Oct 23, 2017 | By Benedict

Tim Lindquist, an electrical engineering student at Iowa State University, has built a 3D printed Nintendo Switch with a Raspberry Pi computer. Unlike the real thing, the “Nintimdo RP” uses the RetroPie emulation platform, allowing gamers to play retro Nintendo games from years gone by.

Despite the roaring success of new consoles like the Nintendo Switch, gamers are still having a hard time breaking away from the gaming classics of their childhood. Nintendo even recognized this fact with the release of the Nintendo Classic Mini (NES Classic Edition), a scaled-down version of the Nintendo Entertainment System from the 1980s.

But while the Nintendo Classic Mini filled many a Christmas stocking last year, lots of people in the DIY tech community prefer a more unofficial route to gaming nostalgia. With emulation platforms like RetroPie, gamers can essentially load up entire games consoles like the Nintendo 64, Sega DreamCast, and Sony Playstation onto tiny computers like the Raspberry Pi.

It’s hard to believe that several of these famous consoles (which took the form of huge standalone machines barely a couple of decades ago) can now be squeezed onto a machine the size of a Tamagotchi. But it’s true, and that allows DIY tinkerers like Iowa State’s Tim Lindquist to have a lot of fun making their own retro consoles.

Because with tiny computers like the Raspberry Pi, makers also have the opportunity to create custom housings, adding a retro (or futuristic!) touch to the physical side of the console in addition to the retro gameplay.

Lindquist’s new creation is, at its core, a Raspberry Pi computer running RetroPie. But it’s housed in a custom 3D printed casing that makes it a near-identical replica of the popular Nintendo Switch. It doesn’t have the same functionality, of course, but its got that cool chunky aesthetic in spades, and can even be used for applications beyond gaming.

“This project was to create a portable gaming system that could also double as a portable computer,” Lindquist explains. “The goal was to create a console that was functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.”

The 3D printed Nintimdo RP utilizes a Raspberry Pi 3 holding a Broadcom BCM287 processor (ARM architecture), and runs a light version of Linux with RetroArch and RetroPie emulators on top. A 7-inch touch screen displays the GUI, but users can also use an HDMI port to route the audio and video to a TV.

Other important features of the console are an advanced cooling system, USB ports for serial communication, a 5-LED indicator, a battery level indicator, and a micro USB port for charging the internal 10,000mAh battery. The system has both internal speakers and a headphone port for using external speakers.

Perhaps the best part of the Nintimdo RP is its impressive 3D printed housing, which looks just like the Nintendo Switch and which was designed using Autodesk Inventor. There are a total of four STL files that users looking to create the Nintimdo RP can download and 3D print, either at home or via a 3D printing service like Shapeways.

And this 3D printed housing makes the Nintimdo RP fairly unique in the extended world of unofficial emulator consoles: it’s a device for playing beloved old games, but it’s housed in an ultra-modern case rather than a retro housing like a 3D printed Gameboy.

Best of all, Lindquist plans to keep working on the 3D printed device, and has a few ideas about how he can make it better.

“My future plans for this device are to have secret ‘Easter eggs’ where you can hold certain buttons on boot to enter the CLI or Linux GUI instead of the default emulation software,” the student explains. “I also want to make hardware shortcuts for changing settings rather than plugging in a keyboard and typing the command.”

Check out the project here.



Posted in Fun with 3D Printing



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