In 2020, a DIY maker named James Brown* put a tiny OLED display inside a custom made LEGO “computer display” brick, as a cool tweak to the traditional one where the display is just silkscreened on. Then he made it play a video of the game in action, which would have been cool enough all by itself. Fast forward to 2023, and he’s gotten his custom display brick to actually play the game for real.

“I hooked up the accelerometer, so Doom is now ‘playable’ entirely on the [LEGO computer] brick,” Brown explains of his latest efforts with the project. “The capacitive touch wasn’t tuned very well, so it’s a bit shooty.”

In his demonstration video, Brown shows the new 3d printed brick with its OLED display being clipped onto a second LEGO brick that contains a battery and microprocessor. He turns on the display, and Doom is there on the display, and he operates the game by tilting the brick to steer, and tapping the two studs on the top to shoot and select respectively. Of course there’s no sound, but it freaking works.

James Brown’s tiny LEGO computer is now fully-functional and self-contained, capable of hosting a playable version of Doom.

Getting the 1993 classic game Doom, which took the world by storm and propelled ID Software to astronomical heights, pushed the limits of what was possible on the hardware of the time. Since then, getting it to run on ridiculous things is pretty much a running joke now. Doom has been made to run on all sorts of things, including a NordicTrak Treadmill, a Kodak camera, ultrasound medical scanner equipment, LibreOffice’s “Calc” spreadsheet, and there’s even a version that runs on a pregnancy test.

Brown’s version uses a Raspberry Pi computing chip, the RP2040, as its brain. Running a port of Doom previously developed for the RP2040 by Graham Sanderson, Brown packs the lower brick with a tiny battery, the processor, and an accelerometer — which, combined with the two top studs, provides a complete control system, with no external devices required. The display is a 0.42″ OLED display with a resolution of a mere 72×40 pixels, or about 10% the resolution of a regular NTSC TV image.

There is not much chance of being able to read any of the text on the screen though. You would need little teeny eyes to read the little teeny print.

The heart of the project is a tiny custom circuit board, barely larger than the RP2040 which drives the display.

To see more of James Brown’s work, including his amazing LEGO Conway’s Game of Life Engines, visit him on YouTube.


*No, not that James Brown. Another James Brown.

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