An update to “List of Homebrew Video Games Consoles”

January 31, 2011

I’ve neglected my list of homebrew video game consoles, so here’s a update:

  • www.xcores.orgMy friend Yvo’s site related to the awesome Xmos chip.
  • mikronauts.comPropCade is a self-contained and affordable Propeller platform for emulating old computers (Z80, 6809, etc) and old game consoles.
  • www.retrode.orgNot a console as such but a handy way feeding games to your SNES or Mega Drive / Genesis emulator from your original cartridges.
  •, a Portable Game Development console looking a lot like a SNES controller.
  • www.chameleon-dev.comChameleon PIC 16-Bit and the Chameleon AVR 8-Bit are yet another Propeller based systems this time with the addition of a standard Microchip PIC or Atmel AVR microcontroller.
  • www.fpgaarcade.comA site dedicate to recreating gaming hardware from the past in modern programmable FPGA devices.
  • www.lucidscience.comA beautifully documented insight to designing and building your own classic console
  • www.microvga.coma design offering a low-cost Microcontroller to VGA interface
  • www.ladyada.netA new system from LadyAda offering a 320×240 TFT color display with resistive touch screen.
  • rossum.posterous.comRBox: A diy 32 bit game console for the price of a latte
  • linusakesson “craft”

the original list is still here:

Zuzebox PCB – almost there

December 18, 2009

A quick snapshot of the Zuzebox PCB. Its almost there:

Zuzebox - almost there

Zuzebox – at last the PCB is started

November 15, 2009

I finally found some time to start the PCB for Zuzebox (a Uzebox compatible retro-minimalist homebrew game console). I’m hoping to squeeze it all into a 100mm x 100mm board so I can use Seeedstudio’s Fusion / Propaganda PCB service. The picture below only shows about half the components laid out, so I think the final PCB is going to be busy.

Zuzebox - starting PCB layout

Zuzebox v0.30 – an update

November 8, 2009

It’s taken me longer than I hoped to make this small update to Zuzebox (an Uzebox compatible retro-minimalist gaming console). What I’ve done with this update is to actually simplify the design by removing the surface mount components for the USB circuit. I still intend to have the USB interface but I’ve decided to use a plug in USB module instead of a surface mount chip.

The idea is to keep the electronics as simple as possible and to add functionality such as a USB or a Ethernet interface through plug in modules. I’ve updated the schematic to use Sparkfun’s USB module shown below:

Sparkfuns USB Module

I may added another USB module footprint in the future, possibly a FTDI module.

The updated Zuzebox v0.30 schematic (pdf) is here.

Another Anniversay for me – Uzebox

October 27, 2009

Yet another anniversary.

Its a year to the day I first join the Uzebox forums. Check out the cool retro-minimalist homebrew game console at

I was hoping to have Zuzebox, my Uzebox compatible console, prototype finished before this day but like many things time has not been my friend. But I am still working on it and I ‘ve decided to use standard modules for the USB interface as well as the Ethernet interface.

Zuzebox – A Uzebox compatible retro-minimalist homebrew game console

October 7, 2009

September and the start of October have been a busy time for me but I’ve finally managed at a last to capture to schematic my interpretation of the Uzebox the retro-minimalist homebrew game console. I’ve extended Uze’s design to include a USB and Ethernet interface and also Atari / Commodore 64 / Sega Mega (Genesis) style joysticks / d-pads through a classic 9W D interface.

The USB interface is based on the ubiquitous FDTI FT232 USB to serial UART chip. So far I’ve only connected it to the 644’s serial Rx and Tx and RESET lines but I will investigate if the USB interface can also be used as a AVR programmer as well.

The Ethernet interface is based on WIZnets WIZ810MJ module with a W5100 hardwired TCP/IP Ethernet on a chip. It’s available as a low cost simple drop in module that can be driven either through a traditional address / data bus scheme or through a 4 pin SPI interface. The Wiznet W5100 is used by the Arduino community so AVR drivers already exist to drive the chip.

Finally the Atari/C64/Sega joystick interface is provided by a 4021 parallel to serial chip for each port. The 4021 is used in the SNES controllers so the Uzebox kernel can read them without any changes. The small downside is the Atari/C64/Sega joysticks lack the SNES “Start” or “Select” buttons so I may have to add a couple of switches/buttons to the final design to allow existing games to detect these buttons.

A pdf of the prototype schematic is here. I hope to spend some time on the PCB layout in the coming weeks.

Super Mario vs Xmos

September 2, 2009

Yvo Zoer of has been making the Xmos XS1-G4 multi-core multi-threaded processor do some cool looking things …

All this on a single chip with no dedicated video graphics controller in sight.

I hope Yvo releases the source code and hardware details soon, so I can have a fire up my Xmos development board and have some fun.

Who knows it could snowball into another Uzebox or Xgamestation like community collaboration. Lets hope so.

PCB Tutorials

April 7, 2009

After a couple of years away from doing my own PCB designs the number of great open source electronics projects out there such as the Uzebox and Arduino projects have inspired me to start building my own boards again. So whilst refreshing my PCB skills I found a couple of articles that might interest others:

David Jones has a nice PCB design overview and tutorial which is here. and another more technical article (pdf) on split ground planes can be found at here.

EasyPC from NumberOne Systems was and still is my PCB design package of choice but the Eagle PCB design package from Cadsoft looks to be many peoples favourite package – especially the free (but limited) package. So here are a couple of tutorials for Eagle as well:

Instructables Cadsoft Tutorial
Sparkfun Tutorial

List of Homebrew Video Games Consoles

April 3, 2009

You don’t need a Wii, PS3 or Xbox to have a great gaming experience. If you really want to get to know the hardware of a video game console then build one of the many cool designs available on the web (or if you’re really cool design one yourself). Some are one chip designs, some are multichip almost computer like designs and the others somewhere in between. Most are powered by 8-bit micros, one or two have 16-bit micros and a few use 32-bit micros.

While Uzebox is one of my favourite homebrew games consoles, there are a number of other projects out there:

If you know of any others please add a comment and I’ll update this list over time.

Uzebox – A retro minimalist open source game console

April 1, 2009

The Uzebox project, by Alec “Uze” B is a minimalist open sourced 8-bit game console.The Uzebox design contains only two chips: an ATmega644 and an AD725 RGB-to-NTSC converter and is designed to be easy and fun to build and program by any hobbyists.

  • Specifications
  • CPU: ATmega644 microcontroller
  • Total RAM: 4K
  • Program Memory: 64K
  • Speed: 28.61818Mhz (Overclocked)
  • Colors: 256 simultaneous colors arranged in a 3:3:2 color space (Red:3 bits, Green:3 bits, Blue: 2 bits)
  • Resolution: Up to 240×224 pixels (tiles-only and tiles-and-sprites modes)
  • Sprites: Up to 32 simultaneous sprites on screen at any time
  • Video output: NTSC Composite and S-Video
  • Sound: 4 channels wavetable, 8-bit mono, mixed at ~15Khz and output via PWM
  • Inputs: Two NES/SNES compatible joypad inputs
  • Options: MIDI-in interface and s-video output
  • To showcase Uzeboxs power have a look at Alec’s fully functional Tetris clone named “AVR Megatris”.