Retro Lite CM4 Packs a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 Into a Slick Switch Lite-Inspired Shell

Designed for on-the-go emulation, this slick handheld console should be user-upgradable for future Compute Module generations.

Gareth Halfacree
9 months agoGaming / RetroTech

Pseudonymous maker "StonedEdge" is working on a handheld gaming console inspired by the Nintendo Switch Lite — but packing a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 for high-performance emulation.

"The CM4 is essentially a [Raspberry] Pi 4, which has well-documented performance testing done for emulating games," StonedEdge writes of the project's chosen device. "So basically anything up to Dreamcast and PSP at full speed with an overclock will work well (of course there are some small incompatibility issues on certain games as well). Anything higher than that like GameCube and Wii, and you’ll have to wait to the later Pi or use something like Moonlight I would guess to stream from a PC."

Inspired by Nintendo's popular Switch Lite, which is in turn a variant of the Switch that does away with the removable controllers in favor of a single fixed chassis, the system is housed in a CNC-machined anodized aluminum case with two analog sticks, a four-way direction pad, four fire buttons, four shoulder buttons, and two option buttons.

Its similarity to the Switch Lite makes for a slick-looking project, but could land its creators in trouble. "We are well aware that the current design isn't marketable without making some significant design changes to the shell," StonedEdge admits. "We didn't start this project with the intent to profit though, so if we did sell something eventually, we’d have to change the case slightly and remove the logo of course."

The hardware used includes a 5-5.5" LCD ISP display, stereo speakers, a custom heatsink and fan, and a custom carrier board for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 with an on-board Arduino-compatible microcontroller for the control hardware. A USB Type-C port charges a 4Ah battery, and there's an HDMI port for driving an external display.

StonedEdge estimates the project is "95 per cent over the line," but is as-yet undecided what will happen once it's complete. "We don’t have it opened source currently but we are considering it once all is said and done," he writes. "We will probably make a kit version, of course with slight tweaks to not annoy Nintendo."

More information on the project is available on this Reddit post and this Raspberry Pi forum thread.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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