Building my RetroPie The Build Getting Ready for the project For this project I used Hardware Software Raspberry Pi 3B+ & Power Supply 64gb Micro SD card & SD adaptor Raspberry PI Power supply GeekPi Case inc Fan USB Keyboard & Mouse Generic USB game pad controllers My TV & 1 x HDMI Cable My PC RetroPie 3 (plus updates) 7Zip Win32DiskImager WinSCP Building the Pi Hardware So before I can get to do any of the cool stuff I needed to build the hardware, this meant putting the Pi in to it’s case (not such an easy task with the acrylic case). The case I used was an acrylic clear and black plastic case made especially to fit the Raspberry Pi 3B+, it comes with 3 heatsinks and a small fan for cooling. Adding the heatsinks wasn’t difficult at all and took about 5 mins, the only think I would suggest is that you add the heatsink for the CPU when the Pi is in its case (this ensures you are in the right position for the pre cut fan hole. What I didn’t realise is that this case is a bit like a Chinese puzzle, if you take all the layers apart (which I found I needed to do to safely and gently build around the board) then it can take some time to figure out how to rebuild, but once that’s sorted its pretty easy to put together. Once completed the Pi looked pretty cool in it’s case, the fan and heatsinks should really help keep the CPU cool whilst this is running the RetroPie software. It’s not essential, but I wanted to protect the board and get the best performance from this little machine. I really liked the design of the hole for a ribbon band that could connect to the GPIO pins. I realise this is for a GPIO expansion board, but as I’m not using that for this project it just provides more airflow to keep the chip cool. Preparing the microSD card & loading RetroPie The reason we start with this is to prevent having to open and close the system more than necessary. The micro SD card is difficult to access once the system is built (we will install some tools later to make that easier). For no we need to get the basics online, so we should download and install the following software to the PC / Laptop that we want to use during the build. Download SD Card formatter tool from RetroPie.org.uk Download RetroPie image from RetroPie.org.uk (Note where you save the file and the file name – we’ll need them later!) Download 7Zip to unzip RetroPie image Download and install Win32DSKManager (for mounting the RetroPie to the SD card) Download and install WinSCP (for remotely connecting to the Pi for adding games and configuration files) Now everything is downloaded I can start… Using my PC I added the SD Adaptor put the micro SD card in so the computer can see it. I opened the SD Card formatter software and formatted the SD card as FAT32 filesystem and “Default Allocation Size” settings. The SD card is ready time to get the RetroPie software ready for loading. Opening 7Zip, I found the downloaded RetroPie file (in my case it was in my downloads folder). Now I needed to tell 7Zip to Extract all files (again I left the destination file in downloads, but you could choose anywhere you want). The extracted file is a bootable program that runs off the SD card and we will need to add this to the SD card, so again remember where it goes! Once the RetroPie image was unzipped I could add it to the SD card. To do this I found out I needed to add it in a special way, this is called Mounting. The difference in the way I added the file means that when the card is read the program immediately starts running as an operating system. I opened WIN32DiskImager and selected the file I needed to mount in the Image file selection (this was the file I extracted using 7Zip). I then selected the SD card as the device (I left all other settings alone) and then clicked Write. After a few minutes the write was completed and I could now put my SD card in to the Pi ready for booting it up! Configuring RetroPie – The Basics Now I had an SD card ready loaded with RetroPie I could put it in to the board, connect the TV / keyboard and mouse etc and turn it on. The screen fired up with 4 Raspberry’s and then lots of text scrolled up the screen (these are the system files loading up). Power on the RetroPie : You should see the RetroPie flash screen. (It will disappear again whilst the system loads, don’t worry it will come back!). When the RetroPie turns on you can control the system using the keyboard you will configure this as an input device in the RetroPie menu. Follow the on screen instructions to configure a key layout that makes sense. Once loaded I needed to configure the RetroPie it already found that I had a Gamepad on first boot asked me to configure the inputs. This was done by pushing the button I wanted to use for Up / Down, Left, Right, A, B etc… it is very easy to (just follow the on screen instructions) once completed I was sent to the main menu. For now I want to use the keyboard and mouse to continue the configuration, and I want to focus on the systems Localisation settings. This affects things like the WiFi, keyboard layouts and time zones etc. I really wanted the Wi-fi first so it could connect to my network. Connecting a to the network / internet Once loaded use the keyboard and navigate to RetroPie Configuration > WiFi (use the A key to select) Check the top right corner of the grey dialogue box, it will say Configure WiFi Current IP: (unknown ) Wireless IP: (unknown) Wireless SSID: (this will be blank) Now select the option Connect to WiFi network (make sure to press ENTER in the dialogue menus). Select the Wifi Network you want to connect to by using the arrows and press ENTER. (Note that you could use your phone as the WiFiif needed but be aware that there will be data downloads) Type the network password & select OK The screen will go back to the previous menu but if you look in the top right corner you should will now see an IP address – WRITE THIS NUMBER DOWN YOU WILL NEED IT LATER. Here an example of my set up setting when connected. Configure WiFi Current IP: 192.168.0.5 Wireless IP: 192.168.0.5 Wireless SSID: PrettyFlyForWifi If you see similar details populated in your box then Select Exit to go back to the RetroPie configuration menu, Installing & Updating software and configuring remote access. Before I installed the software, I was careful to ensure that the Pi could see all of the memory card. The default configurations only enable the system to use about 300mb of the card. To ensure that all of the 64GB becomes available I needed to change a setting. On the RetroPie configuration menu select Raspi-Config Select Advance Options Select Expand Filesystems & Select You will see a message saying that the filesystem will update on reboot – but before we reboot let’s change a few more things. Select Localisation Options Select Change Locale Select en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8 Press enter to confirm again (ensure the same en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8 is highlighted) Whilst I am in this menu I also decided to change the log in option (this would normally force me to log in with username of Pi and password of Raspberry). Changing this setting means it will auto log in as a Pi user. Select Boot Options Select Desktop / CLI Select Console Autologin Now we are almost done…let’s update this tool! Select Update When done select Finish Time to reboot – Press the S key to come out of the RetroPie config menu and back to the main screen. Press the SPACEBAR and select QUIT Select Restart System Updating the Software So having loaded the emulator I was hoping to play some games, but no! ☹…. I have to get the software up to date. This applies to all of the systems including Raspbian Operating System Game Emulators (Amiga / NES / SNES./ M.A.M.E / Gameboy and more!) RetroPie configuration menus To do this we must continue in the RetroPie configuration screen and this time we need to select RetroPie Set Up (remember we use the A key to select in these menus) Once in the dialogue box Select option 2 Update (use the ENTER key). It will ask if you are sure, select Yes. This will initiate an update call and will download and install all of the latest updates. When completed you will see a quick intro dialogue screen saying there Images can be downloaded from RetroPie.org.uk etc. Select OK (using ENTER) It will now ask you if you would like to update the underlaying OS packages. Select Yes and press ENTER. When completed select OK Configuring remote access I want to configure remote to allow me to add games and software / control the Pi from my PC rather than having to keep a keyboard plugged in or having to take the set up apart again. To do this I need to enable something called SSH on the Pi. To get to the setting I must navigate to the RetroPie configuration menu and Select Raspi-Config Select Interfacing Options Find SSH and select Now I needed to go to the PC and install WinSCP. When installed I entered the IP address where it says hostname 192.168.0.5 (this was taken from the details earlier). I will also need the log in User: Pi Password: Raspberry This will allow me to remotely access the microSD card without a wired connections. I did a quick check using WinSCP to see if I could connect and all was good. Getting Ready to play! With all of this finally configured I needed to add some games, in the world of RetroPie we call these ROM’s (a computing term meaning Read Only Memory). Now ROM’s are software and whilst there are many places I can download the software I can only download software which I (or my Dad) already own. If I download games I don’t own then it’s piracy and it is illegal. So my Dad and I made a list of the old games we could download and add to the system. Free & Legal Games There are lots in this list I downloaded them from https://www.mamedev.org/roms/ which is a site recognised by the Raspberry Pi official but if you already own some SNES, NES, ATARI or Amiga camse etc then you can often download them from the internet and with a little more configuration make them playable on the platform. Public Domain ROM’s can also be found here https://www.zophar.net/pdroms/nes.html NB I used an old USB keyboard and mouse we had laying around the house and got some cheap USB controllers, but any controller that supports Bluetooth will work.