PocketSprite

$170,198 raised

of $20,000 goal

Funded!
No Longer Available

Mar 22

funded on

850%

funded

2,900

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Product Choices

$55

PocketSprite

Get yours now at pocketsprite.com


$55

PocketSprite - Hacker Edition

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$199

PocketSprite - Deluxe Edition

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Details

Tiny retro gaming on your keychain

As Featured In

Hackaday

Hackaday

"As Cool As A Tanooki in a Wind-Up Shoe"

CNET France

"La PocketSprite reprend le format de la GameBoy Classic, mais elle fait la taille d'un porte clés."

Kotaku

"There are other tiny gaming systems out there, but none are quite as powerful as the PocketSprite."

Boing Boing

Boing Boing

"Before you ask, yes, this also means that any Game Boy or Sega ROMs you happen to find online will work with the hardware."

The Verge Logo

The Verge

"The PocketSprite can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Master System, and Game Gear games, but the device is also open source, so you can in theory load on whatever you want."

PCMag

"PocketSprite claims to be the world's smallest portable gaming device, and it's hard to argue against that."

Hackster.io

"Most similar devices are built on Arduinos, but the PocketSprite is running on an ESP32 and has a 240MHz dual-core processor. And with 520KB of RAM, it’s got more than 10 times the processing speed and memory of the most powerful competitor."

Uncrate

Uncrate

"Roughly the same size as a Zippo lighter, the PocketSprite is a tiny retro gaming machine."

Maxim

"It's the world's smallest portable gaming device."

GQ Italia

"Ennesima prova dell’incontenibile febbre nostalgica che da un po’ di tempo soffia sui 30/40enni, in piena mania da retrogaming."

Digital Trends Logo

Digital Trends

"PocketSprite supports the GNUBoy emulator for both Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. SMS Plus emulator support has been added, so you can add both Sega Game Gear and Sega Master System games to your library."

Liliputing

"A PocketSprite mini console has a tiny D-pad, A, B, Start, and Select buttons, a speaker, and support for WiFi, Bluetooth low energy, and a battery that charges via a micro USB cable."

Tweakers

"De PocketSprite van tweaker Sprite_tm heeft afmetingen van 55x32x14mm en is uitgerust met een ESP32-dualcore-soc, die draait op 240MHz."

Highsnobiety

"For kit nerds and aspiring hackers, the PocketSprite is available in pre-assembled or assembly required versions."

Slash Gear

"PocketSprite lets users upload their own preferred content."

Pedestrian.tv

"[PocketSprite] runs on a dual-core, 240 MHz ESP32 processor, and 520 KB of RAM. To put that into perspective, the OG Game Boy ran on a 4.19 MHz processor and 16 KB of memory."

Game Zone

"If you’ve ever wanted to take Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Master System, and Game Gear games on the go, but didn’t want to cart around a bunch of emulators, you’re in luck. "

Designboom

"pocketsprite game console is the open-source tamagotchi of 2018"

Horror Geek Life

"It doesn’t seem possible, but it is a fully functioning emulator that easily fits into the palm of your hand and is small enough to be used as a keychain."

Werd

"If there’s one piece of EDC on your keychain sure to truly get “every day” use, it’s gonna be this. "

Science Focus

"Back when i was but a wee bairn my tiny hands would struggle to wield the heft of a Game Boy or a Game Gear. Now that my hands are the more traditional adult size, someone has only gone and built a console emulator for my fists of yore."


PocketSprite crowdfunding successful! You can now purchase yours from pocketsprite.com.

PocketSprite by PocketSprite.com is the world’s smallest playable emulation device. Ultraportable and ultraplayable, PocketSprite provides instant access to gaming classics.

Play all your favorite games: Game Boy, Game Gear, and more. Play it, put it down, and pick up right where you left off. Adding new games and apps is a one-click cinch.

PocketSprite isn’t just tiny, it’s incredibly playable. It’s not a gimmick - it’s a full featured emulation console that fits on your keyring.

And, more importantly, it’s more than just an emulator: it’s also full-featured, open source development platform.

Meet PocketSprite

PocketSprite is an ultraportable gaming and emulation console. It’s been engineered to be highly playable, easy to use, easy to update, and designed to let you pick up where you left off, and put it down again.

For Gamers: Relive Retro Gaming in Your Pocket

If you spent all your pocket-money on AA batteries, dreamed of falling blocks, or have a soft spot in your heart for rectangular controllers, PocketSprite is for you. Throw on your favorite games in a click and fill in the otherwise wasted moments of your daily transit.

For Hardware Hackers: An Open Source Dev Platform

PocketSprite is a great gaming console in a tiny package, but look under the hood and it’s so much more. It’s an open source, mature development platform that features a full-color, high-contrast OLED screen, sound, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, storage, and an internal rechargeable battery, all wrapped in a beautifully crafted yet rugged ABS case. PocketSprite’s open source toolchain and robust bootloader make development a snap. Say goodbye to re-inventing the wheel. Say adieu to bricking and JTAG angst. Say hello to rapid development on your favorite new hardware device.

For Coders: Write Games & Participate in Our Coding Challenge

If you have a hankering to write games you can play and share on a real system, you’ll love PocketSprite. Or, if you fancy your hand at coding challenges, you can participate in the PocketSprite coding challenge and perhaps walk away with the €1000 prize!

Give It to Me Short and Sweet

  1. Very tiny – fits on your keychain, but still totally playable
  2. Plays all Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Master System, and Game Gear games
  3. Instant resume let’s you pick up a game exactly where you left off
  4. One-click-upload via Wi-Fi for new games / software / updates
  5. Rechargeable battery gives hours of gameplay per charge
  6. High-quality build with tactile buttons and adjustable volume and brightness
  7. Printed instruction sheet and embossed collector’s storage box
  8. Open source software and hardware: https://github.com/PocketSprite
  9. Powerful, ESP32-based hardware development platform
  10. PocketSprite Coding Challenge: code something cool, win the €1000 prize money

How It Works

We’ve spent an embarassing amount of time making this thing perfect instead of doing our day jobs.

We’ve wrestled a highly flexible, tiny microcontroller into submission and we’ve written some fairly great code to give you a superb gaming experience and snappy framerates. Turn it on, pick an emulator and ROM, and you’re off. Flick it off because your boss / teacher / partner is glaring at you, and when you turn it back on, you’re right back where you were.

Want to add more ROMs, other emulators, or your own programs? PocketSprite’s update mechanism is simplicity incarnate: it makes its own Wi-Fi hotspot, and you upload your new apps in literally one click.

Pocket Sprite Footage

Why It Exists

PocketSprite is the result of a collaboration between passionate hardware hacker Jeroen (Sprite_tm) and fabrication fanatic Steve (kx). Initially a side-project of Sprite_tm, geeks, gamers, and the console generations were captivated by the tiny device. Here’s Jeroen talking about the genesis of PocketSprite at the 2016 Hackaday Supercon:

We decided to invest our time and money into iterating a side project into a high-quality product that anyone will be proud to own. Our motivation was simple: this thing is just too cool to not exist.

There’s so much packed into one tiny device. PocketSprite’s not just a pocket-sized gaming device; it’s an open source, highly-capable hardware development platform.

We want it in the hands of as many people as possible, because we believe that whether you’re a gamer, developer, tinkerer, or anything in between, PocketSprite will bring you endless hours of fun.

Game Selection & Adding ROMs

PocketSprite comes pre-loaded with two emulators, GNUBoy and SMS Plus, that allow you to play every single game on the following platforms:

  • Nintendo Game Boy
  • Nintendo Game Boy Color
  • Sega Master System
  • Sega Game Gear

When you’re tired of the pre-loaded open source games, uploading a new ROM is literally a one-click process. It’s done over-the-air. On Windows, Linux, Mac, or Android, no cables or drivers needed – just connect to PocketSprite’s Wi-Fi network, upload the ROM through PocketSprite’s web interface, and you’ll be playing.

PocketSprite has 16 MB of internal storage. Of this, 2 MB are used for the operating system and game emulators. The remaining 14 MB can be filled with game ROMs – how many depends on the size of the ROMs. If your ROMs are small (e.g., 64 - 128 KB), then you’ll be able to fit hundreds of games on your PocketSprite. If they are bigger (e.g., 1 MB), you’ll only be able to fit ten or so. Of course, you can always use the WiFi connection to change ROMs at any time.

Features & Specifications

Dimensions 55 x 32 x 14 mm
Processor ESP32 dual-core 240 MHz MCU
Storage 128 MBit flash, 520 KB RAM, 448 KB ROM
Enclosure Injection molded ABS with screen filter; choice of black with soft-touch finish or translucent
Buttons Injection molded ABS and tactile click: power, A, B, start, select, game pad
Display OLED screen, 25 x 22 mm, 96 x 64 px, cropped to 5:4 ratio, 60+ FPS
Audio 13 mm mono speaker
Wireless Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy
Battery Internal Li-ion battery gives hours of gameplay and months of standby
Recharging via Micro USB port, cable included
Packaging Collector’s storage box (95 x 60 x 34 mm) and printed quick-start instructions
Emulators GNUBoy for Game Boy & Game Boy Color, SMS Plus for Sega Master System & Game Gear
Documentation https://pocketsprite.com and https://github.com/PocketSprite
Easter Eggs They’re there, you just need to find them.

PocketSprite with translucent enclosure option

Comparisons

Don’t these things already exist? Absolutely, in many factors and forms, right back to your original AA-eating “Pocket Sized” handheld. We’ve tweaked and tuned the PocketSprite to be what we believe is the best of all worlds. Check out how it stacks up:

PocketSprite Arduboy BittBoy PocketStar Original Game Boy Smartphone (+emulator)
Display Resolution 80 x 64 128 x 64 320 x 240 80 x 64 160 x 144 >=720p
Display Color Yes Monochrome Yes Yes 4-gray Yes
Processor Speed 2 x 240 MHz 8 MHz 1.79 MHz 48 MHz 4.19 MHz 1+ GHz
RAM 520 KB 2.5 KB 4 KB 32 KB 16 KB 1+ GB
Tactile Input Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Instant Game Resume Yes No No No No Maybe
Dimensions 54 x 31 x 14 mm 85 x 53 x 6 mm 99 x 68 x 13 mm 50 x 30 x 10 mm 148 x 90 x 32 mm 140 x 70 x 10 mm
Keychain Compatible Yes Maybe No Yes No No
Plays GB/GBC Games Yes No No No Yes Yes
Plays GameGear Games Yes No No No No Yes
Official SDK Yes Yes No Maybe No Yes
Price $45 $49 $40 $75 varies $300+

Open Source

The PocketSprite is too good to keep to ourselves: everything we’ve done is open source and will be posted in our GitHub repositories.

Pull it to pieces, run your own code. It’s surprisingly hard to brick, and surprisingly easy to develop on. We’re actually so excited to see what developers will do with their PocketSprites that we’ve kicked off a programming challenge, awarding €1000 in prizes to the program that pushes the PocketSprite to its limits in new, surprising, or useful ways.

Fully-assembled & Kit Versions

The PocketSprite comes in fully-assembled or kit versions. Most of you will want the fully-assembled version, but if searching for tiny, tiny buttons in the carpet is your idea of fun, we’ve also got you covered. (And we even throw in a few extra buttons.) So, even if you’re not a hardcore hacker, you can still have the chance to see the guts of your PocketSprite before you snap the case closed. No soldering or special tools required.

Manufacturing Plan

Manufacturing a PocketSprite is a fascinating process, involving multiple resources. It can be broken down into a few base elements:

  1. Component Sourcing
  2. Electronics Production
  3. Housing Production
  4. Assembly, quality control, and Logistics

Component Sourcing

Reliable sourcing of genuine components is challenging. Between genuine, genuine-but-out-of-tolerance, good clones, and downright fakes, knowing what’s under the epoxy is often hard.

We only buy from suppliers that we’ve got an established relationship and proven track record. For the MCU, we’re buying directly from the manufacturer. For other components, we order from Digi-Key in the US and then import them to China, to ensure that our devices are genuine.

The MCU is a custom build that is built to order, so this part has at least a 30-day lead time and an imposing minimum order quantity (MOQ).

Component sourcing occurs in paralell with printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication.

Electronics Production

There are two elements to electronics production: manufacturing of the PCBs themselves, and then the actual sticking-of-components-with-molten-solder, known as printed circuit board assembly (PCBA). PCB production is essentially a commodity product in Shenzhen. We use our preferred partners for PCB production, so we can be confident we are getting the highest quality silk-screen and ENIG finish from factories that are ISO certified and keep the nasty chemicals in check.

Our PCBA factory is modern – everything is automated. Solder paste application, component pick and place, etc. are all taken care of. Once through the production process, devices are visually inspected, and then the manual components (screen, speaker, and battery) are placed.

Each finished PCB goes through 100% electronic testing. We have a custom-built testing jig attached to a Raspberry Pi that does flashing and testing all at once. The boards are sandwiched into the jig, the jig is closed, and then the RPI detects the board, runs initial electronic tests, and begins the flashing process.

At the end, all components are tested, and the board passes or fails inspection. Failed boards are repaired, and re-tested. Passed boards are wrapped in anti-static bags, and delivered to the assembly factory.

Housing Production

Behind nearly every single plastic product that exists, there’s a huge chunk of steel (the mold) that was brought into existence via etching, milling, and electrical discharge machining (EDM). PocketSprite has three such steel molds: one each for the case itself, the screen filter, and the buttons.

We’ve spent months iterating to ensure perfect injection flow and a high quality output. Not all molds are the same: they range from very cheap (and bad) to very expensive (and good). Cheap molds are typically made from aluminium or cheap carbon steel, have poor tolerances, low iteration counts before breaking, and inconsistant injection flows, resulting in weak or ugly plastics. We invested significantly in high-quality molds built on Swiss CNC machines and finished on EDM machines. Each mold has a life cycle of over 500,000 iterations. These investments mean that your case won’t fall apart, and buttons won’t stick.

When it comes to actual production, we properly warm the injection molding machines – typically the first 100 shots are discarded to ensure that the final product is perfect. Likewise, we use only 100% new ABS beads to ensure the highest quality.

Assembly, Quality Control, and Logistics

The factory that produces the casing also provides assembly and quality control in their dedicated research and development department. PocketSprite will have a dedicated assembly line with dedicated workers. Assembly is a fairly straightforward process, but it’s also a time where we perform 100% quality control again to ensure every product out the door is perfect.

The assembly line has an identical testing jig as the PCBA factory, and each circuit is tested before being placed into its case. Once assembled, PocketSprite’s built-in testing routine is booted up. Each button, the screen, and the speaker are all tested to ensure there are no loose connections or sticky buttons. Everything is cleaned, placed into our custom packaging, and then packed into outer cartons. We’ve done a few trial assembly runs, so we’re confident that the process is smooth and efficient, and that the products are of the highest quality we can possibly make.

Once packed, everything is dispatched to our warehouse, where they are processed and shelved, ready to be picked, packed, and distributed.

Shipping & Fulfillment

Warehousing and fullfilment is provided by Geodis Hong Kong – a warehousing solution through which we’ve sent over 5000 packages over the last 6 months. We primarily send everything through Hong Kong Post (EEX), Singapore Post (RAM), and DHL Express. Everything is tracked, from warehouse to your door. It’s important to us that shipping is done right – nothing is worse waiting for a package that never arrives or fighting with your post office. We’re using tested carriers that will get products safely and quickly into your hands.

FAQs

We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about the project. If you’ve got further questions, we’re just an email away - don’t hesitate to reach out.

Storage Space / How Many ROMs?

The amount of ROMs you can store in the PocketSprite depends on their size. PocketSprite has 16 MiB of flash, of which about 2 MiB are taken by the OS and emulators. The remaining 14 MiB can be filled with ROMs if you so desire. You can fit more than 100 smallish (128 KiB) ROMs, or ten or so large (1 MiB) ROMs.

However, the Wi-Fi interface allows you to quickly and easily add and remove ROMs in one click, so management is never a problem. Likewise, you can remove a ROM, but chose to leave its ‘state file’, meaning that if you ever place the ROM back on the device, your game-state / progress will still be there.

Turbografx/PC-Engine emulator?

A TurboGraphics emulator should be doable, although it’s hard to predict how many of the additional TurboGraphics peripherals it would support. However, at the moment, there is no emulator in the works, although one might be ported in the future.

Are there any binary blobs on the device?

Our microcontroller is the ESP32. Currently, its BlueTooth and Wi-Fi drivers are not available in a source form. As such, The Chooser (the app that displays the main menu as well as allows you to upload new applications) is thus not 100% open source, for reasons outside our control. Apart from that, the emulators, the bootloader, and the rest of the Chooser are entirely open source; the emulators and SDK are already released on https://github.com/PocketSprite. (Note that we will release the chooser and bootloader later on, and that the SDK is not in the final form we’d like – it’s good enough to compile the two emulators but we’d like some better APIs and documentation for others to use.)

Does PocketSprite include a Game Boy Advance emulator?

Sorry, at the moment we do not have a GBA emulator for PocketSprite. In theory, someone could try to port one over, but looking at the requirements (mostly memory-wise) for such an emulator, we do not think one will be ported anytime soon.

How long does PocketSprite take to charge?

PocketSprite should take about an hour and a half to charge when the internal battery is entirely empty.

Is it possible to add an NES emulator to PocketSprite?

Technically, it is possible to add a NES emulator to PocketSprite, and we may actually write an implementation for that. However, keep in mind that the NES screen resolution is a fair amount higher than that of the Game Boy - while NES games probably technically run fine, the graphics may be too tiny and scaled-down to be recognizable.

How do save-games work?

When the device is shutdown, the game state and game SRAM is saved in snapshot form on the device. This allows three things:

  • Instant resuming where you left off when you turn on PocketSprite
  • Resetting of the device without losing save games
  • Removal of ROM without removing the saved game. If you place the ROM back on later, you’ll still have your saved games/states.

Where are the products dispatched from? Will there be customs charges?

PocketSprite will be shipped to backers directly from our Hong Kong-based logistics provider. Typically, the monetary value of the device means that it will not be subject to customs or import duties, but this is subject to your country’s regulations.

Is it too small? Does it hurt to play?

We invested a lot of time, money, and testing to ensure that the device is very playable and comfortable. There were several iterations of button style, height, feeling, and material to ensure reliable and comfortable gameplay. The button mechanics are chosen not to be too hard to press, and the buttons themselves are rounded on the top. While everyone’s fingers are different, during development and testing of the software and hardware, we never had any issues with painful fingers.

Risks & Challenges

Manufacturing is difficult: the greatest challenge is selecting the right production partner. If you don’t have local contacts or pick a factory off Alibaba, everything can go wrong very quickly.

We’ve been manufacturing in China for over 20 years. We have visited the factories hundreds of times. We personally know the owners of our chosen factories. We’ve gone on holidays together. We’ve drunk countless liters of tea together. We know and trust each other.

This formula has worked to bring dozens of products to market, and it will work with PocketSprite.

We invested months on-site making sure everything is perfect:

  • Selected, tested, and iterated over a dozen screens and speakers to find the perfect supplier and components.
  • Personally built and delivered the programming and testing jigs to the PCBA factory to ensure each device is 100% tested.
  • Went throught no fewer than five iterations of building and tweaking the case molds and coatings to ensure a perfectly playable product.

We’ve simplified our supply chain to two factories:

  • Printed circuit board assembly
  • Final assembly:
    • in-house case molding
    • PCBA + case assembly
    • packaging
    • quality control

…which reduces the risk of Things Going Wrong. On-site, our contacts are personally invested in the product, to ensure that the product delivered is of the highest quality.

We’ve performed pre-production runs to iron out the kinks, and have warmed up the factories to ensure that we’ve got guaranteed production time for when we pull the trigger.

The schedule has been padded sufficiently to allow for things to go wrong, and for China’s frequent holidays.

Order your PocketSprite now.

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Credits

TeamPocket


Jeroen Domburg

Project Mastermind (Hardware, Firmware, Software)

Steve K

Manufacturing & Logistics

Sandy Liao

Visuals & Sales

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