Because I’m really good and preparedness and all, I was all set for Hurricane Harvey with plenty of food, drinks, and a fun rainy-day activity: Tiny Circuits’ tiny arcade kit, which I snagged on sale from ThinkGeek. Then I live-tweeted my experience.
The documentation says that it takes ten to fifteen minutes to put it all together. I’m not a dumb newbie, though, so I was skeptical, and turns out that feeling was well founded.
The electronics are pretty minimal. It’s preprogrammed with games, so no coding required, unless you want to write your own games (and I do, eventually). Also no resister charts needed, no soldering, none of the hard stuff (ha!).
The cabinet pieces are clear acrylic, covered by protective paper. You have to snap them apart, then clip or file off the little plastic bits. I found nail clippers worked well for getting those suckers gone.
Tip: if you’re trying this, TEST FIT THOSE DAMN CABINET PIECES INDIVIDUALLY BEFORE YOU TRY TO PUT THE WHOLE THING TOGETHER. More on that in a moment.
Here’s the bitsy little circuit board. Fun! The plugs for the battery and speaker are the white pieces lower left, the vertical bar running down the middle is where the screen plugs in, and the joystick and buttons are to the right. The micro SD card slot is top left, for when you want to add more games.
So I connected all that shit up and tested it out. Woohoo! Unfortunately, that was the end of the easy part.
The case is supposed to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. And it kind of did. Except for a few key spots, where the tabs were too large for their slots. I didn’t figure this out until I nearly had the case assembled and couldn’t get it to snap together.
There’s a piece that covers the joystick and buttons, and while it fit fine into the case side piece on one side, it didn’t on the other. So, back apart the whole thing went, so I could file down those tabs.
Then I discovered the same problem with one of the bottom pieces. Sigh. Back apart, more filing.
I eventually struggled the cabinet together. Except I managed to pinch the speaker wire between two parts. Arrgh! Instead of completely disassembling again, I used a steel crochet hook to free the wire (because I’m ingenious when it comes to using tools in creatively alternative ways).
And finally, it was done! Look how adorable!
Ta da! pic.twitter.com/DbP1b4u48u
— JJ Litke (@jenztweets) August 26, 2017
So as I live-tweeted this (remember I live-tweeted this?) I included Tiny Circuits’ Twitter handle in the last few tweets. They responded back with this:
Sorry about that! Agreed – the case is way too difficult, we have a newer (and much easier) version of the case releasing soon
— TinyCircuits (@TinyCircuits) August 26, 2017
And I thought to myself, that would have been good information to have a couple of hours ago.