32-bit ARM7 gaming rig

Are you hardcore enough to build your own 32-bit ARM powered gaming console AND use point-to-point soldering to accomplish this? [Craig Bishop] did just that when building his GameSphere console project. First thing’s first, click through the jump and watch the game play video. He wrote that game in the C language in less than a day which in itself is quite remarkable. On the hardware side of things he’s got an interesting mix; an Ateml AT91R40008 chip drives this system with PIC 18F4682 for VGA signal generation and a PIC 18F2685 to interface with the N64 controller. We like what he’s done so far and would love to see this end up in its own game cabinet.


  1. Jim says:

    Needs more LEDs to be a true hack.

  2. Steven says:

    This is really neat, great job soldering all those wires man! I also like the name gamesphere, reminds me of Drake and Josh. And coding in C, nice. Very nifty bro.

  3. sud says:

    This is similar to a DS project i tried check out my lens, I go through Ds Hacking in a bit more detail<a href="DS Hacks

  4. Akeldamach says:

    @Jim: and an arduino patched in for blog cred

  5. s says:

    Okama Gamesphere!

  6. nes says:

    Nice, but dual port ram for the frame buffer? That’s a bit of a cop-out.

  7. andrew says:

    that’s some intense soldering there. i approve

  8. Hob says:

    That is seriously hardcore.

  9. Merlin00 says:

    My cell phone in my pocket can play 3d Prince of Persia.

  10. jdb says:

    awesome :)

  11. Johannes says:

    All that and no cool GAME OVER animation… :(

  12. Simbo says:

    My thought exactly!


  13. Brennan says:

    That is hardcore! Great job!

  14. Alpha says:

    That’s crazy! Nice work.

    I be it helped that he was using the legendary Ikea Jerker desk as a workbench. :D

  15. kaidenshi says:


    “My cell phone in my pocket can play 3d Prince of Persia.”

    But you didn’t build the cell phone from scratch, and code the Prince of Persia game for it. Your comment is invalid.

    To the creator of this project: Keep up the good work!

  16. osgeld says:

    I think everyone should get good at p2p wiring, 1 its really not that hard, and its probably the quickest way for 1 off products, But also then we wont have to read a hack a day editor say “well gee whiz, this guy soldered a wire to protoboard, is he InSaNe!?”

    + everybody’s soldering skills improve (if nothing else just out of sheer volume)

  17. Pilotgeek says:

    @nes: Why? Couldn’t you get higher speeds out of dual-port ram depending on how it’s accessed?

  18. Craig says:

    @ Pilotgeek: I actually plan on replacing the dual-port with two SRAMs and some bus switches in the next revision. The dual-ports cost around 50$ a-piece! (I got this one as a free sample) The bus switches should be just as fast with the same effect.

    @ osgeld: I agree about point-to-point soldering. I must say, you are insane to solder anything without a decent temperature controlled station. My station iron’s tip went out during the project, and while I waited for the new one to ship I was using a radioshack wood-burner. That sucked major time.

    @ Merlin00: Your cellphone probably has an ARM7 or ARM9 based processor in it too! I have not gotten around to writing a software 3D rasterizer, but I imagine it will be possible on this hardware. I’ll have to order that 100Mhz clock and dig out Andre Lamothe’s book on the subject :)

    @Alpha: I love my Jerker desk! It’s too bad they discontinued it! I’m moving to a new apartment next year starting college, and I wanted to buy another for my other computers and gear, but alas, no more Jerker… :(

  19. osgeld says:

    “My station iron’s tip went out during the project, and while I waited for the new one to ship I was using a radioshack wood-burner. That sucked major time.”

    lol, I always said that the firestarters worked fine, until they get hot!

    course meaning that the whole 15 or so min that they are in a good temperature range is fine, but after 30min to an hour they were so hot the flux boiled off instantly and the solder would stick nowhere else but the iron tip … but that is much more to type and not nearly as funny

  20. Gecko says:

    Kudos to you.
    I love it =]

  21. Paul says:

    cool stuff,

    Although I would title the game “Attack of the Aliens from Planet Mirror”

  22. Comrade says:

    I’m not going to lie: I was also impressed that you programmed a game (or two?) in such a short time, granted it’s not that complex, but hell I’d have a hard enough time creating that to begin with.

    That’s awesome, did that book end up helping much? Care to share more on the materials you learned from/used? (references, books and such)

    Cool stuff.

  23. Amos says:

    Wow! Excellent job and very inspiring. One suggestion: switch to a Gamecube controller; it uses almost identical hardware and protocol, but the layout and capabilities are much better, IMO… unless you prefer the N64’s ergonomics (which is doubtful, but to each his own…) Either way, keep up the good work! Can’t wait to see how she handles with that 100MHz upgrade and some sound hardware.

  24. Chris says:

    A pic and atmel in the same project this must be a sign of the apocalypse!!!! LOL

    I don’t know why people don’t do point to point wiring more often, i use protoboards a lot. Although i’m working on a cnc mill to make pcb’s.

    From what i’ve seen, i have some pretty good soldering skills, i have seen some awful soldering both online and in real life. I find that using very small diameter solder and a narrow tip iron helps to give better control and not blob up to badly, then i go back and re-melt each connection to make sure their are no cold soldered joints.

  25. strider_mt2k says:

    Dude, wow.
    Really nice work!
    The game looked fun too! I’ve been retro-ing it up lately and it looks like some of the stuff I’ve been trying, which is to say it looks great.

    I think you should be mad at whatever chick made you use that music though.

  26. blue carbuncle says:

    All I can say is Holy Crap (in a VERY good way)! This is nothing short of stunning.
    Must have been a bit frustrating at points, but follow thru is 9/10 of the battle ;)

    Great job and you make me a little embarrassed with my sea of much simpler, unfinished projects.

    My onion blushes.

  27. Ryan Leach says:

    Wow, the sheer effort is amazing.

    @amos really?

    i personally cant stand the gamecube controller, one of the bigger reasons for never buying a gamecube. but as you say each to their own.

  28. Roly says:

    Take one Internet OP – kudos mate! Hattip.

    “The third time you do something in code, turn it into a subroutine.”
    The third time you want to replicate a circuit, do a PCB.

    Otherwise for a one-off this direct method skips right over the need to do a PCB layout and produce the PCB. You still need to diddle your chips around to maximise connection directitude, but Dab-board and fine single-strand wire-wrap wire, small curved suture clamps, and a fine tip iron works for me. Gear with corroded or damaged tracks can be repaired the same way.

    Think it – build it.

  29. I’ve gotta say, I probably would have done this project via the wire wrap technique. Wire wrap is more likely to stand the test of time.

  30. peter says:

    very well done!

    if you’re still interested in developing the project, now that you have a working prototype you could learn Eagle and make some custom PCB’s? It’s a lot easier than it sounds, and potentially not too expensive if the board isn’t that big if you use batchpcb or goldphoenix.

    again, very well done, congrats!

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