Plug and Play Portable Console Saves Space So You Don’t Have To!

Plug and Play console

Remember all those fun plug and play consoles they used to make? Usually just one offs with a few games here and there, typically designed to get poor old grandmothers to try buying them instead of the official Nintendo or SEGA systems for their grandchildren…

Anyway, some of the games were actually pretty good! But who wants to store a system for every individual game? [Sharon] decided to make the ultimate portable console — and jammed every plug and play console… into cartridges for safe keeping!

Wait what? [Sharon] took 12 of the plug and play consoles, hacked them to pieces, and managed to stuff the guts into custom game cartridges she made herself. She then made the HandyPNP, a “base console” with buttons and controls, video output and an LCD screen. She meticulously mapped out every consoles’ controls, and wired them accordingly, so when you plug the cartridge into the HandyPNP, it’s like your playing the original system.

It’s probably one of the most impressive handheld console hacks we’ve seen in a while, just considering the amount of work required to convert one console, let alone 12, to a standard connection for the HandyPNP to communicate with. Stick around after the break to hear [Sharon] explain the project herself!

And if you’re dying for more photos of the build, she’s also made a Facebook page with all the build details.

18 thoughts on “Plug and Play Portable Console Saves Space So You Don’t Have To!

  1. Holy snapin’ crap! Do I have to say it, SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!! This is really amazing, the concept and execution, I really think she should consider mass producing this (plenty of factories in china), I’ed love one.

    1. Plenty of factories in China already make them, only it’s an ARM chip running an emulator, usually one of the single-chip solutions with an LCD driver and some GPIO for the controls built-in. Generally you get several consoles in one unit, running ROMs off an SD card. As the chips get more powerful we’re even seeing N64 emus turn up. Playstation is possible but the ISO files are quite large.

      Since the plug ‘n’ play consoles used in this hack are, unfortunately, mostly running emulators on ARM anyway, it’d be the same thing. There is the NES-on-chip a lot of handhelds used a few years ago, and indeed things like the Atari 2600 repro consoles often used those, with Atari games rewritten from scratch for NES hardware. Which is another shame and a bit crap.

      There’s also, I hear, a Megadrive-on-chip with actual Megadrive-like hardware on it, real 68000 and Z80 etc. So that counts as authentic-ish. Some of the arcade-game plug ‘n’ play things used these, with Megadrive versions of the games.

      1. Oh and not to forget Jeri’s C64-in-a-joystick, that’s another real-hardware based one, a whole C64 on one chip. With some additions possible by adding wires to PCB pads, to connect it to actual Commodore disk drives etc. That was Jeri’s clever idea.

        It’s also got a few clever easter eggs. Wiggle the joystick when it powers up, and you get BASIC complete with a keyboard on screen. From there you can load a few hidden things off it’s inbuilt “disk”. Instructions are up on the web, and it’s a fun little thing, tho some of the game choices I disagree with.

        A company called Elite were talking about releasing a ZX Spectrum keyboard (since the whole original Spectrum fit inside it’s keyboard) with Bluetooth. The idea is to hook it to an emulator running on Android and use it as a controller, plus also a handy general-purpose keyboard. Unfortunately most Spectrum owners had joysticks so there’s not much point, especially for the price they’re asking.

  2. Really impressive, I am as impressed of this as I was of Ben’s first modifications.
    By adding the cartrige format Sharon has taken console modding to the next level.
    I really like the front and buttonmap labels and the form factor of both the console/husk and the cartriges.

  3. Do these people have some fatal allergy to custom PCBs? I know this is Hackaday, and by golly gee these are certainly hacks, but part of me dies a little inside every time I see a PCB cut apart with a saw and soldered to a bazillion wires with a bunch of ad hoc circuitry stuck on a through hole protoboard from Radioshack.

    Frankly, the only thing that ever amazes me about this stuff is the fact that the damned thing somehow still works in the end. And I’m still not sure why these folks can’t be bothered to cook up some basic through hole circuit boards just to keep things somewhat nice on the inside.

    1. Because some of us would rather wire it up and call it a day, than design and etch a PCB, solder components on, find out something in the design doesn’t work, go back, re-etch, etc.
      If someone were designing a production run of these, it would be worth the extra time.
      As it is, we do it for ourselves mostly, just for the fun of it.

      1. That’s what breadboards are for, you test on breadboard then design a PCB
        At least it’s slightly better than people who post projects consisting of breadboards and arduino boards calling it a finished product

        1. Hah, breadboards are antennas for unwanted noise, moreso than a pcb with some jumper wires.

          If it works and also saved you a significant amount of time and money, then the job is done.
          screw the purists who can’t handle ghetto.

    2. this is already an expensive hobby as it is. most of us don’t have the means or the money to get our own custom pcbs made. and we already have the boards needed to hack up. yes, it would look so much cleaner and professional on the inside. but the cost to do that isn’t worth it to all of us.

      and of course they still work. cuz we actually know what we’re doing.

  4. Re: Scottish Captain…
    Not everyone is ‘afraid’ to make custom PCBs. However there is an increased price tag with that. Lets face it not everyone can afford the time or the money on something that ultimately is either a prototype or, in this case, a one off. Add that to the fact that all the internals are unlikely to ever be seen again.
    I’d say hats off to Sharon for creating something relatively unique. She’s stuck with what she knows and that’s making use of the required circuitry and wire linking it to other boards to make a useful and ingenious system.

  5. Took me a minute but I finally got it. The source of the cart guts is those Jakks TV Arcade sticks and friends: the cheap plug-directly-into-your-TV sticks with the emulators built in. You can find cheap clones at dollar store toy aisles.

    The housing here then is just an LCD screen, speakers and controls wired to a standardized cart plug. All the game emulators and electronics live in the cart instead.

    Brilliant! Could even see something like an RPi fitted into a cart case running custom emulators…?

    1. This is a great project, one can appreciate the level of quality in the final product.
      Did you add any games to the C64DTV-cart or are you just using the built in ones?

    1. Maybe… use an RF link for the video and keep the PCB in a box somewhere. You could try hijacking the thing the Nintendo Uthing, or those video-beaming systems that are starting to appear. Or maybe a second-hand transmitter now they’ve turned analogue TV off, find a frequency and your portable works for miles!

    2. Yes, Anonymous, very similar to JAMMA in some aspects. The display and controls separated from the “game boards” where all the intelligence resides.

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