Thanks to Problemchild he advised me about a simple gaming kit called ODROID-GO, and it was fairly low cost (£38 including delivery to the UK) for such a device, so I was tempted to purchase it. (Note: that there will be duty of approx. £7 to pay, plus £12 handling charge by FedEx, so that makes it less attractive : (
The ODROID-GO is a very compact (approx 120x75x13mm) device that internally features an ESP32 (ESP32 PDF datasheet) based module (this contains a microcontroller and 2.4GHz WLAN and Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth LE capabilities), and rechargeable battery built-in too. There is also a microSD socket and what is especially awesome is a 0.1 inch SIL header socket at the top end of the case, for custom hardware expansion : )
(image source: ODROID website)
It comes with a microUSB cable for charging and USB UART for connecting into the ESP32 module. All that is additionally required is a microSD card, and a small Philips screwdriver to assemble it!
The device comes from ODROID, who manufacture some really nice single board computers and accessories.
It arrived today, and although I'd initially thought it was a kit to be soldered, it actually is pre-soldered. I think a child could easily assemble it with just a little supervision. It looks really great, and I'm tempted to purchase another, so both my nephews can have one.
This short blog post is a quick introduction to the ODROID-GO, I have not explored it much yet.
What's in the Box
This is everything you get in the box (the micro USB cable is also supplied but not shown in the photo):
What Can it be Used For?
However no programming knowledge is needed to use it just for gaming. For gaming some files are downloadable from the ODROID website that need to be transferred to a microSD card, along with games ROMs. It can play ROMs for various historical consoles like Nintendo GameBoy, and Sega GameGear and so on. I've not explored (nor assembled!) it yet. ODROID-GO assembly steps are online.
More interestingly, since it is open source, the possibility exists to create your own games or applications, and connect your own hardware. The expansion port appears to have SPI and a few general purpose input/output connections and 3.3V available. Perhaps it could become a debug tool : )
Some More Pics..
The enclosure looks to be of reasonable quality, injection-moulded, perhaps 1mm thick. It could crack perhaps if mishandled; it looks like the same plastic that CD case covers were made of. It is custom-designed and has the ODROID legend on the front. The lower half of the shell has a slot for inserting the microSD card, but I didn't like that such a delicate card is exposed. It would have been better to have a plastic cover for it. Other than that, I didn't have any complaints, but I still need to assemble it to explore further. There are four black rubber buttons (the enclosure has them labelled as Menu, Volume, Select and Start), and also a directional pad and a couple of buttons labelled A and B, suitable for games. There is a slide switch on the right of the ODROID-GO, for power on/off. The hard LCD cover is adhesive, so once the LCD is fitted, it may be awkward to remove. Anyway, the LCD it is unlikely to go faulty. The PCB can still be removed by disconnecting the LCD.
The pre-assembled circuit board looks nicely made, it is a 1.6mm fiberglass board so it is fairly rugged.
Everything looks easy to maintain and debug, there are lots of test points on the circuit board. The holes where the screws should go are marked; three screws secure the PCB to the inside of the front shell of the enclosure, and then six screws will secure the rear half of the enclosure.
That's it for this short blog post. To be continued..