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Raspberry Pi Handheld Gaming
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Laminar
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Oct 20, 2020, 11:51 AM
 
I'm kicking off a project here that should be pretty fun. Wife mentioned getting a Switch for the 7 year old for Christmas. Between the cost of the console (and low availability), controllers, and games, I balked pretty hard, being used to $5 Steam games.

I have a Raspberry Pi 4B lying around that I got last Christmas. I set it up as a possible car dashboard running the tuning software I use for my race car, and I also set it up with Steam Link to stream games from the basement computer, but it hadn't really found a good permanent use. I loaded up RetroPie and threw on a few games - TMNT and Kirby for SNES, Pokemon Stadium and Zelda for N64, Pokemon Emerald for GBA. Kid loved it.



So now to make it portable. I just ordered a few things:

This 5" HDMI screen with built in audio This saves me from having to buy and implement an I2S DAC and amplifier and speakers and volume buttons.

This telescopic controller. I wanted a Switch-style control setup with the screen in the middle. It's Bluetooth, but I'm hoping I can use it in a wired mode so I don't have to worry about charging and battery life. TBD on that one.

This UPS/battery board with a 10,000mAH battery pack. It handles power management and can power the Pi through the battery or directly via a charger. The big ol' battery pack should give many hours of playtime. If it turns out to be too heavy or cumbersome, I may have to downsize at the expense of a little battery life. We'll see.

All of that stuff is on the way now. Once it gets here, I'll hook it all up and see how it goes. If I like it, I'll probably design and 3D print a case to hold the display and boards. I'll need to give access to the volume buttons on the back of the screen, plus I want the power/battery LEDs visible somehow as well. Should be interesting. Figuring up startup/shutdown may also be a challenge. It's not fun for him if it doesn't work and I have to spend forever fiddling with it, so making it foolproof is always the goal.

Kid's birthday is Dec. 7th. If I don't hit that deadline, it'll be a Christmas present.
     
subego
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Oct 20, 2020, 12:10 PM
 
Awesome!

Though, in defense of the Switch, the controllers it comes with are way better than they have any right to be.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Oct 20, 2020, 12:26 PM
 
The Switch would definitely be the absolute foolproof route. This thing, just sitting on the table, managed to stop playing GBA games, so more fiddling will be required. My hope is to document my steps to fully functional and them image the SD card in its known good state. Worst case, I can just re-image a new SD card and run it. I'll just need to see what I have to do to save game data.
     
subego
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Oct 20, 2020, 12:29 PM
 
Ooooh, yeah. Losing the saves would be a huge drag.
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 20, 2020, 04:30 PM
 
That's very nifty. We have a raspberry pi sitting around somewhere.
     
subego
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Oct 20, 2020, 05:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
That's very nifty. We have a raspberry pi sitting around somewhere.
I got one for video playback at live shows, but then the band fell apart so I never used it.
     
reader50
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Oct 20, 2020, 06:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I got one for video playback at live shows, but then the band fell apart so I never used it.
Dang. I'd wondered what happened with the dream recording studio. Did you convert it into a movie studio? Change the recording room into a green-screen room?
     
subego
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Oct 20, 2020, 07:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Dang. I'd wondered what happened with the dream recording studio. Did you convert it into a movie studio? Change the recording room into a green-screen room?
It was in the band leader’s basement, and he sold the house. Most of the gear is storage, ready to come back out if I can get a good room for it. Right now, all the space I have available is in video production mode.
     
Jawbone54
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Oct 21, 2020, 12:31 PM
 
That's awesome. Definitely update us on further developments.

I'm planning to get a Raspberry Pi 4 for my 8-year-old. He's developed a real interest in classic games — especially the SNES era.
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 21, 2020, 12:38 PM
 
Did you find any good tutorials or instructions?
     
Laminar  (op)
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Oct 21, 2020, 04:48 PM
 
I used RetroPie, their installation instructions are easy to follow, and they have a "wizard" that basically creates the SD card image for you. The setup seems pretty smart, it can recognize my wired XBox 360 controllers and use them for setup.

https://retropie.org.uk/docs/First-Installation/
     
Laminar  (op)
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Oct 22, 2020, 08:21 AM
 
Screen came!



It has built-in standoffs to mount the Pi, it gets power and touch controls over USB and video and audio over HDMI, using printed circuit u-shaped hard adapters. And it orients the Pi with the header pins facing out so I can use other add-ons without issue. No cables required, plug and go. This was $60 vs. the cheaper 5" screens in the $30-40 price range, but they all required external power, external audio amplification, captured the header pins, or extra cables. Very happy with it.









I was able to use my existing install of RetroPie, just edited the config.txt file using the instructions included with the screen.

Controller arrives today, my friend with the 3D printer offered to dig the printer out and help.
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 22, 2020, 08:37 AM
 
cool!
     
Laminar  (op)
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Oct 23, 2020, 01:53 PM
 
Got the controller last night - it has three modes, iOS direct play, Android direct play, and something else. None of them seemed to work when I tried to control via USB directly. There are rumors about the controller being capable of USB play using an "On The Go" cable. Maybe the generic cable I used didn't qualify?

Also couldn't get it to work over bluetooth, though the controller seemed to link once and wouldn't ever enter re-pair mode, also I didn't follow any sort of instructions on pairing with the RPi, so I should probably go read about the right way to do it. Kid got out of bed and came downstairs while I was working on it, had to shove the controller up my shirt so he wouldn't see.

The only annoying part is that some of the GUI elements require a controller to move, and some require a keyboard, so I have to use both to navigate all of the menus.
     
ghporter
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Oct 24, 2020, 01:51 PM
 
I was wondering “how can you run games on a Raspberry Pi, since mine is kinda slow.” Then I looked at all the specs. I have a Pi Zero W, which has only 512M of RAM, while the 4B starts at 2Gig and goes up to 8Gig. So....

Now I want to get a 4B and see what I can do with it that is too slow on my Zero...

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Laminar  (op)
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Oct 26, 2020, 08:54 AM
 
Fiddled around with the controller some more. I have it paired via Bluetooth and recognized as an input device, but when I try to auto configure it, it thinks that every button is Button0 and gets mad at me. I spent a lot of time messing with custom config files and the like to no avail. I may have to rethink my strategy here and go with something wired that presents itself as a natively supported controller. This may mean changing my form factor to where the screen is mounted on top of the controller. My only hesitation there is putting the weight of the screen, cpu, and battery up high would be taxing on the wrists, where the Switch-style form factor keeps everything centered. We'll see.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Oct 30, 2020, 11:14 AM
 
No progress. Found a wired Switch controller with detachable cable for $12.50. The detachable cable means I can use a short pigtail cable straight to the RPi. So now my plan is to make a small case for the RPi and screen and come up with a way to mount it directly to the controller. I'm considering mounting the battery directly under the controller to keep the weight better balanced.
     
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Nov 2, 2020, 06:28 PM
 
In related news, the Raspberry Pi 400 looks really interesting to play with. One could get a smallish HDMI display and that one and make your own laptop.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Nov 3, 2020, 09:36 AM
 
Some people are mad about it coming with mini HDMI ports vs full size. I'm not sure it's really that big of a deal?

Got my Switch controllers in. Nintendo switches A and B around vs. Xbox so that's a bit annoying. Otherwise the controller works great. I've started modeling up a case, though I'll need my battery pack to nail down the layout. It made it to Indiana yesterday, we'll see when it gets here.

I'm thinking about making the screen easily detachable from the controller with a kickstand so it can be set on a table if desired. In that case, a wireless controller would make it much easier, though I could just include a couple of posts to wind up the wired controller's cable. This setup would also make it more useful for two player games where you could just plug in two controllers and both play at a table or something.
     
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Nov 6, 2020, 06:50 AM
 
The mini-HDMI is a quirk to be sure, but right now I can see a 3m cable from that to HDMI for the equivalent of $2. There has to be some sort of price impact before you start to complain about having to get an adapter, and $2 is certain below it. (See also all the people complaining that MBPs don’t have SD-cards anymore.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Nov 6, 2020, 09:57 AM
 
I think it's the same reason that dongles suck in general - when you need one you don't have one. Walk around with an HDMI source and you can plug into any TV or monitor anywhere with any cable available. With a mini-HDMI you have to have your own dongle or cable, so you have to plan ahead. Planning ahead is for nerds.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Dec 16, 2020, 04:44 PM
 
Getting close. I have a v1.0 model done, but it still needs a couple of improvements.
- Need a hole to actually get the power cable plugged in
- Need a way to adjust volume
- Need to add some kind of kickstand on the back so it can be set on a tabletop. I have it designed so that the controller can be "unlatched" from the unit, so it'd be possible to set it on a table and just hold the controller.

I'd also like to make it so you can see the battery status LEDs, maybe using a plexiglass tube for the light to travel through.

But Christmas is coming soon and I'd like to at least get a prototype into the kid's hands so he can play with it. I am a bit worried about the weight balance, so I tried to get the battery as close to the controller as possible. I have the UPS board stacked on top of the RPi unit. I had to get some taller standoffs due to the wires that connect serial and power between boards. Maybe I'll de-solder the pins and just permanently solder some wires between the boards. That would let me put the boards closer together.

I need to talk to my buddy with the 3D printer and see if we can get this made up.





     
Laminar  (op)
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Dec 27, 2020, 09:09 AM
 
DISASTER. Buddy's 3D printer croaked. I let the kid open the hardware on Christmas and play on the naked system. In the meantime, I picked up a knockoff Pelican case from Harbor Freight. I'll mount everything inside of there and there will still be room to carry the controller inside. Pics when I have any progress to show.
     
andi*pandi
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Dec 30, 2020, 06:48 PM
 
I'm sure the kid was thrilled regardless!
     
ort888
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Jan 2, 2021, 07:02 PM
 
Not trying to hijack the thread, but I guess I'll put this here.

I just put together my first ever Raspberry Pie... a retro pie mini console... and honestly I'm not very impressed.

I'm getting stuttering, frame rate issues and screen tearing on SNES games and others making them not much fun to play. When I emulate them on my Mac on OpenEmu they all play smooth as butter... but on the Retro Pie it's a different story.

It's the kind of thing that might not even be noticed by some, but I notice the hell out of it, and in my mind it makes the games completely unplayable.

I was also expecting the whole experience to be a little more polished in general. So many screens of 4 point type... am I powering up a game console or hacking into the FBI? What the hell? The overall UI experience is pretty hacky and bad. And this thing is buggy as hell.

Is this normal? Everyone always praises Retro Pie's like they are the second coming... but my experience has been pretty different.

Am I being too picky here? I feel pretty disappointed by the whole experience so far.

My sig is 1 pixel too big.
     
Thorzdad
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Jan 3, 2021, 11:02 AM
 
Since we're on the subject of Raspberry Pi gaming, I thought I'd brag on my son-in-law and show one of his recent projects. He put together a gaming rig using a Raspberry Pi 4B. It has thousands of console and arcade games on-board and plays them all buttery smooth. I was geeking out with him the other evening playing MetalSlug 4. It looked beautiful and run maniacally fast without a glitch or stutter.

     
subego
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Jan 3, 2021, 01:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
MetalSlug 4
Whoo hoo! Metal Slug!!!
     
Thorzdad
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Jan 3, 2021, 02:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Whoo hoo! Metal Slug!!!
Right? It was every bit as insane as I remembered. And so fun! I always thought the MS series had some of the best graphics.

The bad part came when I told him I first saw/played Metal Slug at this pizza place we used to take our kids every Friday night. The place had one arcade game, and it was Metal Slug. That's when my son-in-law exclaimed "OMG! I used to play that one when I was a kid!"
     
Laminar  (op)
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Jan 3, 2021, 03:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
Not trying to hijack the thread, but I guess I'll put this here.

I just put together my first ever Raspberry Pie... a retro pie mini console... and honestly I'm not very impressed.

I'm getting stuttering, frame rate issues and screen tearing on SNES games and others making them not much fun to play. When I emulate them on my Mac on OpenEmu they all play smooth as butter... but on the Retro Pie it's a different story.
Which Pi? My 4B runs everything really well up to N64. Those games are 99% playable, but with occasional stutters. SNES and Genesis are perfectly fine. Do you have a fan? Any chance the temps are getting high and it's throttling a bit?

I was also expecting the whole experience to be a little more polished in general. So many screens of 4 point type... am I powering up a game console or hacking into the FBI? What the hell? The overall UI experience is pretty hacky and bad. And this thing is buggy as hell.
You're powering up a free front end for a $25 computer. You can get a beautiful, polished interface, smooth graphics, and a bug-free experience with classic games - buy a Switch. Take the $100 I have into hardware on my setup and pay me anything close to what my time is worth and I'm well over the $200 for a Switch Lite, which would be a far better experience for the kid in terms of games, interface, battery life, and more.

But I'm a cheapass that values my time at nothing, so technically I'm still ahead and in theory the more different games he plays the more I'm saving.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Mar 3, 2021, 11:32 AM
 
Threw the thing into a Harbor Freight ripoff Pelican case. USB-C charging port out the back, two USB controller ports up front. Controller and cable can be stored in the case. Battery lasts for several hours without blinking, haven't even pushed it all the way yet.



I stumbled on this build on the Raspberry Pi subreddit. This was my exact vision for what I wanted this to be, he actually used the exact same screen as me and a similar battery size, though he used a different power hat.

He solved the controller problem I had by basically making his own controller. He bought the individual stick/button elements and wired them up to an Arduino that shows up in the Pi as an Xbox controller.

https://www.reddit.com/r/raspberry_p...andheld_build/

Very jealous of that build.
     
subego
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Mar 3, 2021, 11:49 AM
 
Is that pic yours, or the one you found?
     
Laminar  (op)
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Mar 3, 2021, 01:50 PM
 
The picture is of mine. The pictures of the other one are in the link, hosted by Reddit so I can't hotlink them here.
     
subego
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Mar 3, 2021, 02:03 PM
 
Looks good!

I’ve never seen a pick-n-pluck island like that.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Mar 4, 2021, 01:58 PM
 
Oh yeah. The controller fits sideways on the left side, that puts the joysticks out of the way of the screen. Honestly if I'm going to keep this form factor it would make sense to move to the 7" screen. I have the battery capacity to support it and it'd make 2 player games better.

He took it outside and played Turtles in Time with one of the neighbor kids on the porch, he was very pleased. He and I played some more of it last night before bedtime. The concept of having to play a game straight through with no save points was frustrating to him, though.
     
subego
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Mar 4, 2021, 07:19 PM
 
I just mentioned in the gaming thread. Old school games outright abuse the player.

The Switch has a bunch of S/NES games if you have Nintendo Online. No way I could deal without save states.
     
andi*pandi
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Mar 5, 2021, 12:09 PM
 
kid2: you mean you have to start over from the beginning of the whole level?!?!?
     
Doc HM
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Mar 5, 2021, 01:12 PM
 
Also,

Foxtrot. Nice
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Laminar  (op)
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Mar 5, 2021, 01:34 PM
 
Yeah! My father-in-law has several Calvin and Hobbes books that he shared with the kid, and I found a couple of Foxtrot books in a bin with my old yearbooks and other stuff from junior high that he really likes. I also gave him a book of Far Side comics but most of those went a bit over his head. He likes reading Big Nate on his Kindle and I'm afraid that one is coloring his perception of popularity and socialization at school and oh my god I'm that obnoxious parent worried that their kid is being ruined by the media.
     
Doc HM
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Mar 5, 2021, 01:50 PM
 
Have now gone on a wikipedia scroll through comic books I used to love when I was younger and had completely forgotten about including BC and Wizard of ID.

Rabbit hole
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UnoRules
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Jul 16, 2021, 02:21 PM
 
Nice!
     
andi*pandi
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Jul 16, 2021, 05:01 PM
 
Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes are currently doing a crossover series on facebook.
     
ghporter
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Jul 16, 2021, 05:39 PM
 
The Bloom County FB group has recently had issues with off-topic posting. So anything not related to Mr. Breathed or Bloom County has, sometimes pretty quickly, been purged. It's nice to see the crossover; Berke has made Calvin and Hobbes "canon" for the group.

Now I'm curious how Bill Watterson feels about this. But from the way BB has handled anything similar to non-spoof but not his content in the past, I kind of think Mr. Watterson is cool with it.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
andi*pandi
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Jul 19, 2021, 01:18 PM
 
Watterson has to be in on it. The art style is way too spot on, and in the past they have collaborated... or have they?

https://www.cbr.com/calvin-and-hobbe...ty-continuity/

     
Brien
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Jul 20, 2021, 12:02 AM
 
Seems like they’re setting up a revival of C&H?
     
Thorzdad
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Jul 20, 2021, 06:47 AM
 
I doubt it. Watterson was pretty adamant that C&H was done when he stopped the strip. He's done a couple of cameo bits like this over the years, but I wouldn't hold my breath expecting a revival.
     
   
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