Portable Bartop Arcade

Powkiddy Pandora's Box portable arcade retro system 2020 Dave Delisle davesgeekyideas

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.

Smartphone Racing Wheel Dock

Tomy Turnin Turbo smartphone mod racing dock ipad iphone wireless charging design toy 2020 dave delisle

Here is a dock design that can wirelessly charge your smartphone or tablet, and lets you play your favorite racing game as well. This is based on the TOMY Turnin’ Turbo Dashboard toy from the 80’s, and is inspired by this neat mod I saw on Youtube. There was a time when gaming peripherals similar to this were made for smart devices, I doubt such a thing will ever happen again.

Some Things I Like

Some things I like, video games, toys, and other xmas suggestions

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).

Some things I like, video games, toys, and other xmas suggestions

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.

Insert Coin Game Console

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.

One-Handed Retro Game Controller

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.

Google Keychain

Google Dinosaur pocket handheld game keychain design

Another keychain design, this time commemorating Google’s famous dinosaur video game (which occurs when you have no internet connection on the Chrome browser). It’s a fun game that helps pass the time, and it would be nice to have in a pocket-sized package.

This design borrows a screen and solar panel from a calculator (engineering or scientific calculator for a fancier dot matrix screen), the idea being you’d have this to play with when your phone dies. It features one recessed button, which is pressed for 2 seconds to power the device on or off.

The solar aspect could be removed for a more traditional battery-based device that can offer numerous features like a power bank or USB drive, but personally I’d rather have one less gadget to charge all the time.

Mini Bluetooth Arcade Controller

This is a small Bluetooth arcade controller that is based on TV plug-and-play systems from 10 or so years ago. I was shopping for this very thing and to my surprise, it doesn’t exist*, thought I’d draw it up. Sorry for another Arcade-related post!

I like the small form factor of those plug-and-play systems, they were slightly bigger than an Atari 2600 joystick. For the majority of older games that I like to play, only two buttons are needed.

One possible scenario is if such a controller doubled as a streaming remote. Maybe Amazon would bundle this with their Fire Stick? Or Apple could include this with their Apple TV as a handy way to enjoy their Arcade service? Some plug-and-plays had a joystick that rotated (to play racing games like Pole Position), so that feature could be used as a volume control here.

My original goal was to buy such a controller for my PS4, where I own several arcade classics. I also considered buying an old plug-and-play too, but sadly they all use RCA composite cables. I was hoping this controller would enable a more modern HDMI solution.

*This device was close, but is too tall and lacked a mechanical joystick. You can buy mini fighting sticks too, but they have 6 or 8 buttons and are too big to fit in your hand.