Good dumb mobile retro-gaming console? What do you use now?

skeezix

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i'd like to build something with an ESP32 in it, and good battery life (maybe even replaceable rechargeable AAs.). but i have no experience doing that sort of thing from scratch (though i still play with the bitbox from time to time, so i have some software abilities).

i have a GB, but rarely play it. i'm waiting for my children to get older...
The ESP is a pretty handy little chip, but I don't think it had any LCD peripheral driver built in; it does have SPI etc etc, and you can get some LCDs that have SPIC and I2C interfaces (some even with basic primitives like blit, rectangle, fill, fonts, etc), so you know.. not a bad idea. Wouldnm't be optimal, but could be fun :) I forget how fast they are.. faster than they ought to be at any rate :) The wifi is pretty good ..

I was going to make a wifi-modem for retro computers... and then a couple people beat me to the punch; really fun stuff!
[doublepost=1518574737,1518574648][/doublepost]Pretty funny.. in all these years, we're all still doing the 'same old thing'; I had expecte din the last few years where I've been totally buried by life, that something new and awesome would have taken over in the lower price retro market :)
 

levi

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Ugh, one thing I like about retro computers is they're not online, so therefore you never have to patch them against newly discovered holes. I guess something running an 8-bit or 16-bit OS might not be a common target worth hacking for many, and not really worth having for any kind of botnet, plus they're unlikely to be running any network facing daemons, so port scans and connections will probably just get blocked by the network interface hardware itself I guess. But I still find it more reassuring to not have to worry about any of that crap, leaving really only old-school floppy based viruses as the only possible in, and most old machines with an OS in ROM don't have the concept of a boot sector which limits the automation of such attacks.
 

ible

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yeah, the ESP32 is pretty fast (240MHz), and slower bitboxes (STM32F4 at 168 MHz) race the beam to output a VGA signal. i have zero experience with writing to LCDs, but yeah, there are combo-packs out there for the ESP32:
https://www.adafruit.com/product/3384
i'd love it to become a "dumb phone," as well, actually, if i can have my pie in the sky and eat it too. i suppose i should start small, though. and wait 'til the kids are old so i have more time.

i could wait for the next RISC-V MCU, too. (the last one was 320 MHz but low on RAM.) i could save up and then "pay a guy" who knows how to "fix my problems."
 

Linux-SWAT

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I'd say I'll use a Wiz.
Why do you say that cross-compiling software for it is problematic ?
 

ThinkPad

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RS-97 will be the new king,
the progress on the dingoonity.org is amazing.
I already ordered 2 units and 1390 mAh batteries.
 

Jumpman

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Honestly, I've never needed anything super small or compact for travel, as most of my handheld devices are already pretty portable. I started my career here with the GP2X, and moved on to a few other devices that where pretty compact. While size is an issue, I normally only play in the car waiting to pick up my son or wife someplace. So I do prefer smaller items, but they never need to be micro to get the job done. I use my N3DS(standard model), PSP or Vita when away from home mostly.

With the older smaller devices, I always sold and upgraded to the latest and greatest with each new toy that came to market. I'm mostly about use and practicality, so once a new system can do better than an old one, the one is put out to pasture(sold). My son does have one of those little small Asian all in one game units that look like the Micro, but it only plays NES level games. We use it in line at amusement parks and such, and then if it gets lost or broke, it's no great loss. LOL

Chris
 

skeezix

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yeah, the ESP32 is pretty fast (240MHz), and slower bitboxes (STM32F4 at 168 MHz) race the beam to output a VGA signal. i have zero experience with writing to LCDs, but yeah, there are combo-packs out there for the ESP32:
https://www.adafruit.com/product/3384
i'd love it to become a "dumb phone," as well, actually, if i can have my pie in the sky and eat it too. i suppose i should start small, though. and wait 'til the kids are old so i have more time.

i could wait for the next RISC-V MCU, too. (the last one was 320 MHz but low on RAM.) i could save up and then "pay a guy" who knows how to "fix my problems."
The STM32F4s etc have no problem emitting VGA; you don't need all that many MHz to emit it, really. (I was doing it before the bitbox, and I was going to release a kit.. but small kids and lazy, never got around; then he cleaned up that space, so good for him :) .. The STM32 architecture does have some issues which make it challenging.. in my experience, the way the various bus mesh together, means that when you're trying to hit your GPIOs to drive out the VGA signal, you're tieing things up quite a bit. ie: You have plenty of mhz to drive h4e VGA, with quite some left over .. but you can't communicate out of the chip much, since you're driving the GPIOs pretty much full tilt (GPIO has a change latency, so you can't just drive them full speed .. they are necessarily slower than the cpu core itself), and communciating across the bus to the GPIOs as well; and everythign else in the chip has to communicate across those busses; there are several busses at play and several separate RAM regions .. on the bitbox, I seem to recall they are streaming the VGA with a small line buffer (ie: generating a line or two ahead, and the VGA IRQ is pumping out from the last buffer; like a small ring buffer, like audio is done.) The approach I was using was to keep mostr of the device RAM as framebuffer, and let the IRQ pump from that. So I had almost no RAM frtee for general processing (but I had extrnal ramn and anotehr cpu, since I wanted rthe STM32 as a GPU, not as the whole thing, which I did as well..); anyway, so if you're streaming just a little data out, and you're doing the rest of your processing inside, you have no problem -- no need to work the other GPIO or peripherals too much (except audio, which is fairly forgiving in this context). In my case, though, I hd a z80 or 68000 or 6502 as a cpu, driving data over the system bus and external RAM, to the STM32 as GPU; and there was the trouble.. the STM32 had plenty of time left over after doing VGA IRQs, but I coudl only use the GPIOs at hsync and vsync/vblank times, since trying to get at the other GPIOs coherently, while also driving VGA, was really trouble/tricky (timing intensive.) Anyway, without boring you to tears, the STM32 have _plenty_ of CPU left over after driving VGA.

The ESP would have even more; I'm not sure how decent its GPIO handling are, but as a standalone.. remember that the old GP32 and such were slower, and they did okay :)

jeff
[doublepost=1518621109,1518620817][/doublepost]
I'd say I'll use a Wiz.
Why do you say that cross-compiling software for it is problematic ?
I mean in the sense where .. few peopel are using them anymore, the community is small (was always smallish); mostly I mean .. my old VM for Wiz melted down, which makes me sad :) (I used to keep a separate VM for each main platform, so I could spin up any number of VMs from archive, and always have a good working build env; I used ot be That Guy and check the toolchain, compilers, kernel, the whole shbang into code repo, so I coudl check out the whole thing and build a new VM quick, too. But I didn't for wiz and PSP and I can't be bothered to track down all the SDK and build a tollchain. ED has kept up the main file archives though so at least most of the software is still around, but ehhh.)

But yeah, I still use the Wiz, PSP Slim and of course Pandora; I'm afraid the kids will trash the Pandora so it tends to staty out of sight, so if I want to goof off while putting them to bed, or more accuratel;y.. dig out a device to fire up a game on and let the kids take it, its Wiz or PSP .. they can take a good beating and at least with PSP, can be replaced for $50 :)
 

sm0kew0n

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Well these look dumb, cheap and mobile. Limited platform I know but maybe good for the kids?

Selection_002.png

I haven't used them but I might get one for shits and giggles. Normally I use PSPGo because it's just so......

Also, they are in ED's shop.
 

atari_afternoon

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I still take the Pandora along for most normal and pretty much all overnight trips.
Only when the sun shines bright, the GP32 is wonderful :) (more in the garden rather than commuting)

Any other time, nothing as versatile than Pandora IMO. With Wiz coming a second. Just charging this one btw.

Number 3 is a normal unhacked Vita. But I have only 7 games for it and this week haven´t played so far.

When summarizing this particular day of today now minutes before going to bed: Today I´ve played Jumpman on Pandora Atari emulator and then TIC-80, and I remember yesterday it was quite a long stroll of DosBox+BioMenace3 quite almost through til the end boss.
Wouldn´t have worked on the Wiz, CC Pandora does it :)

Obvious answer for many these days [under 29 :D] would probably be playing games on phone. I tried that last spring "seriously" but I cannot really enjoy Android-phone-playing: Too many distractions. Too many pop-ups. So the Pandora comes along when I want to be half an hour off the smartphone while waiting for someone or enjoying a coffee.

I remember before Pandora came to me (2012), my favorite travel companion used to be a GBMicro and Doom2 and a 100 in 1 cartridge from the flea market.... so if I started now with handheld gaming, or were a kid, I would love one of these^^ "Sega Arcade machines" from the shop for 40 Euros :)
 
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alxm

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I've been looking at Arduino stuff over the past year, these days I'm having fun tinkering with the Gamebuino META (there was a thread about it here). It runs on a Cortex M0+ at 48MHz with 32KB of RAM so it's spec'd for original games not emulation, but I'm sure there are at least a few people here who appreciate this :)

I mean in the sense where .. few peopel are using them anymore, the community is small (was always smallish); mostly I mean .. my old VM for Wiz melted down, which makes me sad :)
I always had good luck building Wiz stuff with the Open2x GP2X toolchain with static linking. I like your VM cross compiling setup, I just keep tar balls of known-good toolchains. They thankfully continue to work a decade later on contemporary Linux installs!
 

skeezix

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Arduino is pretty slick, since it makes things easy, and encourages 'blob reuse'; theres tonnes of good code snippets around you can just drop in, or little libraries .. for LCD or servo or etc etc. Myself, never much a fan .. ie: Arduino started and seems to still mainly be on the low end Atmel, yet always seemed wasteful .. ie: the arduino original boards had 'lots' of extra stuff you might not need, so folks would often desolder off bits to safe some power or get some GPIOs back; the variety of arduino boards now makes that moot, but the libraries still tend to have a number of layers of abstraction.. 'am I running on this, do this; that, do this other thing..'; when you're running at say 8 or 16mhz, and you've throwing cycles away.. it always seemed silly. (ie: To toggle a GPIO pin, why are you calling a function at all, when you should just use the bit flip on the pin .. a huuuge savings in timings.) So, arduino is a trade off of 'making your life easy', and less performant; so, thats great really, but struck me as... well, I wanted raw power; its not so hard to just make your own arduino-lite from scratch; just the atmel (I like the atmega644p or pa), and a couple capicitors, and good to go ;) .. but I guess I'm the silly bunt who doesn't midn tooling around getting nowhere for a couple months to get deep with something, while others have finished a project and moved on, happily not knowing the minutia :)

I'm struggling on FPGAs right now; just started up really, and learning Verilog; it sort of blows your mind when you move from the usual software comfort zone, to 'well, you don't even have adding now,m you need to drop down a few gates and make an adder for yourself' .. but when you can make a VGA display in 20 lines of code, with nice crisp rendering.. you see stars :)

Keep hacking, always :)
 

levi

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(ie: To toggle a GPIO pin, why are you calling a function at all, when you should just use the bit flip on the pin .. a huuuge savings in timings.)
Back in the 90s this was why god invented the inline keyword, but I think these days that keyword's little more than a hint and any decent compiler should automatically inline a single line bit switch in almost all cases anyway (and then the optimiser can get at it properly and on average make the cost less than one xor).

It's definitely cool that you can use C as a kind of fancy assembler if you want, and does give you geek kudos, but I wouldn't teach anyone that way any more. Letting the compiler do that for you while you write more reusable, better commented, better documented code is the way to do it. Hell, using a higher level language than C is often the right move also.
 

asimov-solensan

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I'm somehow interested in the topic. I really love Pandora/Pyra concept, but sometimes I miss the gp2x form-factor and simplicity.

I expected to find in the thread something similar with an up-to-date hardware, sadly from all comments it seems that the only option is got a used handheld, open or closed.

It has been an interesting reading anyhow.
 

levi

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Well these look dumb, cheap and mobile. Limited platform I know but maybe good for the kids?

View attachment 31503

I haven't used them but I might get one for shits and giggles. Normally I use PSPGo because it's just so......

Also, they are in ED's shop.
Here are the actual shop links for those in case anyone else is interested.
SMS/SGG handheld and SMD/GEN handheld.

These units look to be variants of the Atari Flashback portable, which has a four core A7 ARM chip clocked at up to 1.5GHz inside it, which strikes me as completely unnecessary for a VCS emulator but there you go. I've looked into how people are hacking with that, and it seems people have only thus far patched a few games using the emulated 6502 code, but I've not found anyone yet reflashing the OS to make it something more general purpose like the old korean handhelds.

That CPU's covered in an epoxy blob so I'd imagine you couldn't stress it out much before it overheated, but you could probably get it to do everything up to SNES in one unit. No shoulder buttons, but the Megadrive and Atari ones have enough face buttons so you could bind them to those.
 

skeezix

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$64 or $45 seems a pretty good price point (jeesh, so cheap!), but they're not super high powered (5xxMHz) and essentially all very standard old components, hence the price. So, good stuff for the disposable option, and should be plenty fast enough for SNES and such, so probably pretty darned good at its job. Really, sounds more or less like a Wiz .. I forget the exact numbers, but that also was approxc 500MHz. MIPS is pretty aggressiver architecture sometimes, depends on the chipset, but put them in the same ballpark. But that price, is nice :)
 

skeezix

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Are all the Pandora batteries the same?

I made one a billion years ago when the exploit first came around .. (blew my mind at the time.. an active BIOS on a battery?! so cool..), on an original PSP battery (the thick one.) So, I keep it around, and used it on a PSP Slim I got later .. couldn't keep the battery in it, its too thick to fit in, but it works to redo the firmware.

Does the original PSP battery fit into the PSP Go? Same Pandora battery or does it vary for the newer units?

I admit, I'm tempted by PSP Go .. but even to this day, what 12 years later, they still go used $100-200CDN it seems .. theres a guy near me selling one for $120CDN, which seems a bit much, but it is a pretty slick unit. So.. tempted.
 
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