A Handheld Hackintosh, But So Much More

As handheld computing has solidified alongside everything else into the mobile phone, it’s sad that the once promising idea of a general purpose machine in the palm of the hand has taken a turn into the dumbed-down walled-garden offered by smartphone vendors. There was a time when it seemed that a real computer might be a common miniaturized accessory, but while it’s not really come to pass, at least [iketsj] has taken a stab at it. His handheld Hackintosh runs MacOS on a miniature scale, and looks rather nice.

At its heart is the LattePanda Alpha x86 single board computer, with a small custom expansion board  for a couple of buttons, a USB hub, a small keyboard, and a display. These parts are all mounted to a baseboard with metal stand-offs, and the power is sourced from a single USB-C socket at the bottom edge. What makes it more extraordinary is that it’s not the first handheld Hackintosh from this maker, the previous one being significantly bigger.

On one hand then, this is home-built PC like any other, assembled from off-the-shelf-parts. But on the other it’s far from normal, for despite its simplicity it forms a very usable small form factor device. The Akruvia Una keyboard uses tactile switches so maybe it’s not the machine to type your thesis on, but other than that it makes a great little machine for MacOS, Linux, or Windows. We like it, and we think you will too when you see the video below the break.

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The Best Kind Of Handheld Gaming Is Homemade

[CNCDan] previously dabbled with Raspberry Pi CM4-powered gaming handhelds but was itching for something more powerful. Starting in May 2023, he embarked on building an Intel NUC7i5BNK-powered handheld dubbed NucDeck.

As he goes over the feature list, it sounds like a commercially available console. A 1024 x 600 screen provides a good balance of fidelity and performance. Stereo-chambered speakers provide good front-facing sound. Two thumbsticks with gyro aim assist, two hall effect triggers, and many buttons round out the input. Depending on the mode, the Raspberry Pi Pico provides input as it can emulate a mouse and keyboard or a more traditional gamepad. A small OLED screen shows battery status, input mode, and other options. This all fits on four custom PCBs, communicating over I2C. 6000 mAh of battery allows for a decent three hours of run time for simpler emulators and closer to an hour for more modern games.

The whole design is geared around easily obtainable parts, and the files are open-source and on GitHub with PDFs and detailed build instructions. We see plenty of gorgeous builds here on Hackaday, but everything from the gorgeous translucent case to the build instructions screams how much time and love has been put into this. Of course, we’ve seen some exciting hacks with the steam deck (such as this one emulating a printer), so we can only imagine what sort of things you can do once you add any new hardware features you’d like.

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USB-C Power For Ham Radio

Even though manufacturers of handheld ham radios have been busy adding all sorts of bells and whistles into their portable offerings, for some reason, many of them lack a modern USB-C port. In the same vein, while some have USB for programming or otherwise communicating between the radio and a computer, very few can use USB for power. Instead , they rely on barrel jacks or antiquated charging cradles. If you’d like to modernize your handheld radio’s power source, take a look at what [jephthai] did to his Yaesu.

In the past, USB ports could be simply soldered onto a wire and used to power basically anything that took 5 VDC. But the radio in question needs 12 volts, so the key was to find a USB-C cable with the built-in electronics to negotiate the right amount of power from USB-PD devices. For this one, [jephthai] cut the barrel connector off his radio’s power supply and spliced in some Anderson power pole connectors so he could use either the standard radio charger or one spliced onto this special cable.

With this fairly simple modification out of the way, it’s possible to power the handheld radio for long outings with the proper USB battery bank on hand. For plenty of situations this is much preferable to toting around a 12 V battery, which was the method of choice for powering things like QRP rigs when operating off-grid.

Picopad Is A New Open Source Game Console

Microcontrollers are so powerful these days that you can build color handheld games with them that match or exceed what you’d ever get on the Game Boys and Game Gears of yesteryear. The Picopad aims to offer just this, in an open-source hackable format that’s friendly to experimenters.

As you might have guessed from the name, the Picopad is based on the Raspberry Pi Pico and its RP2040 microcontroller. It features four face buttons and a D-pad, along with a small color LCD with a 320×240 resolution. There is also a microSD slot upon which programs can be stored, and also an expansion port with headers for a variety of IO from the RP2040 itself including both GPIOs, serial, I2C and analog input pins. The housing is constructed out of PCBs, with some cheerful gaming artwork adding a fun aesthetic. Development is via a custom C SDK, with support for Micropython as well.

If you want to build your own and don’t fancy starting from scratch, kits are available online. We’ve seen some other great gaming experiments with the Raspberry Pi Pico before, too, like an open-world 3D game and ZX Spectrum emulators. Video after the break.

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A Pico-Based ZX Spectrum Emulator

The ZX Spectrum was a popular computer of the 8-bit era. Now, it’s possible to emulate this machine on a microcontroller so cheap that it’s literally been given away on the front cover of magazines. Yes, we’re talking about the Pico ZX Spectrum project.

The project consists of all the necessary code to emulate a ZX Spectrum upon the hardware of the RP2040 microcontroller that makes up the Raspberry Pi Pico. The community has then taken this code and run with it, using it as the basis for all manner of different ZX Spectrum builds. If so desired, you can go barebones and use the Pico to run a ZX Spectrum off a breadboard with HDMI video output. Alternatively, you can build something like the PicoZX from [Bobricius]. The handheld computer features a PCB-based housing, along with an LCD and an integrated keyboard. Other configurations support features like USB keyboards, VGA outputs, and working sound output.

It’s great to see a classic 8-bit computer reimagined in all kinds of new tribute form factors. The Spectrum was always beloved for its neat all-in-one design, and there are several modern remixes that riff on that theme. The fact that they can all be powered by a cheap single-board microcontroller is all the more astounding. Video after the break.

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Handheld PC Looks Great

[Bytewelder] fondly remembers the Palm III and Sharp HC-4500, so taking on the design of Decktility, a custom handheld cyberdeck , was a natural next step. The blog post goes into much detail about the design decisions and challenges throughout the project. The end result, though, looks great.

The device uses a Raspberry Pi CM4 and an IPS touchscreen. The bulk of the design work was to get the power system working. There is a custom FET board and an Arduino that manages charging and battery state.

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New And Improved Arduboy Mini Smashes Funding Goal

Just before the holidays, we brought you word of the Arduboy Mini — the latest in the line of open source 8-bit handheld gaming systems designed by [Kevin Bates]. He was good enough to send along a prototype version ahead of the system’s Kickstarter campaign, and we came away impressed with the possibilities it offered for customization.

Today, we’re pleased to tell you that not only did the Arduboy Mini Kickstarter cross the finish line with more than six times its original funding goal, but [Kevin] has made some pretty major changes to the design from the last time it graced these pages. The final Mini offers even more opportunities for modification and expansion, while still keeping the $29 USD price tag which made it so appealing in the first place. Continue reading “New And Improved Arduboy Mini Smashes Funding Goal”