The STARFORCE PI Electronic Tabletop Mini-Arcade
The STARFORCE PI Electronic Tabletop Mini-Arcade
The STARFORCE PI is an Electronic Tabletop Mini-Arcade featuring microswitch controls, arcade video & audio, and a portable formfactor.
The STARFORCE PI is an Electronic Tabletop Mini-Arcade featuring microswitch controls, arcade video & audio, and a portable formfactor. Read more
About this project
The STARFORCE PI is a portable, electronic tabletop mini-arcade directed at classic gaming enthusiasts. The small gaming console is based on early 1980s pre-Nintendo portable videogames, and features full-sized microswitch joystick and buttons, blasting stereo speakers, accurate video playback, and a durable, portable form factor.
With a modular design, off-the-shelf components and a Raspberry Pi at its core, the STARFORCE PI will support an impressive library of classic gaming systems and modern 16-bit style retrogames, thereby becoming the Ultimate Dimension in Portable Arcade Gaming.
THE ARCADE EXPERIENCE
We have put a lot of effort in bringing the arcade experience to the smallest form-factor possible, without compromising audio, visual or haptic feedback quality. An actual arcade joystick and four buttons are paramount to the experience, as well as true stereo sound and authentic vivid video playback.
The console runs games in the resolution it was intended (320x240), in the correct ratio (4:3), sunken behind a magnified window to bring the arcade vibe alive. The orientation of the screen can be fixed in either vertical/tate or horizontal position by the user, to be as accurate as possible with both side and vertical scrollers. With the powerful rechargeable battery gamers are guaranteed 5+ hours of untethered gameplay.
Rather than developing our own emulator suite, we will support existing ones like PiPlay and Emulation Station to bring you a great experience, tailor-made for the SFP and easy to use. Their packages include support for most of your favorite console and arcade systems of the 80s and 90s, like SNES, NES, Genesis, NeoGeo, etc., and we hope to extend this with some new, cool features.
Let's also regain the cartridge culture a little, by approaching developers of old and new 8 and 16-bit style games and convincing them to bring their game to the STARFORCE Pi in SD-card form. Our first major developer, the excellent NG:DEV-TEAM from games like Gunlord and Last Hope, has already accepted our invitation to become a stretchgoal, which will benefit both developer and gamer!
Besides bringing you a fully-loaded arcade system, we'll also be selling Cases & Arcade Shields loose for modding, and upgrades!
CPU: Raspberry Pi B+ (ARMv6 @ 700MHz, 512MB Ram)
UPGRADE > RasPi2, check Rewards
Video: 4.2" TFT set to 4:3 ratio in 320x240res
Sunken behind a magnified, tinted screen
Adjustable vertical/tate or horizontal position
Audio: 2x Stereo Speakers, 3.5mm jack for headphones
Controls: 8-way microswitch arcade joystick
UPGRADE > SANWA joystick, check Rewards
4x 24mm microswitch arcade buttons
Case: Modular 1980s design, for easy hacking and modding
Connectivity: Arcade Shield (hwhardsoft.de) for RasPi
Battery: 3000mAh Li-ion battery (~5+ hours gameplay)
- Weight & Dimension: 900 grams, 15cm x 18cm x 25cm
Throw us a couple of euros and we'll see how far we can bring this little device! For our modders and hackers we have Hartmut Wendt's Arcade Shield and our premium SFP cases, and if you've got a RasPi lying around, why not get the cheaper SFP without RasPi and save €20! Finally, for the retrogaming enthusiasts, we have fully-loaded STARFORCE PIs, as Full System or on steroids, with TURBO!!
Hitting our funding goal of €190.000 will bring our system to life, but the exciting stuff happens further on. The more people join the party, the more everyone benefits!
The first prototypes of the STARFORCE PI were built with a few clear intentions:
- Make it portable, so you can keep it at work, on your desk, in your home, room etc.
- Make it accurate, add full microswitch arcade joystick and buttons, good video, good sound.
- Make the games work well, mame4all is great on the RasPi.
- Make it functional & pretty, have HDMI out, USB inputs, and build it as solid possible.
We'll be basing our production line on these early, but fully functional, prototypes.
Almost all components of the STARFORCE PI will be off-the-shelf and easily replaceable. Everything will be clicked, screwed or plugged into place for easy access. The case will consist of two shell parts, created by means of injection molding. This means the initial 3D renders of the system will be redesigned in a CAD model, prototyped and then finally used to build the tooling required for the injection mold process.
Our engineer, Hartmut Wendt, will be building a custom SFP Arcade Shield to fit on to the RasPi allowing for maximum functionality and flexibility.
This will allow the screen, RasPi, controls, and sound to be powered from a single source, and will bring the best integrated audio, video and haptic playback for Arcade Entertainment.
The development, construction, assembly and testing will be coordinated through a collaboration between Marcel de Haan (France) and Hartmut Wendt (Germany). We will be working together with an engineering team of a tooling company: TCS Interfoni.
This is by no means a cheap system, and we acknowledge some of the concerns people have when taking a risk on our little console. We feel it is therefore only fair to be as transparant about our financial plan as possible. Click on the lower picture for a cost-breakdown:
STARFORCE PI Website: www.starforcepi.com
SFP @ FB: www.facebook.com/starforcepi
SFP @ TW: www.twitter.com/starforcepi
SFP @ WP: starforcepi.wordpress.com
SFP @ YT: www.youtube.com/voxmachina
HW HardSoft: www.hwhardsoft.de
Risks and challenges
The SFP case will be developed in a collaboration of the SFP Development Team and TCS Interfoni, a skilled tooling company. We will be doing the design and development over a period of 3-4 months, high-res 3Dprint our first prototypes, and then construct the tools needed for injection molding. Here lie the greatest challenges: to design, construct, mold, assemble, test, and package the entire system. This means that previous mockups and design promises may be subject to alteration in due time.
SFP Arcade Shield:
Hwhardsoft.de will take charge in developing the arcade shield, which should work without any problem. The challenge will be to populate the PCB in such a way that we keep it as flexible and as economical possible. This may mean unforseen component compromises during development.
We have quotes for all the components from vendors, and have based our pricepoint to cover these costs. There are of course possibilities for vendors to pull out, or change their prices, but we will find alternatives if this is the case (and have already a secondary list of vendors that we may be able to approach). Certain components may need reviewing, to see if we can increase the quality or yield for a lower price (higher capacity batteries, better screens, PCB assemblies, wiring). These should not affect the overal function and quality of the system however.
Emulators and frontends are usually done by small teams and on a gradual timescale. We've approached both developers of PiPlay and EmulationStation, and they were both excited to work with us to bring an SFP optimized version of their excellent frontends. However, our ability to support them will rely on how well we do in our stretchgoals. Regardless, most emulators under PiPlay already work on the prototype, so should be easily adaptable to the final product.
NG:DEV-TEAM is a commercial developer, and as such they require a return on their investment. The open architecture of the RasPi and microSD makes the SFP vulnerable to piracy of their games, and this is a big turn-off for developers. A large enough financial commitment will however pursuade them to licence their games to us.
Artwork & Packaging:
We aim to cover reward tiers in great packages, cases and artwork. However, this is secondary to a functional gaming system. If it turns out the budget in case development needs to be increased, this will mean a little more monotone packaging. We'll find creative solutions to make them great though.
We've kept a comfortable enough margin with October 2016. However, unforseen circumstances could elongate this. We will of course inform our backers every step of the way.
A 2-3% unattributed margin is calculated into the price, but this is more as a calamity buffer than a profit. The SFP Development Team won't be quitting their dayjobs over this any time soon :P
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