How to Load TinyArcade Games onto an SD Card

by TinyCircuits Staff March 30, 2017

How to Load TinyArcade Games onto an SD Card

Introduction to the Tiny Arcade 

We created the concept for the Tiny Arcade in early 2015, drawing inspiration for the product from classic arcade cabinets and fascination with the miniature. After launching a Kickstarter campaign in November 2015, your interest was clear; we raised over twice our funding goal in just ten days!

Since then, it has been one of our most popular products. People around the world have had a chance to experience our palm-sized retro gaming arcade cabinet.

When we designed the Tiny Arcade, we wanted it to have portability, flexibility, and most of all, ease of use. That's why all games and videos can be loaded onto a microSD card, allowing you to take an entire library of media with you in your pocket. If you're a developer, the USB port can allow you to upload and play-test your game without having to use the SD card. This article will cover these two methods of uploading games and videos to the Tiny Arcade.


Loading Games onto an SD Card 

The first step to this method is ensuring that your Tiny Arcade has the Tiny Arcade Menu Arduino sketch loaded to its processor. This is what allows you to access the games and videos stored on your microSD card. Upon powering on the unit, there should be text on the screen that reads "Finding SD card..." All units should be shipped with this menu by default, but in the event that the menu does not seem to be appearing, or you upload a game directly to your unit via USB, please refer to this article to upload this menu. 

Once the menu is installed, the next step is to put the games onto the microSD card. This will require an adapter that allows your microSD card to be read by your computer. Once this adapter is acquired, plug it into your computer and open the window that shows you the files currently on your card.

This one is empty. We will download the most current .ZIP file for all the arcade games, which is found here, under "Games." After double-clicking on the file to view its contents, we'll copy the folders as shown and paste them to the microSD card.

This should make all the games available to play. If just one or two games need to be updated, copy and paste the folders of just the games that you need. These game folders, as well as video files, should all be on the same level. If video files are placed in folders, they will not work!

If you have any interest in tinkering with a game's source code or creating your own, refer to the next section for information on how to directly upload a game to the Tiny Arcade.


Loading Games Directly onto the Tiny Arcade 

Games may be loaded directly onto the Tiny Arcade via the micro-USB cable. Since this erases the menu code on the processor chip, it disables the function of the microSD card; however, it is much quicker to compile and play a game during the development process. Here are the steps for uploading a game directly to the processor from the Arduino IDE:

  1. Plug your Tiny Arcade into your computer.
  2. Power on the Tiny Arcade while holding down both push buttons. You should see a black screen with white text indicating that you are in bootloader mode. 
  3. Open the Arduino IDE (if not already open) and select Tools.
  4. Set "Board" to "TinyScreen+."
  5. Set "Build Option" to "Tiny Arcade Menu."
  6. Set "Port" to the appropriate COM port. It will likely have "TinyScreen+" by the port number.
  7. Ensure that "Programmer" is set to "Arduino as ISP." 

You will now be able to program your Tiny Arcade directly from the Arduino IDE. Each time you want to upload using this method, you will have to turn the arcade off and back on in bootloader mode, described in step two. For greater flexibility, you can add a few lines of code to your program code which will allow you to re-program the Tiny Arcade while it is running. 

Type the following lines within the void setup() routine: 

This will give you access to the processor's serial port. You will now need to change the COM Port to match. Power on the Tiny Arcade in Bootloader Mode and upload your edited code. Once this code is running on the arcade, go to Tools->Port and select the new "TinyScreen+" COM port that should be available. You will no longer need to cycle power and place the Tiny Arcade into bootloader mode upon each new code upload.


Troubleshooting 

If you followed the steps for the first method, but the menu program does not recognize your SD card, please follow the instructions below.

The Tiny Arcade requires that all microSD cards have a FAT32 file format. This is the factory default format for most microSD and SD cards; however, off-brand or generic cards can have a different type of formatting. Here's how you can reformat your microSD card to FAT32.

Plug in your card using the adapter you used in the first method and open your computer's file explorer. In the Windows environment, you should be able to see your SD card in the navigation bar on the left-hand side of the window.

Right click your card and scroll down the menu list to select the option that says "Format." When the dialog box opens, go to the drop-down menu labeled "File System." Select the option from that menu that says "FAT32." No other settings need to be changed.

Click "Start" to finish formatting your card. Follow the steps detailed in the first method again. If it still does not work, it may be an error with your menu. Follow this article for instructions on how to re-upload your Tiny Arcade menu. 

If you have any further issues, or if you think your Tiny Arcade or a microSD card we provided for you may be defective, please don't hesitate to email us at info@tinycircuits.com.



TinyCircuits Staff
TinyCircuits Staff

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