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PewPew Standalone

A Python-based micro game console, optimized for game development workshops.

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I sell on Tindie

A Python-based micro game console, optimized for game development workshops.

I really like the #PewPew FeatherWing as a platform for teaching game development, but the cost of Feather boards needed to use it makes it difficult to organize workshops for larger groups of people. I have previously tried to work around that problem by merging the FeatherWing with the schematic stolen from a Trinket M0 (with an additional flash memory), but the resulting design was complex, difficult to make and still a bit expensive. Now after having designed a few more CircuitPython boards I think I can really cut the costs and make a standalone device with all the functionality of the original shield, but optimized for workshops.

gerber.zip

PewPew Standalone 10.2 gerber files

Zip Archive - 181.08 kB - 09/18/2018 at 12:08

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  • Small Version Available on Tindie

    ꝺeshipu10/21/2018 at 18:45 1 comment

    The small PewPew has been just approved on Tindie, so you can order it already. The package will arrive tomorrow, but the approval process takes some time, so I started earlier. I wouldn't be able to send it on a Sunday anyways.

    If you need a larger quantity for a workshop, contact me directly, and we can arrange it.

    The product on Tindie still has the photos of the prototype — the final version has a red PCB and green buttons. I will update the photos when the package arrives. The final price is also a little bit higher than I initially anticipated, due to the duty tax.

  • Big Version Assembled

    ꝺeshipu10/18/2018 at 15:59 0 comments

    The PCBs finally arrived from @Elecrow, so I assembled one to see how it works:

    Generally I'm pretty happy with it, there are however two small things that I would correct in the next version:

    • the direction buttons are too close to the matrix, and it's awkward to press the right button,
    • the holes for the matrix are a bit too far apart, so you have to bend the matrix legs a bit to fit, but it also makes them fit tighter, so I'm not sure about this one.

    Otherwise it looks and works great, and I think I'm going to put some of them for sale on Tindie. Here's how they look like under the hood (while being programmed):

    And here's photo of the back. There is plenty of room for a conference logo and/or name — hint, hint!

  • First Production Unit

    ꝺeshipu10/11/2018 at 09:35 0 comments

    I just got a photo from @Elecrow of the first unit they produced (a prototype to test the process). The mass production should commence shortly.

    As you can see, I have chosen slightly more lively colors than in the prototype: the switches are green and the PCB is red. Otherwise it's all the same. The LED matrix and the battery holder will come separately, to be soldered by the user.

  • Big Version PCB

    ꝺeshipu09/28/2018 at 08:33 3 comments

    I resisted for a long time, but when three more color versions of the big 60x60mm LED matrix arrived, I gave up and designed a PCB for them. You might recall that I already experimented with them before, a few logs ago, just connecting them with wires. Now I prepared a proper PCB:

    I switched to silicon buttons, like in the #µGame, and a bigger through-hole power switch. Also, the battery holder is now on the front side (so the whole thing is thinner) and uses inline configuration of the batteries. There are also two prototyping areas on the sides, and two large holes for a lanyard if you wanted to use it as a badge of some sort. The back side is clear (except for the prototyping areas, of course).

    I ordered the PCBs from @Elecrow this time, and they have already fabricated and sent it to me, now I'm just waiting for it to reach me:

  • Extensive User Testing

    ꝺeshipu09/17/2018 at 19:15 1 comment

    I took a few PewPew prototypes to the Maker Faire Zürich, to show them off but also to have them tested by the actual target audience. I think they were a success, because we always had a couple of kids at our table playing them, even though the game selection wasn't that good (mostly snake, some tetris). But I got to see how people handle them, to test how long they last on battery power (around 14 hours on two AAA batteries) and, last but not least, they went through a crash course of actually being used by a lot of living humans. I'm happy to report that there were no injuries or defects on either side.

    (Sorry for the silly face on the photo.)

    In the worse news, I finally didn't have the time to write the code to control the robot. I naively thought until the last moment that I will have some free time during the event. Nope. It was eight hours of people talking to me non-stop. Which I guess is good, because it means they were interested. But no robots. Well, I had some of my robots walking around, but not controlled with PewPew. Maybe next time.

  • Controlling a Robot

    ꝺeshipu09/13/2018 at 20:32 0 comments

    The Maker Faire Zürich is coming, and I need to show something. Sure, I could just let people play some games, but it's always cool to have something moving. Last year I had the #Deltabot controlled with #D1 Mini X-Pad Shield, this time I decided to use the PewPew to control a #MeArm.

    The connections are rather simple, even if there is a lot of them — every servo gets its own GPIO pin, and power from the powerbank. Tested the servo movements with the REPL, and it all seems to be working fine. Now I need to write some simple code to control them with the buttons, and maybe to display some status on the display...

  • More Progress

    ꝺeshipu09/05/2018 at 12:02 0 comments

    The AAA battery holders finally arrived, so I could complete the prototype:

    I also got to experiment with adding some wooden parts to the bottom, to make the whole thing a bit easier to hold. For now I cut them out of wood by hand, but ultimately they would be laser-cut out of acrylic:

    The whole thing fits very well with the mini-breadboard boards:

    I will need to make a sticker with pin labels for the top of the display, so it's easier to see what is what.

    Finally, I got the first responses from the fabs, and it seems that at small quantity (50 pieces) the price will still be relatively high, around $9, but at larger quantities (300 pieces) it can get as low as $6 (that's without the shipping costs and margins, of course). This is for a partially assembled kit, where you need to solder the matrix and the battery holder yourself.

  • Bigger Matrix

    ꝺeshipu08/26/2018 at 20:35 1 comment

    So I found this nice 60×60mm matrix in my drawer:

    (I think that I previously mentioned a bi-color matrix of similar size.) In any case, it's a great temptation for designing a PCB for a bigger version of the PewPew. It would of course be more expensive (the matrix I'm using right now is a kind of sweet spot, being the cheapest and the easiest to source), but maybe it would make sense to have one like that during the workshop, so that the teacher can show things to the whole group from a distance. Whatever the justification, for now I just wired it to the small PCB with wires:

    It works perfectly fine! I could even mount it in some kind of box, with the PCB with the buttons below it, to have a pretty convenient device. For now this is just an experiment, but it's good to know that I could make such a big version. Maybe one day it will become a badge for some conference, who knows.

  • Tutorial

    ꝺeshipu08/24/2018 at 16:51 0 comments

    In the mean time I was also working a bit on the documentation. I have restructured the ReadTheDocs website a bit to allow for different devices, and I have written a simple Bouncing Ball Tutorial. Of course that is not enough to actually run a workshop, but it's enough to get you started writing your own game, hopefully.

  • PewPew X Assembled

    ꝺeshipu08/23/2018 at 21:25 1 comment

    Thanks to the generosity of @oshpark, the PCBs for version 10.2 arrived today. I spent the evening assembling it and updating the code to handle the new button arrangement. Here it is, with the working scrolling text in all its glory:

    Please excuse the potato-cam that can't really catch the colors properly, and the dark photo — it's night in here already.

    For debugging, I'm using the optional voltage regulator to power it from USB. I'm still waiting for the battery holders for 2×AAA batteries. Once they arrive, I can also try experimenting with a laser-cut piece that will go on the back around the battery holder, to make the whole thing more comfortable to hold.

    I also need to prepare all the materials and start asking fabs for quotes — this will be the final result of all this work for making it cheaper.

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titimoby wrote 09/11/2018 at 16:30 point

there's room for everyone and I'm still volunteering to translate material for micro:bit;

but I'm looking to have various pieces of hardware that I can show and use with kids.
even with your margin, it is still affordable for small organization with small sponsors.

  Are you sure? yes | no

titimoby wrote 09/11/2018 at 15:32 point

you really target under 10$ ? That means something comparable in the end to the cost of a micro:bit.

it could complete the hardware in my little kid's workshop organization.

  Are you sure? yes | no

ꝺeshipu wrote 09/11/2018 at 16:09 point

Well, that's the goal. Micro:bit is a great feat of organization and pushing through politics, and a lot of really good work by volunteers, but I feel like the device itself is a bit sub-optimal. By now I know that I can get it below $10, and I could probably go below $5 at scale.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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