Hackaday Prize Entry: Gaming Done Tiny with Keymu

The world’s tiniest Game Boy Color, introduced at the 2016 Hackaday SuperConference, is a work of art. This microscopic game console inspired [c.invent] to create how own gaming handheld. His Keymu project on hackaday.io describes an open source, keychain-sized gaming handheld that its builder claims is really the world’s tiniest. How did he make it smaller? It’s a miniature Game Boy Advance SP, and it folds up in a handy clamshell case.

While he’s a Pi fan, [c.invent] felt the Pi Zero was too big and clunky for what he had in mind–a keychain-sized handheld. Only the Intel Edison was compact enough. He began with a custom PCB with a connector for the Edison’s fragile ribbon cable, then added an 1.5″ OLED display and an 11.7mm speaker, all powered by a 220 mAh lithium battery. [c.invent] also created inside a custom folding 3D-printed case that protects the Keymu’s electronics from keys and pocket lint.

Unlike the mini Game Boy Color, [c.invent] aims to create a fully fledged emulation console. The Edison incorporates a Linux distribution that allowing it to install emulators for GameBoy Color, GBA, NES, and SNES.

23 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Gaming Done Tiny with Keymu

  1. Hey Hackaday, and especially John, I am the creator of Keymu. First thank you very much for the interest you put in Keymu and for this article.
    I have a few comments though.
    Please do not believe I am not grateful that Keymu made the front page, I really am, but going through your article left me with an uneasy feeling.

    I will start with the least important, call me a grammar nazi but I think you meant thus instead of that in the last sentence.

    Then a bit more important: “Unlike the mini Game Boy Color, [c.invent] aims to create a fully fledged emulation console”. This sentence was true when I started the project. Now, it is done and there is actually a video on the project’s description demonstrating it. The real “aim” now is for me to find time to finish all the tutorials.

    And last but not least I’m sorry to say that some things do not make sense to me, take this sentence for example:”He began with a custom PCB with a connector for the Edison’s fragile ribbon cable”
    What is the “fragile ribbon cable” you are referring to John, I am not sure this is the Edison you are talking about.

    Anyway, again do not mistake this for ungratefulness, thanks HaD and thanks to everyone for your nice comments, here, on youtube and on the project page.

    1. Regarding grammar, etc — you are fine. The person who typically cleans up that sort of stuff in an article is usually called a “copyeditor” and Hackaday unfortunately makes a point of not having one — leaving errors to all-too-often get battled out in the comments…

      @ Hackaday staff (etc) — once again we are all made lesser by your lack of one single position. Typos and the like are serious business, and you should not be this cheap with your hiring.

      1. Why not? ;)

        …as for utility. I’m quite fat (no sense in lying about it), with pudgy fingers to match, and I can competently use the keyboard on an older Blackberry with its tiny, tiny buttons. I’m actually a significantly better typer than when I’m using something on a touchscreen that has no tactile feedback…

        What’s a Blackberry? Ask your parents — Mom loves them for some reason. The UI is painfully bad (especially on the newer ones) and the trackballs tend to fill with crud and die (I’ve replaced them half-a-dozen times, easily, across two or three models) — but they work okayishly for what they are. The keys on a Blackberry keyboard, by the way, are about a quarter inch on a side, maybe less.

      2. Well, at first I have to admit I thought so too. It was mostly aimed at cuteness and nerdiness. I thought it incredibly cool to make a Gameboy shaped keychain, but that would actually turn on and work with the games of my childhood, even if barely playable.

        But…
        Having played on it, it is not at all that much hard to play, you can see it on the video actually, most Mario games are easily playable. In fact now I’m planning to improve further the buttons and the screen resolution so that it will be a breeze to play on (I hope).

      1. I am building a website where the Eagle files will be available. For now, I privilieged fast development and I’m afraid the schematics are very ugly to look at, but if you want them anyway, my hackaday username is c.Invent, just MP me.

      1. Ha! I’m glad I have never had to use one. I’d imagine its small form factor was the only reason the Edison was used over somthing with better support and documentation.

  2. Well, at first I have to admit I thought so too. It was mostly aimed at cuteness and neediness. I thought it incredibly cool to make a Gameboy shaped keychain, but that would actually turn on and work with the games of my childhood, even if barely playable.

    But…
    Having played on it, it is not at all that much hard to play, you can see it on the video actually, most Mario games are easily playable. In fact now I’m planning to improve further the buttons and the screen resolution so that it will be a breeze to play on (I hope)

    1. I do not know for sure the dimensions of Sprite_TM’s gameboy but Keymu is (for now at least) bigger indeed. To be more precise, I think it is less long but larger, regarding depth I’m not sure.
      John’s article make it look like I claimed Keymu was smaller by saying “its builder claims is really the world’s tiniest”, but I never claimed any such thing.
      Sprite_TM tiny gameboy is based on a microcontroller and even though it is a very powerful one, it is still an incredibly amazing feat that he managed to adapt a gameboy emulator and optimize some games to play on it.
      I must emphesize that Sprite_TM’s feat, coming from a microcontroller perspective, was a complete different challenge from Keymu, and I would honestly say a more difficult one, but it can emulate only gameboy games (and by optimizing the displaying of sprites).

      Keymu instead is based on a computer module so with a lot more processing power, ram and memory, allowing it to emulate multiple consoles, and store a large amount of games.
      And, to my knowledge, among these “emulation consoles” that can emulate multiple machines (using boards such as raspberry pi, CHIP, …), it is the world’s smallest, yes – but I might be mistaken.

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