The success of simple microcontroller-based handheld video game consoles like the ArduBoy has proven that there is a demand for small, “casual” portables. But even the ArduBoy, as slim and compact as it is, is larger than it has to be. With the right components, you can make a truly tiny console. In fact, you’re more limited by what you can comfortably hold than anything else. This ATtiny85-based micro handheld game console is about as small as you can get, and can be built with just a few dollars’ worth of components.
The Microchip ATtiny85 is one of the most versatile low-power microcontrollers on the market. It’s an 8-bit microcontroller with 8KB of flash memory, 512 bytes of SRAM, 512 bytes of EEPROM, and six GPIO pins. With the internal crystal, it can handle clock speeds from 1MHz to 16MHz. That’s not a ton of processing speed, but the ATtiny85 is very energy efficient and also very affordable. It’s available in both through-hole and surface-mount packages, so it’s perfect for pretty much any application that doesn’t require a lot of processing power.
In this case, YouTuber Mr. Innovative has used the fantastic ATtiny85 as the basis for his tiny handheld console. The PCB was designed with the Easy EDA software, and Mr. Innovative has shared the files (links in the YouTube video’s description). Other than the ATtiny85 and miscellaneous components like resistors, there are three small tactile push buttons, a 0.96” OLED display connected via I2C, a slide switch, a buzzer, a CR2032 battery holder, and an LED. Mr. Innovative gives a quick demonstration of SMD soldering in case you haven’t done any before. You can play any number of games developed by Andy Jackson, which are mostly clones of popular 8-bit games. Just make sure you flash the chip with the 8MHz bootloader to make gameplay as smooth as possible.