Plug 'n' Play Retro Arcade Console




Introduction: Plug 'n' Play Retro Arcade Console

The Plug 'n' Play Retro Arcade Console packs many of your favorite classic consoles and games all into one device. The best part is that all you need is to connect your console to your TV's video input and into a power source to enjoy all of your favorite titles on your HD display. The joystick and arcade buttons give the console an arcade-style feel and make this a fun console that you and your friends can enjoy passing around and competing for high scores.

The idea for the project was borrowed from HackerHouse here.

Step 1: Prepare Your Materials

The Plug 'n' Play Retro Arcade console consists of only a few major pieces!

The materials used are the following:

  • A Raspberry Pi Model 3 (any Pi would work)
  • A 32gb micro sd card with RetroPie installed (how-to here)
  • 2.0+ amp Micro-USB power supply (many phone chargers work fine)
  • HDMI cable and compatible TV or monitor
  • Arcade controls
    • Joystick
    • 6x 30mm buttons (for the top)
    • 2x 24mm buttons (for the front)
    • USB encoder
    • All can be found here
  • The Plug 'n' Play console box (STL files attached to be 3D printed)
    • This box is slightly different from those in the pictures. This new and improved box has a slot for cables to run through the back of the box and a new beveled edge to protect your hands from the sharp edges of the original design (seen in pictures).
  • Optional: A 50mm fan may be attached to the right side of the box for increased heat dispersion

Step 2: Assemble the Controls

This part of the process is fairly straightforward... To prepare the push buttons, simply attach your leads for the jumper wire to the connectors on the button. The polarity does not matter, so don't worry about which wire connects to each terminal on the button. Do this for all 8 buttons.

To insert the buttons into the control panel, just place the button into the hole, leads first, then push in the center of the button until it is fully inserted into the panel. Do not push the edge of the button, this will cause the button to insert at the incorrect angle and may crack your control panel.

To attach the joystick, unscrew the ball, place the joystick through the bottom of the control board and re-attach the ball. A bead of hot glue around the edge of the joystick mounting plate was more than enough to secure the joystick to the control board.

Once all of your buttons and your joystick are mounted, you are ready to move on!

Step 3: Connect Your Controls.

Next, you must identify where your controls will connect to your encoder. In our case, the long side of the board had individual headers for each button. The controls for our control panel connected to inputs K1-K6 on our encoder, and we attached the smaller buttons on the front to K11 and K12. After you have connected all of your buttons, you may connect your joystick to the encoder and your USB cable to its header. These each only fit in their designated connector on our encoder, although this may not be true for all encoders, so check the paperwork that comes with your encoder.

Step 4: Connect & Configure

To wrap up the project, all that is required is connecting cables. At this point, set your Pi inside of the box and begin running cables for power and HDMI through the rear of the case. The USB encoder plugs into one of the Pi's USB ports and extra cable may be coiled up and set inside of the box.

At this point, you are ready to setup your console. Simply connect to your TV and plug the device into your power source and watch the magic happen. After the console boots, you will be prompted to configure your controls. Follow the on-screen directions to map your controls, and when you come across a control you don't have (such as a left or right thumb stick) simply press and hold any button to skip.

Our controls are configured as follows: the joystick is mapped to the D-Pad, the four lower-left buttons on the top are A,B,X and Y in the pattern of an SNES controller, and the 2 buttons on the upper-right are left and right shoulder buttons. The two buttons on the front of the box are intended to be configured as start and select buttons.

After you have configured your controls, you're all set to load up your favorite games!

Step 5: Play Some Games!

There are multiple methods for loading up your games, with the most convenient method probably being using a USB stick. (Here are the instructions for that).

A quick google search of the game you wish to play will often yield a number of resources you may use to find games that are playable on your Retro Console.

Quick Tips:

  • Never unplug your console without properly powering down
  • Press your start and select buttons simultaneously to exit back to the menu from a game
  • The shutdown menu may be accessed from by pressing the start button on the main menu
  • The box may also be used with a PC by running the long cable from the USB encoder out of the box and to your PC for use with newer or PC only games.

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    Cool. I have been thinking about making an xbox controller using large arcade buttons to make it easier for my toddler to play games.