Here’s a smaller project I completed in an evening or 2. I had intended to put a RaspberryPi Zero into a repro USB NES controller but, after finding I’d bought something that was completely unplayable (it kept pressing up alongside left or right), I ended up reading a blog by Terence Eden (@edent on Twitter) and modding a classic Xbox controller to do the job properly. Before the retro police turn up at my door I want to stress the original controller cable was broken and missing the end adapter!
RetroPie handles all the emulation and loading ROMs via USB turns out to be pretty easy. I only loaded a handful of NES and classic arcade games as I’m not a huge gamer but do like a quick fix now and again.
I used a cheap dremal to cut a slit in the memory card slot so the pie could slot in and stay in without a large gaping hole. It also helps to keep the pie away from all the internal electrical components of the controller.
The minor caveat to all this is that I tried to internalise the controller’s USB cable by hard wiring it directly to the pie’s data USB port but my soldering let me down and I pulled up the contact pad. I abandoned that more elegant solution but the upshot is that the Xbox controller will continue to work with other systems, such as a PC / Mac running MAME, and the data port on the pie will continue to work so I can add more ROMs.
- Easy to make project
- Fast loading system
- HDMI output is great for most modern TVs
- Easy to add more games
- Snug fit for the pie
- Handles most old games
- Too many cables coming in /out (power, controller data, HDMI)
- Restricted movement (tugging sideways pulls out HDMI)
- No audio jack so sound must go via HDMI
I’m really pleased with it but am not really sure what I’ll do with it in the long-term. It was a nice project to work on but now it’s probably going to sit on a shelf. Maybe I’ll give it away or send it to The Centre for Computing History in Cambridge to have as an interactive example of what a pie can do for their programming classroom.