Create your own arcade machine with Raspberry Pi

arcade machine example

Many of us are those who with the passage of time increasingly miss being able to play certain titles and games with which we were lucky enough to live in our childhood. Maybe and because of this no wonder we seek, as far as possible, to create our own arcade machine with which to relive, in a way, those past experiences.

With this in mind and far from manufacturing a completely professional machine, something that is much simpler than you might think since today in the market there are numerous kits that already offer you, to call it in some way, the furniture to start from, keypads and even the perfect installation for screen and hardware, Today I will explain how we only need a Raspberry Pi with a specific configuration to be able to use it for this purpose.


console controls for use with rearfoot

What will we need to be able to play our favorite games?

In a very basic way and to be able to play on any type of screen we will need different elements that, step by step, we will indicate how to proceed for their installation. If you are willing to turn your Rasbperry Pi into a retro console, this is what you need:

As a comment to this point, it should be noted that, once all the software is installed and we can run everything correctly, we can start thinking about creating a much more advanced product where we will need other types of elements such as a kit to build the furniture. giving a much more professional image, in the market there are many options, and even equip it with its own keypad, screen ...

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how to install retropie on your Raspberry Pi

We download and install RetroPie on our Raspberry Pi

To achieve that ultimate goal of being able to enjoy our games on any screen, and even if we finally dare in our own arcade, perhaps the most interesting bet is install the RetroPie operating system on our Raspberry Pi. Basically we are talking about a version of Raspbian where, by default, a completely customized interface is included that allows us to launch the different emulators with which to load our retro games.

RetroPie differs from the rest of the options on the market due to its different configuration possibilities, the fluidity of its interface and the use of open source emulators, something that finally makes Any interested developer can collaborate in the evolution of this software both with new code and by reporting and correcting possible errors detected. that will be corrected in a short time by the community.

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At this point we must take something very important into account and that is that, although RetroPie allows you to emulate different consoles, the truth is that depending on the Raspberry Pi used we can play some games or others. A clear example is that if we dedicate a Raspberry Pi 1 to this end, we will not be able to play options such as Play Station 1 or Nintendo 64, two options for which at least, we need a more powerful option such as the Raspberry Pi 2 or 3. This is the list of consoles that you can emulate with this software:

  • Atari 800
  • Atari 2600
  • Atari ST / STE / TT / Falcon
  • Amstrad CPC
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Color
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Sega Mega Drive
  • M
  • X86 PC
  • NeoGeo
  • Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Nintendo 64
  • Sega Master System
  • Sega Mega Drive / Genesis
  • Sega Mega-CD
  • Sega 32X
  • PlayStation 1
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Finally, it should be noted that RetroPie, thanks precisely to the large community of developers behind the project, is today compatible with a large number of controllers without the need to install any additional software. We have an example of compatible controllers where we can use any Play Station 3 or Xbox 360 controller.

step-by-step rearfoot installation

Installing RetroPie on your Raspberry Pi

Once we have all the hardware ready, it's time to start installing RetroPie on your Raspberry Pi. At this point there are two completely different options that we can opt for and that offer us the same final result.

First of all we can install the emulator using a RetroPie image with the included Raspbian OS. Personally, I think this is the simplest way since we will only need to download an image of RetroPie from the project's own official website. The downside is that, in this way, the installation will erase all the content of the microSD card that we are using.

A second option would go through take advantage of an old Raspbian installation that you may already have installed on your Raspberry Pi. On this image we would only have to install the RetroPie emulator. In this simple way we do not lose any file that we may have already personalized on our disk or microSD card.

retropie setup page

If you have chosen this first option, just tell yourself that, to download the RetroPie image, you must access the download menu that exists on the project's website. Once the window is loaded, we only have to select the version of our Raspberry Pi and click on download. The project is quite heavy so downloading this image can take a long time, for a medium speed connection it can take approximately 5 minutes.

At this point, we have to transfer the content of the RetroPie image to our microSD card. For this, perform this action I personally use the Etcher software as it is much easier than adding the image to the card using the command line Although, if you are an advanced user, surely you control either of the two options well. This point in the process, one way or another, usually takes about 10 minutes. Once this step is done, we only have to connect our Raspberry Pi to test that the installation has been done correctly.

If you already had a Raspbian installation installed on your Raspberry Pi, we will only have to install the RetroPie emulator on it. To do this, the first thing to do is install the git package. This package is usually installed by default but, if we don't have it, we just have to enter the following commands.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install git

Once all the packages have been installed and updated, we must enter the following commands that will truly install the emulator on our version of Raspbian.

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup.git
cd RetroPie-Setup
chmod +x retropie_setup.sh
sudo ./retropie_setup.sh

When we execute the last instruction we should see an image very similar to the one that I leave you just below these lines. In it, as you can see, we just have to indicate that the basic installation is carried out. This process can take several minutes. Once the installation has been done, we must restart the operating system.

install restropie on raspbian

Set up RetroPie on Raspberry Pi

At this point we have already managed to install the emulator, in either of the two ways, we must proceed to configure certain tools that will help us significantly improve our experience as a user as well as the controls to be able to play.

The first tool that we must configure is Samba. This software will be the one that, when the time comes, will allow us to connect to our Raspberry Pi from another computer in order to add the games. To carry out this task we will only have to access RetroPie Setup. In the next window, just click on the option Configure Samba ROM Shares

This process can take a few minutes but, once finished, We can now access our Raspberry Pi from any PC connected to the same network. For this, in any folder, right in the address bar, we write the IP of our Raspberry Pi, if we know it, or the command // RASPBERRYPI.

rasbperry folder

At this moment, at last, we have the RetroPie emulator configured on our motherboard and, most importantly, access to it from another PC. Now all we have to do is search online for a page where we can download the game we want to install.

Once we have the games that we want to install for a certain game console, we access through Samba to the folder of said game console and add the game. Once the game has been pasted into the corresponding folder, we just have to restart our Raspberry Pi for it to detect it and thus be able to start playing.

As a final detail, tell you that if we use one of the latest versions of RetroPie with total security we will not have to install the controls since the operating system already contains the necessary drivers for the console to detect them. We just have to connect them and reboot the board. Another point to keep in mind, in case we want to play in a much more fluid way, go to overclock the motherboard. For this we enter the raspi-config menu. To carry out and this configuration, completely optional, we must write in a Terminal:

sudo raspi-config

how to overclock a Raspberry Pi

Once this order is executed, a window should appear where we will select the option 'overclock'and, in this new one, the option Medium 900 MHz.

As I said, this final configuration is completely optional and you have to take into account several things since, just as the interface will go much more fluid, we are forcing the processor so it will get hotter, something that can cause it to end up melted if we do not use heat sinks capable of lowering its temperature supported by a fan.

Further information: programoergosum


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