Meet the PiS2: A PS2 Portable Built with a Raspberry Pi 2 Server
Redditor and modder darkwingmod has posted a video of his new, homemade Sony PS2 portable — which isn’t actually a thing Sony ever built, but after seeing this, possibly should have been. According to posts he’s made, the well-named “PiS2” is based on a Raspberry Pi 2 board connected to a PS2-to-HDMI output, which is connected to a 5.6-inch HDMI display.
Instead of installing a DVD drive, the portable unit uses a Raspberry Pi SMB server to deliver games. Making the Raspberry Pi fit in the back of the console shell was a bit difficult, and Darkwingmod wound up stripping most of the headers off the board. There’s an extensive thread on BitBuilt.net that dives into the construction of the unit, with various users chiming in with documents showing how components are wired together and contributing ideas towards the overall fit and finish.
It’s a rather interesting read if you are into the whole homebrew console scene. Projects like this can take years to complete — the thread picks up in 2017 after Darkwingmod took a four-year break, and continues up to the present day, showing how the various components of the platform came together. There are photos with breadboard details showing how everything is wired up internally.
One point I want to draw out is that this portable unit actually contains a physical motherboard from a PS2. The Raspberry Pi 2 SMB server is being used to transfer games to the PS2 over an Ethernet port, replacing the role of a DVD drive. So what you’ll see in the video below isn’t an emulator — it’s the motherboard from a PS2 doing the heavy lifting, with games served off a Raspberry Pi.
The amount of wiring and soldering required to pull all of this together is rather impressive. The PiS2 even supports the option to switch the console between portable and TV output — you can still play it with the video being displayed on a larger TV, in other words.
Battery life is limited and the system displays a warning when voltage drops below 6.3V. This provides approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes of playtime. That’s not great, but remember, he’s using an original PS2 board, not a modern emulator running on a more efficient platform. In this case, an emulator running on top of the RBP natively would probably actually result in lower power consumption, but it would also come with the various headaches associated with emulation. I messed around with getting a PS2 emulator up and running on a PC this year, and while it’s absolutely do-able, there’s still some significant troubleshooting involved. A six-year project with some pretty hefty construction requirements may not qualify as less work, but it’s a really cool way to create a unique product.