Arduboy Crank Mod

Introducing the Arduboy Crank Mod

Arduboy is an open source gaming system which gives you the power to modify it to your hearts content. I decided to add a rotary encoder and modify some games to use the new form of input! Buy one today for $49!

Powered by @Mr.Blinky Flash Mod!

This very special Arduboy has also been given expanded memory in the form of an external flash chip that is added to the circuit. The community developed this amazing feature, and its currently being made into an official product! This gives you the ability to keep over a hundred games inside the Arduboy itself! No need to use a PC to switch games. Coming soon to an Arduboy Store near you…

A demo with 128 overlapping masked sprites all being drawn straight from external memory and a full motion video demo converted from an animated GIF are at the end of the video be sure to watch!

A new kind of gaming

The 360 rotary encoder gives you an infinitely linear input where you can dial in exactly the rotation you want. I was skeptical of this new way to control the games but it is actually a lot of fun!

Squario Gets Cranked

Squario by @chris automatically runs and jumps to the right when you crank clockwise, and walks to the left cranking the other way.



Tacklebox Reel Pro

The Tacklebox by @city41 fishing game finally gets a fishing reel, be careful not to snap your line!


Handmade Style

The back is constructed of two 3d printed cases designed for the flash mod. These were superglued together and then spray painted with a hole added for the encoder.

Yellow is Sunshine

The mission to track down a yellow Arduboy was underway, I had not kept any of the original production batch so I had to find one online and buy it from someone who had still kept theirs! The color is really striking and makes it feel fun.

Created with the Community

Besides the individual contributors who helped bring this project to life (@Mr.Blinky, @Pharap, @city41) the entire Arduboy development community helped create this by continuing to foster one of the best places to learn about making and programming 8 bit games on the internet. Thank you to the community!

Original post:

So, if you haven’t seen it allready the people that made firewatch teamed up with teenage engineering to make a portable console that updates with 1 new game a month week. It has a wind up crank as one of it’s inputs. It is going to be $155.

So, I was reading some things online about how people are reacting to this:

And I got to this one:

And realized, Arduboy is open source, it can have a crank. So I’m going to add a crank to an Arduboy and this thread will be about that very adventure. If anyone wants to make this a race and beat me to it, that would actually be awesome. I’m really bad at CAD and 3d printing, so there is a very good chance you can beat me.

If you haven’t figured it out it’s as simple as adding a 360degree potentiometer onto an analog port.

Theoretically this has done by

Flash cart(ridge)

I’m just going to add a physical crank to it somehow. This is being done for internet attention.


I was hoping the crank was also a charger.

With an AVR you can feed the pins a low-ish AC voltage and the internal protection diodes act as a bridge rectifier and powers the chip.

People have used that to make RFID with just a coil, a couple capacitors to keep a small charge, and an AVR chip.

And the pins still work as inputs so I think it’d be possible to read the motor/generator pulses.

The atmega32u4 will handle 5.5V (and a wee bit more), the screen not so much… might need a bit of a modification to separate the OLED display supply. I haven’t checked the Arduboy schematics.

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Interesting idea actually you made me think about using something like this:

I dont think you can just hook up the inputs to the motor as it creates a dc voltage high enough to blow up the inputs. I’m not sure off the top of my head what the best way to sense a motor like this is, maybe just a voltage divider with diode protection so you aren’t relying on the internal protection.

The downside of doing it that way beside the potential for blowing things up is that you don’t get any fine percision, it would be based on the inertia of the rotor. So if you turned it slowly it wouldnt register anything.

I do like the tacticle feedback this would give however, the sound is nice too. I’ve played with these motors before, actually building an h-bridge for these motors was the very first circuit I ever built.

Something like this with an encoder would be the best.

But I think because all I need to do is come up with a small video for twitter a 360 degree potentiometer will work just fine.


I keep forgetting 360 pots are rare and don’t really exist, I’ll have to use a rotary encoder.

Looking at the page for the yellow thing it is using a very precise hall effect sensor that I actually learned about just a couple days from electric skateboarding. What a freaking small world.


Something like this, looks smaller probably less precise in a sot 6:

PS: Found this on their twitter,

As I suspected, it’s going to be tough to look at indoors. It uses the same screen technology as the pebble smart watch. I’m surprised they aren’t side lighting it. With a few led’s it’s really not that bad. I mean you get bloom effect from the edge LED but it’s far better than not being able to see?

It’s just like when you had the original gameboy and had to hold it right up to a light. But the difference here is when something is white it’s like a mirror so you get glare very bad any time lighting conditions are not soft.

I’m going to get one for the record.

Edit: The creator is also from Portland so I need to go visit I think :slight_smile: There is zero exactly chance this is not directly inspired by the Arduboy. I wouldn’t be surprised if I knew someone that works there. The plot thickens.

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Arduboy FTW! :wink:

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But can we make games on this device? Is it open source? Am I going to pay that high cost just because it is limited and funny and retro style?

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I like the idea of an innovative control. But I think it’s not well executed (the crank looks fragile with it’s plastic parts) and on the pricey side.

Look it’s yelow too! make a hole into the case put a OLED in and call it a playboy :stuck_out_tongue:

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I hope I have a yellow arduboy somewhere in storage…

I don’t think any of teenage engineerings stuff is, but it’s not exclusively theirs. They are only planning an limited production so again, it’s mostly a marketing stunt. One that’s working exceedingly well by the looks of it.

If anything my guess is they would make it open source after the weekly 12 games were released.

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Can we get an arduboy bop-it edition? Then we can get a crank, a springy thingy, a big button and a twisty dohicky!


Then they probably use this low power memory LCD from Sharp

using this display it could probably have been powered by the crank and a super cap.

Tackle box would be a great game to play with a crank on Arduboy.


Yeah it’s that screen. Waiting on Amazon, coming in tomorrow. Haven’t decided how to mount the encoder.

I actually think I’m just going to get the one with the PCB and put some tiny bolt holes in the side of the back of the metal case. Quick and dirty.

But maybe I should really try to make the back case thicker like the flash cart backpack…

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I really like all the weird ideas for this device, but the price is way too high. With tax, customs and shipment it will be about 190€ for me - just no.

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4k horizontal pixels divided by Arduboy resolution
4096 / 128 = 32
Times Red, Green and Blue Pixels
32 x 3 = 96
10 bit pixel depth for UHD for each pixel
96 x 1024 = 98,304
Times the standard unit price of Arduboy
98,304 x $50 = $4,915,200

By extrapolating their math the PS4 Pro or Xbox One S should cost almost Five Million Dollars.


Well that 400x240 Sharp display is quite expensive compared to a 1.3" OLED.

After having seen more detailed pictures the complete design looks expensive and they’ve said it cost about $100 to produce excluding the games. With that in mind I’d say $149 isn’t bad even though that’s a lot of money.

Pimoroni is making the 32blit which costs about the same amount (£120) It’s got a very nice IPS display and faster processor. But I’m much less exited about that than the PlayDate.

The monochrome display is chalenging, the ‘surprise’ game downloads and the crank will be a unique experience I think.

I wanna make an Arduboy (clone) now with this display and maybe I can make the crank mechanism using a rumble motor with some lego parts :smiley:


EDIT: Hello anyone who is coming here from Microchip Makes Twitter post! You’ll want to scroll to the top, or click this link:

If it actually costs them $100 and they are only selling it at $150 they may actually lose money on the endeavor due to overhead. Especially if they count the 4 years they spent in R&D but I suspect that most of the time it was merely an idea that got talked about.


Yeah claiming the price is proportionally set by screen resolution is marketing bs. Like Blinky said those sharp memory displays are not cheap and rather difficult to get so they kind of shot themselves in the foot from the get go by selecting it instead of a cheaper, easier to obtain display with roughly the same specs. I have a feeling they may be the folks who bought up that entire lot of a few hundred I saw on ebay a few months ago that the seller had listed (the only seller I could find that had them!) for some stupid exorbitant price (I contacted them to see if they would sell one or two off but they ignored me). Either way, I have a feeling the playdate is a pr stunt and not really meant to be outright profitable itself.

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I thought that at first too. But spending 4 years just on just a PR stunt? I think their story of wanting to make a game and watch inspired hand held is legit. The project is self funded so they can do anything. I think a kickstarter may have given them more positive feed back / less flaming but It may have made the playmate even more expensive because of crowdfunding cost.

I just bought one of these diplays for just over $28 on aliexpress this TFT LCD is very interesting and overclocking it’s rated 20fps/2MHz doesn’t seem to be a problem :slight_smile:

I think a rotary encoder would be the simplest to implement. @chame @n602 any plans for a 3D designed / printed a crank yet? :smiley:


That’s 20fps if all you ever do is push pixels to it.

Okay for RPGs but terrible for a lot of games.

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playdate said they were able to run their games at 30fps and their OS on 50fps. So I’ll see what I can get out of it.

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