View Full Version : Here’s how to build your own gaming handheld

13-05-2015, 02:07 PM

Gaming on the go may have been dominated by smartphones and tablets recently, with handhelds like the PS Vita and Nintendo DS struggling in comparison, but with retro games enjoying a comeback of late, there's plenty of scope for cheap and cheerful gaming handhelds - and you can even build your own! Read on to find out how.

Picking a platform

The first thing you'll need to think about if you want to create your own gaming handheld is what you actually want to build it around. The platform - the basic guts of your device - will dictate the amount of support you get, the games you can easily download and the accessories you can attach, and there are plenty of options out there. The Raspberry Pi is arguably one of the best known, and it's also incredibly cheap, but you'll end up building a slightly bigger handheld if you go down this route.

You can also go for an Arduino board, offering a similar experience to the Pi, but in a slightly smaller package. If you want really small though, with a handheld compact enough to lose in your pocket, opting for a TinyDuino processing board is the way to go. As with the Pi and Arduino, it's based on open-source software, with plenty of support for apps and games, but in this case TinyDuino is little larger than a penny.


Which screen?

The screen you use will depend largely on which platform you go for, with a variety of choices on offer. If you go for the Raspberry Pi, the Adafruit PiTFT display is a fantastic choice, measuring in at 2.8 inches and also packing in touchscreen tech making it a solid choice for gaming on the go..

If you take the Arduino route, there are plenty of panels out there, including the Arduino TFT LCD screen. Measuring 1.77 inches, and with a 160 x 128 resolution, you'll have no trouble recreating some of the more basic retro games out there. And if you do opt for the smallest of the small, there's an amazingly compact TinyScreen to work alongside the TinyDuino, complete with 96 x 64 pixel resolution. Sure, you're not going to be playing Grand Theft Auto V on there anytime soon, but it's easily good enough for the likes of Flappy Bird (well, a clone)!

And buttons?

There are plenty of controls out there for your homemade gaming handheld, including the Joystick Shield for the Arduino. Adding a joystick and group of push buttons, it'll make your creation every bit as controllable as proper handheld gaming gadgets.

As for the Raspberry Pi, there's everything from push buttons to joysticks, meaning you can set up your handheld to perfectly suit the games you love the most - and if you?re handy with a soldering iron, you should be able to hook up plenty of other choices, including arcade buttons or reusing a GameBoy?s old school controls.

There's also the JoyStick for the TinyDuino, turning it from a clever circuit board into something that's actually capable of playing games. You may need tiny digits though, as it's certainly one of the smallest gaming systems we've seen!


Anything else I need to know?

You'll be needing batteries for your new handheld, and there's a near endless choice of options for powering the mini computers. And if you're a perfectionist, just whacking a load of computer parts together and getting games to appear on the screen is unlikely to be enough either - the chances are you'll want your homemade creation to actually look good too. Which is why some people have started getting a lot more creative - how about making your own Game Boy - or in this case a https://superpiboy.wordpress.com" target="_blank">"Super Mega Ultra Pi Boy 64" (we like the catchy name!). As the name implies, the creator has spent some time repurposing a Game Boy case with a Raspberry Pi, and you too can reuse your old school gadget sin the same way.

Don't forget the actual software itself - with thriving communities for open-source gadgets like the Pi and Arduino, there are loads of gaming emulators you'll be able to add, letting you play the best retro titles with ease. The best bit about things like the Pi is the fact there are huge communities, making it easy to get started with emulators. You?ll need to do a bit of tinkering, but it?ll be worth it in the end.

What about pre-made options?


If the idea of making your own handheld gaming gadget from scratch is a little too daunting, you could always buy something somebody else has created, but still retains the customisation of open-source operating systems - just the hard work has been done for you. We absolutely love the Arduino-based $39 (?25) Arduboy for starters, and the TinyScreen can also be ordered as part of a $75 (?48) Video Game Kit, taking the worry out of making sure you order the right bits.

Which would you create though - would you make the smallest gaming gadget possible, or something a bit bigger and more usable?

source (http://gadgetshow.channel5.com/news/here%E2%80%99s-how-build-your-own-gaming-handheld)