The Ultimate PocketC.H.I.P Survival Guide

PocketCHIP works great with 8BitDo controllers via Bluetooth

Is the PocketC.H.I.P a Nintendo 3DS killer? No. Is the PocketC.H.I.P a command line delight? Yes!

If you have fond memories of noodling around at the DOS prompt digging into C:/games, or typing LOAD”*”,8,1, then you’re going to love the PocketC.H.I.P.  Let’s get this straight, you’re going to need to not be scared of the command line to get the most out of this machine. I’m going to try to give a balanced look at the PocketC.H.I.P, what’s good, what sucks and what could be better.

Let’s start at the start, the built in keyboard isn’t much fun for typing or for games. Maybe it would be better with a 3D printed faceplate. I’ll see if I can convince my work to fire up our 3D printer and try that out. Until then, connect a USB keyboard, and get dirty in the command line. For information on pairing a bluetooth keyboard, see this link. You’ll want to be using the bluetoothctlcommand. Here’s a tip, using TAB to complete commands and MAC addresses of your bluetooth devices is super handy here, especially if your up and against the clock to connect and pair.

Get connected to wifi. Let’s get our new toy on the internet. The quickstart guide should get you set up and ready to roll.

You’ll want to know your ip address to do cool things like ssh and ftp to your device.
ip addr show wlan0

Let’s change the default password. PocketCHIP comes preinstalled with username: chip, password: chip, let’s change it since we’re going to open up ssh.

Now let’s install ssh, so we can type commands on a terminal on a PC inside a bash shell
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install openssh-server

With this installed you should be able to use the ssh command inside a bash shell to do some remote commands.

ssh chip@ipaddress

Or use an FTP program like Filezilla or Cyberduck to FTP to your device and drop some files like wallpapers and icons.

host: ipaddress, username: chip, password: your_new_password (default is chip)

Let’s install PocketHOME. What is PocketHOME? It’s a great addition to the CHIP, which does numerous things. Also known as PocketCHIP Launcher (Marshmallow Edition), it will add the following things and more:

  • IP Address on the home screen
  • Custom wallpaper
  • Custom icons
  • Heaps more!

The latest and greatest instructions are on github, but here’s a quick run down.

sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https
echo "deb jessie main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/marshmallow-pocket-chip-home.list
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 584F7F9F
echo -e "Package: pocket-home\nPin: version *\nPin-Priority: 1050" | sudo tee /etc/apt/preferences.d/unpin-pocket-home.pref
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pocket-home

And reboot your PocketCHIP. Cool new features!

Wanna play some games? That’s why I got this thing. The promise of cool new indie games like Celeste (classic), Dank Tomb, Slime Bubble Bro and more!

Let’s take a step back and look at what PICO8 is. From their website:

PICO-8 is a fantasy console for making, sharing and playing tiny games and other computer programs. When you turn it on, the machine greets you with a shell for typing in Lua commands and provides simple built-in tools for creating your own cartridges.

Wait! Is your version of PICO8 not the latest? The version is displayed on boot and as of writing this guide it is 0.1.10C. Let’s update it!

sudo apt-get install chip-pico-8

Pairing a gamepad is done using the same bluetoothctl command, and doing the scan on, connect, pair and trust commands as specified on this guide. I’ve got an 8BitDo controller and it pairs with minimal problems. Now here’s the tricky part. Sometimes PICO8 won’t recognize the pad, and the way to force it seems to be to press the home button, then re-open PICO8. You might need to hard shutdown PICO8 with Ctrl+Q and re-try this process. It’s not perfect but I have successfully got it to work.

Next Thing Co wrote a great article about running the Coleco Emulator called ColEm on PocketCHIP. However, there’s a minor problem with it in regards to the version number. ColEm is now up to version 4.1 and trying to download 3.8 no longer works. So here’s the updated code. It’s just replacing 38 with 41 on two lines, so it’s pretty easy.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install build-essential zlib1g-dev libx11-dev libxext-dev unrar
cd ColEm/Unix

If you’re not familiar with the Colecovision system, it’s a great console. I also would like to point out I’m an official Colecovision Beamrider, having beat the score of 40,000 and made it past sector 14.

Installing other emulators is much the same process. Other people have written great guides to installing VICE for C64 and here’s one for installing DOSBOX.


Ok! That’s all for now, enjoy your PICO8 games, and see what sort of hacks you can do.

Because everyone loves puppers, here’s my rollerhockey team’s mascot Tina.

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