With the notable exception of Nintendo Switch games, playing full triple-A video games on handheld consoles has traditionally been a pipe dream. The newest, most impressive games on the market can tax even a high-end gaming PC, and it just isn’t realistic to fit that kind of hardware into a portable device. Fortunately for those of interested in playing triple-A games away from our main computers, there is a workaround: streaming. Thanks to the speed of modern wireless networks, you can run the game itself on your gaming PC and then simply stream the video to a handheld console. Redditor Tombston used a Raspberry Pi Zero W to build the Lemonlight v2 portable console that is capable of doing exactly that.
That Raspberry Pi Zero W is the least powerful single-board computer in the Raspberry Pi lineup, and has just a fraction of the processing power and RAM of the full-size models. But it is small, extremely affordable, and energy efficient. Most importantly, however, it has dedicated hardware support on the GPU for decoding HD video. That’s perfect for this kind of device, which is essentially just decoding the streamed HD video received over the network and sending controller commands back to the gaming PC. That is possible thanks to the open source Moonlight client that uses NVIDIA’s GameStream protocol, which was originally developed for the NVIDIA Shield streaming console.
As the name suggests, this is the second version of the Lemonlight handheld streaming client. This version has a Teensy LC development board in addition to the Raspberry Pi. That board is used for the controller inputs. The controller buttons came from PlayStation DualShock knockoff controllers and the joysticks came from a Nintendo Wii U. The display is a 5.5” 1080p AMOLED screen made by Waveshare. To ensure that the WiFi speed is as high as possible, Tombston used a separate AC600 USB WiFi dongle instead of the Raspberry Pi’s onboard WiFi. The Pi’s Bluetooth connection was retained to allow the connection of Bluetooth headphones. Power comes from a large 5000mAh LiPo battery through a DFRobot MP2636 Power Booster and Charger Module. The case is a custom design that was 3D-printed in PLA on a Creality CR-10 Mini. As you can see in the video, the streaming performance is great and there is very little lag.