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µGame

A handheld game console programmable with (Micro/Circuit)Python.

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I sell on Tindie

A small game console directly programmable in Python. I always wanted to make this, and after my work on #PewPew FeatherWing I finally decided that I'm ready.

The first version may be a bit of a stretch — I tried to make it as small as possible, fitting in the 5x5cm limit of PCB manufacturers, so that it will be cheap to make the PCBs. Using the cheap ST7735 TFT display, and a cheap ATSAMD21E chip. I also tried to put all the components on one side of the board.

Of course the hard part is writing a game library, and the actual games. There is already one simple platformer game written as a demo, and the software library is getting new features added as needed.

  • 1 × ST7735R 1.44" 14-pin TFT display
  • 6 × SKPMAPE010 tact switch
  • 1 × 2*4*3.5 tact switch
  • 1 × MK12C02 SPDT slide switch
  • 1 × DET402-G-1 speaker

View all 18 components

  • In Stock Again

    ðeshipu04/30/2018 at 15:09 2 comments

    The freshly assembled µGames arrived straight from @Makerfabs and you can again get them from Tindie — there is a link at the top of this page. I will also take a few to #Hackaday | Belgrade 2018 — you can let me know in advance if you want to save on the shipping costs. I am not sure yet what other meetups I will attend (Makerfaire Prague is a possibility, and Europython is pretty much settled).

  • µGame Turbo

    ðeshipu04/02/2018 at 13:01 0 comments

    I didn't mention this yet here, but I have started work on an improved (and more expensive) version of this device. I the good old style of 80s, I decided to call it #µGame Turbo (if there is going to be a third version, it will be Super µGame Turbo, of course). I'm still researching most things, but the goal is to mostly have a physically bigger screen (same resolution), more memory and better audio (better speaker, volume control, headphone jack). It should be software-compatible with the current µGame, though.

    I am not sure how that project will go, and whether I will be selling that new version of the device too — there are currently simply too many variables.

  • New Shipment Soon

    ðeshipu03/23/2018 at 18:37 0 comments

    I just asked @Makerfabs for a quote on a new batch of µGames to be produced, and if everything goes well, they will be in stock in a couple of weeks. Also, the 3.0 version of CircuitPython is coming soon, and there will be a firmware update. The new version has greatly improved memory management, so it should help a little. I also fixed a few small bugs, and I plan to finally add the build-in art assets, which should also help with memory somewhat.

    In the meantime, I started to work on #µGame Turbo, and I entered it in the Hackaday Prize. I am not yet entirely sure where I will take this project, the only thing I'm certain of is that I want to keep it compatible with the current µGame — so that all the people who bought it are not left with an obsolete device. The new version will have more memory, so hopefully you won't need to pre-compile your files anymore, and I want to try and make it have proper audio, with volume control and headphone jack, a physically bigger display, and better connectors for external stuff. It will probably be more expensive, too, so it's more like an alternative to µGame coexisting with it side-by-side rather than a replacement.

    Finally, I just started today some sketches for another handheld, a #CircuitPython Game Badge, which is supposed to be even more minimal than µGame. The goal here is to minimize the price and power consumption, so that it could be used as a conference badge, given out to all participants. It's not going to be compatible with µGame, though.

  • µGame on ESP8266 with MicroPython

    ðeshipu02/24/2018 at 14:43 0 comments

    The SAMD21 chip is great for its native USB and the way you can just copy files on it, but since it's relatively new, the development boards for it are rather pricey. Plus, it really has small RAM and slow SPI, which limits what kind of games you can make.

    For making your own µGame clone, the ESP8266 could be a much better choice. 90kB of RAM and 40MHz SPI communication with the display (the esp can do 80MHz, but the display can't) make it a perfect solution. The only problem is a somewhat convoluted way of getting files on it, using external tools, but I might be able to do something about that with #ESP8266 Dev Board with True USB if I'm lucky. So I set out to try the µGame software on the ESP8266.

    The first try was using the CircuitPython firmware for Adafruit HUZZAH. Since the original µGame runs CircuitPython. Unfortunately, turns out that the HUZZAH board has been a little bit neglected, and some things don't work as expected with the current version. In particular, I couldn't get SPI to work while also using GPIO12 as D/C pin. After some failed attempts at fixing it quickly, I decided to try the good old MicroPython again.

    To do that, however, I had to port my _stage tile and and sprite engine to MicroPython from CircuitPython. While the two versions are very similar to the user, they differ substantially in their internal file organization, so I spent a whole night on this. But the result is very good:

    I'm using a new version of the #D1 Mini X-Pad Shield here, and a standard ST7735 breakout module. The picture on the screen doesn't look good, because of lighting — sorry about that, I don't have access to a better environment at the moment.

    In any case, the Jumper Wire game seems to be working very well. The modified MicroPython sources are available at https://github.com/deshipu/micropython/tree/stage so you can give it a go yourself!

  • The First Case

    ðeshipu02/22/2018 at 20:56 0 comments

    While several people are working on 3D-printed cases for the µGame, @davedarko is the first to deliver! He designed a minimalist case that covers the battery on the back, but leaves the PCB exposed for perusal. Since his µGame already had a battery attached, he sent the design to Szymon Jakubiak for printing and testing. When all was confirmed working, he printed two of them in colors matching the prototypes, and sent them to me:

    They look pretty slick, if I can say so myself!

  • Yes, we have no Bananas

    ðeshipu02/11/2018 at 19:54 0 comments

    It took less than two weeks, and all the µGames 10 are sold. I am both a bit surprised with how fast it went, and very grateful to everyone who bought one (a lot of them went to my friends). I don't plan on making any more of them for the next few weeks, at least until the Lunar New Year ends. I am now focusing on support of the devices that have their new owners, and on updating the firmware.

    Speaking of support, I already got some really valuable feedback. @Frank Buss seems to have a knack for finding all the rough edges, and his suggestions already improved the documentation and resulted in some ideas about improving the firmware. Jell also reported some issues, which have been added to the docs. I expect to receive even more feedback as the devices arrive and their owners start experimenting with them seriously.

    I'm also going to work on making an emulator for this device — even if it's not going to emulate all of its limitations, it should allow easier development and debugging. You will still need to test against a real device to make sure that there is enough memory and that the speed is acceptable, though — it's not going to be a "real" emulator, just a version of the Stage library that runs on regular Python.

  • OpenSCAD Model

    ðeshipu02/09/2018 at 20:24 0 comments

    I've been asked about the dimensions of µGame 10, hole sizes and placement, etc. — so I decided to sit down and update the OpenSCAD model that I made some time ago for µGame 6. I have put it in the repository at https://github.com/python-ugame/ugame-10-hardware

    You should be able to import it into most 3D modelling software, and from there you can use it to design cases and all sort of other things.

  • nGame Revisited

    ðeshipu02/05/2018 at 21:15 2 comments

    nGame (nano-game) is the tiny little brother of µGame that I made just to see if I can do it. It's a little bit bigger than an inch on a side. I got the hardware working, but I didn't have any program to test it with, since all the games I've written so far were too big to fit on the chip's flash (unlike µGame, nGame doesn't have a separate flash chip for the filesystem). When I was picking the projects to send to FOSDEM to be shown at the MicroPython table, I thought I could include nGame, and I realized that the bouncing ball demo that I added recently should fit just fine. So I quickly uploaded that, and it worked out of the box, except for the wrong colors (RGB vs. BGR) and different screen size (160×80 instead of 128×128). But I didn't have time to fix it, so I sent it like that.

    Today evening I finally had some time to sit down and do it properly — I just needed to fix the display driver, and fix the code where I hard-coded the screen size.

  • We Have Stock!

    ðeshipu01/31/2018 at 18:13 0 comments

    Today the package from China arrived: 50 shiny new devices. There was a small number of faulty ones that failed testing — it turned out to be a bad speaker, which fortunately was easily replaced. One board didn't flash at all — that turned out to be a faulty reset button. This one I didn't fix, but instead I will be using it as the demo unit (because during troubleshooting I had to de-solder some parts, and it doesn't look brand-new anymore).

    In any case, if you are interested, the Tindie link is here: https://www.tindie.com/products/deshipu/game-10-game-console-kit/

    I would also greatly appreciate if you could spread the word!

  • Documentation and Tutorial

    ðeshipu01/28/2018 at 19:32 5 comments

    I finally finished writing the bouncing ball tutorial, and published the documentation. You can see it at http://ugame.readthedocs.io/en/latest/tutorial.html

    It merely scratches the surface — I will need more documentation, in particular, I will need topic guides explaining some of the most useful techniques for writing the games. But this is at least a start.

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davedarko wrote 02/10/2018 at 21:57 point

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 02/10/2018 at 22:00 point

Thanks!

I wonder where they got the "10 games pre-installed" lie from, though.

  Are you sure? yes | no

davedarko wrote 02/11/2018 at 12:10 point

it says 10 game on the back of the pcb and in the title of the tindie product, I was about to ask why you've called it that way. Maybe @mickmake can issue a correction for the next one.

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 02/11/2018 at 12:22 point

It's the 10th version. I included the version in the name, because the firmware is not compatible between hardware versions (the pins changed).

  Are you sure? yes | no

davedarko wrote 02/11/2018 at 14:17 point

maybe uGame X gaming platform works better? or uGame10 gaming console kit

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 02/11/2018 at 21:59 point

Right, and put a fruit on it. Over my dead body.

  Are you sure? yes | no

davedarko wrote 02/11/2018 at 23:15 point

well it seems to confuse people :(

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 02/12/2018 at 00:18 point

I think that whatever I do, some people are going to be confused. And I think that this is fine. Confusion is a sign of learning — it means you are breaking the old patterns and discovering something new.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Frank Buss wrote 02/10/2018 at 17:04 point

I copied the files from https://github.com/python-ugame/vacuum-invaders to it, but get only a white screen on reset. Is this supposed to work on the ugame10?

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 02/10/2018 at 17:09 point

You are probably getting a MemoryError. Make sure you only copy the game.mpy and not game.py — that game pushes the limits of program size, and only works as precompiled code. More information about troubleshooting is available at: http://ugame.readthedocs.io/en/latest/usage.html#troubleshooting

  Are you sure? yes | no

Frank Buss wrote 02/11/2018 at 04:44 point

There is no game.mpy in the repository. I tried to use the console with minicom, and I can see the Python repl and enter commands, but there is no error output. I tried the tutorial, but it didn't autostart the main.py, only after reset (after I deleted all files and created a new main.py). And once the main.py file was corrupt after reset. Once it autostarted, but then the file in the editor was invalid, because it mounted the file system again.
I'm using Debian Linux. Doesn't look like a good system so far for newbie users. Compare this to Arduino, which works out of the box.

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 02/11/2018 at 11:49 point

I can assure you this also works out of the box. I suspect you have corrupted the filesystem by unplugging or hard-resetting it while the files were still copying. Normally you wouldn't touch the reset button, it resets automatically. You can run fsck on it, or follow the troubleshooting link I gave earlier to fix it. To avoid it in the future, please unmount the drive before unplugging or hard-resetting the device, so that all the data can be safely copied. I will add a section about this to the user guide.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Jon Raymond wrote 01/31/2018 at 19:15 point

What bootloader are you using for the SAMD21E18?

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 01/31/2018 at 20:38 point

The UF2, just like all the other CircuitPython boards: https://github.com/Microsoft/uf2-samd21/

  Are you sure? yes | no

davedarko wrote 01/27/2018 at 09:12 point

Do the schematics contain a hacked footprint for the LCD? because the labels and connections absolutely don't fit together :D

great project, good luck with tindie and everything :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 01/27/2018 at 09:42 point

Yeah, there are several problems with the schematic. The labels on the amplifier are reversed too. I need to fix those at some point, but since it worked, I didn't have much incentive.

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 01/27/2018 at 10:28 point

I fixed the schematic and put in the repository.

  Are you sure? yes | no

davedarko wrote 01/27/2018 at 10:33 point

marvellous :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

MatejEusk wrote 12/27/2017 at 07:44 point

Czesc.Nice project.Can I buy 1x and make 3d printed case and buttons?Also I can do pixelart ,chipmusic...

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 12/29/2017 at 23:46 point

I will be selling them on Tindie soon, I will post here when that happens.

  Are you sure? yes | no

święty wrote 12/12/2017 at 17:47 point

Czy bedzie kiedys komunikacja? Dało by się zrobić kalendarz, notatnik (baza danych)

albo komunikacja z internetu

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 12/29/2017 at 23:45 point

Nie przewiduję w tej wersji żadnej komunikacji poza USB. Projekt jest wystarczająco trudny i bez tego. Być może przyszłe wersje będą miały jakąś możliwość komunikacji — BLE albo WiFi — zobaczymy co los przyniesie.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Jasper parker wrote 12/06/2017 at 01:15 point

This looks fantastic Radomir, very impressive project! Should be able to sell these on Seeed.

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 12/29/2017 at 23:43 point

Thanks, I will be selling them on Tindie soon. I contacted Seeed, but I find it very difficult to talk with them.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Makerfabs wrote 02/02/2018 at 03:52 point

i take this comment  approval of we makerfabs'  production service :)

thanks. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 02/02/2018 at 14:12 point

Yes, it was much easier and more professional to talk with Makerfabs, that's why I choose them in the end. Big thanks for helping me with this!

  Are you sure? yes | no

ia wrote 10/29/2017 at 16:17 point

is possible to programing it using SDL library?

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 10/29/2017 at 18:29 point

No, the microcontroller is much too small for that.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Malik Enes Şafak wrote 10/29/2017 at 15:26 point

Is your screen 160x128? You can use new gamebuino meta libraries (not published yet) for this console. Same screen resolution, same microcontroller. Also check Pokitto, Gamebuino and Arduboy libraries. They all open source and you can learn lot of thing from these consoles. I really like this idea. If you will sell or publish this console open source please let me know. I really like to get one. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

ðeshipu wrote 10/29/2017 at 18:34 point

Thank you. I will definitely look at their code once it becomes available — what I have so far are tricks I picked up from old platforms, like Gameboy or NES. I expect they will be using similar techniques.

I think that gamebouino libraries won't work for me, because while the display has similar resolution (128x128 for mine) and number of colors, it's connected differently — mine uses SPI, their is most likely connected using parallel protocol — otherwise they wouldn't be able to achieve the speed they are claiming.

I also really want this to be easily programmable in Python, and all the consoles you listed use C, which admittedly is easier performance-wise, but not in the speed of development.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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