How would I power a game console without plugging it into the wall?

Silent_Gunner

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I know, kind of a weird question, but the scientist in me wants to consider possibly playing a game console on a 5+ hour trip down south in an upcoming trip to my grandfather's place, and I'm not exactly gonna be driving most of the way there, most likely. So, I thought "you know, with a portable monitor that can be powered on via USB-C, and with there being portable batteries with AC outlets, how practical would it be to take, say, a Dreamcast and power it on and play it off of a battery while its connected to a display that's also being powered by a battery, if not the same one that's being used to charge the DC?"

If that sounds confusing, let me try and layout my hypothetical setup here:

Dreamcast, which is powered by AC outlet portable battery with controller + power plug + AV cables + some sort of way to convert the analog signal to HDMI, with the converter box being powered by a separate, non-AC outlet portable battery.

With the monitor being able to be powered by both, but preferably the non-AC outlet portable battery.

Would the Dreamcast power on? If so, how long would it potentially last?
 
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@Silent_Gunner I may have tagged something accidentally as I was scrolling, entirely possible.

If it's a mini PC you're after then 90% of the job was already done for you. Check what the +/- power consumption of the rig is and pick up a Pico PSU that covers your energy requirements plus 20-30% "just in case" - they make special versions specifically made for car installations which you can hook up to your ignition (they account for the delay between turning the key and actually getting power, among other things). They all follow the ATX standard and are effectively plug and play. If the branded solutions are not suitable and you need more oomph, there are alternatives with different form factors as well, and there's HD Plex PSU's if...

Jayro

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With magic... Love... And a battery pack comprised of 18650 batteries + a BMS board.

4oy5RUR.jpg
 

Chary

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You'd need to know how much it would drain the battery per hour, yeah?

https://dcemulation.org/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=24340

A Dreamcast is certainly the most unique one to bring on a road trip. I assume you want to play a game specifically from that library?

According to this video, some games straight up don't work when using a signal converter, so I'd be careful depending on what you want to play
 

Silent_Gunner

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I see. My question has more to do with power draw and the like. Because there was a video about this guy who basically took a case with a monitor inside of it and made a "portable" PS4 in that it and the display was connected to an older version of the power bank I linked. According to some sources I've read about these "portable" PS4 and Xbox One "insert letter here" solutions is that they all would only last an hour to an hour and a half, tops.

@Chary I'm mostly just picking the Dreamcast as an example of something that isn't on the cutting edge. Ideally, I'd love to put something like the H31G I ordered (which probably won't make it in time for this trip, but whatever) to the test for something like this given its size, but given its shipping status, I might have to settle for something else.

@PityOnU So, I actually got this idea from when I was doing stuff with a Raspberry Pi4 running Lakka back before RetroPie support on the device became more solid. I was running it off of my power bank with it connected to the Pi Switch that came with the kit I bought, and it was able to keep the SBC running for most of the day. Given my results, I thought, "what if I could take a small desktop gaming PC that uses the full extent of the hardware inside without concern for the problems that come with their laptop equivalents on an external battery with an AC plug?" Hence, why I'm trying to avoid anything involving using the car as a battery...not to mention that I've read that the car battery would get sucked dry pretty quick.

Gotta admit, I'm no electrician when it comes to considering trying something like this...
 

Silent_Gunner

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@Jayro I haven't got that one on hand myself. I might mod the one system I modded with that some time down the line, but given that, I might push it up higher on the list! But as I explained to Chary, I picked the DC as the console of choice mostly to not try to overshoot what a battery like the one I linked to earlier would be capable of.
 

Foxi4

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There's a couple ways you can do this, some more invasive than others.

You can build/buy a giant battery pack and convert DC to AC, or get one with an inverter built in - Anker sells them, they have a normal wall socket on the side. I personally dislike that method because you suffer losses on several stages of the conversion - you get less juice out of your battery.

The second, superior way is to build a battery pack that directly matches the input of the device and hook that up instead of the power supply - that way you avoid DC to AC conversion and get better efficiency. I recommend putting a buck/boost converter in-line to maintain a satisfactory voltage level, in fact, it's kind of essential. Sadly this only works for systems that accept DC input, it will not work for consoles that run directly off wall power, those are covered by the third method.

The third, most invasive solution is to build a battery pack and connect it to a Pico PSU or multiple converters, and patch the outputs of those into the relevant power lines in the system. I did that to my PS4 Slim, added a screen and effectively made it 100% portable (it only uses a 12V and a 5V rail), but never really utilised it much - it was just a fun project. If you're lucky, a lot of times you can increase effeciency by bypassing certain unnecessary sections of the motherboard entirely - for instance, in my case the disc drive was completely removed and the HDD was replaced with an SSD powered not by the motherboard, but by the power supply I was using. It requires some DIY knowledge though, so it's obviously not for everyone and very platform-dependent.

In any case, I used 12x 3500mAh 18650's, a battery management system board (BMS) and a 180W DC PSU in my implementation, the system can go full-blast for about 2 hours and supplies more than the +/- 80W of power the PS4 Slim draws, but realistically it would probably last longer since the system doesn't draw peak power non stop, not to mention that it was heavily stripped of power-hungry components. On some occasions power draw is closer to 100W, but my battery will happily provide 150W if needed, so it's not an issue - temporary spikes are not a big deal.

In your case it's a Dreamcast - there are ready-made kits available that convert it to 12V DC, as mentioned. Pair that with a 12V power bank, like one for a laptop, and you're pretty much golden. There are even LCD screens out there which fit right on the top of the system, and you can load games from an SD card with appropriate modifications, so it's a perfect candidate for a full portable conversion. It only consumes 22W, and that's with a disc drive which you could conceivably get rid of, so you don't need a whole lot of power for the thing.
 

Silent_Gunner

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@Foxi4 I've never done the Q&A section on this site before, but I guess you chose one of my posts as being the best answer and got +5 XP for it (not that I care about the XP, I'm just looking for clarification)?

Anyhow, I appreciate the breakdown! The first option is the one that I was thinking would be the easiest and most ideal in terms of the "plug-n-play" factor. But it seems it is as you described; whatever gain one might think they're making by taking the convenient option, you trade off for instability.

It looks like I really should look into the Pico PSU. I know the PSU has some 12v rail one should, but doesn't have to remove from the Dreamcast. I already modded a DC late last year with a GDEmu, so I at least have that problem resolved! But the Dreamcast was just sort of a more "realistic" example of what I might be able to get from trying to do something like this.

What I'd love to see happen is being able to use a mini PC like the H31G that I mentioned that has a dedicated CPU and GPU with a good amount of RAM and SSD storage on it to be able to be used without being tethered to a wall. That, ultimately, is what I'd love to be able to achieve, as it'd be my ideal gaming platform on the go without having to worry about a company's build quality issues (*stares at GPD based on some stuff I've read on r/gpdwin about their portable gaming PCs and those who've used it over a longer period of time than that of The Phawx*).
 

Foxi4

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@Silent_Gunner I may have tagged something accidentally as I was scrolling, entirely possible.

If it's a mini PC you're after then 90% of the job was already done for you. Check what the +/- power consumption of the rig is and pick up a Pico PSU that covers your energy requirements plus 20-30% "just in case" - they make special versions specifically made for car installations which you can hook up to your ignition (they account for the delay between turning the key and actually getting power, among other things). They all follow the ATX standard and are effectively plug and play. If the branded solutions are not suitable and you need more oomph, there are alternatives with different form factors as well, and there's HD Plex PSU's if you really need something premium. I've seen mini PC rigs that happily ran on those supplies, GPU and all, although personally I'd aim at an APU instead - keep the power budget low, you only have one battery in the car, and you kind of need it for other things. Either that or use a separate battery as well and skip the car wiring altogether.

With a solution like that you just have a 12V DC plug, so you can hook it up at home with a normal power brick or use it in the car.
 
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