OVERVIEW AND RESOURCES
LAST UPDATED ON AUGUST 11TH 2021.
Some general details:
The idea for the Mega Engine system started back in late summer of 2020 and was basically born out of frustration over the fact that no small cases for housing an optical disc drive next to a low power SOC (system on a chip) were available. Mega Engine's emulation core is based on Retroarch, which has matured over the past years to offer great performance for a very wide variety of systems. The ME's hardware is comprised of standard hardware parts as far as possible. Its 64bit quad-core 1.4Ghz Cortex-A53 processor provides perfect performance for all its target platforms like PC Engine, Mega Drive and other 8 and 16-bit systems. Of course the system is completely upgradeable in terms of both hardware and software.
What's in the box:
We not only created ME to be a useful tool, but also to be a beautiful collector's piece. The heavy duty cardboard box is lined with a protective foam insert and next to the actual core system in either grey or white you'll find a printed full color foldout manual (pocket guide) along with a quick reference card for the controller layout inside the box. Included are two pieces of software to demonstrate the system (CD Denjin for the PC Engine and Keio Yugekitai for the Mega-CD). Future batches of the system might not include any software, but we decided to include these two games with the initial run to offset the majority of the international shipping costs and make the pricing more transparent to users all around the globe. There is no controller, power supply or HDMI cable included. Please check the Getting Started section below for details on recommended accessories.
Availability and Ordering
The world of electronics is plagued by supply chain shortages right now and so sourcing of all the necessary parts of our little system be become a nightmare of these past months. Orders for our first batch are now open (July 4th) for Mega Engine 400 units. The 400 units are split into 200 dark grey base units, 100 dark grey DIY-kits and 100 special edition white units.
Shipping status for early orders:
Fully built grey units: shipped to European and Asian destinations (7/16)
Fully built grey units: shipped to US and South American destinations (7/23)
Grey DIY-Kits: shipped to European and Asian destinations (7/16)
Grey DIY-Kits: shipped to US and South American destinations (7/23)
All orders containing a WHITE unit have been shipped (7/30~31)
New orders are usually shipped within ONE week of your payment.
Shipping woes with UPS: since our postal office is currently still warning about heavily increased shipping times to North America (as in months instead of weeks), we shipped almost all orders to North America using UPS Expedited (which is almost twice as expensive as regular airmail). Little did we know that UPS seems to be a complete mess right now with highly diminished capacities and lots of delays when it comes to US-bound parcels. While we see many parcels arriving day by day, please expect transit times of about 3 weeks total at this point. Our sincere apologies for that! We will make it up to all affected buyers by offering them a free game of their choice. You'll get an email about that in September.
A word on the DIY-kits:
The 100 DIY-kits from the first batch contain everything the fully built units contain. Build time for a unit is around 20 minutes. A printed (and illustrated) build guide is included of course. If you ever built a small Lego technics set, this will be easy for you and there's no soldering required. Offering a part of the first batch as DIY-kits allows us to focus on shipping instead. DIY-kits are priced the same, but include an additional game of your choice (see order form for details). Should any of the DIY-kits remain unsold, then we'll convert them to fully built units during August and make them available then.
Future plans for another batch?
We really don't know if there'll be another batch. We will decide on this in late July or early August. If there will be another batch, then it's likely to be partial DIY-kits only, only including the case and the harder to source parts. On the plus side we would be able to balance another batch differently between the dark grey and white units, making more white ones available than this time (if requested).
How to order?
If you signed up for updates on the Mega Engine project earlier this year, then you already got an email with a link to our order form. If you haven't registered your interest earlier, but you would still like to purchase a unit, please simply email us for a link to our current order form.
Great discounts on our games!
When ordering a Mega Engine unit, you have the chance to add some of our PC Engine gaming box sets at great discounts. Custom bundles of single games are also available and so are some of the most popular titles as single game add-ons.
What you need to get started:
In addition to the system, you need three additional items: a HDMI cable, a controller and a matching power supply.
Our recommended controller is the 8BitDo M30, especially the 2.4GHz version with included USB dongle. Of course basically every other USB controller will also work on the system. Using bluetooth controllers (8Bitdo, Playstation, XBox, Switch) works fine as well, but for the initial setup you'll prefer to use a wired controller (or one with its own 2.4GHz RF dongle).
Recommended power supplies:
The ME requires a Micro USB power supply with an output between 5.1 and 5.25V at 3A. For North American users the Argon ONE Raspberry Pi UL power supply is recommended. For European users the linked Taifu (or KFD) power supply is recommended. Any other power supply matching the required specs will be fine as well of course. The system comes with a USB-C to Micro USB adapter dongle, which allows you to use an official Raspberry Pi 4 power supply, but in the long run a matching Micro USB power supply makes more sense.
Do not try to use a USB charger. USB chargers (even strong ones with USB-C) are limited to 2.4A of power. The system might seem to boot up fine, but you will be running into problems with the optical disc drive.
What about those lovely small LCD monitors?
Unfortunately just a proof of concept. The monitor you see here is the Vilros 8" LCD screen, an 4:3 IPS display with a resolution of 1024x768 and available through Amazon. RAL7024 (graphite grey) is a rather close match the color of the grey ME unit. The Vilros monitor is easy to disassemble. Should you want to try this, use a can of matte spray paint.
What about upgrading the system?
The system can be upgraded to basically any SOC you like (or at least anything that has the same form factor as a Raspberry Pi). On the picture above you see a regular white Mega Engine unit on top and a supercharged unit (with a Pi 4 installed) on the bottom. The back plate of the system is replaceable. Files for 3D printing your own back panel can be found right here. We also have a few back plates matching the Pi 4's connectors available in stock at 15 EUR a piece. Just email us in case you're interested.
Going with a stronger SOC than the installed one might require active cooling. A recommended heatsink along with a low-profile fan for the Raspberry Pi 4 is this one by Geekworm:
Downloading the operating system:
The ME's operating system is a tweaked version of Retropie, which itself is based on Raspbian (Linux), EmulationStation (frontend) and Retroarch (emulation framework). Of course you can download the image for free using the links below (torrent client required). The image is available in three versions. These are identical, except they're preset for different kinds of displays. You need to decompress the files and burn the resulting .img file to a micro SD card using Etcher.
Hardware required for connecting a CRT:
Mega Engine is preconfigured to be run on a 15khz CRT monitor in glorious 240p. You can easily switch between HDMI operation in HD and low-res operation on a classic CRT TV or monitor. To connect the ME to a CRT using a component connection (this includes PVM/BVM monitors and a lot of North American CRT sets), we recommend the Portta HDMI to component converter, which is easily available from Amazon. This is a straight DAC that simply converts the ME's HDMI output 1:1 into an analogue component signal without additional processing or scaling. For connecting to RGB monitors instead your start should be the Portta HDMI to VGA converter, again easily available from Amazon. This will provide you with a 15khz RGBHV output. Should you want to run the ME on a Scart-RGB television set, you additionally need a HD15 to Scart sync combiner, but better get in touch with us first to confirm compatibility of your TV with any specific converter. Some options are listed below.
Here we have compiled three short videos to give you a quick impression of the system running. One video goes through the pre-installed emulators, while the second one demonstrates the loading of a physical Mega CD disc and the third one shows the same for a physical PC Engine CD-Rom disc. We will be moving the videos to YouTube sometime soon, but at the moment we can only offer a file download via torrent. The three files combined are 823 MB in size. These are in 720p format (h264 codec).
Download the User Guide and Build Guide:
A printed version of the user guide comes with every system, while the build guide is only included with the DIY-KITS. Of course you can still download both right here. The build guide comes in handy, if you need to fix anything, or if you want to learn about the internal structure (e.g. when you want to upgrade the storage or replace the SoC board).
on compatibility and step-by-step guides to adding
more roms or setting up your controllers.