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Max Thrun's GamingCape. Time to outfit it with a higher resolution screen. (via Bear24rw)

 

 

Handheld gaming systems have been on the market for almost 35 years since Milton Bradley released the Microvision game console (first to use interchangeable game cartridges) back in 1979. Since that time, they have evolved into the popular systems we use today such as the Nintendo 3DS XL, PlayStation Vita and SNK’s Neo-Geo X. A short time after Nintendo released the NES and Game Boy platforms, a few individuals ‘reverse engineered’ those gaming systems. They were able to emulate how the processor functioned allowing for ROM versions of the games associated with the respective platforms to be played on different hardware (namely PCs). There have been a few individuals and groups that have taken console emulation to the extreme with their respective gaming boxes. One of those is set to be released sometime in the near future from Hyperkin with their Retron 5, which will pack a total of five emulators (NES, SNES, GBA, Genesis and Famicom) into one console. The top of the heap for emulation boxes comes in the form of Bacteria’s Project Unity, which houses the actual boards from 15 different consoles along with three emulators thereby creating the king of video game rigs. While those projects are incredible in their own right, they are not actually portable so gaming-on-the-go is out of the question. This is where Max Thrun’s GamingCape handheld gaming system shines as it’s small, compact and able to emulate a host of games without the need for an external display.

 

The system was designed around a BeagleBone Black single-board computer that features a 1GHz AM335X ARM Cortex-A8 processor - capable of running Ubuntu, Angstrom Linux or Android. Thrun outfitted his emulator with a 16-Bit Color TFT LCD display (320x240), an analog multi-directional joystick with two thumb buttons, a series of sensors (including a 3D gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer) along with mic/headphone jacks. All that hardware is packed into a custom 3D printed case that looks strikingly similar to the original Game Boy, (where Max drew his inspiration from when designing the GamingCape). So what console/s does his design emulate? How about a total of six platforms including the NES, Game Boy in three flavors, Sega’s Master System and Game Gear and even the original ID hit, Doom! Not bad for something of relatively small stature, especially when compared to the bigger emulators others have designed. While you won’t be able to buy Max’s GameCape, you can get all the design specs, software and 3D printing blueprints from his website for those that are adept at working with single-board PCs. For those that can, the whole build costs about $160 US depending on where you get the materials. For those that aren’t exactly proficient at soldering or unfamiliar with software may want to take a look at Justin Barwicks GCW-Zero open-source handheld emulator for around $175, which emulates everything the GameCape does and more (depending how proficient users are getting them to run on the Linux OS).

 

Beaglebone BlackBeaglebone Black at its finest.

 

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