Well, the concept is to make a portable Mame machine. The basic portable system idea comes from the VCSp site on classicgaming.com where they hack up a 2600 and a portable tv to make a playable portable Atari 2600. My plan is to run a slim version of linux, x windows, and xmame. This project is going to be broken down into several steps, for right now, here they are. Diagrams are forthcoming.
- Set-up xmame on a small footprint slot-pc, utilizing minimal system resources (slower processor, little disk space etc). The key is utilizing this cheaper set-up (I already have a pentium 200 slot machine hanging around) to figure out the minimum system needed to run xmame, and which level of mame is appropriate (how new should we try to get games to work, my plan is only to hit the pac-man/dig-dug era), and what modifications (if any) need to be made to the way mame is compiled or run to allow for the resouce limitations.
- Incorporate the Xmame computer into a hotrod style controller, use a tv capable graphics card to allow the system to act like a standard home gaming console
- Make a smaller (portable CD player sized) system to run the processes, and separate the controllers from the computer to make it act more like a home gaming console (with the ability to connect to standard controllers)
- Modify design for system to incorporate a small display, and mountable interface for controllers.
- Final revision will have controller and video ports for use as a console, but function like a portable gaming system (ie gameboy), the idea being to use compact flash cards to store a certain number of games to take with while keeping the OS and interface on-board.
The ChallengesWell, I see there being two BIG challenges
- Number one - one of the biggest challenges is going to be the cost of components. The initial design shouldn't cost too much, while the final revision has the potential to use very expensive embedded system components that could make it cost far more than it would be worth (the really tiny Pentium Class machines components could run up about $1000).
- Number two - My skills, I'm not an embedded systems engineer, Some of the steps along the way will require either help from others who specialize in various areas, and/or me learning a lot of new things (particularly in the programming realm as I get the feeling that xmame may need to be modified to bring it down to a small enough size to be installed in an embedded system).
ANY HELP would be appreciated, I'll be perfectly happy to do this on my own, but it would also be nice to get help from some people who know more about some of the things needed to complete it (keyboard wiring hacks, customizing mame, etc, etc), or others who are wanting to learn these things as I am. If you are interested, just e-mail me at email@example.com
- Article in embedded linux journal on how to use compact flash cards as hard drives for Linux in small embedded devices.
- Classicgaming.com home of the VCSp site (look under hosted sites)
- Advantech a bit pricey home of some small embedded system components
- X-Mame = the official x-mame page.
- HotRod - site for the afore-mentioned hotrod controller
- Nano PC = The right size for what I want, but too much $$$
- MAMOS - This is going to be the followup to mini-MAME