Ever want to experience 70s and 80s computing without fiddling with creaky old hardware and 5.25 floppy disks?

In this Instructable, I'll teach you how to build and program your own pocket mini computer.  

Explore micro computing with a machine which:
  • Can be successfully assembled in an evening.
  • Can be programmed in BASIC.  (and other languages)
  • Can play games and run programs.
  • Most importantly: Can be understood.

  • Pocket Mini Computer Kit  (As of August 1st, Pocket Mini Computer can be obtained fromPropellerpowered.com)
  • A PS2 Keyboard 
  • A Wii Controller (Classic or ClassicPro)
  • A microSD card
  • A VGA Monitor
  • A set of computer speakers

We created this as an Open Source "Ready to Build" kit, but have also updated this Instructable with complete schematics for anyone who wanted to create they own version of the Pocket Mini Computer!   Read on!

Step 1: The Pocket Mini Computer Details

The Pocket Mini Computer is a small and versatile computer running a full featured BASIC interpreter with 32K of ram. It will work with a standard VGA monitor and PC compatible keyboard. Because the Pocket Mini Computer has its own built in microSD memory card slot and BASIC language you need nothing more to start writing and running BASIC programs. A Wii(TM) compatible gameport as well as stereo audio output create a compelling enviroment to write programs and games.

I'm the designer of the Pocket Mini Computer.  I wanted to create a product which would give those in the younger generation a chance to see what computing was like in the early days before the PC.  I also wanted to re-create the experience as closely to the original Commodore and Atari computers so that us "old timers" could enjoy a trip back to yesteryear when we were young.

The Pocket Mini Computer has been a labor of love from board design to preparing the BASIC programming language.

You'll be able to do more than enjoy a simple "HELLO WORLD" program.  The BASIC is full featured and powerful!

oh god, the infamous "GOTO" statement. lmao. i can see a nice plate of spaghetti code in the future if anyone does a program of a semi-complicated or better nature. then again, does basic support objects and encapsulation? i've never used it myself. i just remember the c++ instructor telling us to stay away from goto as much as possible.
<p>Heh... I used to own a C16, and should still have an Atari around somewhere. Both run BASIC interpreter. The nice thing about C++ is, that it supports functions. So you could simply call a function (method if you use classes / objects in C++) and run in loops and branches. GOTO in C++ is bad form, I agree. </p><p>But in Basic on the other hand, the only thing you have to move around in execution, other than a straight line, is GOTO. Yes. This facilitates spagetti code. One of the ways around this, was to draw up a schema of line-number-blocks, where each block would have its own function. So line 0 to 1000 would be your main, line 2000 to 2100 your first 'function', 2110 to 2200 your second and so on. </p><p>If you were lucky, you had a version of BASIC that supposed not only GOTO, but also GOSUB. This nifty little statement did basically the same as GOTO, but also pushed a return address on a stack. So if at the end of your function, you called RETURN, it'd pop the line-number from the stack from where you called the GOSUB and continue from there ^_^ </p><p>For what it's worth: Compiling C to assembly and then machinecode, all those function calls, loops and branches are (often) converted to assembly 'jmp' instructions. These are goto's. ;-) </p>
Yes, not only does it have the infamous GOTO statement, but also a GOSUB statement as well! :) It is possible to write non-spaghetti code in BASIC, but not probable! This version doesn't do objects or encapsulation, so it's all old-school. The good news is that the hardware itself can be programmed in C++ (from a PC based editor) so it can also be used as a modern microcontroller platform.
If you plan your program properly by flow charting it first, then Linear Basic is an ideal way of implementing your program. If you want spaghetti code, take one look at any Object Oriented Language, where the same variable name can actually be three different values. <br /> <br />In all fairness, a properly designed GOSUB is, in and of itself, an encapsulation. <br /> <br />I now challenge you to take that &gt;10 print &quot;hello world&quot;; program and run it through an MS Basic compiler to see how many hundred kB it will take up.
Can you replace the wii port with a USB port?
<p>Ahm..... I guess yes because you could use a usb host ic like on the arduino usb host shield</p>
Hey, GG, Where do we get the Classic Controller Port?
help! <br> <br>i copied the file basedit.bin on to the sd card, but when i press f1 i get the message &quot;file misssing &quot;basedit.bin&quot; <br>
Do you see a directory when you type DIR and ENTER? <br> <br>Come over to the support forums and we'll help you troubleshoot it. <br>http://propellerpowered.com/forum/index.php?board=5.0 <br> <br>Jeff <br>
thanks, but i figured it out on my own, it turns out the problem was that i had basedit.bin/basic.bin both in a folder on the sd card and the pmc couldn't read it it. <br> <br>
any idea how long it takes to ship to Canada? <br> <br>thanks
They ship from NE Ohio. Based on another customer's orders, I believe the typical time to Canada is about five days. <br>
is that time from gadget gangster or parallax propeller ?
That's estimated time from Propellerpowered. We still ship for Gadget Gangster, but the PMC is now a Propellerpowered project. Generally, I ship around 24 hours from time of order (weekdays). At present, there are 6 PMC kits in stock.
thanks a lot! i can't wait for mine to arrive!
i of course meant propellerpowered
I recently did an &quot;off-the-cuff&quot; video of the Pocket Mini Computer project. <br>The cinematography won't win awards, but this will give everyone a first hand view of the project and the progress we've made since this Instructable -Jeff- <br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?&amp;v=_D-MQHvyvzM <br>
when i click on the pdf (BASIC manual) it says it's be removed, does any one have some suggestions as to were i could find instructions on using BASIC? <br>thanks
Here's the most up-to-date reference on the BASIC. <br>http://propellerpowered.wikispaces.com/COLOR+BASIC+Language+Reference <br> <br>We moved the .PDFs to the /Documentation folder in the sources library. <br> <br>Jeff <br>
thanks a lot!
So where does this stand now? I'm behind the concept and think, for me, might even be more intuitive than the raspberryPi because of my old school Basic training. Can we still get one? From where?
Yes, They kits are available from Propellerpowered.com <br>http://propellerpowered.com/shop/?page_id=234 <br> <br>Also, there is a forum you should check out at: <br>http://propellerpowered.com/forum/index.php?board=5.0
Part 2 of this Instructable has been posted! <br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Pocket-Mini-Computer-Users-Guide/ <br> <br>Think of it as the &quot;User's Guide&quot; to the Pocket Mini Computer. <br>(or why I earth would I build one of these??!? book. <br> <br>Jeff <br>
I'm told that to-date, all unshipped GG backorders have been refunded. If you have not had your GG order resolved, please contact me. I can help. (jeffledger at gmail.com) <br> <br>Since the product was stocked at Propellerpowered.com (August 1st) we've shipped 30+ units of this product to happy customers. We have several left in stock and are preparing to make a second supply order. <br> <br>Visit us on the forums, specifically for this project: <br>http://propellerpowered.com/forum/index.php?board=5.0 <br> <br>New features are being added to the BASIC firmware and it's starting to grow! <br> <br>Jeff <br>
I ordered this from Gadgetgangster.com. The 50$+- was taken from my bank account. Its been over a month and I haven't heard from them either by e-mail or phone. I still haven't received my order. They do not have a phone number the website. I found a phone number using a 'who-is' lookup but it went to voice mail. I got ripped off and just wanted to let everybody know just so you can avoid getting ripped off.
Yeah, I felt the same way with GG.. see my other posts. Jeff from Propellerpowered did a great job for me. <br> <br>
@Swilus, Email me at jeffledger at gmail.com. I'll see if I can help in some way.
I'm starting to think this whole thing is a scam! <br> I placed an order two months ago and paid with PayPal and have not received it as of today. My e-mail to gadgets has gone unanswered and when I try to send and e-mail to jeff@Propellerpowered.com, I get a response of bad recipient address.
I think it is a scam.. I ordered two of these from GadgetGangster.. they shipped but the items went to another address ( not my paypal registered address) My local post office confirmed... <br> <br>When I sent an email I got a 1 line reply saying they would look into it and check their records.. Since then absolutely nothing despite a couple of follow-ups... <br> <br>If I new anybody in local law enforcement I'd send them around... <br> <br>Cheers
I handle the shipping for GG. Send me an email (jeffledger at gmail.com) and I'll see if you got caught in the GG backorder situation. If It got routed to the wrong address, then it's a mistake that can be rectified. <br> <br>Jeff <br>
Jeff, I received the two PMCs today.. Well packed and All good Thanks.. <br> <br>Thanks especially for going to all the trouble of tracking the facts etc to find out what really happened.. (As per my other happy post from Aug 15 ) <br> <br>A delivery time of less than 9 days from US to Australia is good by any measure. <br> <br>Lot's of projects lined up for these... Mini laptop, imbedded in to a field data collector . mini word processing ap etc etc... <br>Cheers Michael <br> <br> <br>
@jonrnk. I don't know why you are getting &quot;bad recipient&quot; address, but bypass it and send a message directly to me at my game address. (jeffledger at gmail.com) <br> <br>I'll help you get one of these in your hands.
Is it possible to make this run windows 7 perfectly i am not a genius like you just want a small PC the runs windows.
No, sorry. No Windows here. The CPU unit only has 32K of memory, so everything is TINY.
We've shipped over 20 PMC units as of tonight since the switch over! There's about 6 units in stock right now. The fun is just starting to ramp up on our new forums! <br> <br>http://forums.propellerpowered.com <br>
propellerpowered.com appears to be on the up and up, but it is a different company. They will ship you the kit if you buy it from them. It's up to you to get your money back from ganstergadget and he is not responding to any emails. PayPal will not do anything (I guess it's time to look at other means of paying on-line). They did give me the e-mail address for the account holder for gagnster and I'm running down his personal information to contact his local police dept. and state's Attorney General for pursuing mail fraud charges. <br> <br>In the mean time you're screwed.
Hi, Jeff from propellerpowered.com has been very helpful. I really appreciate the effort he has gone to. losing my money or not, I think he's doing a good job working to fix this situation. <br> <br>I grew up on early Z80 and 6510/ 6502 CPUs I love the &quot;look and feel&quot; of this product - especially when driven by newer technology... I reckon People have forgotten what's possible with a small amount of memory and any sort of graphics adaptor. <br> <br>I intend to leave GG alone from here on. good luck with your investigations.
No, Pocket Mini Computer isn't a scam. <br> <br>However, a serious supply issue started happening and we decided to pull the project and move it to it's own store and support forum. <br> <br>Here's the link to more information regarding this move. <br> <br>http://propellerpowered.com/forum/index.php?topic=57.0
can you use a nunchuk instead of a wii classic controller? <br>
nvrmind i found the answer.
Physically, the Nunchuck will work just fine with the port. The driver in BASIC is designed specifically for the Wii Classic Controller only because the available memory is extremely tight. (I'm counting bytes every time I create an update to BASIC) <br> <br>BTW, the Pocket Mini Computer project has been moved to a new company, (Propellerpowered.com) and is in stock, ready to ship. <br> <br>Jeff <br>
Hi, really looking forward to building this!! What's the story with the backorder situation? I ordered mine on june 21st, I got no word about it since, I went with the express tracked shipping so I was waiting on the tracking code, can't wat!! :D
Most of GG's backorders were packaged for shipping last night (We just got the restock in) and will go out today.
In addition the new revision of the top board has three additional resistors taking the color count from 48 to 64, as well as an SRAM (23K256) socket which BASIC will detect as extended memory if the chip is in place. The wait is worth it! -Jeff-
could you post a schematic of rev G? <br>
Great!! Not long to wait now though! -how do I track it though?
Current back orders will be filled by Gadget Gangster. A revised version of the Pocket Mini Computer will be available from Propellerpowered.com soon. <br>
Isn't that called linux on a stick.
Still waiting on my order also. Did you get enough kits in to fill all B.O.? <br>
As of August 1st, 2012, The Pocket Mini Computer project will be moved to http://www.propellerpowered.com <br> <br>Support for the project will continue at: <br>http://propellerpowered.com/forum/index.php?board=5.0

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