The Pirtle Project – A Handheld Emulator

I decided to name my “little” device the “Pirtle”, as a combination of the word pi from raspberry pi and portal, as it acts as a portal to the history of video-gaming and to the memories I made playing some these games as a kid. This device also opens up a whole world of games that I’ve never played and many more I’ve never heard of. Thanks to communities like NesDev, there are still high quality games being made for old consoles like the NES, on top of the thousands which are already out there, waiting to be discovered.

I chose to make the device white to give it a sleek technological look, and the controls all midnight blue to give an elevated classy look. The splash of bright blue on two of the buttons is meant to give a more youthful friendly feel to the device.

A poster homage to video game characters of the past.

Functionally, I wanted the Pirtle to be comfortable in a persons hands, with the controls all easy to reach and use. I new that making the device small was going to be a struggle, so I made it a goal to try and make each iteration smaller as I finalized the layout and placing of all of the internal components.

The shape of my device was inspired by the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One Controllers, and Leandro Linares’ youtube video in which he overviews his making of a similar device.

Image from Leandro Linares’ youtube video linked above.

CAD assembly of the Pirtle

I wanted the Pirtle to have joysticks as-well as a d-pad, buttons, bumpers and triggers, so that at any point in the future I wouldn’t be limited in what games I could play by the number of controls on the device. (Currently the Raspberry Pi 4 can emulate some games on the N64, PS1, and Sega Dreamcast, and all games on most any console before that)

This project was made possible by the extensive online Retropie and Emulation Station communities whose documentation and forums make projects like this possible for people like you and me.

And special thanks goes to Lauren Darling and her student staff at the CU Boulder Electronics Fabrication Center for their help repairing  PCB and more.


soft tactile buttons –

buttons, bumpers, and triggers covers and control board – RetroPower PS2 dualshock controller

Waveshare 5″ LCD –

pi-sugar s –

speakers –

amplifier –

Raspberry pi 4

Dpad and joysticks –

Printed on Ender 3 pro

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Hi Brewster! I really like how many details you were able to incorporate into your project like the air vents and the ergonomic side handles! It seems like your project turned out exactly how you envisioned it and is a super sleek, finished product. Do you find that having all the combinations of the controls hinders your ability to play certain ways at all?


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