Ever been up late at night playing Fire Emblem only to get a horrible neck cramp? Or maybe you have the perfect New Super Mario Bros. 2 run, but you don’t want to capture it by leaning a webcam over your shoulder at your 3DS? Maybe you are a game reviewer that needs some high quality 3DS footage for an internet video? Luckily, we can kill all of these birds with one stone: a 3DS capture card.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of video capture, a capture card allows you to capture video from a device you wouldn’t normally be able to. It’s basically like wiring your TV through a VCR… for those of you who remember what a VCR is… except instead of a VCR it’s your computer. Capture cards have been used in the video game world for a variety of reasons. Every time you see game footage in a review, that’s a capture card being used. Every time you see a tournament being live streamed, that’s a capture card. Every time Pewdiepie screams like a pansy at a console horror game? Capture card.
Normally capture cards aren’t that big of a deal. You have to connect your gaming console to a TV or monitor anyway, so instead all you do is connect it to the capture card and then connect the capture card to a TV. The capture card acts as a pass through, capturing the video of the game before it gets to your TV and that’s all it takes. Now you have a video output to your computer that you can record voice work over, put clip art into, and do all that other stuff that Youtube directors do.
But the 3DS isn’t that simple. It doesn’t have a video output and it doesn’t connect to any external devices. So, how do these capture cards work? Well, get ready to solder again… and also get your trusty dremmel out, cause we are going to have to perform some handheld surgery. (Remember, Arcade Sushi isn't responsible if you decide to perform surgery on your 3DS.)
You can find 3DS capture card kits at a variety of places all over the internet. They usually involve some sort of chip, and then a very large wiring harness or cable. You’ll need to take off the back of your 3DS, and then unscrew the metal case surrounding the 3DS main board, leaving your bare console guts exposed. Once again, if you have no experience with soldering before, consider picking up a pre-modded unit at any place where a capture card is sold.
If you are willing to go forward with the modding process, however, you will have to line up the cable with 36, yes, 36 separate points on the 3DS board. Luckily, most of these cables are cut into a position such that they only fit over the correct soldering points. Just tape the cable down, put a small dip of solder on each point, and wait for it to dry. No cutting, crimping, or wire-stripping required.
There is one problem though. The cable now needs a place to go. Unfortunately, if you put the metal back of the 3DS back on, all you’ll be doing is boxing the cable in. So you will actually need a metal cutting tool to create a small slot in the back for the cable to thread through. Then just attach the cable to your capture card, put the capture card in the modified 3DS back that the capture card kit contains, attach the back to your 3DS, and you are in business. Once again, if you are shy about cutting into electronics you can have a professional do it for about 50 bucks.
Capture cards like this work with pretty much any video capture software available on the market. They connect to your PC via USB and stream at a very high rate, provided you have USB 3.0. You can even get advanced capture card kits that allow you to connect your stream directly to HDMI, though these are harder to come by. This would allow you to play your 3DS on your TV, or at the very least stream one screen to it. There are two important things to note, however. First of all, the video will be upscaled from the 3DS’s native resolution. So don’t be surprised if you get some jagged edges on polygons here or there. Second of all, doing this voids your warranty, so just keep that in mind.
There you have it! All you need to start playing your 3DS on your TV while making awesome let’s play videos. Now get out there and give Pewdiepie a run for his money.