Circuit-Sword Delivers Retro Justice

You can’t search for “retro gaming” without hitting a plethora of single board computers attached to all manner of controls, batteries, etc. Often these projects have an emphasis on functionality above all else but [Kite]’s Circuit-Sword is different. The Circuit-Sword is the heart of a RaspberryPi-based retro gaming machine with an enviable level of fit and finish.

Fundamentally the Circuit-Sword is a single board computer built around a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3. We don’t see many projects which use a Compute Module instead of the full Pi, but here it is a perfect choice allowing [Kite] to useful peripherals without carrying the baggage of those that don’t make sense for a portable handheld (we’re looking at you, Ethernet). The Circuit-Sword adds USB-C to quickly charge an onboard LiPo (rates up to 1.5A available) and the appropriate headers to connect a specific LCD. The Compute Module omits wireless connectivity so [Kite] added an SDIO WiFi/Bluetooth module. And if you look closely, you may notice an external ATMega mediating a familiar looking set of button and switches.

Optional Drill Holes

We think those buttons and switches are the most interesting thing going on here, because the whole board is designed to fit into an original GameBoy enclosure. It turns out replacement enclosures are available from China in surprising variety (try searching for “gameboy housing”) as are a variety of parts to facilitate the installation of different screen options and more. One layer deeper in the wiki there are instructions for case mods you may want to perform to make everything work optimally. The number of possible options the user can mod-in are wide. Extra X/Y buttons? Shoulder buttons on the back? Play Station Portable-style slide joysticks? All detailed. For even more examples, try searching the SudoMod forums. For example, here’s a very visual build log by user [DarrylUK].

The case mod instructions are worth a glance even if you have no intent to build a device. There are some clever techniques to facilitate careful alignment of buttons and accurate hole drilling. Predicting their buyers might want a variety of options, [Kite] added reference drill holes in the PCB for the builder to re-drill for mounting buttons or joysticks. To facilitate adding status LEDs externally there is a tiny PCB jig included. There are even instructions for adding a faux game cartridge for the complete look.

If you want to buy one (we certainly do!) [Kite] does group buys periodically. Check out the wiki for links to the right interest form.

Thanks [Speednut Dave] for the tip!

13 thoughts on “Circuit-Sword Delivers Retro Justice

  1. Here’s some retro crack kids, errr… adults who fondly remember old games; first hit is free!

    Seriously though, big props to the sudomod community for the extensive documentation and support. *cough*YaYa*cough*
    It’s also fantastic how the Circuit Sword’s RetroPie image mods that Kite and the community made makes the Circuit Sword quick to boot, more responsive, and safely power the device down as compared to the RPi Zero builds. Plus on the CS, PSX emulation works wonderfully!

    1. Kite’s CS image is amazing! Took me a bit to get everything figured out(more of a hardware guy) but this thing is amazing! I’m planning on buying another case and some tactile switches as I only went with the SNES style face buttons and no shoulder buttons on my first build. The guys at Sudomod have been doing incredible work with these builds, if anyone is on the fence about jumping into one of these builds, I say go for it!

  2. Everything put together (also including a housing, extra buttons, a battery, a glass screen protector with thinner bezels and shipping but excluding any 3D printed parts because I have free access to one) it’s been about €220. So, far from cheap but doing the math I couldn’t do it cheaper and I definitely couldn’t do as good a job.

  3. pretty cool though i never much liked the og gameboy. much of retro gaming for me is snes and old dos games. did own a game gear but was never a fan of its rather crappy screen, weight and terrible battery life (and unlike the game boy it used more of them and burned them faster).

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