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” →
Handheld consoles are always a tradeoff between portability and screen real estate. [Pavlo Khmel] felt that the Nintendo Switch erred too much on the side of portability, and built an extension to embiggen his Switch. (YouTube)
[Khmel] repurposed a Dell XPS 12 LCD panel for the heart of this hack and attached it to an LCD controller board to serve as an external monitor for the Switch. A 3D printed enclosure envelops the screen and also contains a battery, speakers, and a dock for the console. Along the top edges, metal rails let you slide in the official Joy-Cons or any number of third party controllers, even those that require a power connection from the Switch.
Since the Switch sees this as being docked, it allows the console to run faster and at higher resolution than if it were in handheld mode. The extension lasts about 5 hours on battery power, and the Switch inside will still be fully charged if you don’t mind being constrained to its small screen while you charge it’s bigger-screened exoskeleton.
Need more portable goodness? Be sure to check out our other handheld and Nintendo Switch hacks.
Continue reading “Portable Monitor Extension For Nintendo Switch” →
One of the coolest things in the retro gaming scene is making desktop consoles into portables. [Millomaker] is building an XBox 360 handheld, and the first step is shrinking the console’s motherboard.
Most 360 portables up to this point have been laptop-shaped instead of something handheld, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to miniaturize the console further. [Millomaker]’s cut seems to be the most successful so far, shrinking the device’s motherboard down to the size of its old competitor, the Wii.
In the video (in French with available auto-translation) below the break, you can get the full harrowing journey during which several 360s sacrificed their motherboards for the cause despite [Millomaker]’s meticulous testing between component removals. This is truly an awesome mod, and we’re glad that the video shows not only the successes, but also the missteps on the way. It wouldn’t really be a hack if it was smooth sailing, would it?
For more fun with handhelds, check out the Sprig Open Source Handheld, a Portable PS2, or this Handheld Linux Computer.
Continue reading “Shrinking The XBox 360” →
[Hack Club] is a group that aims to teach teenagers about tech by involving them in open-source projects. One of the group’s latest efforts is Sprig, an open-source handheld game console, and [Hack Club] has even been giving them away!
The console is based around a Raspberry Pi Pico, paired up with a TFT7735 screen. There’s also a MAX98357A audio amp on board to provide sound. Other than that, there’s a full ten buttons for control, some LEDs for feedback, and it’s all assembled on a custom PCB designed for easy soldering.
Plenty of work has been done to make Sprig an accessible platform for first-time developers. Games can be created for Sprig and run either on the device, or in an online web-based editor. [Hack Club] is even running a program that will give Sprig hardware away to kids and teens worldwide who write a game for the platform and submit it to the online gallery.
If you’re eager to get into game development while understanding both the hardware and software side of things, Sprig might be just what you’re looking for. With today’s microcontrollers being so cheap and so powerful, we’ve seen some other great handheld designs recently, too!
Science fiction predicted that we would one day all carry around tiny computers of great power. While smartphones are great, those predictions were more based on cuter systems that more closely approximated existing computers, with keyboards and screens. [Jean-Marc Harvengt] has built something along those very lines, and it’s called the T-COMPUTER.
This build centers around the mighty Teensy 4.1. That means it’s got an 800 MHz Cortex-M7 processor, 1 MB of RAM, and 8 MB of flash – eclipsing the specs of many retrocomputers of yesteryear. [Jean-MarcHarvengt] has paired the Teensy with a 42-key keyboard and a TFT screen, making a compact handheld computer platform. It’s also got VGA out for display on a bigger screen, along with USB and an old-school Atari joystick port! Power is via a small rechargeable lithium cell on the back, and 16-bit stereo audio is available via a standard 3.5mm jack. There’s also a little GPIO available if you need to interface with something.
It’s capable of emulating the Commodore 64 and Super Nintendo, as well as more obscure systems like the Atari Lynx. And before you ask – yes, it can run DOOM. It’s a fun little platform that would be enjoyable for retrogaming and hacking on the go. If you want to build your own, files are readily available on Github to recreate the system.
Handheld computer builds are always growing in popularity now that so much computing power can be had in a tiny devboard formats. If you’ve built your own neat little rig, be sure to let us know! Video after the break.
Continue reading “Teensy Becomes Tiny Handheld Computer, Plays Emulators” →
We don’t have to tell you that the current mobile phone market is a bit bleak for folks who value things like privacy, security, and open source. While there have been a few notable attempts to change things up, from phone-optimized versions of popular Linux distributions to the promise of modular handsets — we still find ourselves left with largely identical slabs released by a handful of companies which often seem to treat the customer as a product.
Instead of waiting for technological relief that may never come, [vrhelmutt] has decided to take matters into their own hands by looking to the past. Specifically, by embracing the relatively uncommon Nokia Asha 210. Released in 2013, this so-called “feature phone” offers a full QWERTY keyboard, Nokia’s Series 40 operating system, WiFi, Bluetooth, and a removable BL-4U battery. Unfortunately, with 2G cellular networks quickly being shut down, it’s not likely to get a signal for much longer (if at all, depending on where you live).
So why would you want to use some weird old Nokia phone in 2022? [vrhelmutt] argues that there’s a whole world of S40 software out there that can still be put to use, ranging from games to SSH clients. It’s also relatively easy to develop your own S40 applications in Java, with the original software development kit still freely available online. Combined with the solid (if considerably dated) hardware, this makes the Nokia Asha 210 a surprisingly compelling choice for a pocket hacking platform.
Whether you’re looking for a cheap device that will let you chat on IRC from your couch, or want to write your own custom software for controlling your home automation or robotics projects, you might want to check the second-hand market for a Nokia Asha 210. Or if you’re eager to get experimenting immediately, [vrhelmutt] is actually selling these phones pre-loaded with a wide array of games and programs. Don’t consider this to be an official endorsement; frankly we’re not feeling too confident about the legality of redistributing all this software, but at least it’s an option for those looking to get off the modern smartphone thrill-ride.
If you’re looking for something even farther removed from today’s mobile supercomputers, perhaps we could interest you in the Rotary Un-Smartphone.
Continue reading “Finding Digital Solace In An Old Nokia Phone” →
When I arrived at the InfoAge Science and History Museum for this year’s Vintage Computer Festival East, I fully expected it to be a reduced event compared to last year. After all, how could it not? Due to the schedule getting shifted around by COVID, show runner Jeffrey Brace and his team had just six months to put together an event that usually gets planned over the course of an entire year. With such a truncated preparation time, they more than deserved a little slack.
But as anyone who attended VCF East 2022 can attest, they didn’t need it. Not only did the event meet the high expectations set by last year’s Festival, it managed to exceed them. There were more workshops, more talks, more vendors, more consignment rooms, more live streams, more…well, everything. This year’s program even got a splash of glossy color compared to the grayscale handout attendees received in October. It was, by any metric you care to use, better than ever.
It does however leave me in somewhat on an unenviable position. As we’ve learned during the pandemic, a virtual representation of an event as extensive as VCF can give you a taste of what’s offered, but all the nuance is lost. Looking at pictures of somebody’s passion project can’t compare to actually meeting the person and seeing that glint of pride in their eye as they walk you through all the details.
So bear that in mind through this rundown of some of the projects that caught my eye. This isn’t a “best of” list, and the Festival is certainly not a competition. But each attendee will invariably come away with their own handful of favorite memories, so I’ll document mine here. If you’d like to make your own memories, I’d strongly suggest making the trek out to the Jersey Shore come April 2023 for the next Vintage Computer Festival East.
Continue reading “Vintage Computer Festival East Raises The Bar Again” →