Giant Nintendo Switch Is Actually Playable

The Nintendo Switch has been a hugely successful console for the century-old former playing card manufacturer. At least part of that success has come from its portability, of which [Michael Pick] has probably lost a bit with his 65-pound giant Nintendo Switch built for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. (Video, embedded below.) What he’s lost in portability has been more than made up in coolness-factor, though, and we’re sure the kids will appreciate that they can still play the monster gaming machine.

From its plywood body to the 3D-printed buttons, the supersized build looks solid. Docked inside the left Joy-Con is the actual console powering its big brother. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, is that tiny (well, normal-sized) Joy-Cons are also hidden inside. These are manipulated via servos for the buttons and a direct pass-through setup for the joysticks to control games on the Switch.

While the Joy-Cons are unmodified and completely removable, [Michael] does recognize this isn’t necessarily the ideal solution. But he was certain it was a hack he could make work in the time he had, so he went for it. He’s looked into the controller emulation possible with Teensys and would probably use that solution for any giant Switch projects in the future. Of course, with this build, players can still pair regular Joy-Cons and pro controllers for more practical gaming.

Most Nintendo mods we see attempt to make the console smaller, not larger, so this is an eye-catching change of pace. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the colossal console in action after it was installed, only some stills of hospital staff wheeling it in the front doors. But we can imagine that the children’s smiles are at least as big as ours were when we saw it.

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Official Teardown Gives Unexpected Look Into PS5

With Sony and Microsoft still a month away from the public release of their next-generation game consoles, you’d expect technical details of their respective systems to still be under a veil of secrecy. But both companies look to be taking things a bit differently this generation, as it becomes increasingly clear that modern consumers are interested in what makes their devices tick. Today, Sony really threw down the gauntlet by beating the tech media to the punch and posting their own in-depth teardown on the new PlayStation 5.

Unsurprisingly, the video after the break is almost entirely in Japanese. But even if you don’t know the language, there’s plenty of interesting details to be had. For one thing, the heatsink and fan that cools the PS5’s AMD CPU and GPU are collectively so massive that they appear to take up most of the console’s internal volume.

In fact, the heatsink itself is so large that the motherboard is actually mounted to it instead of the other way around. So if you want to take out the board, you have to unbolt it from the heatsink and remove it first. In the process you’ll expose the unique liquid metal thermal compound that Sony apparently developed specifically for this application. Good luck to you if any dust gets in that expensive-looking goop.

It’s also interesting to note that, unlike the previous two generations of Sony consoles, the PS5 has no discrete hard drive. Instead, onboard flash with a custom controller is used to provide 825 GB of storage for software. Hopefully Sony has put the requisite amount of R&D into their wear leveling, as a shot flash chip will mean a whole new motherboard. That said, gamers with extensive collections will be happy to see there appears to be an expansion bay where you can install your own M.2 drive.

Between this and the recent PS4 assembly line tour, it’s refreshing to see a company like Sony be a bit more transparent. After years of adversarial treatment from the tech giants, we’d almost forgotten that the customer is supposed to be king. Continue reading “Official Teardown Gives Unexpected Look Into PS5”

Jerry Lawson And The Fairchild Channel F; Father Of The Video Game Cartridge

The video game console is now a home entertainment hub that pulls in all forms of entertainment via an internet connection, but probably for most readers it was first experienced as an offline device that hooked up to the TV and for which new game software had to be bought as cartridges or for later models, discs. Stepping back through the history of gaming is an unbroken line to the 1970s, but which manufacturer had the first machine whose games could be purchased separately from the console? The answer is not that which first comes to mind, and the story behind its creation doesn’t contain the names you are familiar with today.

The Fairchild Channel F never managed to beat its rival, the Atari 2600, in the hearts of American youngsters so its creator Jerry Lawson isn’t a well-known figure mentioned in the same breath as Atari’s Nolan Bushnell or Apple’s two Steves, but without this now-forgotten console the history of gaming would have been considerably different.

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Gameslab: The Other FPGA Game Console Badge

Anyone who was at Supercon will no doubt remember the badges that dangled around everyone’s neck. Some were reasonable, while some were neck-straining monsters that added anything and everything to hack the badge into something cool. We saw everything from AI cameras to a fully autonomous vehicle being worn with pride.

Sadly, one that we missed was Gameslab, [Craig J. Bishop]’s FPGA-based portable game console. No, not that FPGA-based game console; in an example of great minds thinking alike, [Craig] had actually been toying with his own handheld console design for quite some time. And we have to say the results are stunning.

The FPGA at the heart of this is a Xilinx Zynq FPGA-ARM Cortex A9 combo SoC, normally a prohibitively expensive monster of a chip. When [Craig] found “refurbished” Zynq chips on eBay for less than 10% of the cost of new units, it was literally game-on for the build. The console required a six-layer PCB to support the big BGA chip and the hundreds of support components around it. There’s a 5″ TFT touchscreen with a video controller implemented in the FPGA, a stereo sound system, and all the buttons and thumbsticks you’d expect on a modern console.

For our money, the best part is the case, about which [Craig] has yet to share any details. But it looks like a machined aluminum plate with wide chamfers around each cutout that contrast nicely with the brushed surface. We’ll be looking forward to more details on that and on progress with Gameslab.

DIY 40FPS 16bpp Platformer On A Cortex M0+

Sure, you can play a bunch of retro games on a Raspberry Pi, but if you’re really hardcore, you build your own retro console and write your own games for it. [Nicola Wrachien]’s entry into this year’s Hackaday prize is his DIY Cortex M0+ game console and the platform game he wrote to test the hardware.

The board that [Nicola] is using is the uChip, a small DIP board based around a ATSAMD21 (the same chip that runs the Arduino Zero). That, along with a 160×128 TFT LCD screen, makes up the bulk of the hardware. A carrier board holds both of these as well as several buttons and an OpAmp.

The ATSAMD21 chip has decent hardware DMA that [Nicola] is using to get the frame rate needed. Since the DMA hardware and the CPU can work at the same time, while the DMA is handling one chunk of graphics, the CPU is working on the next chunk. Using this system, [Nicola] is able to get a better framerate than originally designed. Take a look at [Nicola]’s webpage for more details on the algorithm used.

In order to create a level in the platformer that [Nicola] made to show off the console, [Nicola] created a full blown level editor in Java. Using the editor, you can place the tiles and sprites and set their behaviours. The map can then be exported in an optimized format for loading on to the hardware and into the game.

A video showing off the game is after the break. There’s no shortage of great DIY consoles on the site — check out this impressive vector console, or if RetroPie is more your thing, take a look at this DIY Zelda-playing device.

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Vintage Car Radio Now Plays Games And Chiptunes

[MisterM] seems to specialize in squeezing new electronics into old but good-looking technology. His latest creation focuses on a space-age specimen: an interesting car radio from 1963 that could be pulled out from the dashboard and taken along wherever. The beat goes on, thanks to a shiny built-in speaker on the bottom.

He replaced the non-working radio guts with a Raspberry Pi 3 running RetroPie and a Picade controller board. A Pimoroni Blinkt LED strip behind the radio dial glows a different color for each emulated console, which we think is a nice touch. [MisterM] built this console to play in his workshop, and even made a dock for it. But in a lovely homage to the original radio, it’s self-contained and can be taken to the living room or to a friend’s house. There’s also a USB port for whenever player two is ready to enter. For [MisterM]’s next trick, he’ll be converting an 80s joystick.

We love that [MisterM] repurposed the dials as housings for start and select buttons. As he points out, this keeps them out of the way while he’s wildly working the controls. Just enter the Konami Code to unlock the build video below.

Do you dream of playing Donkey Kong absolutely everywhere? Check out the ultraportable mintyPi 2.0.

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Thumbs Up For This CRT Handheld Gaming Console

Despite all the progress video game graphics have made, it is safe to say that we won’t see any decline in oldschool 8-bit games any time soon. For some it’s about nostalgia, for others it’s just a great and simple-enough first step into game development itself. For [gocivici] it was a bit of both when he built this camcorder style, one-button gaming console.

With a Raspberry Pi Zero running PICO-8 at its core, [gocivici] salvaged the viewfinder of an old camcorder for the display, and that way turned it into a whole other kind of handheld console. For full ergonomic handling, one single, thumb-operated push button serves as only control option. This of course makes it a bit challenging to re-use existing games that would require more input options, so he and some friends decided to just write a suitable game on their own with the hopes that others might follow.

Unfortunately we don’t see a lot of projects using these old camcorder viewfinders, and considering modern LCD and OLED options it’s not really that surprising, but there’s just something intriguing about these tiny CRTs. So in case you want to see more of them, have a look at this tiny Atari display, and the DIY night vision monocle from a few years back. And to keep your eyes safe and sound, [gocivici] got you covered as well.

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