For fans of lego, ASMR style YouTube builds, absolutely teeny tiny microcontrollers, and LED screens, Christmas has definitely come early. We’ve been impressed by these amazing little Lego microcontroller OLED terminals (opens in new tab) built by James “Ancient” Brown since we first saw them, but details have always been on the short side. We know these nostalgia filled bricks can run Doom (opens in new tab), but when it comes to details on how exactly they were made, we didn’t have heaps of information to go on. Until Now.
Hackaday (opens in new tab) recently shared a new YouTube video by Ancient (opens in new tab) that gives a wonderful an in depth look into the process. The video is 12 and a half minutes of maker style ASMR bliss as you get a step by step look at the process of making one of these functional terminals. This means there’s no talking but plenty of nice upclose sounds of things being made. Ancient warns that the video is edited from a few different builds, as well as cut down in places, but it’s still the most comprehensive look we’ve had of this process. And it’s wonderfully mesmerising.
Turns out there are a bunch of different skills and crafts that goes into one of these DIY terminals, so in the video you can watch a lot of different disciplines on display. Not only are we treated to teeny tiny soldering of the PCB and RP2040 microcontroller, but we also get to see resin mixing and mould making on display.
There’s even a bunch of custom made 3D prints just to hold the pieces so they can be properly worked on. If one thing is clear from the process, it’s that Ancient certainly has this down to a fine art. Perhaps the only thing more enchanting than the process is the results.
The last real step we see in the video is the resin being mixed and then poured into the mould. It’s translucent and fills in around the protected parts. The change in colour is one of those continuity errors Ancient mentions, but once it’s out it looks exactly like a Lego terminal only far cooler. It even has the textured plastic on the screen I remember from my childhood.
The OLED shines wonderfully through the resin screen as the different options are shown off. It looks like it even has touch controls as Ancient changes through the different screens and they respond to certain pushes. This little screen just gets cooler every time we see it.
Hopefully sometime down the line Ancient will release the build files, but after watching the video we can see why they might be holding off. There’s a lot of work that goes into this project and with the specially printed 3D holding parts, we can imagine it’s a bit difficult to expect others to follow along. For now, we’ll just have to settle for watching the video in awe.