Raspberry Pi Emulation Station

Introduction: Raspberry Pi Emulation Station

With the help of Retropie, we will create a retro gaming system.

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Step 1: Before We Get Started...

Since its release, the Raspberry Pi has been hailed as the perfect all-in-one retro game console. Today we will build an Raspberry Pi based retro gaming system under 30 minutes.

Before we get started, let’s go over some basics. Emulating old-school video games requires two things: game ROMs and an emulator to play them. A ROM is a copy of a game that exists on your device. An emulator is an application that can play that ROM.

What systems can you emulate? A lot of them. For a list check out: https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup/wiki/S...

Let's get started!

Step 2: Gather Materials

To make your retro gaming console, you'll need the following:

1. A Raspberry Pi- Model 3, 3B or 3B+. These are recommended because they have inbuilt WiFi and Bluetooth. For my console, I used the Raspberry Pi 3B.

2. A Micro USB power supply

3. A Micro SD card (minimum 8 GB) with SD card reader

4. A USB Game pad. This isn't necessary, but it all adds to the "retroness".

5. A Monitor of some sort

6. A Linux/Mac/Windows computer

7. A Case (I used the Super Kuma 9000 for reasons I'll share in the next step)

8. An HDMI cord/HDMI to Blank converter (Blank is whatever your monitor's input is)

9. A Keyboard and mouse

10. A USB

This kit from Canakit includes all of this except the gamepad, keyboard, mouse, and USB.

This all costs around $75-120.

Step 3: Assemble Your Case

Put your Raspberry Pi inside its case. The kit I purchased comes with heat sinks, which you might want to use, since the Pi can get pretty hot when playing certain games. I recommend the Super Kuma because it includes safe shutdown which will make sure your Raspberry Pi will never corrupt. For a visual guide to build the case and extra information, check the video above made by ETA prime.

Step 4: Setting Up Raspbian

If you're starting from scratch you have got to first install your OS. Retropie isn't an OS that sits individually; it exists on top of Raspbian. First there are 2 programs you have to install.

  • SD card formatter-https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/
  • A Disc Imager-Apple Pi Baker for Mac, Win32DiscImager/Etcher for Windows, and Etcher for Linux

First insert your SD card in its SD card reader and plug it in your computer. Open SD card Formatter and Format your SD card to FAT32. This gets rid of any information on your SD card and makes sure the SD is Rpi compatible.

Then Install Raspbian from the Raspberry Pi page. The newest version is Raspbian Stretch which I recommend. Flash the OS image to your SD card by opening your Disc Imager. From there select Raspbian and select your SD card. This will take around 5 minutes. Once that's is done, attach the Raspberry Pi to your monitor to make sure it boots.

Step 5: Install Retropie

Your OS is a piece of software called RetroPie. RetroPie contains a bunch of emulators to play old games from an array of systems, including the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, PS1, and Atari.

First put your Micro SD card in its SD card reader and plug it in your computer.

You’ll need to download the image for your RetroPie from the RetroPie page.

- If you’re using an older Raspberry Pi, you select the Raspberry Pi 0/1.

- If you’re using a Raspberry Pi 3 like I am, select the download for Raspberry Pi 2/3.

Once you have downloaded your SD card image as a .gz file, you need to extract it using a program such as 7-Zip. The extracted file will be a .img file. For Mac users, the Utility Archive will work just fine.

Next, you will install the .img file (which is the RetroPie disk image) onto your MicroSD card.

- For Window users, use a program called Win32DiskImager or Etcher.

- For Mac user, use Apple Pi Baker.

- For Linux users, use the dd command or Etcher.

I used Etcher as it's easier to use and you do not need to extract the image although I recommend extracting it. I also tried using Win32, but it did not work for me. However, that's my experience and it may be the better option for you.

Step 6: Setting Up Your Controller

After you’ve loaded RetroPie to your SD card and put it in the Pi, plug in the power adaptor and boot the Raspberry Pi.

Connect it to your TV set or monitor and plug in your USB controller. It will take a few minutes to boot up. Once it does, you’ll be met with a configuration screen for your controller. You can configure the controller however you want, but I kept the traditional controls (up button to indicate up, x button to indicate x, etc). If you don't have certain buttons, then long press a button. This will tell Retropie you do not have those buttons.

Step 7: Super Kuma Script Installation

We will need to connect to a WiFi network. When you first start, select RetroPie configuration menu. The steps afterwards are like any other time you've connected to a Wifi network. Click “Wifi” then click “Connect to your Wifi network” and choose your network and enter in the network key.

Once you are connected press cancel to exit. If you got the Super Kuma case like I did, press f4 on your keyboard. Then type in the following exactly how it is: "sudo wget -O - https://goo.gl/22RsN3 | bash"

Once the script is finished loading, type "sudo shutdown -h now".

Step 8: Adding ROMS

After all that gruesome work, its almost time to play Mario Kart all day!

Now all you have to do is add your ROM's. This is the part where I point out that installing game ROM's is a legal grey area. Even though many of the games you want to play haven’t been in production for 20+ years, they are still protected by copyright. However you can turn your old game cartridges into ROMS.

In this tutorial we're going to assume you have ROMs you own the rights to. All you need is a USB flash drive. Insert the thumb drive into your computer and create a folder on the drive called Retropie. Plug the thumb drive into your Raspberry Pi. Wait for the Pi to stop blinking. Remove the thumb drive from your Pi and put it back into your computer. Inside that Retropie folder you’ll find a new folder called ROM's and within it are folders for each system. Drag your ROM files into the system it’s associated with. Remove the USB thumb drive and plug it back into your Raspberry Pi. Wait for it to start blinking. Refresh the Retropie software by quitting from the start menu or using the Super Kuma's reset.

Step 9: You're Done!

Congratulations, you now have a working retro gaming machine! Happy gaming and if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I'll try my best to answer them. Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed this tutorial, vote for me (Abhi P) in the Game Life Contest. :)

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    5 Discussions

    Vamsi KrishnaV1
    Vamsi KrishnaV1

    1 year ago

    nice job i enjoyed making this with my friends


    1 year ago

    Good work Abhi, keep it up


    1 year ago

    Great Work


    Question 1 year ago

    I have an Odroid XU4. Could you tell me the materials needed if my hardware is an Odroid?

    Abhi P
    Abhi P

    Answer 1 year ago

    The material list should be relatively the same although the case is something else. Not many retro cases are out there for the Odroid XU4 despite it being powerful. If you want a retro case this one is for you: https://ameridroid.com/collections/odroid/product...

    Note that retropie will not work with this and you will need to install the ODROID-Game-Station-Turbo OS image.

    If you want Retropie you can get this case: https://www.ebay.com/i/223058362349?chn=ps&var=521871823024