Arduboy 2 My Ultimate Hardware Wishlist

Additionally, if the ATSAMD21 processor were used which has a true DAC output, with a headphone jack and simple amplifier, plus an SD card slot, the next generation Arduboy could possibly function as a fairly decent MP3 player. It would need a low pass filter on the output to eliminate aliasing, for acceptable sound quality.

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It would make a brilliant mp3 player. Also the ability to store games on the SD card where you can switch games easier.

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Oh man. It would be so cool to have a headphone jack. And the micro sd/sd card slot for holding mre games… Keeping the same small footprint, or close to it would be amazing, of course. But if you had to make it little bigger to accommodate those changes id be ok with that. You could call it the “arduman”. Haha

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There are some limits I don’t want to work with. Space is a big one. I’d like to make links awakening if I could. An SD card would give us unlimited space and let us hold pretty much every game ever made for it

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OK, I will be realistic =)

  • ATmega2560 (256/8/4 Kb yeah baby!)
  • Hardware sound switch (preferably slider)
  • Two more small buttons (start/select) or at least one.
  • slightly better screen (some shades of grey of even colours)

That’s pretty much it =) I guess all this can be done with only marginal increase of a size and this will allow us to recreate lot’s of Spectrum era games.

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Jack of all trades, master of none…
I think we need to focus on what we have … ARDUBOY. It is what it is, a mini console that fits in a wallet. 8bit games of a community, and retro style.
exploit that, with a catalog of titles … hires people who exploit the potential. by little this is. Many people are buying both arduboy as “pocket chip” for example … I think are good times for all of us … this may be the birth of new ua serious gaming company after the death of others.
but the decisions they make will be crucial for the future of arduboy.
who cares if I can only play 1 game
I consider a mistake to start something else. (My arduboy is beautiful as it is)
if they want a new arduboy it a FARDUBOY … something big … but first let’s think about what we have and we save some money while …

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SD card is almost a given

Glad to hear it, and I hope it is a full-size SD slot and not microSD. MicroSD cards were not intended to be swapped out continuously and chucked around like the larger forms of the card - they were meant to be installed and maybe replaced once or twice in a device’s lifetime. They are comparatively very fragile and fiddly too. Full size SD cards can be bounced off the floor and chucked in a pocket and they “feel” much more cartridgey.

This would also allow people to finally find a practical use for that drawer full of ancient, useless 64MB SD cards that everyone seems to have. Who cares if only 32KB of the card is being utilised if the cart was basically free?

Finally, I’d advocate raw access to the card only - no filesystem, using ‘dd’ or a similar tool to write an image to the card and not bothering with the unnecessary bloat of a FAT library or special chip for accessing files. One game per cart. Keep it simple.

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Full-sized SD cards would be cuter, anyway. :stuck_out_tongue: Additionally, we could potentially use it to extend the Arduboy’s functionality… My old Palm M500 had options like this…

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A microSD slot could likely be squeezed into the existing case, by relocating the processor to above the USB connector and putting the microSD card slot on the left edge at the bottom, where the processor used to be. This would only require minor reworking of the existing mold.

There’s no way a full size SD card would fit the existing case without moving other stuff around and even then may not be possible. Making a mold for a new case would be expensive.

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The arduboy’s metal backplate looks about as thick as an SD card. I wonder if a slot could be cut out of it so the cartridge sits flush and half-exposed, like on a gameboy. Perhaps milled on the inside of the backplate so there’s still a thin piece of metal to cover the lower half of the card. Redesigning the mould is expensive but milling a bit of metal is cheap.

Edit: this would be particularly cool as the label of the SD card would be visible while you play. Micro SD cards are too small to have decent artwork on them and I could see a cottage industry developing around the production of desirable, collectable, cute little SD cards for the arduboy.

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The back cover is as thick as it is because of the dimensions of the battery and the piezo speaker. There’s currently no room for a full size SD card slot in the area under the back cover. You would need to make a thicker cover or use a different shaped battery, possibly reducing battery capacity.

I don’t know why you would want to switch cards frequently. Even a microSD card could hold a huge number of games and data.

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I don’t know why you would want to switch cards frequently. Even a microSD card could hold a huge number of games and data.

In that case we may as well just have a large internal memory and not bother with a slot. When we head in that direction we move away from an arduinoey way of doing things. We’d need a game-selection bootloader and filesystem driver and other stuff that makes the whole system harder to understand for a fledgling developer.

I understand why the Arduboy 1 is the way it is - it’s just an arduino with a screen - and like every other arduino system you have to flash its memory every time you want to change the sketch on it, and I like that. It’s consistent with the rest of the arduino ecosystem. Adding an SD card to the arduboy that presents itself as a ROM is as conceptually simple as it gets for adding the ability to switch games.

It’s a matter of taste but the idea of having a collection of little cartridges is appealing to me. Collectable physical cartridges with artwork on them is fun and harks back to the heyday of handheld consoles.


Edit: Having read a little about the SD card standard it seems there’s no way to address the memory directly like you would with a ROM chip, as it only has serial (or at best a 4-bit parallel) interfaces, so the use of a bootloader etc. or additional decoder chip is unavoidable. Still, there’s no reason a cottage industry producing desirable one-game cartridges couldn’t exist even if other people are using 64GB cards stuffed with millions of games.

It’s gonna be great either way :grin:

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What about the teensy 3.2 or even 3.5/3.6? They’re small, powerful and have arduino software add ons, so you can write code in arduino. The only problem is that they’re a lot more expensive, and not as open source as the arduino boards.

The question is, how much more power do you really need? How much extra do you want to spend? How far away from a “real” Arduino product do you want to deviate? How much time do you want to spend developing hardware and software?

The ATSAMD21 processor used by the Arduino Zero is actually cheaper than the ATmega32u4 processor in the current Arduboy. I’ve already got an Arduino Zero compatible prototype working.

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I agree. I am a HUGE RPi fan and I actually got a little mad when they changed SD to Micro SD. I was crushed. All that money wasted on huge SD cards, but then I realized that Micro is so much better. It fits better, it is cheaper, and looks sleeker.
I mean compare these:
Here is a regular SD card

and here is micro

They’re easy to implement and way cheaper.

Audio Jack:
There’s no way to implement an 1/8" audio jack. I mean, cell phone manufacturers are dropping them because they are too thick… and we are thinner than any other cell phone on the market. The external dimensions of most jacks are close to the same thickness as our entire device.

It may well be possible to implement the audio through the USB, so you could use an adapter there.

I’m also looking at ways to have some female pin connectors on the edge of the device, but it looks difficult.

Sound:
Better quality sound with some hardware volume control is something I would love to do. I feel we are on the edge of getting some quality sound libraries (@JO3RI) so this would be really nice. We should be able to fit an actual speaker, but then we will need an amplifier circuit. So things get complicated and expensive quickly. But we are looking at it.

Large Internal Memory:
This is of course ideal, but any chip that starts to have significant memory (megabytes) typically is physically large with a package of high pin count (larger than the qfn44 we use now) and/or also is just way overpowered in terms of absolute pin count, processor speed, power consumption, and cost of the processor.

What would be ideal, would be a chip that allows for external code execution but that doesn’t start happening until ARM6/7 which puts us in the territory of heavier power consumption. And as others have note if we put a chip of that horsepower in the device, we are competing with actual gameboy hardware. But maybe it makes sense way down the line once we get a color screen which wont be for a year or two.

Right now looking at the SAM21D, it would give us compatibility with the Arduino Zero, it’s got more memory and faster than our current chip and it’s actually cheaper than what we are currently using.

Bluetooth:

Seeed, our manufacturer and distributor, actually just put a NRF52 module in their store:

Going to mess around with this a little bit.

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@bateske thank you for all the insight! :grinning: Can’t wait to see what y’all have planned for future versions. I still love the current Arduboy just the way it is though. The build quality is fantastic and the games are wonderful and plentiful!! :v:️️

My 2bit

Please consider upgrading the hardware of the Arduboy 1 minimally:
Stick to atmel the atmega32u4, but add a 4Bit greyscale screen, of the same size

Small is beautiful, and as we’ve seen on these forums, the limited resources teaches you to optimise!

If there is a market for a bigger, beafier Arduboy 2 with wireless comms and what not, consider a seperate product while keeping the Arduboy 1 alive in production.

That’s not possible. A 4 bit per pixel screen of the same size would require a 4096 byte of RAM buffer. The ATmega32U4 only has 2560 bytes total RAM.

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Only if by size you mean resolution. There was a very famous 8 bit computer back in the day, some of us old people had them, the Commodore 64. It had two graphics modes, hi-res or multi-colour. Basically, it would half the horizontal resolution to display 16 colours without using up extra RAM.

Below is an example, with the top image being what a multi-colour image looks like and the bottom being what the RAM for the image would look like. A very acceptable compromise I think, 2bit per pixel and half resolution.

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