PALPi: handheld Raspberry Pi games console

Meet PALPi, a handheld games console with a retro aesthetic that’s powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero W. The retro feel extends to the games content — maker Arnov Sharma’s creation can play all your classic favourites.

How it’s made

A four-inch car display does duty as a screen, taking PAL composite video output from Raspberry Pi Zero. Arnov designed the outer shell in Fusion360. Free software Recalbox provides all the retro game goodness running on the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi Zero W tucked inside PALPi

No sound? No problem!

PALPi doesn’t have a built-in speaker to output audio, but Raspberry Pi Zero W’s Bluetooth capability means you can connect a Bluetooth speaker and blast all the retro games’ original audio while you’re playing.

Love those minimalist buttons

PALPi power

A design challenge was how to adequately power Raspberry Pi Zero and the screen inside the palm-sized package. Arnov used IP5306, a fully integrated multi-function power management SoC, to make it possible with a 3.7V power source. However, after several hours of play, it turned out the battery capacity needed bolstering, so he added one more 2600mAh cell.

This is the original PALPi which had the same internal spec but was a bit too bulky, so Arnov slimmed-down the most recent design

Arnov also found that, while small and mighty, Raspberry Pi Zero W wasn’t quite powerful enough to run a few of his games. For now, he is abstaining from these particular corners of retro gaming nostalgia, but future upgrades could include adding a heatsink to counter the effect of overclocking his Pi Zero, or switching it out for more powerful Raspberry Pi.

This custom PCB used inside PALPi was provided by PCBWAY

Visit Arnov’s super detailed Instructables for step-by-step instructions on how to assemble and program PALPi.


PALPi is the second project of Arnov’s that we’ve showcased. He also made SANDWICH DOT IO, an all-in-one Raspberry Pi gaming system. Head to Arnov’s Instructables to check out more of his builds.

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