aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:44 pm

Hello, fellow forum users! This is my very first project using the Raspberry Pi, and actually, my first time working with things like plastic and circuitry. My goal is to turn an old original GameBoy into a portable computer, and a gaming system.

Image

Project Goals:

- To replace the original buttons with those of a 3DS, with the exception of the start and select buttons (probably from the DSi).
- To utilize the power switch to actually power on the device, and have an LED indicate that it is on, or that it is low on power.
- To replace the screen with a small LCD around 3" wide, although I'm not going to be picky about resolution.
- To have the screen run via RCA or GPIO, with an HDMI lead-out.
- To use the volume dial and audio jack that comes with the device, to replace the speaker, and to have these all functioning normally.
- To use a powered USB hub to power the Pi itself, as well as having at least one USB lead-out.
- To have a small USB wifi adapter on the top of the device, opposite the power switch.
- To have an Ethernet lead-out.
- To add shoulder buttons somewhere on the device (I am not sure where yet.)
- To use the cartridge slot to load the SD card, if possible. (I've ordered a GameBoy game that i can rip the label off of and take the chip out, for the purpose of fitting it to hold an SD card so that putting it into the device simaeltaneously slides the SD card into the proper slot.
- To remove as many components from the Pi as I can to conserve space, by directly soldering cords to the board itself. (I imagine this will be extremely tricky for the Ethernet and HDMI parts.)


General Goals:

- To have it all fit neatly within the device, without having to use anything to bind it together.
- To make it functional and easy to use.
- To have it look at least decent.
- To make it fully portable, with the option to plug it in to charge it.
- To prevent it from overheating too quickly.
- To keep the weight of the device nice and balanced.


My current inventory:

- Various tools (including a heat gun w/ solder, a drill, and a fine-toothed saw for circuits and plastic cutting.)
- A powered usb hub that will fit inside the case along with the Pi. (I stole it from the Rock Band set, which nobody plays anymore.)
- A small LCD screen I took out of a digital camera.
- GameBoy cartridge
- GameBoy
- The Raspberry Pi.
- 8 GB SD Card


Things I'm waiting for (that I've ordered online):

- Tri-wing screwdriver.
- Wireless Adapter.


Things I need: (Fun fact: If I need more than this, I don't know about it.)

- A power source, (Battery, preferrably.) as well as the necessary parts and wires. Just for the record, I know absolutely nothing about inverters, but I do know about Voltage and Amprage. So I can figure out the kind of battery I need, but not how to put it together. I'm thinking 7.4V with 1A or 2A.


Now, this all sounds pretty far-fetched for someone who's never worked on something like this before. I'm hoping for feedback and input from people who are interested, and people who have done things like this.

The total amount of money I've spent so far on parts is $28, and I will have to spend another $81.40 just for the rest of the parts I know where to get. That's not counting battery and the other things I have yet to buy, and it's not counting the cost of tools (around $100 just to get everything required, so far). Altogether, this thing will probably cost a good $200 to make.

So, yeah. There it is. Right now I'm just waiting for the important parts to arrive, while figuring out a power source.
Last edited by aquamarinist on Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:30 am, edited 13 times in total.

Katamari
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:26 pm

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:43 pm

A very ambitious project and I wish you luck with it. I think that you will find space to be in very short supply.
If you haven't seen it already, at least one other person has done something similar: http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewt ... 83#p158083
That might provide a little advice on the power side of it as well as an idea of how tight space will be. Google will also show you some other attempts.
A couple of points on things that you mention:

-To have the screen run via HDMI or RCA, but to also have a lead-out for both of these.
I would recommend you have the screen run off of the RCA and don't try having the lead-out. I haven't looked much at them, but I know that at the size, RCA is about the resolution you will have and trying to have it run off of but then still be able to plug into something else will be difficult. Also, I think the Pi will normally output to HDMI (though I may be incorrect), so then it would only use the screen when not plugged into something else which is probably what you want.

- To use a powered USB hub to power the Pi itself, as well as having at least one USB lead-out.
The Pi won't be able to run off of a Hub that you then have plugged into the Pi; the Pi will use just about all the power it can supply and I am fairly certain it just won't work.

I think that a lot of your ideas such as USB port opposite power for a wi-fi dongle and also having the SD slot on the top of the gameboy will be tricky to get all of them, but there are extenders for just about every connection out there. Once again, your main problem will probably just be space (and probably wires everywhere).
If you make any progress, don't forget to post. There are probably plenty of people that can help you if you get stuck with electronics.
Finally, one idea for your power supply: http://learn.adafruit.com/solar-charging-handbag
Ignore the solar panel, and replace the Solar Li-Po charger with this one: https://www.adafruit.com/products/259, but the idea of it should work. Connect the Pi's power via the USB on the MintyBoost, then you can just use a Li-Po battery and charge it via the USB jack on the charger board. I would also recommend checking either these forums or the Adafruit ones to ensure that the MintyBoost can run a Pi. It says it can do up to 500 mA, but you might want to double check.

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:56 pm

Katamari wrote:A very ambitious project and I wish you luck with it. I think that you will find space to be in very short supply.
If you haven't seen it already, at least one...
Thank you very much for your input! I have seen the other threads around, so I know it's possible.

I agree with your thoughts on RCA vs. HDMI, and I agree that it is much more plausible to have a single HDMI lead-out and not an RCA one. Wishful thinking, I suppose. If it's possible, I'm gonna do it. : P But probably not since I'm new at this.

Thanks for letting me know about how the hub won't power the Pi itself. I'm taking this into account and thinking up an alternative.

I really like your idea with the minty boost, it seems more cost effective than the other battery solutions I've seen online. Conceivably, I could put the minty boost into the device itself, and have the USB port accessible from the battery cover on the back of the device.

I've found a chart here that tells what kind of batteries will give what kind of A and V, so I think this should be of some use to me. But based on this, I'm not sure if a traditional battery will work for my device, as the LCD needs a minimum of 6.5V just to turn on, and then I need the Pi itself to run, and I need it all to last longer than two hours.

EDIT: Actually, I'm going to look into using a smartphone battery. Maybe I'll make a switch for the WiFi, just so that it doesn't eat up battery. As well, I could have the "Contrast" dial on the gameboy be used to adjust the amount of power going to the LCD.

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:20 am

If anyone else can help me out, it would be much appreciated. Specifically, I'm still looking for an LCD screen.

Katamari
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:26 pm

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:52 am

I didn't think about the screen...
I actually did happen across one earlier today though here. It runs off of the Pi's GPIO power, so you might not need any power other than to the Pi? Also, runs off of the GPIO pins, so would leave both of the video outs available. However, this might put additional strain on the current draw, but a completely separate display would do that as well. Also, might require additional processing relative to the standard outputs, but I honestly have no clue. Depending on what you are wanting to run on your Pi, I would recommend not using the touch screen component because it appears that that uses a lot of processing and it would be useless for your emulator. Also, the price seems fairly reasonable.

EDIT: Wrong link originally... Proper one is here.
Last edited by Katamari on Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:09 am

I'm not sure where your link is supposed to go, you might have pasted the wrong one.

But as for a GPIO hookup to the LCD, if I did that, I could remove the RCA component to free up more space if I had to. That's a good idea.

I'm definitely not going to use a touch screen. I'm going to try to have two USB lead-outs for a mouse and keyboard instead, and maybe even figure out a way to have the D-Pad and AB buttons used as a mouse and mouse buttons. (A switch just underneath the screen would do the trick.)

Does anyone know a way to mold and manipulate plastic? Like, I want to be able to fill the holes on the surface and move them to somewhere else, and smooth out cracks and stuff.

DeVadder
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:42 am

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:14 pm

aquamarinist wrote:
Does anyone know a way to mold and manipulate plastic? Like, I want to be able to fill the holes on the surface and move them to somewhere else, and smooth out cracks and stuff.
I just registered this afternoon to answer to your post (and say hi, my Pi will arrive tomorow, so i guess i'll have plenty of questions soonish ^^).
But i just realised, i answered the wrong thread...
Sooo, my post regarding plastic is here: http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewt ... 97#p393597

chairsgotoschool
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:34 am

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:53 pm

also about molding plastic, i've never used it so i'm not sure how it actually is but look into a thing called polymorph. basically is a bag of beads and when you heat them up in hot water they become morphable like dough. also for filling cracks, if you plan to paint it i find that hot glue works as a pretty good filler, put a little dot on at a time and use your figure to smooth/push/work it to where you want, be careful not to burn yourself, licking your figure before touching the glueseems to prevent a burn for me. also it wont work on big openings as well and once its fully cooled you can re-heat the excess glue and use something to scrape it off while its still hot. might take a while and probably wont look as good as molding plastic, or be as sturdy it is a quick and cheap way to fill small openings.

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:56 am

Both awesome responses, thanks guys.

Now, my main concern is the LCD display. It's the only thing where I have yet to find a suitable part. I'm thinking of using the GPIO for it and removing my RCA component from the Pi, and then having an HDMI port.

EDIT: I've taken a look at the TFT that Katamari mentioned, but it's a touch screen first and an LCD later. So, not for me.

EDIT: I'm not going to use Polyeurethane. I'm going to buy a small amount of Polymorph and Green Stuff and try them out.

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:15 pm

I bought the raspberry pi on ebay along with some other stuff. Still looking for a proper LCD screen and a power source.

toxibunny
Posts: 1382
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:21 pm

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:22 am

Bondo/car filler is good stuff, as is homemade acetone slurry glue. Some fine sandpaper (800-2000 wet type) will be invaluable for a professional looking finish. Dremels are marvellous.
note: I may or may not know what I'm talking about...

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:35 pm

found a screen. i still need a power source and a plastic filler. i need to drive to the mall some time.

blc
Posts: 465
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:28 am

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:31 am

aquamarinist wrote:I've found a chart here that tells what kind of batteries will give what kind of A and V, so I think this should be of some use to me. But based on this, I'm not sure if a traditional battery will work for my device, as the LCD needs a minimum of 6.5V just to turn on, and then I need the Pi itself to run, and I need it all to last longer than two hours.

EDIT: Actually, I'm going to look into using a smartphone battery. Maybe I'll make a switch for the WiFi, just so that it doesn't eat up battery. As well, I could have the "Contrast" dial on the gameboy be used to adjust the amount of power going to the LCD.
I think you're probably going to want Li-Ion/Polymer batteries here. They're 3.7v nominal (actually 4.2v when fully charged, falling to around 3.3/3.5v when fully discharged) so two of them in series can easily give 7.4v. That is, if you don't want to go down the route of using single cells, or cells in parallel, and using boost coverters for separate power rails for the Pi and LCD.

Li-Ion/LiPo batteries have the highest energy density around at the moment. But with high energy density comes high volatility; you'll get great capacity out of LiPo but make sure you do some reading on safe handling/charging of them, and make damn sure you use protected cells. Draining the batteries too far can cause irreparable damage to the cells, and draining too much current at one time can lead to overheating and thermal runaway (i.e., catching fire); protected cells have ciruitry to prevent either of these scenarios. Sparkfun, or Proto Pic in the UK, have a range of LiPo batteries in some pretty hefty capacities and they also sell charging modules.

As for capacity...well this depends on how much power your screen takes. The power used by the Pi itself will vary, but if you have a model B with WiFi connected and video running then you can assume that it will take approx. 600mA under full load (maybe higher); a thread here from a while ago actually measured it at just over 500mA, but let's assume a worst case. You'll have to account for the inefficiency in the boost converter/regulator though and around 70/75% is a good rule of thumb (the actual efficiency achieved will vary greatly). So if your battery capacity is 2.2Ah then this means you're only going to get 1.65Ah (or 6.1W) out of a LiPo battery. And this is before you account for the power that will be used by the screen, and for that you're probably just going to have to get out the multimeter and measure it :).

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:55 pm

blc wrote:I think you're probably going to want Li-Ion/Polymer batteries here. They're 3.7v nominal (actually 4.2v when fully charged, falling to around 3.3/3.5v when fully discharged) so two of them in series can easily g...
Thank you for the advice! I will definitely look into this. I don't know how much power my screen takes, but it doesn't appear to be a whole lot.

Also, update: the gameboy and GB cartridge came in the mail, but without the triwing screwdriver I can't take a look inside of them yet.

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:27 am

I whipped up a little something today.

Image

Ideally, this is what I want it to look like. I took measurements of everything possible to make this diagram.

Those are two 3DS analog sticks, as well as a 3DS d-pad with ABXY buttons, and the +-home buttons are obviously from a black wiimote, as are the C and Z buttons.

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:02 am

...admittedly, I only wish I could make it look that good and have it work.

blc
Posts: 465
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:28 am

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:48 am

Ah, I went for the 6-button "Street Fighter" style layout (I'm also working on a portable gaming-oriented Pi ;))

Image

Obviously this is just a prototype; more of a "proof of concept", really. I'll probably use an analogue stick in the final design, but I had spare switches to make a d-pad and didn't have a spare analogue stick :).

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:01 am

blc wrote:Ah, I went for the 6-button "Street Fighter" style layout (I'm also working on a portable gaming-oriented Pi ;))

Image

Obviously this is just a prototype; more of a "proof of concept", really. I'll probably use an analogue stick in the final design, but I had spare switches to make a d-pad and didn't have a spare analogue stick :).
that's really cool! i just bought some switches like that. where do you get the board and wires and how much did it cost? how do you turn that into a controller?

blc
Posts: 465
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:28 am

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:38 am

aquamarinist wrote:that's really cool! i just bought some switches like that. where do you get the board and wires and how much did it cost? how do you turn that into a controller?
The stripboard and GPIO cable (which I subsequently hacked apart) came from a local Maplin store - I had the solid-core link wire just lying round in my "junk" box. You can get stuff like the stripboard at pretty much any electronics supplier, but Sparkfun would be a good start for the GPIO breakout cable. I think the GPIO breakout kit cost about £5, the stripboard about £4 and I got a pack of 10 microswitches on fleaBay for about £3. You'll probably get this stuff much cheaper in the US ;)

I put up a post about this which gives all the links to the libraries I used, but basically each button is hooked up between a GPIO pin and a common ground. The software routine, written by Adafruit, translates the button presses into key presses; I edited the source code to match my configuration and mapped the keys/buttons to keys used in MAME.

I may not use the adafruit library in the final design though; that looks for digital inputs on the GPIO pins. That's fine for a d-pad, but if I use an analog stick I'll need an analog to digital converter. Helpfully, I found just such a solution documented: it describes using a two-channel 10-bit ADC to read the status of a PSP analog stick (same principle as any analog stick: one potentiometer for each axis) and reading the ADC from the Pi over I2C. The Adafruit library supports multiple simultaneous button presses, which is essential for combos in some fighting games, and I don't know whether the other library supports this. I need to do more experimentation; I'm getting some old Xbox 360 controllers from my brother next week so I can make a decision which software library and control scheme to use once I've tested out both. Then I can order a model A and start designing my case :).

nexusrex
Posts: 234
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:25 pm

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:49 am

do you will use teensy
i will use teensy on my PGC
and which batteries you will use
Polymer Li-Ion Single Cell Battery 3.7V, 4000mAh (85x49x8.5 mm)
or
Li-Polymer Battery Pack LIPO (12V, 4000mAh)
and on my PGC i will add triple-axis accelerometer
if you want the tutroial pm me
good luck
sorry English is not my first lang

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:13 pm

I've got the RasPi, and I've put RetroPie onto an 8GB memory card. I found that if you press F4 while on the select-a-game menu, it takes you to the command terminal where you can just type "startx" and it takes you to Raspbian Wheezy. Which is perfect for me.

My only problem now is, I'm not sure where to put all the ROMS! The folders aren't labeled as clearly as I thought they would be.

aquamarinist
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Contact: AOL

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:28 pm

Okay, so while I get RetroPie working, my LCD screen appears to be ******. I broke off the metal contacts while trying to solder wires to them, so I think it would be safer if I just get one that already has HDMI or composite video wired to it.

blc
Posts: 465
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:28 am

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:45 am

Lots of places selling those little 3.5" to 7" composite LCDs for use in the car; they almost always use composite video in. Some can even be modified to run on 5v, rather 12v (see this thread). This isn't guaranteed though, you'd have to open it up to find out. In my case I traced the power input: the 12v input went through a decoupling capacitor or two and an inductor, and then went into an IC. I googled the IC for a datasheet and discovered that it was a 5v switching regulator; hooked up a 5v supply to the regulated output pin of the IC and presto - it works just fine. I'm starting to think that a 3.5" screen is too "easy"; I am very tempted to get a 4.3" or 5" screen :) (7" might be a bit too big though).

YourMajesty
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:27 pm

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Sat Aug 17, 2013 11:41 pm

Just thought I'd jump in and say in response to what Katamari said much earlier, my pi runs just fine with my GigaWare powered USB hub. I just use my micro USB power just because I can.

User avatar
Shadow Link
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:46 pm

Re: GameBro - A Pi in a GameBoy.

Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:28 pm

Haha, I too am making a project just like this (wasn't there a 3rd person that posted a similar topic around the time that you did?). Anyways, I've been meaning to register and post my own topic, but work has had me busy for the past month. Just thought I'd drop a bunch of helpful links and advice that I've gathered from my own endeavors.

- To add shoulder buttons somewhere on the device (I am not sure where yet.)
It seems you'll be taking a case-modding approach, so most of this might be irrelevant, but maybe it might spark an idea. I will be doing this too, if only so that SNES games will play on it. For my project though, I'll be trying to keep the original case as untouched as possible (with the exception of lead outs for USB, HDMI, etc). The shoulder buttons, I imagine could be hooked up via an expansion board that could hook into the cartridge slot and hang off of it, giving a sort of "balcony" where I could place them. I might do a similar thing with the +2 buttons needed on the front, but if it's too cumbersome, I'll just stick to using an Xbox 360 controller to play those games.

- To use the cartridge slot to load the SD card, if possible.
There's a guy at this other forum who has built a few portable systems retrofitted into the Gameboy. Amongst them, he did just this: http://www.made-by-bacteria.com/viewtop ... =20#p23845
It looks fairly straightforward to do; just solder the pins wherever you want (can be spaced out like above), and then match them to the Pi -> cartridge slot.

- Does anyone know a way to mold and manipulate plastic? Like, I want to be able to fill the holes on the surface and move them to somewhere else, and smooth out cracks and stuff.
I recommend skimming through Akira's other projects, or even the rest of the forum. There's some good advice as to what products are good and bad.

- To remove as many components from the Pi as I can to conserve space, by directly soldering cords to the board itself.
Ben Heck recently made a Portable Pi, and a lot of what he did can be applied to your project. I recommend watching both parts, but this will skip to the relevant portion: http://youtu.be/dUZjzQuTNX4?t=11m14s

- Now, my main concern is the LCD display. It's the only thing where I have yet to find a suitable part.
Since you mentioned your busted screen - I just ordered one of these after they were out of stock for 3 weeks: 3.5 inch TFT LCD. It's 640x480 and 3.5 inches diagonally. Reportedly, it operates at 6V - 12V as long as there's a video stream coming in. With a 7.4V Li-Ion/Li-Po battery, you could power the screen and then use a 5V voltage regulator for the Pi (FalconXY did that for his GamePi). I suppose you could also do the 5V mod posted above by blc, and then power both devices without worry.

- A power source, (Battery, preferrably.) as well as the necessary parts and wires.
I'm pretty stuck on this too, but I'm saving this for dead last. I want to know how much space I'll have when all else is done, so that I can order the biggest battery possible with the highest capacity. I had a genius idea as to how I'll be measuring available space: Legos! Just cram as many as you can in there and then measure the bricks.

Anyways, I'll be posting my own thread up in the near future. I'm also new to hardware electronics myself, but being a fast learner, I know this will be a pleasant learning experience. If I happen to come across anything else, I'll definitely share!

Return to “Gaming”