The DIY and homebrew gaming scene has exploded in recent years, and a large part of the reason is that hardware for makers has become dramatically more versatile and affordable. Adafruit is one of the world’s most popular purveyors of that hardware, and they’ve developed a plethora of devices and components themselves over the years. One noteworthy device was the Pi GRRL, which was a Raspberry Pi-based handheld console reminiscent of the original Nintendo Game Boy. Now Adafruit is back with another great maker-friendly handheld called the PyGamer.
Unlike the Pi GRRL, which was built around a Raspberry Pi, the PyGamer is a completely custom open-source design. It has a dual-potentiometer analog joystick, two action buttons, two system buttons, a light sensor, and an accelerometer for control. Video output is through a 1.8" 160x128 color TFT display with a dimmable backlight, and there are five NeoPixel LEDs that can be used as status indicators or as part of a game. The PyGamer runs on a 120MHz ATSAMD51J19 microcontroller, with 8MB of flash and a micro SD card slot for additional storage. Audio output is through either a headphone jack or a small speaker.
That hardware is impressive, but a handheld console is all about the games. That’s why PyGamer can run CircuitPython, MakeCode Arcade, or Arduino code. There are already numerous games available to play, and the community will continue to make more. Of course, you can also program your own games. The PyGamer comes as just a populated PCB, but there is an acrylic case available if you want some protection. It has a LiPo battery connector and management circuit, so you can easily power the PyGamer with a rechargeable battery. It also has Adafruit Feather headers, so you can expand PyGamer’s functionality with FeatherWings. If you want a PyGamer, you can purchase one now for just $39.95.