We’ve previously seen programmable, portable game consoles powered by Espressif Systems ESP32 processor with the likes of ODROID-GO or WiFiBoy32 both equipped with a 2.4-inch display, and design to play retro games or create IoT projects with a small display thanks to I/O headers.
But if for some reason, you’d like an even more compact ESP32 portable game console based on the WiFi & Bluetooth SoC, Byte-Mix Labs microByte may be what you are looking for thanks to a tiny 1.3-inch square display.
- Wireless module – ESP32-WROVER-E module with ESP32 dual-core processor @ 240 MHz, 8 MB PSRAM, 16 MB flash, and integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna
- Storage – MIcroSD card slot
- Display – 1.3-inch ST7789 IPS Screen with 240 x 240 pixel resolution, 60 Hz max refresh frequency
- Audio – On-board speaker powered by a MAX98357AETE+T I2S amplifier
- Controls – 13x onboard buttons with 8x Inductive direction and action buttons with rubber membranes, 3x additional buttons (Start, Select, and Menu)
- USB – 1x USB-C port for power and programming
- Misc – Power switch
- Battery – Good for 6-7 hours
- Dimensions – 7.8 x 4 x 1.7 cm
The default firmware supports various emulators including NES, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, GameGear, Sega Master System, and support for Atari and ScummVM is coming. Contrary to the other consoles listed in the introduction, microByte does not include a user accessible I/O header or connector, but it can still be used for other projects such as WiFi or Bluetooth traffic analyzer, or HMI for home automation system, robots, or displaying sensor data.
The default firmware is based on Arduino code, relies on the LVGL library for graphics, integrates firmware updates support, the ability to save game state, and more. The developer is also working on MicroPython support, and additional external applications.
microByte is an open-source hardware project, and the hardware design file, STL files for the enclosures, firmware and libraries can already be found on Juan Flores’ Github account, while the documentation will be posted on bytemixlab.com (the site is currently empty).
The table above compares microByte against some other ESP32 portable gaming console, and there’s actually a smaller one with Pocket Sprite using a 0.96-inch display, but it’s also more expensive, not open-source hardware, and lacks a MicroSD card slot.
microByte portable game console has just launched on Crowd Supply with a $3,750 funding goal. Rewards start at $45 for a fully assembled game console without USB-C cable nor an 8GB MicroSD card. If you want the latter two, plus a spare enclosure, you’d need to pledge $60 instead. Shipping adds $8 to the US, and more to the rest of the world. Backers should expect their rewards to ship by the end of June. While ODROID-GO looks better value, it is out of stock everywhere I looked, and the shipping fee would have been quite higher depending on the country.