Modder Creates PlayStation Handheld From PS1 Which Uses No Emulation

The PS Hanami handheld on a table

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Handhelds are our vice, our main weakness, and when we see one cropping up on the internet while trawling for news, we turn into Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

We came across this incredible modded creation from Mackie Kannard-Smith, aka YveltalGriffin, while scrolling through Twitter. It’s called the PS Hanami, and it’s an impressive bit of kit built from an actual PS1 console that Mackie took apart and mined the motherboard from, before folding it in half and fitting it into a casing with speakers that really packs a punch.

Amazingly, this only took Mackie a month to make – that’s a stroke of genius right there! The handheld itself measures 18.1cm wide by 9.15cm high, with a depth of 3cm. It has a 3500mAh battery that can give around 2.5 hours of gameplay and utilises a DualShock controller with the rumble working perfectly.

Take a Closer Look At The PS Hanami

Mackie speaks about how important it is to get both sound and video quality right in portable handhelds. As well as ‘beefy stereo speakers’ to get all the nostalgic sounds of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro ready for our ears, he’s also included a Shinobi Scaler with GBS Control to provide beautiful 480p VGA gameplay.

Check out a full list of the features below

  • Original PU-18 motherboard from the PS1, cut in half, folded like a book, and rewired
  • 2S1P 3500mAh 18650s with “red board”— ~2.5hrs of battery life
  • A trimmed Xstation ODE by Robert Neumann (ramapcsx2) with push-push SD card slot and disc tray button
  • A Shinobi Scaler running GBS-Control by ramapcsx2 for impeccably crisp integer scaled 480p VGA (scanlines in 240p mode!)
  • Dualshock controller with rumble, but no analog sticks. All buttons/triggers use orange squishy tacts
  • A PicoMemcard+ with 16GB microSD for unlimited game saves
  • Beefy enclosed stereo speakers and PAM8803 amp
  • Wriststrap loop with official Sony Pocketstation strap.

The Internal Gubbins

Inside the PS Hanami handheld

After taking a look at the inside of the handheld, it looks a little like a spaghetti junction and not something that the first-time modder would want to have a go at. Taking the motherboard and folding it in half like a book to make it fit inside the handheld might seem a bit sketchy to most people, but Mackie has managed to halve its size in his efforts, allowing for portable play.

Mackie claims that there are ‘no fancy flex PCBs this time around’ after wiring everything by hand. I mean, my hands have spent far too much time button-mashing to be that still and patient anymore, so I’d feel a little nervous about having a go at this myself.

Two sides of the PS Hanami motherboard, folded in half after being taken out of the PS1

The Hanami isn’t without its flaws, however, with Mackie letting the community know that there are still no volume controls on this handheld. It also gets pretty hot without any heatsinks in there, so I guess it would be pretty good for gaming on the go during winter. Still, let’s focus on the positives – this handheld plays Final Fantasy without emulation, and it works well!

How Does The PS Hanami Work Without Emulation?

Clip of gameplay on Yveltal Griffins handheld

Rather than working with emulation, Mackie has utilised a PicoMemcard+ in order to allow games to be played directly from an SD card. So in essence, this is a little more like a Sony Playstation/Nintendo Switch hybrid handheld. I guess if we never got the Nintendo PlayStation, then this would be the next best thing!

Eagle-eyed computing fans might already know that the PicoMemcard is powered by a Raspberry Pi Pico, the genius brains behind lots of other modding marvels we’ve seen here at Retro Dodo of late such as the Flippy Drive GameCube add-on. So, no emulation, but no discs either. Unless you count a Sandisk, that is! And Mackie can manage games on the cards he uses via Xstation, which completes the package nicely!

All in all, Mackie’s creation is incredibly impressive. If he can just get those heatsinks sorted so it doesn’t internally combust while trying to play our favourite PlayStation games and a volume wheel for quiet gaming, then it will feel a lot more complete. For now, however, we’re really excited to see more videos of this handheld in action and to see more from YveltalGriffin over the coming months.

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