While the BBC micro:bit is an interesting platform for experimentation, hacker “deshipu” decided that it also needs to be able to play arcade games. Its 5x5 LED matrix might be sufficient for a very simple game of “Snake,” but he instead chose to take things in a different direction, developing a shield to go on top of this board with a 1.3" OLED module. This add-on even includes six buttons that form a D-pad and a pair of action buttons.
This project started with the realization that a display could be connected to the micro:bit via I2C, however, this didn’t solve all the challenges of adapting this system mini-arcade usage. Handling simple button presses was a bit of a challenge in itself, and rather than provide raw data to the micro:bit to handle de-bouncing and buffering, the project actually uses an ATtiny24 processor to handle this input directly. Also, physically connecting the boards together required the use of specialized bolts, as the large physical holes on the micro:bit aren’t great for non-aligator clip usage.
Regardless of these physical challenges and a very limited amount of memory, deshipu was able to get some simple game demonstrations running on the device. While it may not replace more capable consoles, it’s interesting to see what can be done to hardware that was perhaps never meant for this application, especially in such a small form factor.
For another example of deshipu’s excellent hacking abilities, be sure to check out his miniature µGame 10 console.