Using RetroPie to Build Keyhole’s Gaming Console

Brad Mongar Keyhole, Technology Snapshot 3 Comments

Or, We Have Game at Keyhole Software

You know you work at a great company when you say to your boss that there is a Linux build for the RaspberryPi that is dedicated to playing old arcade and console games…. and he agrees to buy one for the company office for the low, low price of a written blog post about it.

Keyhole Software is just such a company and this is the promised blog post. Specifically, I’ll be talking about the process I used for setting up the Raspberry Pi. I’m hoping that it will give you an overview (alongside the official documentation) for making your own gaming console!

Materials

So I ordered a Raspberry Pi 3 starter kit and a 64 gig memory card from Amazon. I also ordered some PS3 clone controllers that turned out not to be a very good choice.

After kicking off the order, I downloaded RetroPie 4.02 a Linux build with built-in arcade game and console emulators. After an excruciating two whole days of feeling like a kid waiting for Christmas, the package finally arrived.

I quickly plugged the SD card from the package into my laptop and using Win 32 Disk Imager burned the image of the RetroPie install. While that was going, I stuck the heat sinks onto the Raspberry Pi, snapped it into the case, and plugged in a USB keyboard and HDMI monitor.

After I had the image burned, I plugged that into the Pi and added power. It came up no problem.

Configuration

I was able to navigate around and configure the WiFi, no problem.

Next step was to get the controllers to work. This was a problem. Plugged in through USB, they vibrated non stop. I could get them to control the Pi while plugged in but couldn’t get them to stop vibrating. I could not get them to pair via Bluetooth either.

I did some searching and found a few articles about PS3 clone controllers. I set my clone type, tried a couple different suggestions, but they just weren’t pairing.

It was near the end of the day. I packed up the new toys in the box they shipped in and headed home. On the way home I stopped at a local MicroCenter and bought a couple of wired Logitech game pads. The next morning I plugged in the new game pads and brought up the Pi and the controllers worked great.

Next was to install some roms. Roms are the image of the games of different systems. I will leave the finding of properly-licensed roms as an exercise to the reader.

Installing the roms was very easy. I found the RetroPie on my network through Window’s network discovery. The default name is RETROPIE. I navigated to the roms directory, and then copied the roms I had to the directory under roms that corresponded to the appropriate system emulator.

There are some emulators that aren’t installed by default but they can be added easily. Other than the frustration around the controllers, it was a smooth process.

Final Thoughts

Keyhole provided me with a fun learning experience with the Raspberry Pi and a fun way to blow off steam with the arcade games. When I brought it back to the office, it was a big hit. People have taken some time to unwind playing some old favorites.

We have even implemented a weekly challenge where we all play the same game sometime during a week and see who can get the high score. Each week’s winner gets to pick the following week’s competition game. And with as many games as there are out there, we’ll probably be playing at the Keyhole office for many, many, many weeks to come.

 


About the Author
Brad Mongar

Brad Mongar

Brad Mongar is a Kansas City-based software developer. He is a Black Belt and his favorite activity in Martial Arts is Board Breaking. He enjoys strategy video games and table-top RPGs, in addition to raising two great kids alongside his wife, Melinda.


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Comments 3

  1. On one hand who does not want to build this sort of thing… But for me the result is not satisfying. Not because the project is not of a good quality, but because of the way you have to load the pi, the emulator and then the game. If you could put a single game on a card and somehow autoboot from start, with the boot being maybe a second, you would then have something that really feels like it did back in the 80s..

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