back to article There's a battery-free Game Boy that runs solely on the power of sunlight and the speed of your button-mashing

Engineers have overhauled the classic handheld 8-bit Game Boy to include solar panels on the front and an internal electromagnetic coil to generate electrical energy from button presses. Not so much batteries not included as batteries not needed. Unfortunately, the console is not for sale and it’s not officially affiliated …

  1. Filippo

    Neat trick, but you really can't do away with batteries. We really need to figure out a way to properly recycle them.

    1. Stumpy Silver badge

      Hopefully, we're not too many years away from the glass batteries being developed by Hydro Quebec and John Goodenough.

      Then, devices similar to this might have legs: Solar and electromagnetic power for the mainstay of operations and a rechargable, safe, biodegradable glass battery to give constant power in those instances where the draw is too great.

    2. sabroni Silver badge
      WTF?

      re: Neat trick, but you really can't do away with batteries

      That's exactly what they have done.

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        Re: re: Neat trick, but you really can't do away with batteries

        Well they didn't really - they're using capacitors to store the excess power, so really it's still got a battery

      2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: re: Neat trick, but you really can't do away with batteries

        "That's exactly what they have done."

        Well not really, and not in any practical sense.

        In fact I'm missing the point of what makes this newsworthy. Batteries replaced (largely) with solar power? Rocket science this isn't. I did that for my outside thermometer - it's in a hotspot so destroys batteries at a prodigious rate, and it only needs to be readable during the day for obvious reasons. Took me 5 minutes.

        Didn't write a research paper on it though.

        1. Annihilator Silver badge

          Re: re: Neat trick, but you really can't do away with batteries

          See also, every solar powered calculator you've used since the 80s at least. Made slightly more interesting by sticking a piezo switch behind the buttons.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Zero point energy. That's the answer.

    Either that or sharks with frickin' lasers.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Zero point energy. That's the answer.

      Zero Point Energy. "How many supernovae were actually industrial accidents?" asked Arthur C Clarke

    2. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Zero point energy. That's the answer.

      There is no such thing as zero point energy. The so-called "zero point energy" is inferred from the difference between a classical calculation of ground-state energy and a quantum calculation of ground-state energy. However, since our universe is *only* quantum and is *not* classical, the difference between them has no physical meaning whatsoever.

      Sometimes it can look as if there are quantum fluctuations [1], and these can - in linear systems - be treated as if due to statistical fluctuations with a "zero point" origin. But this does not mean there is actually any zero point energy, even if the approximation makes some calculations (e.g. of the Casimir effect) rather easier.

      Unfortunately this means that Stargate-SG1, and the various spin offs, contain a number of episodes that are clearly nonsense, but we will just have to live with this and pretend not to notice :-)

      .

      [1] See e.g. my post here https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2020/08/27/radiation_quantum_computing/#c_4098271

      1. Paceman

        Re: Zero point energy. That's the answer.

        The knowledge that some people have on here never ceases to amaze me. I cannot think of any other forum where someone with very specific domain knowledge chips in to a conversation. It's brilliant!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Zero point energy. That's the answer.

        Paul Kinsler, you will from now on be known as Mr Poo Face No Fun.

        (I still upvoted you for a cool and informative post, mind you.)

      3. Stumpy Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Zero point energy. That's the answer.

        I see words. Lots of words. However, I don't seem to be able to make head or tails of their meaning in this particular arrangement.

        Which speaks volumes about my knowledge and understanding of Quantum Physics. (Bistable cats in sealed boxes and spherical sheep in vacuums* are about as far as I go)

        Have a beer on me Mr. Kinsler.

        * Of course, I'm not implying that these are very small sheep, or particularly large vacuums. Or any particular model of vacuum either, but clearly your average domestic Dyson isn't going to be cutting it here...

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Zero point energy. That's the answer.

        "Unfortunately this means that Stargate-SG1, and the various spin offs, contain a number of episodes that are clearly nonsense, but we will just have to live with this and pretend not to notice :-)"

        To be fair, there's a lot of SF which was based on stuff we now know to be incorrect or "cutting edge" for the time and since debunked. Just look through some old physics text books :-) Not to mention these are usually not actual scientists writing the books and even scientists get it wrong frequently when extrapolating what we think we know into the future.

        Now, where's my personal jetpack, flying car, hoverboard and nuclear generated electrickery too cheap to be worth metering -)

      5. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Zero point energy. That's the answer.

        > There is no such thing as zero point energy.

        We know. We also know that even so-called 'hard' science fiction is allowed one mumbo-jumbo concept every so often for artistic licence. Such mumbo jumbo concepts can serve as place holders for things that are not only stranger than we do imagine, but stranger than we can imagine.

        By 'hard' sci Fi, I mean a lot of Clarke, but not Stargate :)

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    There was a Gameboy Advance game which used a photometric sensor in that cartridge, to encourage the player to spend time outside. By playing outside, the player could 'charge' up their 'solar powered' weapons in their role as a vampire hunter.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boktai:_The_Sun_Is_in_Your_Hand

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      There's half a Wii in a Gameboy case but that does need batteries. LTT

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Powerball!

    This concept made me think of other ways of powering a Gameboy using the player's muscles. I remembered those naff dynamo flashlights which resembled naff grip-strength exercisers... and in turn Powerballs - gyroscopic balls that are used to treat RSI and build forearm strength in musicians and rock climbers.

    Of course some clever bugger has already fitted a dynamo to one:

    https://hackaday.com/2010/11/22/ridiculous-exerciser-become-useful-as-a-charger/

    Note: Powerballs are not ridiculous. Since the gyroscopic effect keeps your wrist straight it keeps your tendons happy. Recommended to those with RSI. Consult your doctor etc

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Powerball!

      That Hackaday was from 2010. Naturally some other bugger is now trying to make a commercialised version on Kickstarter:

      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/handenergy/handenergy-your-pocket-electricity-generator

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Powerball!

        I have one of those powerballs. They do work although in action they appear more like a masturbation trainer

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Powerball!

          "I have one of those powerballs. They do work although in action they appear more like a masturbation trainer"

          If you need training, then you have bigger problems on your hands.

          Fnar, fnar

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Powerball!

            If he needs training, the problem isn't a big one.

            Oooerrr missus.

        2. Maximum Delfango
          Thumb Up

          Re: Powerball!

          Thanks to furlough and working from home, I reckon we've all got that skill pretty well nailed.

          It should be an olympic sport. No prizes for coming second though.

        3. Maximum Delfango
          Pint

          Re: Powerball!

          I just wish I'd moved my pension fund out of property and into Kleenex and Elastoplast.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Whatever happened to the batteries that you can pee in to recharge?

    Reported on in ElReg some years ago, they may be more yellow than green but would certainly be considered a renewable.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I really like the trick, but it will need more work before taking off, and I'm not sure it'll ever be practical. The market has moved beyond basic handheld consoles, current cell phones require much more energy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The market has moved beyond basic handheld consoles, ...

      Perhaps I need to hook up the exercise bike up to a generator and get my son to self-power his xbox :-)

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The market has moved beyond basic handheld consoles, ...

        I'm just thinking of the stationary bicycles with dynamos connected to a 60W bulb that used to be at festivals... as a young teen I struggled to get the bulb very bright.

        With the usual caveats about dynamo efficiency etc, my intuition is that a cyclist would struggle to power an older Xbox (they ran hot), but might have a chance with a handheld console (with battery just used to even out the dynamo's output)

  7. JDPower

    Look at the angle he's having to hold it to get max sunlight, and how much button mashing he's doing, and it STILL turns off. They've built a battery free device that doesn't actually work battery free, and instead of MAKING it work just threw in a game save workaround for when it stops working every few seconds. Nice idea, failed execution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice idea, failed execution.

      I get the impression it was just a simple "how far can we get with this" trial, rather than an attempt at an end-user device; so although it doesn't really work in itself, IMO it's not really a failure.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Nice idea, failed execution.

        Yes, clearly it needs a little more storage than a "grain of rice" sized capacitor. I would imagine there's space inside for something a little more beefy without adding an actual battery.

  8. slartybartfast

    Tech companies love non-replaceable batteries though.

    Unfortunately, the use of non-replaceable batteries is just the sort of thing tech companies like to keep us continually and unnecessarily upgrading perfectly usable hardware when they stop performing well enough.

  9. Blackjack Silver badge

    Neat, do Game & Watch next!

    A traditional Game & Watch, instead of one of the remakes, wastes way less energy than a Gameboy and has more space for solar panels.

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