Portable Commodore gaming station

Jason Campbell took to Reddit’s show-and-tell to share his beautifully woodworked portable gaming station. You can take it almost anywhere, pop it on a table, and immerse yourself in the gaming world of yesteryear.

All images in this post are screengrabbed from Jason’s YouTube video

It’s designed around a BMC64, which is a bare-metal Commodore 64 emulator created for Raspberry Pi. Loads of retro games are at your fingertips, and Jason reports really low lag times.

How is it made?

Portable Commodore 64/128 - Powered by BMC64 on a Raspberry Pi 3A+
A Raspberry Pi lives behind the screen in the finished product

A Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ runs the show alongside the BMC64, tucked inside a bespoke maple wood enclosure. An eight-inch screen costing $78 was the most expensive part of the entire build. SJ@JX provided the switches behind the pleasingly retro-looking red buttons and joystick. The depth of the device is 11.5 inches (about 30cm), and it’s comfortable to have in your lap while you’re lounging or sitting at a table.

commodore emulator woodwork
Nice woodworking Jason!

Jason found an Etsy seller who does a great job of recreating retro computer labels, which gave the build its authentic finish. The clickety-clack keyboard is by Skyloong, who make custom mechanical keyboards with Gateron Brown switches inside.

Button bother

A few Redditors wondered about the joystick placement — these sit just behind the screen on either side, whereas we’re used to gaming consoles having all the buttons and joysticks closer to the player. The maker insists they are very comfortable to use, and if the gaming skills on display in the build video are anything to go by, I’m inclined to believe him.

Portable Commodore gaming station
I can hear this photo

The buttons on the right are for use with the joystick on the left and vice versa. The three buttons send fire, jump, and opposite fire commands. They’re all wired directly to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO.

Wanna play in dual stick mode?

Including two joysticks means that players can choose to play the classic way, using the right-hand stick, or the more modern arcade way, with the stick on the left-hand side. Or you can switch it up each time you play to keep your ambi-gaming skills on point. Or opt for your weaker hand if you’re playing in a tournament and wish to appear more sporting, like when really good tennis players play left-handed to give lesser opponents a chance, and also show off a bit.

Portable Commodore gaming station
Look mum, two hands!

I suspect Jason may also have been led by his love of Survivor by Synapse Software, which is playable in dual stick mode. You can skip to this point in the build video to see the machine playing in this mode. Hey, entire projects have been designed around less good reasons.

More portable play

We found this gorgeous distraction-free gaming machine elsewhere on Jason’s, aka crookdmouth’s, Reddit. It runs on a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, with the Pimoroni HyperPixel 4.0 Square displaying games.

handheld homemade retro gaming computer

The style of this creation, with the handles on each side and the flat layout, means players can sit with it on their laps and carry it around pretty much anywhere. This makes it even harder to pick a favourite. Maybe we should just make both.

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