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who am I?

meet me

Hi, my name is Jack Daly. Im a 19 year old student, apprentice and founder of microcade & 8BitCADE – initiatives set out to make learning STEM accessible & fun.

Growing up, my schools lacked fun and creative resources for kids in D&T (STEM). I wanted to change that – I created microcade and worked with a D&T department of a leading international school to develop a curriculum around microcade.

My 2 mains goals are:

  1. Support teachers with creative kits.
  2. Inspire children to explore STEM.

My Story:

In September 2020, at the age of 17, I embarked on my A-level journey in college while simultaneously launching my very first product to the public—the 8BitCADE XL. This DIY handheld game console was designed to teach people of all ages about electronics.

I had been developing the 8BitCADE XL for 6 months prior, which couldn’t have been achieved without the superb kindness and guidance of the Arduboy Community.

The 8BitCADE spark, however, actually begun in 2019, when I was 16, with the 8BitCADE original. This was a smaller handheld gaming console that was used to run a short after school activity at my school – driven by my father and I. It was used to educate students about product design, electronics, coding and PCB design.

Since then, I launched the 8BitCADE Original to the public as well as ran a successful Kickstarter releasing the Level UP, my first-ever premade console! A completely different product to your normal DIY kits that come with a variety of new (and higher) expectations. With this larger portfolio, I started hiring to build a team to support the growth. All of this came with a bunch of new challenges which were super awesome overcoming and I’ve learned alot from that. 

I also graduated from college and decided to become a degree apprentice studying electrical engineering at Warwick University while working at Jaguar Land Rover. Due to this, I decided to sell 8BitCADE to have a summer break before taking up this next step in my career. It was a much-needed break from the mayhem of studying 4 A levels while also managing multiple teams at 8BitCADE.

During this down period, I went back to my roots of tinkering with new processes, parts and exploring unique ways of doing things. It really allowed me to get back in touch with what I love most – making things! I started playing around with PCBs, what their limitations are and how I can stretch that. Thats when I came up with the first ever prototype for microcade which allowed traces to go from 1 panel in 1 axis, to another in a completely different axis. In this case, it was the motherboard to the control panel, allowing the button inputs to travel across PCB to the processor.

During this down period, I went back to my roots of tinkering with new processes, parts and exploring unique ways of doing things. It really allowed me to get back in touch with what I love most – making things! I started playing around with PCBs, what their limitations are and how I can stretch that. Thats when I came up with the first ever prototype for microcade which allowed traces to go from 1 panel in 1 axis, to another in a completely different axis. In this case, it was the motherboard to the control panel, allowing the button inputs to travel across PCB to the processor.

I thought this was awesome and started exploring how I could make the mini console look as close to the real cabinets as possible – and the biggest thing was the art! I started exploring how you can use solder mask, copper, FR4 and silkscreen in combination to create a colour palette of 5 colours that can then be used to create art. This led to the creation of the space invader cabinet. For obvious reasons, this is not for sale due to copyright however, I am trying to get the license as I think it would be awesome to have the original art on the microcade!

Art is such a big aspect of microcade that we even have our own Artist Handbook that goes over everything an artist would need to know if they were designing for the microcade. Everything from what PCB art is, the available colour palettes available to how to create custom splash screens for the menu system – it truly is 100% customizable.

In light of this, the first console needed to reflect that. I reached out to 2 members of the Arduboy community called Filmote, an Australian software developer, & Vamprics, a Canadian graphic designer, who created Press Play On Tape (PPOT). Together they have coded over 35 titles for the Arduboy platform as well as 23 for pokitto. To celebrate this, I decided to reach out to them and create the Road Trip edition. It took one of their popular games, Road Trip, and allowed Vamprics to create awesome themed panel art as well as collate their 35 titles into the PPOT game cart allowing you to play all of their great titles on the Road Trip. 

For me, it was an awesome way to celebrate these two creators and give the fans something tangible to showcase their love for these titles.

In addition, Mstr Blinky, the creator of the homebrew, helped adjust the software to allow for the marque to be lit and to make it much easier to program in Arduino!

Its awesome mentioning all these people that believed in the idea, supported and helped bring it to life. Its something I mentioned I wish I did more of when we first spoke – and now I can actually showcase how I made it work!

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