Yep, I'm back with a new Do It Yourself project! Last year, I created a conveniently sized bartop arcade cabinet of my own design and recycled hardware and software. Next, I'm going to cram my loyal pixel hero, Little Knight Arthur, into even more portable format: DIY pocket game console!
The plan is to slap a Raspberry Pi Zero, a small 2.x" TFT screen, Adafruit Arcade Bonnet, a small analog joystick, and a few buttons together, install and configure RetroPie with Commodore 64 Emulator plus Little Knight Arthur D64 disk image on the memory card, and design and build a pocket sized case to house everything. This will surely challenge my maker skills on a whole different (read: smaller) scale!
I was inspired by various miniature game consoles made by people on the net, using cheap single board computers. I picked Raspberry Pi Zero as the main board, as it seems to be most popular in such projects, and it is easy to find both components and instructions for Pi-based systems.
One such a project to follow is MintyPi. A couple of guys designed and built RetroPie setup in an Altoids tin:
Another well-designed example project is the PiGRRL Zero:
Aren't these just neat, eh? Following the lead of these projects, I will also try to take a shot at designing my own case, and print the parts using a 3D printer. This will be an interesting new skill to learn, and my main motivation for starting the project (along with possibly ending up with another cool Arthur C64 game gadget!)
To begin with, I've started sourcing the components:
Raspberry Pi Zero Kit + spare Raspberry Pi Zero (from Adafruit)
2.8" and 2.2" RPI TFT displays, need to try out different sizes to see what works best (from Ebay)
Adafruit Arcade Bonnet, for easy game I/O connections (from Adafruit)
PSP type Analog Joystick + breakout board for connecting it to the Arcade Bonnet (from Aliexpress)
Jumper wires and headers (from Aliexpress)
Small push buttons (from Aliexpress)
Mini 8ohm speakers (from Adafruit)
First shipment, the joysticks from a seller in China, 2,50 € a piece, arrived today:
Waiting patiently to receive more components over the next few days and weeks... As soon as the joysticks arrived, I realized that I need a breakout board with a connector for the very small flexible cable, so back to eBay for another order... I'm sure there will be a few other such doh! moments along the way.
The first version will be powered by a USB charger. It would be possible to build the console to use a lithium ion polymer battery, or a few regular AA batteries, but I'm thinking it is easier to start with a wirepower version. Maybe in time, when I have little more experience on how to design the case I will try to do a battery packed console as well.
As soon as I get my hands on the main components, the fun part of figuring out how to fit them together into a nice case will start.
PS. For those that may wonder - no, I have not completed all seven levels of Little Knight Arthur on my bartop version yet! Darn difficult game, who the hell made it so hard?... oh yeah... oopsiedaisy... Getting half way through the zombie level is the best I've got so far.