As a kid from the 80s, one of my first contact with video games was playing with the gameboy. My little brother had the chance to have one and I have fond memories of playing Mario, Zelda and of course Tetris.
I lost interest in video games in the same time I got interested in programming. I found out that programming was way more fun than playing video games. And even if I have some nostalgia of this time, each time I turn on a video game I can hardly play more than five minutes without feeling I’m wasting my time.
I got interested again in video games running into the sudomod community during a random web roaming. The members of this community build awesome handheld devices out of Raspberries or others SOCs. These devices are so cool that I decided I needed one even if I’m not anymore into video games.
It’s a kit which comes with a card, a Raspberry CM3 and a 320x240 color screen. All I needed was a gameboy shell, some buttons, a screen protector and a battery. These things can still easily be bought on aliexpress. I was shocked to find out that it is still possible to buy brand new gameboy shells and buttons on aliexpress.
The circuit sword can handle various button layouts. I decided to go with four buttons on the front and four buttons on the back. Additionally it embeds a WiFi module and has a USB socket, HDMI output, and a jack socket.
See how these ports fits perfectly well the existing gameboy socket placeholders: HDMI in place of the contrast wheel, SD card in place of the volume wheel, USB in place of the game link port. I only had to dremel a bit to make room for the USB C connector. This circuit sword is a very well thought piece of engineering.
The embedded RPI is the CM3 variant. It is quite powerful and can easily handle emulation up to the PS1. Here is a picture of the inside:
This was a very fun experience to build this device. A little bit of dremeling, a little bit of soldering, some 3D printing, a lot of patience and care and that’s it. Each time I ran into problem, I could reach the sudomod boards where the people are immensely friendly and helpful. At the end, it feels very good to play on a handheld I built myself.
At this time, I spent a lot of time commuting to work by train. And once my handheld was built I had a lot of fun playing some all time classic games, like Zelda, Super Metroid or Another World (but only in the train otherwise it feels like I’m wasting my time).