Pico Arcade Mini

Pico Arcade Mini is made from low-cost, readily available parts from eBay and similar retailers for around £30 ($50).

It uses a unique 3D Printed Circuit Board (3D-PCB) that eliminates connectors, fussy wiring, confusion over where wires go and makes any project super slim and compact. Plus, it’s made from ‘bog standard’ PLA with no special inks or filaments.

 

Pico Arcade Features:

  • Super slim and small (around 10mm thick)
  • Unique 3D printed PCB (No special filaments or inks)
  • 2.4″ TFT colour screen
  • Joystick (5 way switch)
  • 3x tactile (silent) buttons
  • Fully rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
  • 2x I2C ports for extra controllers or devices (such as gryo, GPS, detectors etc..)
  • On/Off switch
  • Battery status indicator
  • Custom covers (different colours)
  • Optional – use a GY521 gryo / accelerometer as a hand controller for one of the demo games

Software:

  • Downloadable UF2 file with 3 demo games and a set of screen savers
  • Powerful SDK kit on GitHub

This project should take a couple of hours to make – printing the PCB first, you can wire it while the case is printing 🙂

Supplies

Component Parts List (around £30 / $50)

(Find on Pimoroni/PiHut/eBay/Alibaba/Amazon/Banggood – use list below as keywords for search)

  • 3.7v 600Mah 502060 lipolymer battery (£3-£10)
  • 5 way tactile switch breakout module (£3-5)
  • 2.4 inch ili9341 240×320 screen (£7-£12) – blue board / SPI with Chip Select and Reset pins (CS/RST)
  • Raspberry Pi Pico (£3.50)
  • 3 x 8x8x5mm tactile push button (£1.50)
  • 5v ups lithium 18650 battery charger UPS module (£4)
  • 0.4mm bare copper wire – not tinned or enamelled (2m) (£1)
  • Mini 3 pin slide switch (8.5 x 3.7 x 3.5 mm body) (50p)
  • 2x micro usb breakout boards (£2)

Optional components (for handheld ‘gyro puck’) – see instructions in Step 4.

  • Micro USB data cable (0.5m)
  • GY-521 gyro / accelerometer module (I2C – 8 pin)

Equipment

  • 3D printer
  • Soldering iron (& sucker if needed)
  • Fan (blow away solder fumes)
  • PC/Mac/Raspberry Pi to download and install UF2 file on Pico
  • Helping hands
  • Micro USB lead

Hand tools & consumables

  • Solder
  • Small snips
  • Small hand drill or bit (0.5-0.8 mm)
  • Small file
  • Masking tape
  • Wire strippers

Step 1: Download & Print 3D Parts

Download the attached 3D printer (STL) files:

  • Print the 3D Printed Circuit Board (around 1 hour on a Prusa / Ender FFF printer) using standard PLA

(You can start working on the wiring – next section)

  • Print the back box, joystick button and front panel (can be in different colours)

Printing notes:

  • The 3D PCB can be printed on draft 0.3mm layer height quality
  • The back box needs no special settings (0.3mm draft quality)
  • The top panel will require full supports underneath (0.2 – 0.1 mm medium / high quality printing
  • Joystick button (0.1mm high quality print)
  • Puck require supports inside the box section and inside rim (high quality print)

Step 2: Wire the PCB

How to wire the 3D printed circuit board:

1. Approximate the length of the bare copper wire (0.4mm) needed for a particular track. Cut with snips.

2. Feed one end of the wire through the track hole and bend it against the back of the board.

3. Now carefully feed the wire along the track groove until it almost reaches the other end.

4. Feed the other end of the wire through the track hole and press is flat on the back of the board. You should have at 5 to 10 mm of wire sticking out both at both ends of the the track.

Please see printable diagram for more information.

Extra notes:

a. If track is very small, pre-bend the wire into a U shape the same size as the short track. Then insert it.

b. If a wire keeps falling out – you can use a bit of masking tape to hold it in place

c. Don’t worry if you cut the wire too short – it can always be used for another track 🙂

It should take around half an hour to an hour to feed all the wires into the tracks (depending on your threading skills!)

Step 3: Cover the Wires With Masking Tape

Carefully cut pieces of masking to cover the exposed wires. This serves two purposes;

1) To prevent electrical shorts on the components soldered to the board.

2) To keep the wires in place.

Note that there’s a recess in the middle of the board – make sure tape is cut to size to fit in this recess. Otherwise the screen may not fit properly.

Just to state the obvious, don’t tape down wires that stick out of the board!

Step 4: Solder the Components to the Circuit Board

Please follow the (printable) instructions on the 10 steps provided here

Step 5: Final Assembly and Installation of Pico UF2 Image

Final Assembly

  1. Carefully press-fit the cover over the Pico Arcade Mini assembly.
  2. Snap fit the joystick button (pad) on the mini-joystick. It’s a square fitting so it can only go one of four ways!

Installing the Games and Demos

  1. Download the UF2 file
  2. From here (more details below)
  3. Attach the Pico Arcade Mini to your computer 
  4. Turn the Pico Arcade Mini off
  5. Insert a Micro USB cable into your PC/Mac/Raspberry Pi
  6. Hold down the button at the back of the Pico Arcade Mini (near the Pico port)
  7. Insert the other end of the Micro USB cable into the Pico Arcade Mini
  8. Release the button at the back
  9. Install the UF2 file
  10. Your computer will detect the Pico as a USB drive – open the Pico folder window
  11. Drag the downloaded UF2 file into the Pico folder
  12. Wait a few seconds while it installs
  13. The Breakout game will appear on the Pico Arcade Mini

Get the latest UF2 or play with the SDK at https://www.github.com/timskillman/pico-arcade

So what else can you do with Pico Arcade Mini and the Software Development Kit (SDK)?

… anything you can imagine!

The Pico Arcade can have many I2C devices connected to it so it doesn’t have to be an arcade machine.

Here are some ideas;

  • Dual controls for 2 players
  • GPS tracker (world map locator)
  • Oscilloscope
  • I2C sound
  • Add an I2C musical keyboard
  • Weather station
  • Compass
  • Fitness tracker
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Gas detector
  • Attach external storage (SD card)
  • Programmable hot keys or emoji’s
  • Cool Cosplay wearables
  • Info screen for display models
  • Wifi / Wireless / Bluetooth comms
  • Microphone sound sensor

Source: Pico Arcade Mini

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