building a custom retro GAMING console
This year while celebrating 3/14 (Pi Day!), I decided a good place to start would be to build a retro-gaming console/multimedia center for my own home using the Raspberry Pi.
Below is the hardware specifications:
The Raspberry Pi 3 is the third generation Raspberry Pi. It replaced the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B in February 2016. Compared to the Raspberry Pi 2 it has:
- A 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU
- 802.11n Wireless LAN
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
Like the Pi 2, it also has:
- 1GB RAM
- 4 USB ports
- 40 GPIO pins
- Full HDMI port
- Ethernet port
- Combined 3.5mm audio jack and composite video
- Camera interface (CSI)
- Display interface (DSI)
- Micro SD card slot (now push-pull rather than push-push)
- VideoCore IV 3D graphics core
The Raspberry Pi 3 has an identical form factor to the previous Pi 2 (and Pi 1 Model B+) and has complete compatibility with Raspberry Pi 1 and 2.
At first I decided to use RetroPie OS but I eventually migrated to using the Recalbox OS for these builds. I did this ultimately because of its much more user friendly start menu and better integration with certain types of controllers. My goal was to ultimately build a user friendly multi-emulation console for everyone to use.
I also wanted it to feel more like a futuristic video game museum than a just an arcade so I built my system with custom splash screens, a custom theme and a heavy emphasis on packing as many games and consoles into it as possible. At this time it contains about 14,000 video games (admittedly, not every one of them are working but most games do).
I created a bit of art to replace the splash screens and loading screen on the system. Below are a few of the prototypes.
I even explored the idea of a video splash screen but didn't ultimately like it as much. Sometimes simple is better.
I also modified the systems vanilla theme into one a little more becoming of my museum.
P I C T U R E S C O M I N G S O O N
I started by installing the OS simply by following the guidelines located on the wiki.
Afterwards, I downloaded a large part of my MAME and MESS rom files from The Internet Archive Library, which has a great arcade section (for those of you interested in the preservation of historical game files).
I downloaded the rest of my huge rom collection from various internet sources. Over the course of about a month of trial and error I eventually just rebuilt many of the rom sets based on dat files using the software clrmamepro.
After a great deal of tinkering I now have the following consoles working efficiently:
- SUPER NINTENDO
- NINTENDO 64
- SEGA GENESIS
- SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
- SEGA 32X
- GAMEBOY COLOR
- GAMEBOY ADVANCE
- VIRTUAL BOY
- TURBO GRAFX 16
- CAPCOM PLAY SYSTEM
- MULTI ARCADE MACHINE EMULATION (MAME)
- ATARI 2600
- ATARI 5800
- ATARI LYNX
- NEO GEO
- NEO GEO POCKET
- NEO GEO POCKET COLOR
- ATARI 2600
- ATARI 7800
In follow up, I highly recommend the project to anyone looking to get their first taste of Linux while tinkering with something fun, or who might be interested in learning about single board micro-computing.
My friends all loved it so much I began selling these builds to interested parties. All together they cost about $140 each.