Portable gets a proper home in an arcade controller

[Luke] wanted an arcade-style controller that he could use for some gaming at home. He decided to use a portable game emulator as a base and then added his own joystick and buttons along with a custom case.

The donor hardware is a Dingo A320. It’s a nice little handheld with a 2.8″ screen, and plenty of potential to emulate games like Donkey Kong seen above, or to play homebrew. It’s even been the target of some RAM upgrades we looked in on in the past. The best part for [Luke's] project is that it includes a video out port.

In the clip after the break you can see that [Luke] now has a compact controller with a huge arcade joystick, four buttons on the top surface, and the rest of the controls all around the edges of the enclosure. The video out option is selected in the menu system, so he preserved the original LCD for use during configuration.

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Sleek, disc-less GameCube handheld

sd_card_gamecube_handheld

Console hacker [techknott] has a skill set that is quite possibly second to none. We do love [Ben Heck] and think that his portable consoles are beyond awesome, but you’ve got to check out this portable GameCube [techknott] put together.

While the construction details are pretty sparse, the video below shows off the bulk of the portable ‘Cube’s best features. Far smaller than his Flip-Top GameCube or Dreamcast portables we’ve featured in the past, his new handheld sports a wider screen and is completely disc-less. While the legality of booting backup copies of games from an SD card is something we won’t delve into, we do like the concept.

The console itself is probably only about one and a half times the width of a standard GameCube controller, and while it doesn’t sport an internal battery pack, we wouldn’t turn one down. Besides, who wants to play GameCube outside? With one of these in hand, we are more than happy to keep our pasty selves indoors, thank you very much.

The only complaint we have here is the lack of build details. [techknott’s] handheld consoles are pretty amazing – we just wish that we could see how the magic was made!

Be sure to check out the video below to see the console in action.

[Thanks, Dave]

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FrankenKindle: building an alternate Kindle keyboard

If you’ve ever thought the Kindle keyboard was a bit cramped you’re not alone. [Glenn's] been working on developing an external keyboard for the Kindle for quite some time. It may not make easier for everyone to use, but he’s motivated to improve usability for his sister who has Cerebral Palsy.

We see a lot of keyboard hacks that solder straight to the pads under the buttons, but for a compact device like the Kindle this would really mess things up. Instead of going that route, [Glenn] sourced a 20-pin Flexible Flat Cable and breakout board that match the internal Kindle connector. The prototype seen above uses a TS3A5017 serial multiplexer chip to simulate the keyboard button presses. That multiplexer is driven by a Teensy++ microcontroller board which is monitoring a larger set of buttons on the V.Reader seen above. Check out the video after the break for a brief demonstration, then look around at the rest of [Glenn's] blog posts to view different steps of the development cycle.

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A Professional Looking N64 Portable Build

Although Hack A Day is no stranger to console conversions, this portable N64 build is worthy of note. The article itself is in Spanish, but for those that don’t speak the language, the steps and components necessary are well documented in pictures. There’s even a video of the finished product after the break.

What is especially interesting about this project is the professional looking build quality of the finished product. One might think it’s a custom injection molding job or possibly 3D printed, but everything is done with only glue, filler, and paint. A controller and console is hacked up to provide the raw materials for this build. An expansion pack is even attached to this console for good measure.

Power is provided by a 6800mA battery, and the console features a generous 7 inch display. A good wiring schematic is also provided in this article, so maybe it will inspire other quality console hacking in the future. [Read more...]

Adding video out to the Open Pandora

There’s very few users out there who actually have their hands on an Open Pandora Console. But the ones who do might find this hack useful for getting TV out up and running. It’s actually not hard at all, but if you don’t want to alter the hardware on the device you’ll first have to find a cable plug that will fit the EXT jack. This proved more difficult than it needed to be, since TI carries the connector but only sells them in multiples of 2200. A group buy was organized and we’d bet you can still get in on that action.

The connector in question carries TVout1 and TVout2 conductors. These correspond to the Luminance and Chrominance signals needed for the S-video protocol. But [MarkoeZ] wanted to use a composite connection. Turns out that’s not hard either, he hooked up the ground from the plug to the ground of the RCA jack, then connected both video lines to the center conductor, making sure to add an inline 470pf capacitor on the Chrominance side. Check out the demo video embedded after the break to see the final product.

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eReader battery never goes flat (in the sun)

solar_powered_kobo

Instructables user [flapke] has a Kobo eReader and wanted to add some solar cells to it in order to charge the battery for free. The modification is similar to others we have seen recently, though his work was done so well that it almost looks stock.

He started out by sourcing a pair of solar panels from DealExtreme that purported to supply 5.5v @ 80mA. Like most of us are inclined to do, he tested them before use and found that they actually put out around 50mA instead. While the performance was a bit off, they still fit his needs pretty well, as the charge current needed to be at or less than 100mA to avoid damaging the battery.

He opened the Kobo’s case, and carefully removed a section of the back panel to make room for the solar panels. Once they were soldered together in parallel, he wired them to the eReader’s battery through a Schottky diode to prevent the battery from draining.

While we think his solar modification is a great way to ensure that he never runs out of juice while reading by the pool, we would certainly add a bit of extra charge circuitry to ours to prevent damage to the battery. What do you think?

Run Kindle 3 firmware on Kindle 2 hardware

After about six weeks of testing [Yifanlu] has released a stable version of the Kindle 3 firmware for use with Kindle 2 hardware. Everything seems to be working just fine with the patched firmware. We immediately jumped to the conclusion that the upgrade must run pretty slow on the older hardware. [Yifanlu] addresses that assumption in his post. The Kindle 2 hardware is not as fast as the Kindle 3, but it sounds like the upgraded firmware is no slower than the stock firmware was on the older units.

Since the firmware is proprietary, the upgrade method requires that you own both Kindle 2 and Kindle 3. Three scripts will pull the firmware image from the older hardware, copy it over to the new hardware and patch it at the same time, then copy the fully patched package back to the old hardware for use.

After the break you can see a video of a Kindle DX running 3.1 firmware. There’s also a link to the Reddit post where commenters have linked to pre-compiled versions of the patched package.

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