Back in 2015, developer Kevin Bates launched a credit-card-sized open-source 8-bit gaming system on Kickstarter called the Arduboy for folks with keen eyesight to play, create and share free games. Now an even smaller version has landed.
Originally envisioned as a digital business card, the first Arduboy prototype became a YouTube sensation in 2014. A company was then formed, followed by more prototyping and handshakes with production partners ahead of a Kickstarter debut in May 2015.
The 85 x 54 x 5-mm (3.3 x 2 x 0.2-in) Arduboy proved popular with backers – managing to blow past its funding target on the first day, and shipments began in August 2016.
It featured six soft-touch button controls, a 128×64 OLED display, an ATmega32u4 processor with 2.5 KB of RAM and 32 KB of flash memory, a built-in piezo speaker, and a small LiPo battery for more than eight hours of per-charge play.
The development team gave the device a significant storage boost for the recently launched FX model, which leveled up to 200 cooked-in games developed by the Arduboy open-source community. And now the latest member of the family increases that to more than 300 games while also reducing the overall size of the portable 8-bit gamer by quite some margin.
That downsizing has resulting in some net losses. The Arduboy Mini isn’t wrapped in a durable metal/polycarbonate case, the speaker has been axed and the integrated battery is gone – so players will need to power the device via the USB-C port (though solder pads are included to add a speaker and battery to the circuit board if desired).
The Mini retains the 128-x64 monochrome OLED display for showing miniature gaming visuals, and the ATmega32u4 also trickles over, but the team has added 16 MB of flash storage and ALPS switches for tactile controls.
The setup is designed to be hacked, with all of the microcontroller pins available for use, there’s a standard ISCP header to reprogram the bootloader, and folks will be able to download files for enclosures that can be 3D printed at home. Users are also encouraged to get their coding hands dirty, with step-by-step tutorials available for hackers, students and teachers.
Kickstarter pledges for the Arduboy Mini start at just US$29. The usual crowdfunding cautions apply but if all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in June 2023.