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Handheld Arcade Machine

By Mathew Norman

Project Conception

This idea has been in my head for a while, and many others have created one, including Ben Heck. However mine has some changes I have not seen to date.

  1. I'm adding multi-player capability
  2. I'm creating it with a large screen with a landscape layout

The idea was thought up on a long bus trip back home to Mildura. I had made a full size arcade machine cabinet in 2014. After seeing a girl start playing a Nintendo DS opposite where I was sitting I began thinking about my arcade machine, eventually considering making it into a hand held, knowing that the Raspberry Pi can run MAME.

It was here I decided to commit to the project and began drawing up designs on paper once I got back to Melbourne.

My first step was to find something to base the design on. It's common practice, if someone else has done all the hard work and have made it available for everyone else, why do it again? It's the hacker way after all. When have any of you built an Arduino for your Arduino project? Didn't think you had. Anyway, there were a few systems designed already that were similar to my initial plan.

The Gameboy Advance : Who doesn't remember this handheld beauty, before the portrait oriented GameBoy Advance SP, there was this. This is way smaller than my target however.

The Nintendo Wii U tablet. : Sure, the console has been arguably a failure. However, their controller was the first sign that a large screen handheld could be possible, thus I persisted my idea.

Ben Heck's Dreamcast Portable : This is the most recent of my sources, a video that came out weeks after I actually had conceptualised the idea. His layout and button configuration almost perfectly matched my idea, call him a thief, say great minds think alike, I don't care, he proved my concept was valid and possible, and that was all I needed.

After choosing some parts I decided to make a 3D model based on the parts to determine how large and create some ideas on how this would all go together. My first design can be seen here.


Build Steps

  1. I begin by drawing what I want onto paper. This helps me determine the shape/size and any other constraints I will have such as spacing for the components.
  2. Afterwards I convert this drawing to a 3D model in the modelling program I have available at the time (usually either SketchUp or 123D Design
  3. After getting all the drawings done, I had a pretty clear idea on how I wanted to layout the buttons. The buttons were then build onto circuit boards. Zane helped a lot with this bit. We were working on it until 5:30am at HackerSpace. We then connected all the pins of our custom made circuit boards to the Joystick Emulator
  4. Next it was time to test it. To do this, I loaded PiPlay onto the Raspberry Pi and plugged the Joystick Emulator into the USB port.
  5. PiPlay had already been set up to run (instructions found here) however the button mapping had not been. So it was time to map some buttons. PiPlay have a good button setup system which allows you to see an image of the game controller and then set it up accordingly. However, I set mine up so that the controls were consistent with all consoles. It was also here where I had discovered I had added a few too many buttons. But alas, the controller worked.
  6. Next I decided I was to go through and delete all the emulators I didn't need. This can be done really simply through the PiPlay web interface which can be accessed by entering your PiPlay IP address into the web browser URL bar. This interface allowed me to remove emulators from the menu. However to delete them completely you need to do a little bit of terminal work on the device (rm -r /home/pi/pimame/emulators/xxxx.
  7. To install roms I did not use the web interface as they suggest. As it was going to take far too long. Instead I copied them all into the appropriate game folders (eg mame4all, snes) on a USB flash drive. Then on the PiPlay installation I went and deleted all the ROM folders in the roms/ directory. Mounted the USB drive and copied all the folders to into the roms/ directory.
project/member/handheld-arcade-machine.txt · Last modified: 2015/05/16 10:27 by