32blit Retro-inspired Homebrew Handheld with Open-source Firmware

Discussion in 'Everything else' started by gadgetoid, May 14, 2019 at 1:19 PM.

  1. gadgetoid

    gadgetoid Moderator Staff Member

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    Long time no see! I appreciate I've not been very involved in the community for... basically forever... and have become a lurker. Life and work caught up with me. I want to swoop back in and share what we've been working on at Pimoroni, though, because I think it'll be very relevant the interests of many people here:



    Any questions, please shoot! I've had to tinker away in almost total secret on 32blit for months now, so I'm super excited to share this and see how people react.
     
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  2. JDTAY

    JDTAY Half Pepperoni, All Cheese

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    I'll start with the obvious question: Where are the shoulder buttons?
     
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  3. gadgetoid

    gadgetoid Moderator Staff Member

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    Omitted in lieu of keeping the cost and complexity down. Since it’s entirely designed for new homebrew and not to support existing games (ie: it’s not intended to be an emulator handheld although I’d wager someone will find a way) they’re not needed.

    Pico-8 games work wonders with two face buttons and a directional pad!
     
  4. ClockworkCoder

    ClockworkCoder Chaotic Neutral

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    I must admit, I like the look of it. Slightly better size than the Gamebuino which I got for similar reasons.

    I've also liked a few things that Pimoroni have done, so quite tempted... (also have an original, larger, Picade which I love)
     
  5. JDTAY

    JDTAY Half Pepperoni, All Cheese

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    Welp, I guess my latest game idea, "Shrugman", will just have to remain Pyra exclusive.
     
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  6. ClockworkCoder

    ClockworkCoder Chaotic Neutral

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    Pyra could use a killer app. ;-) just think if you could convince ED to take a cut from the additional sales of (Shrugman branded) Pyras.
     
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  7. gadgetoid

    gadgetoid Moderator Staff Member

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    You could use the accelerometer to trigger shrugs and attach the console to your actual shoulders- thus producing an authentic shrugging experience!
     
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  8. pmprog

    pmprog Advanced Member

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    I thought it looked great, but I was disappointed by the lack of SD card. Whilst i was told you could flash multiple programmes at once, having an SD card would mean being able to load resources (think streaming mp3, or storing Pico 8 carts)
     
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  9. gadgetoid

    gadgetoid Moderator Staff Member

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    SD card is something we considered- but since this thing will have gobs of - with any luck mounted as mass storage - flash on it, it will be redundant anyway for the majority of users. I think SD would more likely find uses among those who get emulators up and running (if they do!) and not necessarily for our main “diy homebrew games” purpose. It also can potentially cause differentiation in the hardware- too- with varying SD card sizes. We wanted everyone to have the same device so it’s easy and simple to share code/games, rather than “you need XYZ version or a certain sized SD card.”

    It’s a delicate balance between be-all-things-to-all-people and really focussing down on our core idea! Cost is- again- a big factor and we wanted to keep the unit cost down. It’s not easy for us- a small UK-based business- to stay competitive with mass produced handhelds out of China so its best to keep the price low and double down on what makes us unique.

    I can *totally* see why SD slots and Shoulder Buttons are probably the #1 (next to USB-C for some reason?) most desired features, though!

    INB4 someone hacks an SD card slot onto a beta unit, though.
     
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  10. JDTAY

    JDTAY Half Pepperoni, All Cheese

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    Congratulations on being funded on the very first day. I hope you planned stuff to do in the meantime.

    Stretch goals perhaps? One million pounds for shoulder buttons, c'mon.
     
  11. gadgetoid

    gadgetoid Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you. We have *plenty* to do on the software and assets front to make this really rock - not to mention we’d like to live stream some dev tinkering and demos.

    I’d love to see shoulder buttons- but only because I have a design for them which I think is absolutely genius but in reality probably sucks. (Or has been done before and I haven’t noticed)

    This has been an interesting journey for me because prior attempts to program games just ended with me drowning in options and getting nowhere much. Now I’ve written a couple of near complete games just to test our engine and learned a whole bunch of concepts I’d never have thought I’d grok in the interim.
     
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  12. pmprog

    pmprog Advanced Member

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    I understand your reasoning re sdcard. Makes sense.
    One other question... Are there any gpio/i2s/spi lines accessible from outside the case?
     
  13. ClockworkCoder

    ClockworkCoder Chaotic Neutral

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    I've backed it.
     
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  14. pmprog

    pmprog Advanced Member

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    Oh, another couple of questions:
    • Is there a headphone socket?
    • How is volume controlled? Keys, Volume Wheel, Software?
     
  15. gadgetoid

    gadgetoid Moderator Staff Member

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    @ClockworkCoder I hope you have as much fun with it as I'm having with my prototype unit!

    @pmprog -
    1. We're seriously considering routing whatever pins are left over onto some kind of internal "hack" header. There are surprisingly few left, though, since the screen takes a whole bunch
    2. No headphone socket
    3. Volume will be controlled in software

    For a general sense of why we made these choices- we're aiming more at scaled-up ArduBoy than scaled-down GCW Zero.
     
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  16. ClockworkCoder

    ClockworkCoder Chaotic Neutral

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    Thanks @gadgetoid
    By the way, are the tools cross platform (without someone having to port them first)? I am assuming that Linux will be fully supported from day one...
     
  17. pmprog

    pmprog Advanced Member

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    Thanks for the reply
     
  18. gadgetoid

    gadgetoid Moderator Staff Member

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    @ClockworkCoder yes! Potentially more on that if we show them off during the campaign.

    @pmprog you're welcome! I'd rather people knew what we were going for than trying to pass it off as the be-all-end-all of handhelds.
     
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  19. Chip

    Chip [Insert Custom Title Here]

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    That's what the CHIP people were going for with their pocketchip. I have one, and it pretty much delivers on that promise. Like you they focused on learning and included lots of programming tools and tutorials. Sure, dome switches make terrible gaming controls, but otherwise it was an interesting and (IMHO) successful experiment. Unfortunately, they've gone bust and stock has been non-existent for quite a while. Turns out that as cool as something like this is, the demand and staying power for such a niche device is fairly limited. I can't even remember the last time I used mine. I have 3 or 4 extra chip modules still in the boxes that I never got around to finding a use for.

    Please don't take this as an attempt to dissuade you from this project, I just hope you're not dumping your life savings into it. Ask Craig how that plan works out :)
     
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  20. gadgetoid

    gadgetoid Moderator Staff Member

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    Haha @Chip yes I have a PocketCHIP too- the low-priced CHIP board was - I believe - a pretty key catalyst to the release and aggressive pricing of the Pi Zero so we owe it a lot!

    No life savings at risk- we’re a 6 (I think? Time goes so fast) year old company with dozens of successful products (mostly Pi related) keeping our lights on. This project is as much a passion project that we want to see, as it is something we expect to make money. We won’t live and die by this, but I’ll be damned if we don’t have a blast making it happen! It’s addictive! I have to remember that I have other priorities to our existing products and customers :D
     

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