The DIY PlayDate Camera: A Remarkable and Innovative Peripherals Option

We recently had the pleasure of talking with a clever modder who has spent the past few months developing a working camera attachment for the handheld.

We originally saw this project on Twitter, and after talking with its creator we knew to expect to see more details at the Tiny Yellow Machine Playdate Community Direct that took place today (July 6th).

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Playdate Camera Mark III

This incredible achievement comes from Tom Granger, who calls his Playdate Camera Mark III a “magnum opus of over engineering”.

And as you can see from the photos and videos, this is a fully functional Game Boy Camera style attachment for the Playdate.

While Tom is certainly the one to decide if it is over engineering or not, I am glad that they took the time to see this idea to completion.

Because surely you’d agree that this is one of the coolest creations for the Playdate yet!

The Hardware

Playdate Camera
Image by Tom Granger

Leveraging the power of a Teensy 4.1 micro computer, Tom first built a rough concept for the Playdate Camera to make sure it would actually work.

Once the proof of concept was… well… proven, Tom could move forward on simplifying his hardware solution and creating custom PCBs to allow for a minimal peripheral.

Playdate Camera
Image by Tom Granger

The result is a simple attachment that connects directly to the Playdate’s charging port, allows for forward or backward facing photos, and uses a custom app loaded onto the handheld.

The camera also has its own USB-C port, so the Playdate can be plugged in while on the camera peripheral. And the onboard 5000mAh battery will also charge the Playdate.

The Software

Playdate Camera
Image by Tom Granger

As you can see in his full devlog, Tom did face some challenges translating data from the camera to the Teensy to the custom Playdate app.

But after some troubleshooting and help from the Playdate dev community, he had it all functional.

The finished application for the Playdate Camera offers a full camera roll. As well as image adjustments, such as the brightness and contrast, and dithering modes to give your images some unique looks.

The resulting photos from the Playdate Camera are 320 x 240 pixels in GIF format.

There is also a video mode that allows you to use the hand crank to record animated GIFs just like a vintage camera. This is probably my favorite feature. Super cool!


Playdate Camera
Image by Tom Granger

Needless to say, this kind of project is right up our alley.

This is a fun original app for the Playdate that would surely take up quite a lot of our time if we had one for ourselves.

Speaking of having one for yourself; Tom Granger does not offer the Playdate Camera for sale, but he has done the next best thing…

He has loaded the entire project to his Github so you can build your own.

That process would involve some 3d printing, ordering some custom PCBs, and sourcing a few necessary parts.

Much like with the recent , there’s some fun options for the materials you use to print the shell.

You could actually just 3d print the shell in a yellow color to match your Playdate, or can do some fun transparent stuff.

If you’ve really got the money to spend, you can do it in aluminum to match the Playdate’s hand crank.

But hey… if you happen to have the skills to make one of these, could you please make us one as well?

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anthony wallace

Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.

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Update at 3:06 - 31/07/2023
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