Arduboy Mini Is A Fresh Take On An 8-bit Favorite

We’ve always been big fans of the Arduboy here at Hackaday. When creator Kevin Bates showed us the original prototype back in 2014, the idea was to use his unique method of mounting components inside routed holes in the PCB to produce an electronic business card that was just 1.6 mm thick. But the Internet quickly took notice of the demos he posted online, and what started as a one-off project led to a wildly successful Kickstarter for a sleek handheld gaming system that used modern components and manufacturing techniques to pay homage to the 8-bit retro systems that came before it.

The original Arduboy prototype in 2014

It’s the sort of hacker success story that we live for around here, but it didn’t end there. After the Kickstarter, the Arduboy community continued to grow, thanks in no small part to Kevin never forgetting the open source principles the product was built on.

He took an active role in the growing community, and when some Arduboy owners started tinkering with adding external storage to their systems so they could hold hundreds of games at a time, he didn’t chastise them for exploring. Instead, he collaborated with them to produce not only a fantastic add-on modification for the original Arduboy, but a new version of the Arduboy that had the community-inspired modifications built in.

Now Kevin is back with the Arduboy Mini, which not only retains everything that made the original a success, but offers some exciting new possibilities. There’s little doubt that he’s got another success on his hands as well as the community’s backing — at the time of this writing, the Kickstarter campaign for the $29 USD Mini has nearly quadrupled its funding goal.

But even still, Kevin offered us a chance to go hands-on with a prototype of the Arduboy Mini so that anyone on the fence can get a third party’s view on the new system. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how this micro machine stacks up to its full-sized counterparts.

Continue reading “Arduboy Mini Is A Fresh Take On An 8-bit Favorite”

A miniature Vectrex console being used

Finally, The Venerable Vectrex Gets A Mini Makeover

It appears that every great console is bound to get a miniature remake: we’ve had the PlayStation Classic, the Mini NES and SNES, and even a miniature Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. But one great console that was sorely missing from that list, at least according to [Brendan], was the Vectrex. So he went ahead and built a fully-functioning miniature Vectrex Console.

If the name “Vectrex” doesn’t ring a bell in your mind, you’re not alone: a commercial failure, it was quickly forgotten by most following the 1983 video game crash. But it has retained a cult status among enthusiasts due to its unique design featuring a monochrome vector monitor, onto which you can place transparent overlays to obtain a sort-of color display. Its games can now all be emulated using software like RetroPie, which is what [Brendan] chose to run on a Raspberry Pi Model 2 that he had lying around.

As for the display, he settled on a Pi-compatible 3.5″ TFT device. Hooking it up to the Pi was easy enough, but getting the image rendered in its proper portrait orientation was quite a headache, requiring endless fiddling with drivers and configuration files.

Once he got this working, [Brendan] set to work designing a miniature copy of the Vectrex’s original case. It took a few iterations and several 10-hour runs on his 3D printer before he ended up with a sturdy case that securely held the Pi and its display in place. A few more hours of printing later he also had a handheld controller, which he based on an Arduino Pro Mega. The Arduino reads out four regular pushbuttons and a joystick, and communicates with the Pi through a coiled USB cable.

The end result, as you can see in the video embedded below, is the cutest little Vectrex we’ve ever seen. It’s really the opposite of this big-screen Vectrex project. We’ve also seen a Vectrex projector, and even one with a real color monitor hacked in. Continue reading “Finally, The Venerable Vectrex Gets A Mini Makeover”