The BitBox Console Gets Upgraded

BitBox Rev2

The Bitbox, an open source game console, has received a number of updates in the past couple of months. Last time we covered this DIY console, [Makapuf] had just managed to get the first revision to run a simple game. The second revision will increase the colors to 32k, add another channel of sound for stereo, switch controllers from PS2 to USB, and add support for Olimex’s UEXT expansion devices.

While the hardware upgrades are impressive, there’s been a lot of work on the Bitbox software as well. A new game demo called Fire was created as a set of tutorials to help people start developing for the console. There’s also a BitBoy, a GameBoy emulator for the Bitbox. BitBoy is a ported version of gnuboy for the ARM Cortex-M4 processor that powers the Bitbox. It successfully emulates a number of commercial GameBoy ROMs.

We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next for the Bitbox. After the break, check out a video of BitBoy running on the Bitbox.

Comments

  1. Json says:

    I would love to see a good cnc controller on this.

    • makapuf says:

      intriguing, can you elaborate ?

      • jSon says:

        Instead of using Mach or EMC2 on a pc, or old laptop, I want a dedicated CNC controller that I can plug in some buttons, and a VGA monitor. All I want is the most basic G-Code interpreter.

        • Sweeney says:

          So why don’t you want to use an ARM based microcontroller dev board, say an STM32F4 Discovery (the latest version comes with a touch panel LCD screen for less than £20), or if you insist on a VGA port then how about an FPGA dev board. One of those wth a programmer, VGA port, PS2 keyboard port, RAM, Flash ROM and everything you need to load up a soft CPU (there’s an ATMEGA core available, so you can then run the Marlin gcode interpreter on it) and a VGA controller can be had for less than £50.

    • jgea says:

      This would make a great toilet door state indicator.

  2. rdmilligan says:

    Any other emulators in the pipeline? C64?

  3. makapuf says:

    Well, nes would be the obvious next step ; C64 would be a fine target also, with its large catalog & small hardware ! Do you know of an acceptably accurate, opensource, portable, fast & *small* emulator – as in, I have 192k for ALL ram ?
    The bitbox emulator only needs SDL to work, so anyone can help from there :) !

    • makapuf says:

      also, pointers to a good NES emulators with mentioned qualities would be helpful !

      • Blue Footed Booby says:

        Accurate and fast tend to be mutually exclusive. The way most emulators get their speed is by deviating from the real thing’s behavior in ways that save time while having a negative impact on relatively few games.

        Also, I’m having trouble coming up with a standard of accuracy less vague than “acceptably accurate.”

        • makapuf says:

          I guess the standard of accuracy would be 1) runs at all on bitbox and 2) “runs acceptably enough games for the effort :) ” – not very precise either., I know

          • rj says:

            Try the really old releases of fceu (not fceux, not any of the other fceu-with-extra-letters). It’s not too inaccurate and reasonably fast and still just plain C.

            Unrelated: Two random “that’d be nifty” things I’d consider adding, if there’s spare I/O: VGA hotplug detect (pullup resistor on pin 11, if it’s pulled to ground there’s a VGA monitor attached) and reading DDC.

          • makapuf says:

            (to rj) VGA hotplug : what would it be used for ? In conjunction with DDC ? As a standby switch ?
            I haven’t integrated DDC because I think there is not need reporting that a VGA screen supports 640×480 generally, but I might be mistaken. Maybe it can be used for widescreen detection, but that’s a bit of luxury ? It might not be practical discussing it here, can you hop on the mailing list discussing it (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/bitbox-console)? If not, please answer there.

    • Chuckt says:

      Without the Ram, you might have to settle for a Vic-20 :(

  4. MarkS says:

    Anyone else notice this is exact same CPU as the micropython Kickstarter… (but 100pin as opposed to 64) http://micropython.org/

    • fonz says:

      if using a 100 pin part I’d think going for the stm32f429 would make more sense, it has hardware that can drive an LCD or VGA directly and a bit more ram

      • makapuf says:

        well, while very interesting, stm429 wasn’t available as retail when the design was done, and is currently almost twice the price of 405 chip. I’d say that 256k of RAM is still not enough for a frame buffer at this resolution, so the DMA2D without external RAM might not be so useful, and I’d like to keep the design simple. Throwing more hardware is always possible but it will be difficult to justify being more expensive than a raspi…

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