[Poll] New Arduboy: B&W or Color Screen?

I created a topic / poll to discuss customisation Custom parts and spares


oh im so down for this. another 2 buttons above the previous two (like snes controller) would allow for more user input from the right hand. or even swapping of controls from one side to the other.
i know it seems almost assumed that the next two buttons should be more like start/select, but the problem with this is then they become exclusive with their function. at least with 2 close to the original 2, they can still be used as such or for alternative functions.

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Curious if something like this Sharp Memory display (https://www.adafruit.com/product/3502) might be more viable today as a screen replacement.

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That means you cannot use this with an ATmega328 (e.g. Arduino UNO) or ATmega32u4 (Feather 32u4, etc).

It needs 3K of screen buffer - the entire Arduboy has only 2.5Kb.

My understanding is the next Arduboy would be based on something like the SAMD21 which should more than enough space.

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Sorry … you said ‘viable today’ and I thought you meant on the current hardware.

Yeah, sorry about that being unclear. Previous discussions on screen technologies had said that epaper type displays were just not really viable as they were hard to source and had issues like the screen buffer. It seems like that might be different now given availability and the proposed SAMD21 being the core of the future Arduboy.


It would be happy with 16-colours but if it stays b&w I would prefer a display with higher resolution if possible. Just to be able to port game and watch lcd-games in a more faithful quality.

Wow, just voted in this poll not noticing that it was from 2016 :slight_smile:


Oh wow and it has over 200 votes now!

At 204 votes, it’s approximately 116.28 (57%) to 87.72 (43%).

I can’t believe I actually voted for color screen.
But if we really stop here and think about it for a second, a 128x64 colored screen is pretty pointless, because the amount of things able to be drawn on the screen (and not overwhelm the viewer) is pretty limited right there. The color is only the cherry on the top.
If we manage to actually get a higher-res (at least 256x128) color screen up and running at 30 fps, that will be much more pleasant. But that is highly unlikely, so I think “no” will be the answer.

I ended up voting for color screen because

  1. it can be used for grayscale
  2. sometimes a pop of color can be really useful - highlighting low hit points or adding some pop to a game event

I do like the B&W aesthetic though.

The Black and White screen is awesome. I think it’s the most iconic part of the Arduboy.

Black and White lowers the barrier of entry for making art. If we’re talking new features, I’d instead like to see a real time clock and some sort of standardized communication in an upgraded unit. Maybe approaching a feature set similar to what’s in this: http://watchx.io/

Also an upgraded speaker would be very very helpful.

If graphics were to be addressed, I’d say a doubled resolution but still Black and White would be cool. Art would be even easier for people to draw. While B&W pixel art is fun because it leaves a lot to the imagination, there’s tricky stuff that goes into making it fit a screen that small. Doubled resolution might make it so you need to do less trickery. You’d also get to show more detailed stuff if you are already good at B&W pixel art. And as a plus, we could keep back compat with old games by doubling their scale, and still have them feel at home on the new version.

Aside from the Arduboy itself, I’ve been liking the Black and White because it ends up being a quirky lowest common denominator. I’m doing some interesting Arduboy porting projects and thanks to this simplicity, the games already look iconic on their destination platform.

But to conclude, I’m 100% happy with the 128x64 B&W screen. It’s a weird niche that’s so much fun. Sometimes I like to open up paint and just doodle game ideas as if they were real screenshots. Anything more complicated would be too much work. :stuck_out_tongue: (Also, I think PICO-8 really has the color-thing on lock in terms of identity. Arduboy is THAT B&W game system! The official implementation of what effectively became an open standard, hahaha)


I originally voted colour… Just changed it to B&W.
As time has gone on, the mono screen was a stroke of genius (or luck!), to make an accessible and iconic platform.

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I’m not sure I quite agree with this point.

Making 1-bit art can actually be more difficult than making colour art because then you have to start being clever with shapes and dithering to make up for the inability to use other colours.

I agree that increasing the resolution would be a good alternative though.

It depends…

At a minimum you’d still have to recompile each game with some kind of ‘double scale’ flag that changes how the display function works. That’s a lot of effort, but on the face of it not too bad.

But inevitably there will be a handful of games where it simply wouldn’t be that simple because they (for example) don’t use the Arduboy2 API or they attempt to manipulate the screen manually (e.g. using a custom display function).

I think the recent game Road Trip is one example of a game that bypasses the normal display function, and I vaguely recall Fire Panic doing something that made it incompatible with some homemade Arduboys so that could also be an example.

I can also think of one game without source code so you’d be entirely reliant on the author to provide a new version.

That said, theoretically it might be possible to add a piece of hardware that would interpret SSD1306 commands and translate them into something the new screen would accept, in which case you wouldn’t need to make any modifications to existing games.

But there would obviously be an added product cost, and possibly added processing time which might introduce a bit of lag between the 32u4 sending the command and the screen getting the translated the command.

I think the simplest solution would be to add a second chip (probably AVR) that could do the job, but designing and printing a custom circuit that could do the job might have benefits.

By the way, if you’re thinking about getting involved with the Watch X you might want to have a read of this old thread:

37 posts were split to a new topic: Alternative Screen and CPU Arrangements

Not really, I have just ‘overloaded’ the method. I use the standard display() method from the API then manipulate the display buffer ready for the next frame.

void Arduboy2Ext::displayClearToPattern(uint8_t idx) {

    const uint8_t pattern[] = { 32, 2, 136, 34, 85, 170, 119, 221, 223, 253, 0, 0, 255, 255 };
    uint8_t even = pattern[(idx * 2)];
    uint8_t odd  = pattern[(idx * 2) + 1];
    for (uint16_t x = 0; x < 5 * WIDTH; x += 2) {
        sBuffer[x + 0] = even;
        sBuffer[x + 1] = odd;


Fair enough, I wasn’t quite sure what you’d ended up with.
But I’d still be surprised if there wasn’t some game somewhere that is bypassing it.

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5 posts were split to a new topic: Unusual Olypic Sports