Arduino Compatible TinyArcade by TinyCircuits
You can check out the TinyArcade at TinyCircuits
Do you remember dropping all your quarters into video arcade games? Weren’t they pretty fun?
You ever dream of having your own arcade game cabinet? Well, now you can all be it a little bit smaller. Have you heard of the tiny arcade?
It’s a miniature arcade cabinet built by a company called tiny circuits. It’s built out of precut acrylic and powered by the same microcontroller used by the Arduino zero. In fact, the tiny arcade is completely arduino compatible. You can play classic Arcade Games that have already been written for the Tony Arcade or you can even write your own using the Arduino ide.
So what’s this thing got going for it? Well, it comes preloaded with some games right out of the box.
It’s got a micro SD card slot so you can add additional games to it. It’s got a full color oled screen.
It’s got a cool little joystick with two working push buttons. It’s got a built in speaker with a volume control, a rechargeable lithium battery, a micro Usb port for charging the battery and for loading Arduino sketches if you want to do that. Plus it even comes with some cool stickers for the cabinet though.
I kinda left them off because I think half of the coolness is being able to see the circuit board inside the cabinet.
The best part is that it comes as a kit, so you kind of get to build it yourself, which for me really added to the fun. So here’s a quick walkthrough of putting it together, which really didn’t take long at all. It comes in a pretty neat little box, had great directions, which I probably should’ve read better.
The components in the box are a processor board, which also houses the joystick and the buttons, the oled screen, also known as the tiny screen.
It’s got a flex ribbon cable for attaching the screen and the processor board, a lithium battery, a speaker, and then a bunch of acrylic cutouts and some screws and stuff like that.
So the first thing you do is make sure that the power switch is turned off and that the audience which is turned on now, I actually didn’t do that and it didn’t blow up when I set everything up, but it probably doesn’t hurt to follow the directions a little more closely.
Then all you do is connect the screen to the processor board with the provided flex ribbon cable. After that, you connect the speaker and the lithium battery to the processor board and the connectors should go and easy.
Now if they’re not going in easy, you might have them upside down, which I might’ve been like trying for five minutes and that’s pretty much it for the electronics assembly.
Now you do a quick check to make sure that the electronics are functioning by turning the power on mine, beep to life, and showed me a game selection. That was so cool. Next you move on to constructing the cabinet. Now the instruction manual tells you now is the most convenient time to add the stickers.
If you want. Now, I would definitely recommend adding the stickers to the side of the cabinet. At this point, but I just kinda wanted to see what it was going to look like without the stickers first because I thought, like I said before, seeing the circuit boards through the clear acrylic is kind of cool and then you know, you can always just take it apart again and add the stickers on later you want. Now there were a couple of stickers. I couldn’t quite figure out which piece they went to, but after I had it built I can tell way more easily.
The assembly of the acrylic pieces wasn’t that hard, but it was kind of a balancing act and I know this is a continuing theme but I really should have read the instructions a little more closely because after adding a couple acrylic pieces, you’re supposed to screw on the other side of the cabinet and it makes putting the remaining pieces in a lot easier. So it was kind of thing that took a little bit of patience for me, but I kind of enjoyed it.
Once I had it all put together and screw tight, it feels pretty secure and that’s when I decided at a couple more stickers. So now what? Well, you can power it up and start playing a game. The board is shipped with game preloaded on the process report, but if you want to get even more games, the tiny circuits website has over like 16 games you can download from a zip file.
If you want to add these extra games, you’ll need to get yourself a micro SD card to store them on a micro SD card. It’s not included with the Tinier kid, but they do sell them on their website. Now I really feel like a micro SD cards, one of those things that you’re sure you have somewhere you just can’t remember where you put it.
So I finally found one with my wife’s digital camera. Unless your computer has a micro SD port, you’ll also need a micro sd adapter to plug the micro SD card into your computer’s SD card port. And now once you’ve got your micro SD card connected to your computer, all you have to do is go to the tiny circus website and you download a zip file from the tiny arcade webpage. I just saved the zip file right to the micro SD card.
I unzipped it. And then you get a bunch of folders. These folders are what hold the different game programs. Now the folders need to be on the top level of the directory in the micro SD card, so I just dragged them over and then I deleted the zip file in the enclosing folder.
Now it’s also worth noting I had some other files on the SD card and it really didn’t matter a bit, so don’t feel like you need a blank micro SD card. Do this. Once you’ve loaded the game files on the SD card, all you do now is remove the card from your computer and insert it into the micro SD card slot on the back of the tiny arcade and powered up. And now you can use the joystick to browse the different games you’ve loaded and the left push button to select the game that you want to play.
Hey, now you’re off to the races. I’m amazed at how good that little joystick works. I really feel like I can control the movements pretty well and the buttons are spaced enough that I can easily get my thumb or finger onto either of them. Depress independently. Now, once you’ve started a game, if you want to play another game, all you do is turn the tiny arcade off, turn it back on again and you can make your selection. If you’re interested in programming your own game for the arcade.
The tiny circuits website has a great beginner’s tutorial to get you started. And like I said, the Tinier is completely arduino compatible. So you’ll be developing the game within the Arduino ide and selecting the tiny arcade as the board and the port. Now, programming a game is a little bit out of the scope of this lesson, but sure seems like it’d be a fun endeavor, which I may take a crack at some time.
Oh, and did I mention you can watch videos on the tiny arcade. All you do is convert an MP four file with some free software and then you add it to your micro SD card. It’s that easy and it’s really pretty well. I hope you found the Tinier kid is cool as I did. I’m not really a Gamer or anything, but I had fun playing the Games.
If you want to find out more about the tony arcade, just google tiny circuits and check out the store or you can follow the link below in the description. Well, hey, thanks and I hope you have a great day. Bye.