Throwback Handheld Built with Modern Hobby Hardware

magpi-gaming-handheld

Remember all of those fantastically horrible handheld LCD games that hit the toy stores back in the ’90s. You know, the ones that had custom LCD screens to make for some fake animation. Here’s an example of what those should have been. It’s an LCD-based handheld with some soul.

The entire thing is roughly the size of a television remote, with a 3D printed case making it very presentable. But looking at the wiring which hides inside proves this is one-of-a-kind. The Arduino Pro Mini is probably the biggest difference in technology from back in the day compared to now. It has plenty of space for all of the different settings and games shown off in the clip below. The user interface itself is definitely a throw-back though. The Nokia 3310 screen boasts a whopping 84×48 pixel monochrome area. There are four buttons serving as a d-pad, and two as action buttons. Perhaps the greatest feature (besides the printed case we already mentioned) is the ability to recharge the internal battery via USB.

[Zippy314] built this with his son. What’s more fun: learning to program the games, or mastering them and discovering the bugs you missed along the way?

 

[via Brad's Projects]

Comments

  1. Eirinn says:

    “with a 3D printed case making it very presentable” – I don’t mean to be a butt, but the quality of that print is… very low.

  2. geebles says:

    this is great! I have a project with the same LCD and wanted to see some menu code examples, this has helped me! One thing that may help is that the LCD library i have modified to use hardware SPI (not software) which is SO much quicker, i probably should check it into the adafruit git at some point..

    • justice099 says:

      How did you pull that off? I thought the reason these used a software SPI library was because it the LCD uses 9 bit SPI, and the AVR hardware SPI could only do 8 bit?

      • Mike Szczys says:

        I have a screen I pulled form a Nokia 3595 which uses 9-bit SPI. I’ve driven it from 8-bit micros with a few software changes to manage the 9-bit. But a lot of ARM controllers have configurable SPI that can do 9-bit. Look through my archives to find stuff about both techniques: http://jumptuck.com/category/projects/3595-lcd/

        • justice099 says:

          Of course. They are used in ARM based systems originally, right? I was assuming geebles is claiming to use the hardware SPI of an Arduino as used in this article.

          I think the software tricks you did would fall under the category of “Software SPI” that geebles is talking about. And as I understood, this was the only way to do it.

          So, did geebles stumble on a breakthrough?

        • tekkieneet says:

          It is not like you can’t send a single bit with bit banging and then the rest of the 8 bits out with h/w SPI…

      • Geebles says:

        Its not ‘true’ SPI, but you can use hardware SCK (for CLK) and i think is MOSI (for DIN?) (PS i’m not just assigning those pins in the standard library, but changed the way it wrote certain commands out) the other enable and disable pins can be done using the method without ‘digitalWrite’ (infact the current adafruit LCD library uses direct port manipulation – but not quite as fast as hardware SPI mode).. I can’t rememeber what the benchmarks were, but it was significantly quicker! I’ll see if i can put it up on git once i’ve cleaned it up and you’re welcome to try it out :)

  3. JRDM says:

    It’s interesting.

    I was expecting a different host board though. The MagPi ia a magazine for Raspberry Pi users: http://www.themagpi.com/

  4. Rollyn01 says:

    For a second, I thought I saw a SD card slot, I got excited. Reminds me of the handheld console that Tiger Electronics was trying to bring out.

    • Greenaum says:

      Which one was that? The Game.com made it to sale. Sure it’s a Tiger one? Meanwhile there’s a million Chinese consoles based round the ARM all-in-one chips that mostly run emulators, they take SD cards.

  5. Looks like a Gamebuino clone ^^, wihtout sound and sd-kart.

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gamebuino-an-arduino-handheld-console

    • Brian from Denmark says:

      Thanks for link.
      I was just thinking that if only this project had an SD-card and a speaker it would be somewhat awesome, but that is just what the gamebuino has. So if this project is not compatible what the gamebuino I think it’s a fail, because you will miss the access to a lot of games developed by others. On the other hand I can’t figure out if it would by nice to build your own clone of the gamebuino and then post an instructable about it.

    • qwill11 says:

      Yah, we found out about gamebino after we finished the magpi, and then supported them. It’s a great project, and we will port our games to it when ours arrives…

  6. Blue Footed Booby says:

    Brings back fond memories of TI-83+ calculator gaming from my school days. Viva la Phoenix!

  7. You have a Typo, “84×84 pixel” the screen hase only 84×48 pixel ;)

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