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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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Yesterday, 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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Yesterday, 12:38 PM
 
Did you find any good tutorials or instructions?
     
Laminar  (op)
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Yesterday, 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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Today, 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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Today, 08:37 AM
 
cool!
     
   
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