Make: Volume 89 — Retro Tech

As technology (seemingly) marches ever forward, makers are thirsty to get their hands on the latest gadgets and gear. But you don’t always need “new” to have fun. Whether it’s rosy nostalgia or a healthy respect for what computer engineers of old (or the late 1900s as the kids say) were able to achieve with limited resources, there’s whole megabytes to love and learn about the technology of yesterday.

In this retro-themed issue of Make: we show you how to play your favorite old-school video games by building your own DIY arcade game, from a full-size cabinet to a tiny programmable microcade. Next, 35 years later the Nintendo Game Boy is still going strong! Cat Graffam tells how she and many others fell in love with the Game Boy Camera and developed a playable art gallery to showcase photos from the community, while Nikola Whallon walks through adding the Pro-Sound Mod to your Game Boy to add more professional sound to your chiptune jams. Then, 18-year-old Daniel Bunting talks about his process for cutting custom small-batch records using polycarbonate discs. Brian Johnson reports on the serendipitous discovery of a cache of 1980s era hardware that jump-started a community around the long defunct NABU computer system. And finally, read a love letter to PC sound cards, and how maker Ian Scott has worked to recreate the unique “tracker” sound with a Raspberry Pi Pico.

Plus, 45+ projects and more! Check out the table of contents below.

On the Cover:
The playable, programmable Microcade (page 52) is dwarfed by a modified Game Boy DMG-01 with Pro-Sound mod (p. 34), blue backlight, and silicone buttons, playing Cat Graffam’s Game Boy Camera Gallery (p. 28).

Photos: GB/Microcade by Mark Madeo, Chain Chomp Lamp by Jeff Stein

Table of Contents


From the Editor's Desk

News and tidbits from readers like you.Page 06

Welcome: Do Something

As technology encourages passive media consumption, don’t let algorithms dictate what you find interesting in the world.Page 07

Made on Earth

Amazing builds from around the globe.Page 08


Making Makers

How teachers are using makerspaces in K–12 parochial schools.Page 12

Hack Club!

Thousands of teen makers worldwide connect, collaborate, and learn from each other every day with Hack Club.Page 18

Retro Zone

Old Tech, New Thrills

Yesterday’s technology is a playground for enthusiastic new communities.Page 24

Game Boy Camera Renaissance

Hackers and modders have turned low-res “funtography” into an art form.Page 28

Pro-Sound Mod

Dive into chiptune and the Game Boy modding scene with this easy first mod.Page 34

“Vinyl” Records

The art of recording direct to polycarbonate discs.Page 38

Something Old, Something New

With an influx of new-old stock, a brand new community hacks the 1980s-era NABU computer.Page 44

Democratizing the Demoscene

The PicoGUS sound card for PCs brings the 90s tracker sound to the masses.Page 46

DIY Retro Arcade

Build an arcade cabinet — from full-size to micro — to play your favorite old video games.Page 50


DIY Camera Lucida

Build the optical gadget that lets you draw accurately by tracing real life.Page 54

Lucida 3D

Print a truly portable, stand-alone camera lucida for drawing anywhere.Page 60

Cat Tracking with ChirpStack

Build a GPS pet tracker that maps location via your own LoRa network.Page 62

The Clue Coffee Scale

Load cell + microcontroller = precision weight measurement for superior espresso.Page 70

Scary Sconce

Fabricate a favorite Mario Bros. enemy to make this fun bedside lamp.Page 80

Squishy Tech: Silicone Haptic Prosthetics

Make stretchy, wearable haptic devices — for a tactile virtual reality.Page 84

Electronic Fun and Fundamentals: The First Digital Maker

Don Lancaster explained the mysteries of logic chips for generations of DIY hobbyists.Page 90

Electronics Fun and Fundamentals: “The Groaner”

Build an old-school circuit to prank your friends, inspired by Lancaster’s TTL Cookbook.Page 94

Photo Roboto

Make a thermal printing photo booth robot out of a vintage TLR camera.Page 96

Wave Hello to WVR

Add polyphonic sound to your projects the easy way with this no-code, Wi-Fi audio board.Page 100

Amateur Scientist: Aureole Anniversary

Fifteen years on, let’s photograph the solar aureole again — this time with your cellphone.Page 104

1+2+3: Stomp Rockets

Make this air-powered paper rocket launcher out of PVC and a soda bottle — a favorite project from Maker Camp.Page 108

Toy Inventor’s Notebook: Tilt & Tip Puzzle Rings

Fun to make, wear, and play.Page 110

Skill Builder

Best Burn for Your Buck

Pro tips for making the most of your laser projects with LightBurn software.Page 114

Good Cap, Bad Cap

Replacing old capacitors to restore vintage electronics.Page 118



Gear up with the latest tools and kits for makers.Page 122

Over the Top

Holy Bike

Keith Young’s intricate art motorcycle is a sight to see.Page 128