Introduction: PiStation - a Raspberry Pi Emulation Console

I'm moving and will no longer have room for all my classic systems like my NES, SNES, Genesis, etc, so the first thing I think is that I can just play the games on emulators on my PC. But still, I love the experience of sitting back on the couch and playing with a controller, so where's the happy medium? The PiStation! Essentially, I am removing all the parts from a PlayStation 1 and replacing them with a Raspberry Pi, although I still want the new system to function almost perfectly like it's own system, with original buttons working and all. I've seen this done with other systems, but not with the PS1, so I thought I'd give it a try. I picked up a used PS1 for cheap at GoodWill and got started.

You don't have to follow my project exactly, but if you do want to, here's what you'll need:

Above is a quick demonstration video showing the final product.

Step 1: Setting Up the Pi

Now this guide isn't about the software end, only because there are so many tutorials that explain it better than I could, but I will give a quick explanation, as well as link you to some of my favorite tutorials. I'll do my best to answer any questions about this process as I can, I'm just not posting it here so I don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Just know that you will need to download the newest release of the RetroPie Project SD-card Image, and burn that onto a bootable SD card of 4GB or more. Once you insert the SD card into the Pi, you can follow any of these guides along the setup process. It will take some time, but once you're done you can change the boot screen to my custom PiStation boot up screen if you'd like to stick with the whole PlayStation theme. Download boot screen here.

Some of the most helpful tutorials:

I recommend you use paste this code into your RetroArch.cfg file so you can exit your games by holding Select + Start, as well as saving by Select + L2, and loading by Select + R2:

input_enable_hotkey_btn = 8 
input_exit_emulator_btn = 9<br>
input_enable_hotkey_btn = 8 
input_save_state_btn = 4

input_enable_hotkey_btn = 8
input_load_state_btn = 5

Assuming everything is working fine, and you have figured out how to put ROMS onto the Pi, then you can continue.

Step 2: Taking Apart the PlayStation

You're going to need to unscrew all six screws out of the back of your PlayStation and remove the casing. You can unscrew everything on the inside and remove it from the shell, but just make sure you keep the internal power brick off to the right, and the controller/memory card ports on the front - you'll be using these later.

Step 3: The Power Cable

In case you weren't aware, Raspberry Pi's do not have on/off switches, they power on as soon as they receive power. Because of this, we can use the original PS1 power switch as the switch for the Pi. The first thing you're going to want to do is drill holes above and underneath where the original board sits so we can get the USB cable coming in from the back, as well as the micro USB cable coming in from the side. I also popped one of the two metal prongs from the original AC port out, then threaded the powered USB cable through it, it took a little bit of drilling to make the hole big enough. You're going to want to plug the "Power USB" (the black one in my first picture) into a USB power brick that would usually charge your phone (as long as it is 5 volts).

Then take the two micro USB cables and strip each one on the necessary side to make a connection from the USB power brick to the Pi if they were to be connected. Thread them through the holes and solder both cables to each side of the PS1 power switch from underneath the board. Use a voltammeter to test which solder points are connected by the switch. If you solder it right, when the usb is plugged into the wall, the Pi should only receive power when the PS1 switch is pushed in.

When you're all done, neatly tuck all the cables under the board and place the board back into the case. You can screw the AC port back down into the case to hold the board down.

Step 4: Connecting the Controller Ports

After you configure your PS1 controllers to work on your Pi with the USB adapter, you'll want to make it work off of the original controller ports. Don't forget you can unscrew the controller/memory card ports from the casing to make it easier to work with. Now, you'll want to unscrew the three screws on the back of the PS to USB adapter (ones hidden by a sticker). There are 9 solder points for each controller port, and you'll want to solder cables into the back of each port, and then match it to the corresponding solder point on the back of the original ports. I recommend you only solder one controller port at first, then test it with your Pi before doing the second port. Not every pin in a PS1 controller port is necessary for this project, but for the sake of accuracy I soldered them all just in case.

Step 5: Removing the Port Covers

Both the Serial I/O port and the AV port have these gray plastic pieces that stick out from the PS1 board to the outside of the case so you can plug the respective cables in. Both pieces are almost the same aside from their location and connections, so I'll just go over this step once.

First I removed the gray piece from the board. Try not to break the little arts that stick out to screw it down. I also just cut around it and left a little of the board underneath so it would be the right height.

I then used a dremel to cut out all the extra bits. Start by removing all the pins sticking out, its okay if you damage the metal rectangular box as you will likely be removing that after to make room for your new ports. You can really remove everything behind the lip because that won't show in the final product. Be patient with this step because it can take a little while to clear everything out without breaking anything.

The goal of this step is to allow everything to be flush with the original casing without showing any of the inside. In the end, I actually had to cut the hole the HDMI port sticks out of in half and then re-glue it later after the HDMI port had been mounted.

Step 6: Mounting the Pi

You're going to want to mount the Raspberry Pi so that the HDMI port sticks out of the Serial I/O port of the PlayStation case. You will notice that there is a place for the screws that hold the two pieces of the case together that is sticking too far up to put the Pi. You will have to either cut it out with some pliers or use a dremel to shave that down. Just be careful that you do not put a screw back into that hole when you are putting the case back together!!

I had some foam stickers laying around that I cut up and stuck to the inside of the case to help support the Pi. I also cut very small circles, stuck them to the two mounting holes on the Pi, and used a toothpick to create a hole through the foam.

Then, I put through the two screws and just barely screwed the nut on the bottom of each. After I got everything positioned in the case the way I wanted it, I but a small bit of super glue on the nuts to make them stay in place in the case, once those dried a little I put a lot more on to secure the nuts to the case. The only issue with this method is that it takes a few tries to make sure the glue is properly connecting the nut and the case. I even added a piece of wood inside the case to secure the pi up against the wall even more.

I realize that this method is not the most secure. My original plan was to just drill holes through the case from the bottom then use the nuts to hold it down, but I decided it against it because I didn't want the screws protruding fro the PS1. You could easily just drill through the case if you want a secure Pi.

Just remember that however you secure it, the Pi needs to be able to withstand plugging in and unplugging the HDMI cable. This is why I added that extra block behind the Pi to give it support.

Step 7: Adding the USB Extension

Because the only remaining USB port is stuck on the inside of the case, you'll want to extend it out so you have access to USB for keyboards or flash drives when you're working on it in the future.

The smaller the USB extender the better because you hardly need any distance. Just plug it in the Pi, coil the rest of the cord somewhere in the case, and let the female end stick out the A/V port. You may have to bend the metal of the female side just to fit it in that gray plastic piece you took out in step 5 , but it keeps it very snug once it's in. Just screw down the plastic piece once you're done, but be careful with your spacing, depending on the size of the USB extender you may need to sand down the plastic or angle it oddly to fit in with all the cables sticking out of the Pi.

Step 8: The Ethernet Port

Originally I wanted the ethernet port to be where the expansion port was, but sadly the SD card sticks out too far into that area. Perhaps this could be done with one of the newer Raspberry Pi B+ models, but I came up with something I liked better anyway.

You want to use the shortest ethernet cable you can fin to save room, and then connect the ethernet extender on the other end of that, this will allow you to connect whenever you need. My ethernet cable was longer than I wanted, and while I could have just spliced a smaller cable out of it, I managed to bundle it all up in some dead space. Instead of sticking it out of the expansion port in the back, I put it in a position that allows it to easily stick out from the empty CD bay when needed, but can tuck down underneath when it needs to stay hidden.

Step 9: Power LED

I wanted the LED on the front of the PS1 to still light up when it's on, but I had a difficult time rewiring the original LED. I ended up just buying a new one from Radio Shack and taping it down next to the plastic piece that transmits the light from the LED to the outside of the case. I wired it so that whenever the Pi receives power, so does the LED. If you can get the original LED working ti would be ideal, but because it is connected to other things I had a difficult time figuring out how to make it turn on and off with the Pi.

Step 10: Putting It All Back Together

Make sure everything is on the inside, and then snap the two pieces of the case together. Put in all the screws EXCEPT the top center, where the Pi is. Connect your HDMI to the TV, connect two controllers and you're ready to start playing some games!

Thanks for reading my Instructable, this was just a summer project for me, and I got the majority of these parts from GoodWill, so it took a while scouting all the parts out. Because the final product took so long, I understand some of the details may not be the most clear, if you have any questions at all feel free to ask me and I'll do my best to clarify!

Comments

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JakeRussell47 made it!(author)2017-03-10

I made this project, it's awesome I love it! Thanks for the great idea.

My only question relates to Kodi. I just cannot seem to get the PS2 controllers to work with Kodi, I've spent hours reading on it. Any ideas?

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SethP4 made it!(author)2016-09-06

Why make a PiStation if it doesn't play PS1 games ಥ_ಥ...?

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yellowwinnner made it!(author)2016-10-23

It does play PS1 games... https://retropie.org.uk/documentation/systems-in-r... If you don't feel like reading much though, PS1 needs a .bin .cue .img .mdf file for ROMs and one of these files for BIOS: scph1001.bin scph5500.bin scph5501.bin scph5502.bin
I do recommend reading the full game console list as there is a lot of them, along with every BIOS file and ROM type you need.

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cameronm77 made it!(author)2016-10-20

what solder points and cables did you use for the switch

also what cables did you use for LED and could i not just use the original LED on the ps1

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jaorjo made it!(author)2015-11-30

does it also work with a PS3 controller?

Maybe I will try because this way I don't need the PS2 to USB converter adapter. Anyone of you know if it works.

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tdragovich made it!(author)2016-09-06

RetroPie has the drivers for the Bluetooth ps3 controller built in. It just takes some modifications to the config file, and if not using the pi 3 a USB bt dongle

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scott%21 made it!(author)2015-12-08

I've never thought of that, but that's a really cool idea! The PS3 controllers should work fine if you program it a little different, all you would need is a Bluetooth dongle.

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jkelsodesigns made it!(author)2016-09-04

It's much easier to just softmod your wii

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AnafielMontreve made it!(author)2016-09-04

Can you play PS1, PS2, 3DO and Sega games on a soft moded Wii?

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jkelsodesigns made it!(author)2016-09-05

You can't play PS2 games but Wii games are basically the same thing. You can play Sega, NES, SNES, Turbografx, N64, Gameboy, Atari, DS, and many more systems.

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RedLolzG made it!(author)2016-09-04

Can you play ps2 on the pi?

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M+L+G made it!(author)2016-09-04

Well done! but like another member said why not just softmod one of the console's? I was a little disappointed? When you said you were trying to declutter i thought you were going to turn the pi into an emulator? Instead you've just put it inside another consoles case? I thought the point of the raspberry pi was to save space, energy and money?? I know you said you got rid of your other consoles but yes although it did take me about a week to figure out how to softmod my original Xbox i managed it and although i haven't used it in ages due to wife being a bit of a shrew, i really enjoyed it when it was in use and capabilities were far superior to what i expected. It had about 16 non xbox live games on it. Xbmc and an retro arcade and retro console emulator on it (can't remember the name now) which was amazing with over 3000 games on it including the incredible legends of Zelda! What id love to know is if it's possible to achieve the same with literally just the Pi and an external self powered larger hdd or ssd? Just have it tucked away in tv cabinet or whatever? That would be amazing because we have a 360 now and I've never bothered modding it as it does everything we want it to do bar making coffee and movie snacks, however it obviously doesn't run emulators or have ftp access, it can't even play media off a pendrive despite many people reporting success with this. I've never had success with this, not even with the modded xbox original. Didnt matter now anyway as win 10 now has the stream to capabilities, again another reason why my raspplex pi is now gathering dust. At the end of the day id still love to be able to create a super compact media centre that is nice and quiet but still user friendly? The rest of my peeps never got the hang of the pi sadly. We also used to have one of those crappy cheap android boxes, just used to fail epically as the android v on there was like one of those cheap generic Chinese tablets, basically a copy of the real thing, a huge disappointment, so much potential yet never quite cutting the mustard so you see i too have a similar dilemma to you, loads of crappy defunct seemingly useless gadgets, but in my eyes all having great potential, would love to see the possibility of creating a multi emu for pi that could run all the games that were on my xbox emu, anyone ever done anything like that is it even possible? If i remember the name of the emulator i will edit this comment and add it. Cheers sorry for the rambling, was bored.;-)

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timsmith0 made it!(author)2016-09-04

In short yes you can, the slightly longer answer is yes, but only if you get the right single board computer. Basically it all comes down to not all Single Board Computers are made equal. I would suggest either one of the following Raspberry Pi 3, Nano Pi M3 or Pine A64 Plus all 3 of these are respectably beefy for this application and will give you good video output etc. Between Instructables and YouTube you will probably be able to get something up and running in less than a weekend.

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TheCoolDad made it!(author)2016-09-04

Nice instructable!! I've been looking into getting some Pi/linux based emulators running for my retro gaming needs which is how I found this. My only thought, and it is not negative at all, is that there should be a 5v 2A source on the board for the original PS1, and connecting the micro USB into that to power the Pi could have saved you some of the frustration with the power LED. I'm honestly not sure exactly where, but I rememeber seeeing it discussed elsewhere. Just a thought for down the road. Thanks for the perspective!!

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snakieee made it!(author)2016-09-04

Yah know, I thought that same thing but I Google the ps1 psu schematics and psu output are 2x 3.5v and a 8-7.5v (depending on the model).

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KaleB6 made it!(author)2016-06-28

I made this, I dont have any pictures only a video please check it out! Thanks heaps for making this it was really helpful, I originally soldered the controllers as you did but it short circuited. I gave up and did it a different way which works fine.

Heres the youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-ziwiaL_Pc

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Erik+van+der+Ploeg made it!(author)2016-04-05

Thanks for the inspiration! I used my bricked beyond repair ps3 to do this.

I had a cheap imitation controller laying around that uses a separate bluetooth stick to connect. It was plug and play from there. All that remains on the wishlist is a usb port on the back to charge the controller.

Because I used a Pi 3b, it has onboard Wifi for easy file transfer over ftp. I used a hdmi extension cable that fits right into an existing hole. Also the original on/off button on the back is functional.

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JaedenC1 made it!(author)2016-03-06

How did you solder the wires to the switch? I am pretty much done with the entire project besides wireing the power switch and the power LED. Any way you can help me?

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troutpouch made it!(author)2015-08-20

Thanks for the inspiration just tweaked your awesome project to my liking check it out

http://instructables.com/id/PRE-TENDO/

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d7oome made it!(author)2016-02-01

fantastic

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raspberrycoulis made it!(author)2015-09-15

Love this and I'm doing something almost identical!

My difference is that I have bought a Mausberry Circuit for the Raspberry Pi where I can use my own switch to power on / off the Pi without having to run the shutdown command manually.

I plan to connect this circuit to the original PS1 power switch, similar to you, and the theory is that this will then trigger the Mausberry Circuit and start the shutdown procedure.

Can you remember which side of the switch you soldered to? I don't have a multimeter so cannot check the +ve and -ve, but was hoping you might be able to shed some light if you could remember...?

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mkowalski8 made it!(author)2014-09-09

The playstation power supply should have a +5v output, why not use that to power the PI?

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The+Lightning+Stalker made it!(author)2014-09-09

Yeah, I was thinking the same. It would avoid some of the extra work and expense.

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sinzu made it!(author)2014-09-10

If there is a +5V on the original Playstation power supply, it think it is mainly used to powered controllers and some other small part of the console. This mean the +5V power supply has not been designed to deliver a lot a current. It probably can not deliver enough power for the Pi. If you request too much current, in the best case, the voltage will fall and the Pi will hard reset. In the worst case, the Playstation power supply can burn.

So, it can be a good idea but we must check if the power supply is able to deliver enough current for the Pi.

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Pristopher made it!(author)2015-08-31

If there's an 8V source, you could use a 5V voltage regulator.

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bgragg2 made it!(author)2015-07-26

the PS1 power supply is 8V and 3.5V depending on which pin you connect to

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MichaelS86 made it!(author)2015-06-08

Hi there,

was it necessary to use the power brick for the build, or could you have just taken it out and hooked up something smaller to use the switch? Seems like a large amount of space needed just to use a button. Either way, the build is class, thanks for this!

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scott%21 made it!(author)2015-06-08

Nope it's not necessary at all if you can fit a switch in there somehow and make it the same height, but I didn't need the added space so I just used the original because it seemed easier in my situation.

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BestDailyNews made it!(author)2015-03-17

Made it. but made it a little bit more practical

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scott%21 made it!(author)2015-03-17

How so? You should post some pics!

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CharlesB5 made it!(author)2015-02-19

Hi, i just want to ask you if you know how to disassemble the serial i/o and the multi out ports. I mean the plastic bits, because i dont want to cut the pcb...

And how difficult is it to use the all new pi 2?

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edwarno made it!(author)2015-02-20

I was cleaning out my spare room the other day and found both of my old playstations, seeing as I don't need two I looked into what I could do with the spare one and ended up stumbling across this instructable.
Needless to say as the pi2 has just been released I ordered one straight away along with all of the required parts and I should have everything by Monday.
I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

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scott%21 made it!(author)2015-02-19

I'm not sure what you mean by that, because I don't remember having to cut any PCB's (although it has been a little while since I finished this project).

Also, it should be just as easy to do it with the pi2! (and hopefully will be able to play ps1 games better)

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tedvm made it!(author)2014-12-20

hi scott! I just showed this to my missus...and something 'clicked' in her head(actually, it was a visual click, followed by a verbal "ooooo..."). when the new pi b+ came out, I used all forms of reasoning to justify buying one, with the answer of "you've got one already...waste of money...etc..".
she loves the old snes, c64 and ps1 (I lean more to the c64, amiga and xbox), and many a time she's said she'd love to have an old ps1 again.
scott, you've achieved something in which I failed miserably. she's agreed to get one, it looks like the green light is now burning brightly and a new pi b+ will be on it's way! thanks pal! :)
hopefully, I can squeeze in the time to build it in the new year. am just wondering though, if it is plausible to build in a functioning dvd player and hardrive? unless my memory fails me, the ps1 was quite small...will have to see.
have a good one....and please excuse my excessive rambling ;)

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scott%21 made it!(author)2014-12-20

That's great to hear, tedvm! I feel like it wouldn't be too difficult to put a dvd player inside, and just stick it out the top where the PS1 read discs. I also feel like you could easily get away with putting a small hard drive inside if you just don't waste as much space as I did. Good luck on your project!

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Milton%27 made it!(author)2014-11-26

hey how you doing man... I love what you did with the ps1.. but I have 2 questions one how did you wire the ps2 to usb adapter to the ps1 system and 2 can you tell me what points did you use on the switch to connect the usb and the mirco usb ends.

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scott%21 made it!(author)2014-11-26

If you take apart the PS2 to USB adapter you will see there are 10 solder points per controller port that connect the pins to the board. If you look on the back of the original PS1 controller ports, there are also 10 solder points that connect the points to that board. Simply connect the solder points 1 for 1 and it should make the original PS1 ports work just like the adapter.

For the USB you can just cut open any micro USB to USB cable. There should be two wires on the inside, one is power and one is data (the data wire is usually green). On the bottom side of the original PS1 power supply unit you will see several solder points under the switch. Use a voltmeter to check which solder points carry voltage. Change the switch from the "on" position to the "off "position (and back and forth) until you find which points carry the current ONLY when the switch is in the "on" position. Once you figure out the two points you can solder wither end of the USB power wires to the solder points on the PS1 board. Now when if the USB is plugged in, the Pi will only receive power when the switch is in the "on" position.

I hope that cleared some stuff up! If not, just let me know and I'll try to do my best!

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MartinK3 made it!(author)2014-11-27

I'll probably end up doing something similar with mine, I'll get a cheap ps2 usb adapter to take a apart and solder on. I've also got a ps2 slim case that I'm going to try and cram the guts from a broken Samsung Series 5 chromebook into to run emulators on ubuntu with. If I can fit it in that, I'll use the PS1 case and put the rpi in the ps2 slim.

God knows when I'll get round to it but I'll put it on here when I do.

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MartinK3 made it!(author)2014-11-13

Very nice, I'm looking to do something similar with a PS1 but was hoping to wire the controllers up to the GPIO directly. Did you look at doing that at all?

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scott%21 made it!(author)2014-11-26

I'm sorry, I didn't! I had an extra USB converter laying around that I already knew how to use, so I just figured it would be easier.

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zack247 made it!(author)2014-10-14

I saw this and was kind of hoping that it would play PSX games too. kind of disappointed by the fact that it doesnt (i know there's a reasonable emulator for PSX games) but its still pretty cool anyhow! its often hard to keep a stock look when doing something like this.

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scott%21 made it!(author)2014-10-14

I agree, but after I built it I realized that, one, the Pi isn't really powerful enough, and two, I would need a much bigger SD card because PS rom files are exponentially larger than SNES files. The Emulation Station software does have provisions for emulating PSX games if you want to try this out yourself, but I just didn't find it all that necessary I suppose. Thanks for the comment!

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zachn1700 made it!(author)2014-09-22

I seem to be confused on step 3, the power cable. Why do I need two micro usb cables? Could I not just use a long cable, cut it in half, then strip the two sides, solder them onto the switch, and then thread the respective ends through the correct hole?

Sorry for the stupid question, I am very new to stuff like this. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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scott%21 made it!(author)2014-09-25

Yes you very easily could!! Sorry for the confusion, I only included that bit of information to explain why the wire changes colors after it goes through the switch (My USB wires were too short to do it with just one).

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zachn1700 made it!(author)2014-09-25

Great, thank you so much for the information!

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Crafterkid123 made it!(author)2014-09-13

Would it be possible to remove the disc drive and replace it with a keyboard without showing any holes in the shell?? and if that couldn't be done then could the disc drive part have an lcd screen in it or something?? also, i find that it would be way easier to remove everything from the inside of the case and put a power bank charger in instead, as those things can hold enough MaH to last a raspberry pi model B for 8 hours.

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japanarchy made it!(author)2014-09-12

How exactly do you use the meter to test which solder points are connected by the switch?

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scott%21 made it!(author)2014-09-13

You can connect it to two points on the board, then have a second person turn the switch on and off, if you see the current break when the switch is turned off then you found the right solder points.

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TheMiniman801 made it!(author)2014-09-09

Oh man, this is awesome! I could replace this with another disk or cart based console too!

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NozeDive made it!(author)2014-09-09

This looks pretty awesome! I have a bricked Sega Genesis that I think I'll throw this in.

What's the lag like with emulating a console on the Pi? I've tried playing StreetFighter II on an emulator on my Wii, and my PSP, and both do such a horrible job at recognizing the button presses that it's almost unplayable. :-( But I would totally give up my RasPI to have a working console emulator if the button press detection works.

About This Instructable

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Bio: Hello there, I'm Scott! I major in IT at George Mason University, and I'm interested in arcade and board games, especially rhythm games.
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