Gaming System For Less Than Three Bucks

[Rossum’s] latest project just hit and as usual, he doesn’t disappoint. Using an ARM cortex M0 he built a gaming system for less than $3 in parts. The M0 is a bit underpowered for this but at $1 it can’t be beat in price. He worked some video generation voodoo to get the signal he wanted but also mentions that upgrading to a bit more expensive chip like the Cortex M3 would solve this problem. The other part of the gaming system is an analog stick (again for about $1) that is the only input for the system.

Can’t say that you remember hearing about [Rossum] before? Go back and check out his Wikipedia reader, AVR media player, and AVR iPod touch killer.

24 thoughts on “Gaming System For Less Than Three Bucks

  1. 3530 is only 8-14 USD and does 700Mhz and has a GPU inside. You can even get the flash/ram in POP form for around the same price. and just mesh it with passive analog stuff.

  2. This is soooo sweet!
    That whole fiddling with the luma/chrome can be solved using a simple video encoder chip (unfortunately it’s 10$, more than 3 times the price for this console…)
    I’m working on something like that too, but using AT91SAM9XE which is the fastest microcontroller that’s not in BGA form (I want to do my own pcb)
    Unfortunately omap3530 is BGA, so outside my manufacturing possibilities :(

  3. While this is a very neat hack, I wonder how this can be done for under 3 bucks if the LPCXpresso board costs almost 30 bucks at digikey.

    Isn’t this like claiming you can have a nice PS3-based gaming evening for less than 3 bucks, since the crisps will cost you only 99 cents per bag?

  4. Not that this isn’t really neat, but: “he built a gaming system for less than $3 in parts.”

    Nonsense! He built a software-generated video system on a $30 development board. In theory, the CPU can cost about $1 (but at digikey it’s nearly $4) and the joystick might be $1 in large quantities, but there’s other stuff in there that is being glossed over (power supplies?)

    Nevertheless; interesting to compare this to Phasor:

  5. Its neat, but yeah, a single joystick isn’t really enough to play anything worth playing.

    Controllers need buttons.

    And also, for sure, there’s no way he did that in under $3 without a bulk/at cost/other discount of some kind, as it looked like he had a lot more going on there than an M0/joystick, he would had to have printed the pcb going that route anyway.

  6. @westfw don’t confuse the prototype with the product. Seem avnet have these parts for $0.90 unit one and the psp joys are $0.99. An extra buck or so for battery and other giblets seems reasonable. He isn’t as far from the mark as claiming that omap starts at $8

  7. Hey this has got me thinking; what is available in these high power / low cost CPUs these days? Is there something moderatly solderable that could run Linux? I play with avrs but these chips don’t seem to cost much more, and seem to pack quite a punch.

  8. @Steve: take a look at AT91SAM9XE. It’s a 32 bit ARM clocked at 210 MHz (I think you could overclock it to 250MHz), has a MMU so you can run Linux and comes in a 208-TQFP package. Anything faster than this is BGA and (almost) impossible to solder at home.

  9. why do u guys think bga’s are impossible to use for our “home” projects? think bga break out boards. i used these back in the days of dish network hacking to turn the 64 pin bga of the 311 ird’s into cams i could use in nicer receivers.. and even have replaced the bga tsops on board these units. nothing a hot air station and a steady hand cant handle.

  10. With chip geometries becoming so small now it seems the price of a chip is more related to how many pins it has than what it actually does. I wonder how long it will be before development stops all together on 8-bit micros.

  11. what could this guy build given $20, an old N64 controller and RCA cables? trying to think of more useful parts i have lying around lol i wish i could do shit like this.

  12. Steve

    Check out the beagleboards. They run arm processors, can run linux, etc. They basically function as a small one board computer that uses an sd card for storage.

  13. @filespace

    The BGA packages typically used by more powerful SOCs have much, much more than 64 pins. Although you may be able to solder them, the tight spacing combined with the pin density essentially requires a four layer board with thin traces (4 mil) at the absolute minimum. IIRC, the Beagleboard uses a six layer board, which is definitely out of most hobbyists’ reach.

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