So as you may know, I have a bit of an obsession for making things as small as i can. Now my last project was pretty small, the height was restricted by the height of the Pi zero, and the width was restricted by the width of the screen.
Now this works well, but it wasnt without its limitations. Firstly the controls were not perfect. using a 5 way navigation switch for the actions works, but it is not ideal, especially when you need to press more than one button at once.
So I decided to move to buttons, and while i was at it, try and reduce some of the excess bulk to the device.
while trawling the internet i cam across Pico-8 which is a goldmine of retro games and fun. One of the limitations of Pico-8 is the screen size of 128×128 pixels. this conveniently matched some 1.44″ screens i have found while trawling the internet and the rest, as they say, was history!
so enough chatter, lets see what all the fuss is about
I didnt have access to any bananas, so a lego stormtrooper is standing in as my scale (a much more fitting scale if you ask me). So lets have a look at what we have got…
up at the top is a ‘3 way’ navigation switch. Anyone old enough to remember the sony erricson phones of old might know this as a ‘jog dial’. This offers a left and right nudge, as well as a center press, all of which could be mapped to extra functions (maybe volume or such)
next down is the screen. This is 128×128 pixels, and only 1.44 inches in size, so is pretty small. You can see the Dank Tombs tecnical demo on the screen (i like to use this for battery tests)
Behind the screen are 2 piezo transducers (like the noise makers from musical birthday cards) giving a very quite and tinny version of stereo sound. This just helps to add to the games without being too noisy
You may recognise the 5 way navigation switch from my last gaming project. This gives a little joystick type input, with a centre click, which is mapped to the menu button in Pico-8 games
And this time we have actual buttons for the actions!! they are little rubber based tactile switches giving a nice click without being too noisy. Pico-8 games only really tend to have just 2 buttons so this is ideal
Finally at the bottom of the device is a simple power switch. The eventual goal will be to have a device like the old gameboy, where you can just flick the power on, play what you like and just flick it off without a care in the world. This is stil work in progress…
All this is mounted on a super skinny 0.8mm pcb, which is mounted directly to the back side of a pi zero w! this means that it really is super skinny!!
So all in all, I am convinced this is the smallest Pi based gaming device, until someone can prove me wrong and show me a smaller one!!