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Chen Liang's Arduino Mintia Hand-Held Game Console

Gareth Halfacree

Chen Liang's Arduino Mintia

Home computers and games consoles in the 1980s ran on 8-bit processors with single- or occasionally double-digit megahertz clock speeds; today, even the cheapest of computers and games consoles run upwards of a gigahertz and with 32- or 64-bit processors. 8-bit chips haven't died, though: the majority of Arduino models and their various compatibles and clones still use 8-bit microcontrollers running at 16MHz - and that means they can be used to produce a computing experience not too far removed from the classic systems of the 1980s.

This concept is brilliantly illustrated in Chen Liang's latest Instructable: an Arduino-powered hand-held game console built into a credit-card-sized Asahi Mintia sweet box. Spotting that the opening from which the tablet-sized sweets are dispensed was almost exactly the same size as a micro-USB port, Liang's project was born - and the finish he has achieved is little short of incredible.

Using a 3.3V Arduino Pro Micro board, a tiny sub-1" organic LED (OLED) display panel, a recycled speaker, and a lithium polymer battery, the Arduino Mintia console features eight buttons - four navigation buttons and four fire buttons - straddling the screen, a switch to change from USB charging mode to battery power mode, and a surprising amount of recycled components well-fitting to its repurposed housing.

For the game, Liang modified a version of the block-stacking classic Tetris written by João Vilaça to run on the Arduino Pro Micro and support the tiny OLED display panel. This did, however, result in a somewhat cramped playfield: with a limited 96x64 resolution, the game which was originally written for a 320x240 display is playable but with extremely compact graphics - a common complaint of early hand-held consoles, funnily enough.

Liang's project walks the reader through everything from physical placement of the parts to modifying the plastic Mintia housing - a simple task with masking tape, a drill, cutters, and a sharp knife to tidy up the edges - as well as explaining some of the decisions he made throughout the build. Even if you're not planning to build a hand-held console any time soon, it's a great project for seeing how everyday objects can be reused as a housing and how an Arduino can be made entirely portable and self-contained at a surprisingly low cost.

This Instructable shows you how to use a tiny candy box to create an Arduino colour game console. The candy box design make it very easy to take one and only one tablet out when put off the cover, you can see the video demo how it works. It even have many 3rd parties tailor-made leather case for MINTIA. This candy box is very thin and the tablet outlet is very fit for the micro USB plug. I would like to squeeze all electronic components in it to find out how much it can be.


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