Meggy Jr RGB is a handheld platform for developing your own pixel-scale video games.
Featuring a fully addressable 8x8 RGB LED matrix display, awesome new ATmega328P microcontroller, big fat comfy button switches, customizable handles, a lo-fi audio transducer, and even 8 extra LEDs for lives, score, ammo, or level, Meggy Jr RGB is a great little kit you won't want to miss. Meggy Jr is fast, programmable, open source, and hackable. And fun!
Meggy Jr RGB is a little sister to the Peggy 2 LED display kits (coming soon), and was designed with a different focus-- less soldering, more pixels in your palms. The 8x8 RGB matrix display provides a whole lot of pixels (192 LED elements), and the 8 auxiliary LEDs bring the grand total up to 200. The six tough extra-long-life buttons have excellent click-feel, and multiple programming interfaces let you take control of exactly what you're playing with.
Meggy Jr RGB comes as a soldering kit. Basic electronic soldering skill is required, and you provide standard soldering tools: a soldering iron + solder and small ("flush") wire clippers, as well as a small pair of pliers (e.g., needle nose). If you have them, a hot glue gun and wire strippers will also come in handy. No additional knowledge of electronics is presumed or required. Easy "through-hole" construction ("No surface-mount nothin' nowhere!") and clear, full-color printed instructions come with the kit.
Assembly time: 1-3 hours typical, depending on soldering skill. Kids (ages 10+) who have soldered before should be able to build their Meggy Jr kits with minor assistance and supervision. An extended introduction to the project and its design is available here.
Meggy Jr RGB includes a battery box and can run on batteries (3 'AAA' cells) or you can get an optional ac adapter for endless playtime.
Meggy Jr RGB is designed to be mounted inside a "handle set" -- a comfortable to hold wooden or plastic case. You can make, mod, customize, and swap out handle sets to suit your taste. Different handle sets can completely change what the Meggy Jr looks and feels like.
Shown here is Meggy Jr RGB in a smoke (transparent grey) colored batwing handle set.
Programming Meggy Jr RGB
The microcontroller in the Meggy Jr RGB kit comes pre-programmed with "Attack of the Cherry Tomatoes," a pixel-blasting side-scrolling shoot-em-up with bombs, lasers, and ever advancing (red) dots that aim to ruin your whole day. Once you've built the kit, you can get started playing immediately-- Absolutely no computer access or programming is needed between opening the box and blasting vicious vegetables.
If you're inclined, Meggy Jr RGB can do a whole lot more: it is designed as a platform for programming your own games.
Meggy Jr RGB can be programmed in the popular Arduino software environment, through an optional USB-TTL adapter. Mac, Windows, and Linux computers are all well supported, and all of the software that you'll need is available to download-- for free --online.
To get a head start, you can download the Meggy Jr RGB Programing guide here-- it's a detailed guide to the simple library routines for using Meggy Jr RGB. The library provides an interrupt-based screen redraw at a default rate of 120 Hz, multiple brightness levels, and simple functions to write data to the video buffer. So easy a kid could do it. (Proof: Attack of the Cherry Tomatoes was written by a 14-year old.)
The Meggy Jr RGB library is an evolving open source project and your own code contributions are welcome. We have a growing number of user-contributed games and other programs available for download; many of these are listed on the Evil Mad Scientist Wiki. Even if you don't want to write your own programs, you can download other people's programs and run them on your Meggy Jr RGB.
AVR-GCC users: Programming through an AVR ISP programmer (e.g., the USBtinyISP) is also supported.