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Starting point for designing an android handheld game device? Answered

I've had plenty of ideas before, and one of them was to design my own game system.  Specifically, a handheld.

Years back, it was just something that was like the DS - basic system with some random ideas, and of course, could play games.  Now? Figured I'd hop on the bandwagon and now I wanna do something with android - or something similar to it.

Think to those PSP knockoffs that use android.  Only 1000x awesome.

Fairly high density screen (not quite retina display quality... but a decent resolution)
CAPACITIVE Multi-touch screen
Physical buttons
Sleek case

This is the type of thing I'd want.  Probably some kind of modified SD Card would be used for non-downloaded games, or something.  Or SOME kind of chip-based storage device.

If anything, this is first and foremost intended as a personal project for the sake of learning, and creating something.  Even if it doesn't become something that's sold to people, I'd love to eventually invest cash into this, if only to say "Hey, I made this".  So money and everything isn't an object... I just have to actually save up the cash, and of course figure out the final cost of this thing.

Unfortunately, while I have built a PC before, I can't say I fully figure out what I'd need for this project.  The following is what I assume I need:

Power source (AC Adapter, batteries/battery pack (lithium ion probably?).
LCD Screen+Digitizer
Flash storage (SSD or mini HDD?)
Embedded OS (or dedicated storage for the OS and any updates?)
PCB board

It's rather early, and there's plenty of other things I figured I'd need for this stuff, including various tools, whatever is used for etching the PCB, solder, etc...  The main thing though, for the barebones stuff - excluding a case, and anything else...

What are the very specific things I need?  The basic electronics... input, video (output), some sort of storage/ram.. I'm not quite sure how I'd go about doing this.  Nor have I found anyplace online to start reading up on this.  How would I have to deal with the screen?  What kind of board do I need?  Where would I find a place that can create custom chips (if needed) or, where would I find the various processors I need for this (ARM processors?  intel instead?)


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8 years ago

This is a very big project with two distinct sides: hardware and software.

Personally I would start with the software side. Since the source for Android is open and free you can work on modifying it and turning it into a gaming OS. This also means that you won't waste a bunch of money building the prototype hardware if you can't get the software working or it takes a long time to complete and the hardware becomes outdated. Since you can test basic functionality with any android phone this could save you a lot of frustration.

As far as the hardware goes I'd probably start with an existing android phone and look to modify it to fit your needs. At least as a start since it will already have everything you need (battery, memory, processors, speakers, screen, SD card support, buttons, etc). I think they even make android mp3 players (essentially android versions of the iPod touch) that don't have the phone parts. One-offs or small production runs of chips and circuit boards are very expensive and you'll waste a lot of money if you go that route as you experiment. Once you've built a prototype or two then you can look into building from the ground up but until you have a proof of concept there's no need to redesign the wheel.

I would look around the web, maybe at sites like Hack-a-day or phone modding forums, to find out which phones are best for the sort of disassembly you are planning on doing. Actually, look for guides on how to replace a screen and other components of the phone you are thinking of modding. If it's possible to DIY a screen replacement on a phone then you should be able to place it in a new case.


8 years ago

Start small - learn - build up to your dreams.



8 years ago

This is a VERY ambitious project for someone that doesn't know much about electronics. This kind of thing usually takes a team of people to develop. People who have at least a 4 year degree in electrical engineering and design.

Your best bet is to start with a ready made system and modify it to suit your needs. No point in trying to reinvent the wheel if your going to use steel belted radial tire. In other words, there is no point in making your own hardware from scratch when you there are plenty of hardware options available that already run Android. So go buy a new/used android based smartphone and build off that.