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El Jugador: Retro DIY Game Console

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Know a little BASIC or C? You can make games with El Jugador, a retro open-source game console based on a Parallax Propeller.

NEW!  We've improved El Jugador, it's called Quick Player and you can check it out here.

Features:
  • Make Your Own Games with just a little coding experience
  • SD Card bootloader so you don't need any special programming hardware
  • PAL or NTSC video output with audio
  • Dual Controller Ports for multiplayer games
  • Modular so you can add modules things like battery packs or protoboards.
  • High-Performance 32-bit, 160 MIPS CPU
  • Open Source under the MIT license
  • Overclock-able up to 200 MIPS with a 6.25Mhz Crystal
This project is fine for beginners, there's some soldering but even if you've never soldered before it should be no problem. You can etch a board or breadboard it, or pick up a kit from Gadget Gangster.

Go to the next step and check out some of the games!

 
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Step 1: FAQ

What is El Jugador?

El Jugador is an open-source, DIY video game console, it's designed to sit on top of the Propeller Platform and provide gamepad, video / audio, and SD card connections.

How do you program it?

It's programmed just like any Propeller, it can be programmed in C, Spin, or Assembly. My favorite is Spin. Later, I'll show you 'Hello World'  — the entire program is 8 lines!

It also has a bootloader so you can run programs without needing programming hardware. You just write your program, copy it to an SD card and insert the SD card into El Jugador. When it boots up, use your controller to select the game/program you want to play.

What kind of games can I make / play on it?

Your imagination (and your skill) is really your only limit. A few demo videos are below.  Graphics are on par with a TurboGrafx-16. Better than an NES, but not quite as clear as an SNES. Not all games take full advantage of the graphical power, of course.

Here are a few of my favorite demos:

X-Racer


Wolfenstein 3D


Fancy 3D Graphics Demo




I've never soldered before!

Even though El Jugador does some pretty cool stuff, it's easy to put together. It uses just 16 components (8 resistors, 2 caps, a card slot, 4 jacks, and pin headers). As a kit, the card slot comes pre-soldered, too.

If this is your first time soldering, I'll show you the tools you'll need on the next step, but El Jugador will take 15-20 minutes to assemble.

Licensing

The Hardware design and firmware are available under the MIT license. Downloads are at the end of this howto.

I did the layout for El Jugador and baggers contributed the SD bootloader (with a little tweaking from OBC). The bootloader is based on femtobasic's fsrw objects from Tomas Rokicki & Mike Green. THANKS GUYS!
harty1232 months ago

Nice project. See also this Retro DIY Game Console based on an ATMEL AVR controller:

http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-retro-game-console/

pizzalovr1 year ago
can you copy and paste games from internet to here? if you could id play
MiniCraft ( do google search )
Is there any way to upgrade the graphics? No offense, I'm a fan of the retro era games my self, I was just wondering as I am new to this.
Minizatic2 years ago
could you somehow put old NES games like Super Mario Bros. on this?
werfu Minizatic2 years ago
Unless you write a translator that would convert NES opcode and system call, your only luck would be to write an emulator for that board, which could prove to be quite tricky but not undoable as the CPU seems powerfull enough.
Magic90003 years ago
Seeing this made me super happy and wanting to do more. How could you make a chip to play SNES Roms on your TV or even play a install file like cave story? Is one of the 2 things I just said possible?
ElvenChild3 years ago
Has anyone tried porting Marathon to this?
unseenfire3 years ago
Can you make this use a USB controller instead of the ones used in the instructable? If so, how?
For those who like to dig deep into hardware...
http://lucidscience.com/pro-lazarus-64%20prototype-1.aspx
Foaly73 years ago
You said that this is designed to sit on the propeller platform, but what alterations would be required to make it compatible with arduino instead?
soshimo Foaly73 years ago
Checkout Uzebox for opensource gaming with Arduino. You won't be able to get sophisticated games like prop. You can think of Uzebox as an equivalent of the old atari consoles where Propeller get's you close to super nintendo performance.
Gadget Gangster (author)  soshimo3 years ago
Uzebox uses an AVR microcontroller, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't have the arduino bootloader, though. The uzebox is pretty cool, though!
Good point - it does not have the Arduino bootloader but you could put that in easily if you wanted to (why you would I don't know). But, yes, it's AVR. I'm currently using WinAVR to program it right now.
Gadget Gangster (author)  Foaly73 years ago
Won't work with Arduino - it's not fast enough to generate video. There's an arduino shield to do simple black and white text (http://www.batsocks.co.uk/products/Shields/TellyMate%20Shield.htm), though. You'll also need a board to connect the SD card and NES jack. The NES controllers will work at 5V or 3V, but you'll need additional circuitry to connect the SD card, it interfaces at 3.3v.
have you got your finished project in an encloser? theres probably alot of retro type things you could put the board into. like a nes cartridge, betamax tape. clever instructable.
Foaly74 years ago
How much does this weigh? I have an idea that can use this, but I would need to know the weight.
lemonie4 years ago
I suggest you re picture it plugged-in in front of the TV, with fingers on the buttons. My word I never thought I'd see "JetPac is loading" again!

L
Gadget Gangster (author)  lemonie4 years ago
Good idea!

Thanks - baggers did the jetpac conversion. El Jugadar is the result of a lot of people's hard work - baggers also helped out with the bootloader.
Out of interest, since these are all 8-bit games (surely) - is the 32-bit processing under-used, or cleverly-used?

L
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