Fans of classic retro games can make the gaming experience truly immersive by recreating a small console for the TV, using the Raspberry as a platform to play, a case shaped like an old console and configuring it as an operating system. RetroPiea Linux-based operating system optimized for running ROM of the most famous video games.
In this way it is possible to have at home a console very similar to those vintage cabinets full of games that are still seen in traditional arcades, with hundreds of free games inside.
In the guide below we will show you step by step how to create a retro TV console with RetroPiecarefully choosing all the accessories needed to transform the Raspberry into a perfect retro console to connect to any modern TV equipped with an HDMI port.
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Accessories required for the retro console
To create the retro console from scratch we will have to purchase the following accessories:
- Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 4GB: the heart of the system is the Raspberry Pi 4 Model Ban onboard mini PC that offers 4GB of RAM, a powerful processor, and the ports you need to connect your TV and game controllers.
- Retro gambling houses: the Raspberry Pi 4 will be inserted inside this case, which recalls the old Super Nintendo. The ports are all the right place, it can also accommodate a fan (included) and, by opening the front door, we will have access to the USB ports and the Ethernet port).
- RASPBERRY Alimentatore USB-C 5.1V 3A: in order to power the Raspberry Pi 4 we will have to use the official charger, so as to be sure to provide the right current level.
- SAMSUNG Evo Plus 64 GB MicroSDXC Flash Memory: the operating system and games will be saved on this powerful and fast microSD, so as to offer high reading performance while playing games.
- UGREEN Cavo Micro HDMI a HDMI: This micro HDMI / HDMI cable is great for connecting the game console we are building to any TV that has an HDMI port.
- EXLENE 2 Pack USB SNES Controllore GamePad Joystick 10ft/3m: to play all the retro games we will have to buy these two wired controllers, perfectly recognized by RetroPie and with an appearance reminiscent of the SNES controllers.
- suily 2 x controller wireless 2.4G Classic SNES: as an alternative to wired controllers we can bring a touch of “modernity” to the retro console using wireless controllers, equipped with dedicated USB receiver and built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
- SD / Micro SD Card Reader, USB 3.0 Adapter: USB type portable memory card reader, to be bought only if our computer does not have a built-in card reader.
After purchasing all the access we are ready to assemble the game console and prepare the microSD with RetroPie and the ROMs of the retro games we want to play on TV.
How to assemble the retro console
The first step in assembling the retro console is the placement of the fan included in the case and the included heatsinks. The heatsinks have an adhesive part (just lift the protective film) and must be placed on the 4 central chips, as shown in the image above. After positioning the heatsinks we place the fan in its housing (being careful to orient the fan to blow the heat outwards) and prepare the wires for the connection (if we have oriented correctly the fan should be on the left side, with the ports HDMI oriented towards us).
Not we place the Raspberry Pi 4 in the casewe check that the slots and ports are in the right direction (it is not possible to make a mistake, since the motherboard can only be inserted in one way), we fix the screws present at the corners of the card and we connect the fan cablesalways using the image above for reference (the red cable must be connected to the first PIN at the top left, the black cable must be connected to the third PIN, also counting the PIN used for the red cable).
As a general test we connect the power cable of the Raspberry Pi 4 to turn it on: if the fan turns correctly (ie it blows air outwards) we have finished the first part of the configuration and we can close the case of the case without problems.
How to set up RetroPie
After assembling the game console we need to focus on RetroPie operating system, to be installed on the microSD choice for the console. As a first step we download the system image and the program to transfer the aforementioned image to microSD, using the download links below:
- Win32 Disk Imager: tool needed to format the microSD.
- RetroPie ISO image: from the official website we download the version for Raspberry Pi 4 and Pi 400.
- 7-Zip: decompression software compatible with the GZ format used for the RetroPie image.
After downloading everything you need, we immediately install 7-Zip on the PC (if we had not already done so in the past), we also install Win32 Disk Imager and connect the microSD to the computer; if we do not have ports or adapters for the memory cards we can buy the one indicated in the list in the first chapter.
Now that the microSD is connected to the PC we unpack the RetroPie image (using 7-Zip), so as to obtain an image in IMG format; to continue we open Win32 Disk Imagerwe select the microSD under the section Deviceload the system image on Image file (using the small folder next to the bar to open the file manager) and, as soon as everything is ready, press Write down to prepare the microSD for use on the Raspberry Pi 4.
How to start the retro console
At the end of the operation with Win32 Disk Imager remove the microSD from the PC or adapter and insert it into the microSD slot on the case (which actually coincides with the microSD slot of the Raspberry Pi 4).
We are practically ready for launch our retro console for the first time! We insert the HDMI cable into the appropriate port (on the side of the case), connect the same cable to the TV, insert the power cable into the Raspberry Pi 4 socket and into the power socket and change the video source on the TV, indicated the port HDMI to which we connected the console.
If we did everything correctly we’ll see the RetroPie splash screen start and all the modules needed to play will be loaded quickly; at the end of this phase we connect one of the purchased controllers, we wait for the recognition by the system e we follow the instructions on the screen to configure the keys.
The console is ready to boot your favorite game ROMs.
How to install the games
RetroPie ships with no ROM installed (for copyright reasons): we can, however, copy the ROMs of the games in our possession directly from the PC, after having connected the Raspberry to the local network (via Wi-Fi or via Ethernet cable).
With the Raspberry turned on and connected to the local network, let’s open a PC with Windows, let’s go into the application File Explorerlet’s open the menu Net and we try retropie between network resources; alternatively we can enter the command in the address bar at the top smb://retropie o smb://192.168.1.XXXreplacing the XXX with theIP address assigned to the Raspberry.
Once the network resource is open we open the folder roms and we copy the ROMs of the games we own inside, so as to quickly transfer them to the console’s microSD.
With this retro console we will be able to easily play the great classics of the video game world, since RetroPie supports ROMs from NES, SNES, MegaDrive, cabinets, PlayStation 1 and other retro consoles. Unfortunately for a matter of copyright we will have to search for the game ROMs ourselves or extract them from the original cartridges in our possession: any other scenario (downloading ROMs from P2P or web) is piracy, with great risks from a legal point of view.
Always on the theme of retro consoles, we can read our guides to 30 Classic arcade games to play on your online browser and how use MAME emulator, for old old arcade arcade games.