For many of us, the Atari or the NES was not our first gaming console. Instead, it was the Commodore 64, which was marketed like an incredibly affordable home computer, but was also a solid gaming machine. It was very worthy of a second life as a Game Boy-sized laptop, which everyone can now hack together with the right parts and skills.
For around $ 36, a website called UNI64 will sell you a kit containing custom designed PCBs which, with some technical know-how, can be turned into Handheld 64: a portable version of the classic 80s computer, with a small QWERTY keyboard so you can even write your own BASIC programs on the go. Just keep in mind that the $ 36 kit is just the starting point for creating a portable C64.
The PCBs you will get are missing all of the Commodore 64 components needed to turn it into a tiny C64. You’ll have to get these from an original Commodore 64, you guessed it, of which luckily thousands are still floating around, many of them probably. buried in the basements of countless relatives. Other missing ingredients include your choice of an analog joystick or four-way directional pad, LCD display, and wall outlet, because unfortunately, while it’s a handheld, this thing does not currently operate on batteries.
The Handheld 64 even takes the cartridge slot from the original Commodore 64 for an easy way to load software and games (assuming you have access to a collection of C64 carts). Yes you prefer to go through the ROM route, there is a place on the PCB to add a Raspberry Pi Zero, which allows the Pi1541 Commodore 1541 Disk Drive Emulator to be installed so that the software can be run from a modern memory card instead.
A user who goes through “3D-vice” on the friendly love forums shared several photos of their version of Handheld 64, which is a big enough laptop that has a wonderful 80s vibe. The perfect one the final touch would be the boring beige case that defined desktop computing in those days.