The most wonderful time of the year just got better thanks to this cute Nintendo Switch ornament made by a YouTuber.
The ornament was made by scottbez1, an electronics hobbyist who shares their creations on YouTube. It’s definitely not this creator’s first rodeo making holiday-themed electronics; they made an animated eye that fits inside a pumpkin for Halloween.
The Christmas-themed ornament, however, takes the beloved Nintendo Switch and shrinks it down to the size of your thumb (or the Thumby Game Boy). While the device doesn’t play games — that would be absurd! — it does display GIFs of your favorite Nintendo Switch games. As cute as this tiny Switch is, it’s by no means something that anybody can make. The creator used every bit of their creativity and skill, designing everything from the PCB to the enclosure to make sure everything fit right. So, how was it made?
Custom made — You can take a look in the video above for a more detailed view, but it all starts with a very small LCD screen. The creator then used CAD software to make a simple, scaled-down version of the Switch with room to fit the LCD display and a handy loop to hang the ornament with. From there, it was a matter of designing a custom PCB board that managed to squeeze a lot of components into a very small space. With both case and PCB files sent off for printing, it took a few weeks before the project resumed. The wait paid off.
Instead of manually soldering every single resistor and part on the PCB, which is a time-consuming process even if you have the skill, the creator used a stencil to apply solder glue to the PCB. After placing all the components atop the glue, the board was then heated up on a hot plate, allowing the solder glue to melt and fuse onto the components. It went off without a hitch.
Thanks to the microcontroller and SD card on the device, the creator was able to program it with the Arduino framework and add various GIFs that played on a loop. But with no USB port on the device, loading new files or code is a pain, requiring a custom connector and a breadboard setup that’s not intuitive for beginners.
The device also has a Wi-Fi antenna, which allows it to connect to the internet and stay current with the date and time for a little Christmas day surprise. On December 25, the device plays back special Christmas GIFs. Another little surprise: you can click the joystick — yes, the joysticks are clickable — to change clips.
DIY only — With Nintendo’s litigious nature so well-known that it’s been satirized, I highly doubt you’ll ever see one of these ornaments for sale. Apart from the firmware needed to run the device, the creator doesn’t share any design files for the PCB or case. But, you can make it yourself if you have the skills, or at least the willingness to learn. In the video’s description, the creator says the project was made as a fun side project “to encourage others to learn more about STEM and build cool things.” Consider me encouraged, though it would take a Christmas miracle for me to pull this off.