Why A DIY Gaming Console Is Your Answer To A Boring Lockdown!

Why A DIY Gaming Console Is Your Answer To A Boring Lockdown!

2021 is a very hopeful year for the battle against Covid-19. Yet until the vaccinations are given out to the millions of hopeful recipients, we are once again plunged into months of lockdowns, restrictions, and staying at home. 

One major characteristic of 2020 was boredom! Staying at home for months on end can make you run out of things to do quickly, and once you have finished watching Netflix shows for the hundredth time, days can feel repetitive and boring. Now, more than ever, is the time to get hold of a new project and build yourself a DIY Gaming Console!

A DIY Arduino Gaming Console will solve your lockdown boredom through the hours of intricate building, learning to code, and then gaming. Whether you are a professional programmer, a school looking to find a new project, or an amateur enthusiast seeking to expand your knowledge, then a DIY Gaming Console is the perfect lockdown solution!

What is a DIY Gaming Console

Forget spending hundreds of dollars on buying the new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, for a low price you can build your own hand-held gaming console, program it, and then enjoy hundreds of retro games. BUT do not freak out thinking that like with building a gaming PC you must source the parts yourself, there are companies which provide kits, guides, and lessons for all aspects of your DIY needs!

Arduino Powered Retro Gaming Console

The DIY gaming console is powered by Arduino Pro Micro which is an easy to use open-source hardware and software company, project, and user community that designs and manufactures single-board microcontrollers and microcontroller kits for building digital devices.

In a nutshell, an Arduino is an open hardware development board that can be used by amateurs, hobbyists, and professional makers alike to design and build devices that interact with the real world. 

The kits use an Arduino Pro Micro, for you electronic boffins out there this means it has an ATmega32U4 which runs at 16MHz and packs 2.5Kb of RAM. Being an Arduino based board allows you to program games from Arduboy + upload Arduino sketches.

What Company can Provide the Kits?

8bitcade is a highly popular DIY Gaming Console company which provides you with DIY Kits, tutorials on building and programming, and hundreds of games to keep you entertained for hours! The business, which began on kickstarter and raised over £12,305, makes it easier than ever before for every maker who wants to get involved in electronics and robotics. Check out their website to explore the making, programming, and education offers which they provide!

Each kit will provide you with three programmable LEDs, a classic retro gaming speaker with a buzzer, a 1.3-2-inch OLED screen, 3D printed button caps, an Arduino powered microcontroller, 500 Mah Battery for +12 hours of continuous gaming, and a slim acrylic case which allows you to carry the 8BitCADE DIY gaming console wherever you go! 

Is it too Difficult for a Beginner?

Although stated that the DIY gaming console can be constructed and programmed by beginners, professionals, and all ages, there may be a fear that the level of difficulty is out of your reach. There is nothing to worry about! On their website, each console has its own tailored learning guides that will teach you about your selected console, how to build and how to program it. Begin with the foundation tutorials and move onto your console-specific page. Note that each console varies in some way, but rest assured that there is a plethora of information and videos helping you along every step of the way!

The Make Guide has a full section on the basics of soldering. They go into detail about the common issues you might face when soldering, what bad solder joints look like the different types of bad solder joints and how to identify and fix your solder joints.

At the end of the Make Guide, they have a part dictionary. This covers all your components in detail. They explain everything from how an LED works to how your OLED screen works! 

They also just released the Make Video for the 8BitCADE XL. A step by step video that goes through the whole make process from unboxing the kit to turning it on – so you have constant support all through the make process. 

What are the Different Kits?

So, you’re looking to buy your first console! Be sure to read into your console to make sure you are choosing the best console for you. They tailor their consoles to different ability levels and needs. Check out the Learn section to scout out the tutorials, the Make section to see how the DIY Gaming Console is made, and the Game section to see what games you can play. Hopefully, this will help you choose your console!

8BitCADE Original

Difficulty: Beginner

The 8BitCADE Original, the perfect balance of gaming, building, and programming. Allowing it to be versatile and well equipped for both beginners and the experienced. It was designed to be able to be built independently by 11-year-olds and up. For the young ones, they advise that parents oversee and join in with the build process, due to the tools used. The 8BitCADE Original is a fun project to do at home and uses minimal tools.

The 8BitCADE Original does not just focus on gaming and programming – it also allows you to develop your manual skills too. For example, learn how to solder, a key skill in the electronic and robotics industry. The 8BitCADE Original is a DIY Kit that gives you a platform to learn and develop your new skills. Have fun while refining your new craft.

8BitCade XL

Difficulty: Intermediate 

Their most popular product is the 8BitCADE XL which is a great kit to get started with and explore the world of electronics and programming. Combine your soldering skills with your programming knowledge and reap the rewards of a fully functioning handheld arcade machine that can play over 200+ retro-themed games. 

This kit is perfect for beginners hoping to enhance all their skills as you learn to solder, program, and develop your own games and, of course, up your high score on your favourite game!

Rest assured there are more kits to come in the future!

What if I don’t have tools?

There is no need to be concerned that you don’t have the correct equipment and worry that you have to go and buy new tools. 8BitCADE’s solution is a Tool Kit that includes all the tools you need to be able to successfully build your new DIY Gaming Console. The kit includes:

  • Soldering iron
  • Pliers
  • Cutters 
  • Screwdriver kit

I Bought my Kit, What Now?

Once your 8BitCADE has arrived the fun begins! On their website you can find the build guide & Make Video to assemble your first 8BitCADE console! The build guide for each product contains a visual guide, a hardware test, a make guide, and a video to guarantee you get the highest quality finished product. Additional resources include a soldering guide and troubleshoot guide to enhance your technical skills and ensure that your kit works as it should. 


Once built, the Learn section will provide everything you need to begin or enhance your programming skills. If you are new to the world of coding, then the 8BitCADE foundation tutorials is a general course which will teach you the basics of Arduino. Once completed you can head to your product specific coding guide to find all the tutorials that can teach you different aspects of programming. An example of such guide includes:

 Introduction to the 8BitCade Programming in Arduino

– Library and Board Setup

– Learning to Code Arduino

– Advance Your Skills by Coding a Calculator

– Coding Your First Game

– Learning to Code Retro Games

All these tutorials will enhance anyone’s skills. Many companies have used 8BitCADE to develop their programmer’s skills and so you can be assured that the tutorials here will help anyone become an expert overnight. 

Whether you have never done programming, or are an aficionado, this is all tailored to your needs.


If the hours of fun building and programming didn’t entice you, each console has its own line of games. If you choose to download the IDE (.ino) versions then you can see how each game is coded for each console, and how they differ. From differences in microprocessors to screens, each console has a wide range of games. As stated, before there are over 200 retro games to choose from, so the possibilities are endless.

A Solution to Lockdown

With Covid-19 rampant in many countries, this is a perfect gift for you, your child, or parent to help them disperse their boredom. It is fun, educational, and can enhance your skills in multiple ways. The different consoles offered also mean that once you have completed the 8BitCADE Original, you can advance to the 8BitCADE XL will allow you to access new skills whilst developing the ones you have. This Arduino-based DIY gaming console is the perfect solution to your lockdown needs.

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