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Portable Game System from Scratch - Where do I start?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by OliviaAnne, May 6, 2011.

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  1. OliviaAnne


    May 6, 2011

    So, basically, I had an old printer that wasn't in use anymore and it promptly was harvested for pieces by my mechanically gifted brother. Somehow out of this I managed to get a little LCD screen and the keyboard.

    The LCD screen reminded me of those old-fashioned Gameboys and sparked an idea -- what if I could make some sort of extremely basic portable gaming system? I don't know much about electronics or anything, but it does really interest me to the point where this is something I really want to learn; I learn best by diving in and drowning for a bit until I get my footing, lol.

    My question is essentially:

    Where do I start? Does anyone know of some good books I could purchase on this topic? Or even what kind of circuit board I would have to buy? (Something that could attach to my LCD and some button input.) Or even the terminology that goes with what I want to do? (I don't even know what it is called, so finding a book is near impossible) I realize this is a huge question, but I figured I'd give it a shot. Thanks for even reading this far. :)

    So, basically, this is what I have:

    * LCD screen with a little orange-y colored ribbon attached to it. It appears to be intact, but it is not connected to the circuit board any longer.

    * Keyboard attached to half a circuit board. I wanted this for the actual plastic key casings, as there is no way the board is going to work.

    EDIT: I know I'll have to buy a lot more pieces, haha, just thought I should point that out. I'm willing to spend the money, however much it may be.

    Knowledge-wise, I have a very verryyy introductory grasp of electronics as I recently took a Computer Architecture course. I am an ample programmer in object-oriented languages, but assembly somewhat eludes me. I have experience programming all sorts of different games for websites as well as standalone, so I think I have that part covered.

    Thank you so much!

    - Olivia
    Last edited: May 6, 2011
  2. ElectronicsCollector


    May 9, 2011
    Interesting post. O.O
    It would have to be an extremely impressive printer LCD screen to be of any use. The reason is that most of these screens are designed/wired to only display predefined numbers/symbols/letters.
    Then, to complicate things further - you will need to program and interface a microcontroller to drive the display, process the keyboard and run the game code. Were you planning on programming your own games?
    I doubt there is one single book out there that covers the subjects you need to learn.

    If you want any specific advice - you will need to post model numbers of the printer and the integrated circuits (if any) on the LCD screen board and keyboard, and even then, expect a "don't bother" response.

    But don't let those hurdles stop you, just yet. I've seen impressive "hacks" before that did amazing things with electronics destined for the bin.
  3. MattyMatt


    Mar 24, 2011
    Hi there!

    One place I would recommend checking out for all kinds of little hacks and cool stuff to do with you spare bits, would be here (well duh!), and

    As far as your project goes, a lot does matter when it comes to the LCD. The very quite a bit in complexity (and therefore what you can do with them), and you still need to find a way to drive it.

    I would recommend one of the many micro controller startup kits.... like a basic stamp controller, or arduino board, as this can be helpful for learning all kinds of cool stuff, BUT it can also probably drive your display.


    P.S. There was a nifty post not too long ago :)
  4. Reaper_666


    Aug 12, 2011
  5. jackorocko


    Apr 4, 2010
    All they have done is hacked up an old game system and put it into a portable package, lame!!!

    Unless you build your platform out of an architecture that already has games created for it you are super screwed, because game development takes years even with teams of highly experienced programmers. I bet a novice would be months into porting pong. Don't take my word for it, try it. Port pong to your iphone.

    Hell it can takes years just to master a programming language, let alone make anything useful with it.

    edit: I am not trying to say don't follow your dreams, but you should realize your dream covers a wide variety of know-how and let the past be your guidance. There wasn't any gaming system ever created on just one area of expertise. Gaming systems involve many areas of expertise and hundreds of knowledgeable people working on those areas for years.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  6. donkey


    Feb 26, 2011
    hey guys just a side note, I myself am both amateur at electronics AND c++ programming. a device like the one you are talking about is concievable, but to design it you require knowledge of the C++ language(or the one you wish to use) then if you wish to make it cartridge style like a gameboy you have to write a very specific list of instructions for a microcontroller. the list goes on on technical data.
    If however you wish to use something like an old nintendo and minaturise it then use old games that is alot simpler to do. with the exception of mario and a few other games the copyright has expired on most of their games too. the reason I say its concievable is the original nintendo used at most 1 meg catridges. the ones you see in the DSI are easily 100 megs if not more and using a usb stick instead of a cartridge means you could go into the gigs of storage. the problems you will face is the Operating system on the programming side. on the electronics side you are building a computer from scratch.
    My advice is check out Arduino to get a good idea on how to build a computer from the ground up. this is not something that you will be able to do easily but I adore your enthusiasm and support you completely on this project.
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