Jan 23, 2016 | By Andre

Adafruit has released instructions as well as the necessary files and components to build a new edition of their Raspberry Pi Game Boy. This time around, the device (officially named PiGRRL 2) uses the much more powerful Raspberry Pi 2, is easier to build and comes equipped with improved audio, video and control capabilities. As someone that played the original Game Boy ad nauseam upon its release in 1989, it amazes me that we now live in a world where I can make a significantly more powerful replica (capable of running Super Nintendo games) with little more than a 3D Printer, some circuitry, tools and a lot of patience.

Right off the bat, it's suggested that assembly time for the PiGRRL 2 is cut in half compared with the original. The controller of the first release, for example, required the disassembling of a Super Nintendo gamepad followed by complex button rewiring. For this iteration, the tinkerers at Adafruit designed their own custom control system so soldering a few buttons onto the PCB is all that’s required.

While the electrical components can be sourced directly through Adafruit, the case needs to be 3D Printed separately. After taking a look through the 3D Print ready STL files (freely available on Thingiverse) I don't foresee any major difficulty in producing a high-quality case so long as you have access to a relatively reliable Desktop 3D Printer. Of note, Adafruit also released the original design files in the Autodesk Fusion format so you can make further modifications as you see fit.

A cool little addition is that the buttons are meant to be 3D printed with the very popular, very flexible Ninjaflex 3D printer filament. And while that makes perfect sense from an end-user comfort perspective, this wouldn’t have been an option just a few years back. The remainder of the case should print nicely in either ABS or PLA filament.

Adafruit does still caution that you should be careful while mounting/screwing the 3D printed components together during the final assembly stages of the PiGRRL 2. Additionally, I noticed a few areas in the design file (see below) that would inevitably produce very fragile elements. Overall however, the 3D printed parts do seem to be sturdy and easy enough to produce for anyone that has even a little bit of 3D Printing experience.

It seems most of your effort will be taken up with soldering the electrical components together. Adafruit suggests a weekend of working your way through the instructions should allow even the novice Maker enough time.

The steps include copying the software to a microSD card, modifying some code, soldering the gamepad components together, modifying traces on the LED display, resizing cables, and connecting the speaker and power circuits to the main board. From there you can throw everything into the case and hope for the best. While this might sound like a mountain to climb, the reality is that the instructions are very clear every step of the way. So as long as you remain eager and interested, you’ll be able to knock out your very own PiGRRL 2 in little time at all.

From a cost perspective, there’s no all-in-one component kit currently available, but a quick cost-breakdown of electric parts has the purchase price of the PiGRRL 2 pegged roughly at $135USD before shipping considerations. So while not exactly on the cheap side, the cool factor is through the roof.

So if you’re a curious Maker with a love for gaming, this might be the perfect project for you. Even with the possible headaches associated with assembly, it should be a fun project to work on. Also, there’s nothing better than taking a second to reflect on the fact that you made, essentially from scratch, in your very own home, a device that would have been considered cutting edge just over 20 years ago.

Adafruit Parts

  • Raspberry Pi 2 / Model B+
  • 2.8" PiTFT Plus
  • PiGRRL Gamepad PCB
  • PowerBoost 1000c
  • 2000mAh Battery
  • PAM8302 2.5W Audio Amp
  • Mini Metal Speaker
  • 40pin GPIO ribbon cable
  • Slide Switch
  • 10x 6mm + 2x 12mm tactile buttons
  • 1x 2by20 pin IDC box header

Tools and Supplies

  • 3D Printer + Filament
  • Soldering Iron + Solder
  • 30AWG + 26AWG Wire
  • Helping Third Hands / Panavise
  • Heat Shrink
  • Glue / Mounting Tack
  • Wire Stripper / Cutters
  • Filing Tool / Hobby Knife
  • 14x #4-40 3/8 machine screws
  • 6x #2-56 3/8 machine screws

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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