Leapfrog DIDJ

Since we first mentioned the Leapfrog DIDJ, a lot has happened. A number of avid readers of Hack a Day teamed up with a couple hackers experienced with the DIDJ, and have managed to make some huge progress into making a linux based game console on the cheap. For all the readers who missed out on the last sale on Woot, its about time for a second chance.

The team working over at the HackerFoundry forum have managed to gain serial console access, map the file system, create a fake update server, and are almost at a point where replacing the stock OS and firmware can be done with software alone. They have also designed and tested a homebrew cartridge with a slot for a microSD card and breakouts for expansion and debugging.

Right now they are looking for someone with experience snooping USB protocols to figure out how the device communicates to the computer, as well as anyone who is interesting in just testing or playing around with what they have done so far. There are a number of tutorials and walk-throughs on the eLinux wiki. Its amazing how far this group has come in just two months.


  1. AndrewNeo says:

    Wow. This article went up the same time Woot posted their product for today – a Leapfrog DIDJ. Quite the coincidence!

  2. Anonymous says:

    really, now

  3. Chris says:

    Yeah, quite the coincidence… >_>

    Woot linked to this page in their item “description”.

    If anyone’s looking to hack this thing, they have a pretty good deal on it. New for 15 bucks plus 5 for shipping, where it retails for like 70 in stores.

  4. steveorama says:

    if only i had $15…but really, anyone want to donate one?

  5. Coldcloud says:

    Hahah with that price i couldnt help myself!Just ordered mine now, cant wait to begin the hacking, and best of all this is going to be my first real project!!!

  6. ArduinoADay says:

    @AndrewNeo: They all communicate privately, this is also a business.

    Reversing data from USB would be easier from software. It’s crazy easy from Linux or NT, it’s been done a lot before.

  7. FreXxX says:

    No shipping to germany. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! :(

  8. Awesome, thanks for the update on this! I was quite disappointed when I barely missed the first didj sale you guys pointed out, but this time I’m in for sure and excited to see what comes from it.

    Speaking of ultra-bargain components with potential just begging to be explored, I suggest people check out http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com and http://www.dealextreme.com

    The Electronic Goldmine in particular has some very tantalizing offers. Does anyone know of other good sources for cheap parts like these?

  9. Meidor says:

    Awww..I want one, to bad they dont ship to europe.

  10. anon says:

    Yeah woot doesn’t ship internationally, which sucks a lot

  11. Davo1111 says:

    So, no international shipping, that was the issue last time!

  12. asdf says:

    Bummer… they don’t ship to Europe. That would have been a 2x or 3x order from me, I hope they change that policy in the future.

  13. glenneroo says:

    no shipping to europe is just plain MEAN!! :( i know everyone said it already but maybe if we all team up something will change (granted we’re bitching on the wrong site)

  14. thos_thom says:

    Does anyone fancy buying me one and sending it over to the Englands. I have the cash but it seems I’m in the wrong country.

  15. JD says:

    Woot STILL doesn’t ship to Europe…

  16. lwr20 says:

    I can’t find this item on sale anywhere to the UK except Amazon for 150GBP! Sounds like someone could make a killing buying a few of these off Woot and selling them on ebay to buyers in europe…

  17. fartface says:

    You guys did not miss out on the last one. the Rovio is a piece of crap. I had always felt bad for the guys that bought that turdpile for $300.00 retail. It’s worth $50.00 and an annoying purchase at $99.00

    They don’t work worth a damn, the company has abandoned the product, Oh and they are not windows 7 compatible. Oh and they work for about 8 minutes off the charging base, enough to drive around the room for a little bit before you need to charge it again. Weee!

    Get one of http://www.trossenrobotics.com/roboard-rb-100.aspx those and some metal+wifi card + servos and make one that is 800X better and can run all day long AND not have a super crappy XGA 20lux only video camera.

    Many times hacking a piece of crap to save $20.00US is not worth the effort. I am betting that this leapfrog heap of junk will lack the power to even run a gameboy emulator. Remember, every 5-10 dirt cheap items you buy to hack, you could have bought some real hackable gear and actually made progress and or something really cool.

  18. Awesomenesser says:


    How do you even find yourself a reader of this site this is what we do (to make nice things out of cheap things).

  19. afex says:

    as an american wooter, i’m seriously wondering if maybe we should get together and send these to our international friends. I would absolutely buy 3 and ship them over to EU (or wherever) for cost+shipping….

  20. thos_thom says:


    That would be really helpful. You can get in touch with me using thom at thom dot mobi. I wanted to get involved with these things the last time round but was unable to find one at a reasonable cost.

  21. strider_mt2k says:

    Looks like a hoot for a cheapie hacking project.
    I’m tempted to get one just to hack on a little myself!


    If you seriously want to hack a gaming console to do more serious and better gaming I suggest looking into the Dingoo A320 and it’s awesome Dingux Linux variant.

    There is a great community with lots of support from crazy-but-helpful enthusiasts.



    and on IRC: freenode #dingoo-scene

  22. FreXxX says:

    Wrote a mail. All of you who are outside of the US should, too.

  23. glenneroo says:

    @FreXxX: good idea! done! :)

  24. jabbyjim says:

    I bought one but now what? It looks like the only advance (so far) that is pretty solid is the making of the CART’s. Not sure if i should beg to buy a CART from someone, or maybe wait for a software hack.

  25. sparr says:

    I ordered 3. I may send one or two to our brethren in the old world. Will reply to posts here if so, and others should as well.

  26. cubfan300 says:

    There is a reason that they do not ship outside the US. You might find yourselves on a list that you don’t want to be on if these are shipped overseas. Not hatin’, just sayin’.

  27. octel says:

    What are you blathering about?

  28. Tom says:

    I’d also be interested in getting one. Too bad they don’t ship to South Africa either :(

  29. j9 says:

    @cubfan300 — I somewhat doubt these things are on the export ban list. There are better microcontrollers in a PS3 or XBox that could be more easily militarized by the Libyans, and they’d be far easier to get.

  30. Davo1111 says:


    Amazing enough, there are some non-threatening 1st world countries outside the US, spastic.

  31. Weed Butter says:

    Interesting typo – should be interested.

  32. The Moogle says:

    due to heavy demand here is more info about ordering the cart I designed for the Didj


  33. namek303 says:

    Just bought one. Excited to take this apart.

  34. captain says:

    @glenneroo: they no ship to Cuba either.
    (I’m not Cuban)

    It is really amazing how much those hackers got done in one month!

  35. NatureTM says:

    I got mine in the last round. Since I didn’t have access to custom pcb making stuff, I improvised by soldering an old floppy ribbon cable to the board. The cable lined up perfectly, aside from a few extra leads, which I just cut off. I left the plug on the other side of the ribbon, so now I have all the cart pins external with something to stick jumpers into. Now I can connect my FTDI to the Didj in a non-permanant way, since I use it for other purposes as well. I also can connect my SD breakout from sparkfun with just a few jumpers. I got serial working, but I haven’t done anything else as I’ve been trying to finish my other project first. I would have added my ribbon cable trick to the wiki, but there are already several more elegant solutions, but if anybody’s looking for a quick, cheap way to get those cart pins out then this will do the trick.

  36. jabbyjim says:


    That sounds awesome, i like the way you did it.. i have plenty of old floppy ribbon cables.

    So with a blank SD, what happens? I’m guessing you have to put stuff on it, or does it then kick into Linux? (or is it not that simple yet?)

  37. fanoush says:

    @sparr,afex: would definitely get one if you can ship to EU. fanoush at gmail

  38. The Moogle says:

    It might be worth noting that it is almost impossible to completely brick a Didj.
    No matter what, you can always set it to boot from the Uart.
    The only true way to brick a Didj is to physically damage it in some way.

  39. PhilKll says:

    @jabbyjim, there is currently work being done to create an SD driver, which will make it possible to boot off of, and of course access files from. But as far as plug and play with the Didj as is, its not there.

  40. Awesomenesser says:

    You may also note that The Moogle’s board requires you to have your own FTDI cable (3.3V). If you dont already have one or want an extra. Instead of paying $15 to $20 go to amazon.com and type in “CA-52 Nokia” (I bought one for $3.50 with shipping and it works). To figure out how to hack this cable go to


  41. GCL says:

    This link http://www.hackerfoundry.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=7 is not at home. I get a blank page.

  42. cantido says:

    >There are better microcontrollers in a PS3 or >XBox

    Those would be microprocessors.

    >that could be more easily militarized by the >Libyans, and they’d be far easier to get.

    Do you mean by removing the processors and using them in the WMD’s? Because I think that would be pretty difficult.. and I’m not sure why they would bother trying to get their code to run on a PS3 or Xbox360 when they could get some fast x86 hardware without all that code signing bollocks..

  43. Wanda says:

    You have to get this thing running a linux distro with a gui. It would seriously be the cheapest computing platform in the world. Think of it a 25$ computer.

  44. This will be a landmark project. I am looking forward to this. Smallest linux=lunix for c64.
    Just to say it’s been done.

  45. capt_wheeto says:

    I know it’s been a few months but

    @rahul mohan kadmon
    Linux != UNIX

    lunix is unix despite the similar names

  46. cdoty99 says:

    Two years later…

    I ported a game to the Didj, minus sound:


    Source code, for the game, has also been released:


  47. FAMICOMASTER says:

    Four years later, I wonder what they have accomplished so far?

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