GPA Battery Testing and PCB Shipping

5h 10min of Playtime in Testing
We’ve been doing a bunch of battery testing lately, and I have some very promising results to share with you guys. I have 2 main options to recommend, but if you want details of other tests, you can head over to this forum post to get them (http://forum.freeplaytech.com/thread-4418.html).

Our test setup was a Game Pie Advance (GPA) v1 PCB modified to use the Adafruit PowerBoost 1000c circuit. This setup charges the batteries and boosts them up to 5v to power the Pi. We boot up the GPA, select a GBA ROM, and let it sit (full volume) in attract mode until the GPA dies. I think it’s actually fairly real-world, as it’s running the GBA emulator the entire time.

Sanyo UR14500P 840mAh
The first recommendation is the Sanyo UR14500 cells. The best part of these batteries is that they will fit right into your Game Pie Advance’s AA compartment. We would be using the cells in parallel, so you’ll have to do a little tweak to get them to work, but we have that planned out already. When the boards are ready, we’ll show you how to do that. You can get cheap 14500 cells (which we had been using previously). On eBay you can find them marked 2300mAh or 2500mAh, but it’s a lie. The cheap ones would last about 1.5 hours. These UR14500 are rated at 840mAh (which is likely true) and 2 of them in parallel ran for almost 3.5 hours. If you want to do the least amount of shell modding and you like the ability to easily swap batteries, I think this is the solution for you.

1200mAh Li-po Battery
If you don’t care about switching batteries on the go, and modding the shell isn’t an issue for you, you may want to consider these “1200mAh Li-po” batteries we found on eBay. I have not tried modifying a shell to fit these, yet, but (as shown in the photos) it should be a pretty close fit. I think you can stack 2 of them if you cut out most of the AA compartment. The battery’s width and length should fit. Stacking 2 of them will be a bit snug, so the height may not work (but I think it will). In testing, 2 of these cells in parallel lasted a whopping 5 hours and 10 minutes.

When we get some of the new PCBs in and assembled, I plan to test a stack of 2 of the 1200mAh flat pack cells. Speaking of getting PCBs in, we were informed that the new design should be shipping today. If that’s true, I would expect to receive them in 7-10 days. We have the other parts that we expect to need already here, as a shipment of parts just arrived today.

I would say that puts us at assembling a small set of test boards in about 10 days from now (if all goes well). If they work fine (which will take a few days to determine), then we can start building up units for you guys. If they don’t, then we need to (ideally) find a way to modify the circuit without building a new PCB. We already built in some fallback plans for that sort of thing, but we won’t speculate further until we can test.


They Fit Lengthwise

A Tight Fit

They’re Pushing It Heightwise

Things are looking good. Have a Happy Holiday Season and a Merry Christmas (if that’s your thing)!

Game Pie Advance DIY v2 Design Complete and Parts Ordered (featuring X/Y button option and charging circuit)

X and Y button option added to v2
Thanks to each of you that have preordered v2 of the Game Pie Advance kit, we have been able to order new circuit boards and parts to build up the kits.

For any of you that haven’t pre-ordered, the place to do so is here: http://www.flashmasta.com/product/game-pie-advance-diy-kit-v2/





Some cool new features were added (as compared to v1 of the PCB). As you can see in the renderings, we have added the X/Y button option as a small sub-PCB. I mentioned earlier that these buttons will not look and feel the same as the A/B buttons, but I know that including them was a big deal for many of you. When we receive these circuit boards from the fabricator, they will come with X/Y board attached. If everything goes as planned, adding X/Y buttons will be fairly straightforward. The sub-PCB will connect with 4 solder points that will also keep it in place. We have also designed a “jig” board that (we hope) will serve as a guide for drilling holes on the face of the GBA shell. This will remain untested until we receive the boards (hopefully in 2 weeks), but I have very high hopes that this X/Y solution will work well.

As for the battery mod, we have some nice options in store there, too. We built in a charging circuit that should work with most 3.7v lithium cells. We’ve been testing this (wired up by hand), and I have had the GPA running for nearly 3h 44m with 2 600mah cells in parallel. A single 500mah Adafruit cell (https://www.adafruit.com/products/1578) lasted 1h 05m, but you could easily fit 2 of them in the AA compartment. We have (just today) ordered a few other batteries to test with, but I feel confident that 3+ hours (maybe even 4+) is well within grasp.

As mentioned, v2 now runs off of 3.7v cells. The previous model used 2 14500 batteries in series (which would be around 7.4-8v). To accommodate this, we have also changed the battery configuration to allow you to run (and charge) 14500 cells in parallel. To do this, a builder will need to run an additional wire, but it should give good results and allow you to easily swap batteries on the go (if you carried a couple extra 14500 batteries with you).

We’re excited about getting all these new features ready so quickly, but we’re also cautious about over-promising. If all goes as planned, we should have blank boards in 2 weeks from now. Then we need to test to be sure they work as planned (while the rest of the parts arrive), and we will also celebrate Christmas with loved ones while we’re waiting for parts to arrive.

I think that this could be 4 weeks on the optimistic side and 8+ weeks if things don’t go well. During this time, we will still take some pre-orders if you want to get in on that. I have recently set the “stock” of the Game Pie Advance v2 to limit the number of pre-orders that we will accept from here on out.

GPA DIY v2 Pre-Sale Now Open: Operators Are Standing By

One of the Game Pie Advance (GPA) units that was sold on eBay
One of the Game Pie Advance (GPA) units sold on eBay
I hope this is the moment you are waiting for. The Game Pie Advance v2 is now available to purchase as a preorder product.

PREORDER IT NOW: Game Pie Advance GPA DIY Kit v2

As you may have read (in my previous post), we were considering offering a pre-order process for these kits. Without that, things just go way too slowly. We can only order a small bundle of parts, we take a while to build them up, and then we send them out. In that scenario, we don’t have time to add new features, and we the units are only available in very limited batches. What we’ve heard from you guys is that we all would like that to change, so let’s “kickstart” this process!

For those of you that already know what's going on.
For those of you that already know what’s going on, click here to buy it now.
As a bit of a recap (for most of you), the Game Pie Advance is a kit that allows you to combine your Raspberry Pi Zero with RetroPie and fit it all inside a GBA shell for maximum portability and retrotastic style points.

You supply a Raspberry Pi Zero, a GBA shell, some batteries, and a little bit of skill. You combine that with the GPA DIY kit, and you have a fun retro portable. As this is a pre-order, we do not yet have the new (v2) circuit boards produced. That’s what we need your help for. We do, however, have some photos of the first version that we can show you, so you can get an idea of how it works.

Please read through the rest of this website if you want to know more. Please go to the Game Pie Advance v2 preorder page if you’d like to order one. If you have any further questions, please leave a comment below.