We met with Brandon Farmer of TinyCircuits and he shared with us a tiny bit of their history, their projects, and what they’re currently working on. Okay, that pun was a stretch and terrible. But the products Brandon shows off are fantastic! Check out the video to see tiny TV’s, arcades, and a prototype of the smallest Gameboy in the world - no bigger than the tips of your fingers.
Brandon: So Tiny Circuits was founded about six years ago. And what we did was we took an Arduino and we shrunk it down to the size of a quarter. So we really specialize in shrinking electronics and just building anything we can think of with them. More recently, we've gotten into some pretty cool kits. We have the tiny arcade, which is really popular. We've got another tiny pocket arcade video game system, we've got some tiny pianos, tiny lightsabers, and then we've got some products coming out in the near future like tiny TVs and other stuff.
Nichole: Could you tell us a little bit about each one or share your favorite one?
Brandon: My favorite one? Yeah, so this tiny TV is pretty cool. We're still doing a little bit of work on this, but it plays videos in a tiny TV screen. We 3D print these, and then all the electronics just fit right inside with this tiny battery.
Nichole: What are some difficulties that you might have with this kind of shrinking stuff down in comparison to a regular sized Arduino?
Brandon: From the circuitboard perspective, you don't have a lot of space to fit the components. So we're really kind of pushing the boundaries of manufacturing capabilities to fit this stuff on a on such a small board with limited space. From the manufacturing perspective, we've got to have the best equipment that we can get to be able to assemble those so that all the parts line up and solder.
Nichole: So as far as design is concerned, how do you guys come up with all of your designs? I see you have tiny TVs, and the little handheld arcades, how do you guys come up with those designs?
Brandon: Oh, man, it's just those those little moments of inspiration where you've got an idea and you're like, is this a good one or a bad one and we try a lot of different things and and the good ones usually just end up sticking around long enough that we start manufacturing them and people love them. So we get a lot of feedback from people as we're toying with ideas – they’ll tell us, “hey this is really cool” or, “that's not so great”, and and we'll just run with it.
Nichole: We saw earlier the little handheld game. Can you show us that and demo it for us?
Brandon: So this is still a prototype. This is the only one in the world that we've got. This is the world's smallest Gameboy. Okay, so I’ll turn it on. It's got functional push buttons. It’s battery powered. The game is stored on a microSD card on the back. I’ll flip it over for you real quick…you can see here is the microSD card and there’s the battery on the bottom. What’s pretty neat is that it's rechargeable instead of using an actual USB connector, it's actually just built right into the circuitboard. So that slips inside the the USB port.
Nichole: Wow, that is like crazy tiny.
Brandon: So this was designed by our lead engineer. His name is Ben Rose. Unfortunately couldn't make it out here with us this weekend, but I really can't tell you how creative and genius this guy is. He's, you know, he's awesome.
Nichole: Yeah, that’s impressive and super tiny. Is that Tetris on there?
Brandon: That was Tetris, yeah.