The common terminal for each switch is connected to system ground. One of the twelve positions is left unconnected, allowing for the user to choose “no bend” for that switch, while the other eleven positions are each attached to a different bends that are found in the console using the method described above.