What if a Pandora’s Box system actually came in a box shape? My genius knows no bounds. Jokes aside, I’ve been digging those suitcase systems Pandora’s Box has been releasing as of late, however I just don’t like removing the joystick when I need to go portable. So I went with a typical Powkiddy arcade system and added a folding cover.
A couple of latches unlock the cover (which has a suitcase handle), allowing it to swing to the back of the system. The end result looks like a regular bartop arcade. The whole thing works like a baby bassinet cover, I must admit.
There are no electronics in the cover section, to keep things simple. If you want to back-light the marquee, the LEDs could be housed above the monitor. A compartment behind the monitor stores the power adapter and cord.
Notes: This could be kept in suitcase mode and used as a console, most of these systems have an HDMI port on the back to allow TV-out functionality (plus USB ports for controllers and the power button too). The entire system could be clad in colorful graphics to resemble a bartop, I am limited to 256 colors in order to make animated GIFs, so the mockups reflect that. Originally I wanted the suitcase to look like an 80’s lunchbox, but I already did something like that.
Here’s a list of the many neat things I’ve liked from the past few years, most of which aren’t well-known so I want to show them off here. These can be gift suggestions or something you might enjoy,
1. Retro-Bit Super Retro-Cade (left). This plug-and-play console is my daily driver for older retro games. It has 100+ games built-in, two controllers, HDMI output, and an SD Card slot. I love it because it’s easy to use, easy to add games to, and is just a solid all-round machine. I’ve wrestled with a few Raspberry Pi consoles in the past, and the Super Retro-Cade was a walk in the park to use. Highly recommended.
2. LDK Game (right). This was the first of many Chinese handhelds that have come out in the past 18 months, and it’s been another daily driver for me when I hit the road. It’s easy to pocket, and adding games over USB is a breeze. My one complaint: only about 3 hours of battery life. There are many other handhelds with analog sticks and wider form factors, but I mostly play 8-bit and 16-bit games so this is perfect for me. If I had to get a system with analog controls, it would be an Anbernic handheld (the 350M, 350P, or 351).
3. Tiny Arcade DIY Kit (left). I don’t own this but it is very cool device! You put the whole thing together and load it up with freeware games (like Tiny Tetris and Tiny Invaders). A perfect project for kids or adults who like to tinker with stuff. They are about the size of those Super Impulse Tiny Arcade toys which have been popular for a few years now.
4. Haynes Retro Arcade Kit (right). Another kit that you build yourself, the end result is a PONG game with a screen made up of LED bulbs. Requires soldering of wires, so it’s not exactly for kids. If you would prefer something that is already built, Arcade1UP is releasing a Mini PONG Jr in the near future too.
Continue reading ➞ Some Things I Like
For years I thought it would be fun to embed a smart assistant like Siri or Alexa into a plush toy like Teddy Ruxpin so a child can converse endlessly with a character they enjoy. However I was not comfortable with all the electronics that would be inside the plush toy, or the upkeep that would be needed (like charging the battery or cleaning the plush toy).
I feel it would be best if all of the electronics were completely separated from the plush toy, and placed in a walkie-talkie that the child can interact with. The plush toy would be holding a walkie-talkie too, but it would have no electronics, it is just a prop. The battery, speaker, microphone — everything needed to engage with a smart assistant is in the main walkie-talkie.
As for the smart assistant, I’m not sure if Siri or Alexa can be given the helium treatment to sound like Elmo, or if the character’s voice actor would need to record new dialogue, but either way the voice is a very important feature for this toy, it is the main selling point after all.
Ideally a child can have entire conversations with Elmo, play games, or even be quizzed for an educational aspect. The sky’s the limit with smart assistants, although this one would need parental controls obviously.
I’ve always wanted to incorporate a steering wheel into a handheld gaming device, because I don’t enjoy nudging a d-pad or analog stick for the entirety of a race. The wheel allows for a more fluid control scheme, and possibly a more relaxing experience while playing. Unfortunately this device would be exclusive to racing games!
This handheld was inspired by an F1 steering wheel, notably the carbon fiber body and colorful buttons. The wheel is embedded into the device, both thumb grips are joined by an arm that rests behind the screen. The shoulder buttons are the accelerate and brake inputs, and there are paddles on the back for shifting (not shown here).
Went with SEGA because they have been dipping their toes into making hardware again, plus they have an extensive catalog of racing games: Out Run, Hang-On, Daytona USA, Sonic Team Racing, Sega Rally, and Virtua Racing to name a few.
Force feedback and rumble could be incorporated, but that depends on the games included (if they are all retro it wouldn’t be worthwhile). One must-have feature would be to link up multiple devices for multiplayer racing, where many of these games excel.
In 2006 a new miniature scale of model trains were introduced, the T gauge. I believe we can go even smaller! This is a complete train set that is the size of a book, featuring a motorized train that has variable speed and the ability to switch tracks on demand.
The locomotive is propelled by a magnet attached to an on-rails motor in the base. This system is a lot like those mechanical PONG tables which debuted a few years ago. The nose of the train has the metal needed to be pulled by the magnet below.
The rails system is something you’d find in a 3D printer, image scanner, or even an Etch-A-Sketch. It would guide the tiny train along its route that is stored in an onboard computer. It would be nice to swap out the track for different layouts (these could be printed on cardboard).
This desk toy would feature dedicated controls for the track switches, and a big dial for the speed. When this device is powered off, the train is automatically diverted to a side rail where it parks. The design above is sparse but the layout could be populated with buildings, trees, vehicles, and so forth. Lights and sounds are also possible.
There are drawbacks! Only one functioning train is possible, the train length would need to be short, and the terrain would need to be flat (you can add tunnels, but no bridges over rivers for example). And lastly if the motor is loud this concept wouldn’t be worthwhile, this thing needs to be quiet!
In the meantime you can buy these neat tiny trains but they feature basic oval tracks.
Arcade1Up recently released a series of mini plug-and-play consoles, and they appear to be solid emulation devices (granted their controllers could be better). I felt the console itself could be a bit more fun so I redesigned it to look like an Insert Coin slot from an arcade machine.
I just turned their console on its side and moved the power button, everything is still aligned to a single PCB board. The only major addition is an internal LED light.
This controller design is to help make older game systems like the NES and SNES become more accessible. While it looks like a regular joystick, this was inspired by automatic shift knobs seen in modern cars. The hand rests on top and moves the stick for D-Pad inputs. The thumb controls the action buttons (A B X Y plus START/SELECT), while the index and middle fingers hit the L and R shoulder buttons (much like clicking on a mouse).
The action buttons can be placed on both sides of the stick to make this for both lefties and righties, OR another set of L and R buttons could be included to achieve the same dual functionality (the shape of the stick would need to be symmetrical). However it would be more comfortable, and better for button-mapping, if a dedicated version was made for right hands, and another for left hands.
While it could be wielded like a regular joystick, this controller may need to be placed in a spot that is similar to the aforementioned car shifter knob. The user would need to be sitting in a reclined position, with the controller parked next to their knee. This layout would yield the most comfort, especially for prolonged gaming sessions.
SNES was used as the example here, but the idea could be applied to most 8-bit and 16-bit systems, or other systems that had a single directional input (Saturn, Dreamcast). I already designed a one-handed controller for the Atari.