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How To Build a Portable Game Machine Using The Raspberry Pi and RetroPie

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Raspberry Pi Starter Kit

Building a game machine with the display, totally of own, can be one of the most fulfilling experiences for any DIY maker. Thanks to technology, this activity is nothing more than putting few screws because of the presence of awesome mini-computers like Raspberry Pi. This credit-card sized computer is provided with GPIO pins that can be attached to the slots provided in LCD display. Here is a stepwise procedure to learn how you can build your own gaming machine, having awesome screen resolution with simple hardware pieces.

To start with, here is a list of small, easily available and completely harmless usual hardware and software items that you would need to carry on the interesting DIY activity. The list goes like:

Hardware:

  1. A Raspberry Pi
  2. A Raspberry Pi display screen
  3. A MicroSD card and a reader
  4. A gamepad

Software:

  1. RetroPie
  2. Win32 Disk Manager

For the Raspberry Pi display, you can choose a big-sized display if you want to achieve the feel of a computer game, or you can choose a smaller one if you would prefer to play like a portable mobile gaming machine; the experience depends on the size of the Raspberry Pi display you choose. This article is going to show you how easy it is to make a portable gaming machine without much technical knowledge.

A 5 inch HDMI display monitor is perfect for setting up a hand-held gaming machine, driven by Raspberry Pi. The display I used is from Elecrow and could support any revision of Raspberry Pi like RPi B+/2B/3B.

Steps to complete this project: 

Raspberry Pi Touchscreens

  1. Downloading and installing RetroPie

This step is completed by going to https://retropie.org.uk/download/. Here, you find an option for Raspberry Pi 2/3. You can select it to download the SD image of Retropie which is further extracted with the help of Win32 Disk Manager. After extracting Retropie image, it needs to be written into the MicroSD card. The write function involves:

  • Inserting the MicroSD card into the reader which is inserted into the MicroUSB port of the computer on which you downloaded the Retropie image and Win32DiskManger in the last step.
  • Visiting the Win32DiskManager folder and get to the location of RetroPie SD Image, double-clicking it followed by pressing the ‘Write’ function.
  • Once it is finished, remove the MicroSD card from the reader and plug in into your RPi.

 

  1. Fixing the display screen onto GPIO pins

To begin with, the display slots are fit onto the GPIO pins. These are fastened further with additional brackets to achieve extra grip so that the two are not disconnected from each other at all. Then, HDMI adapter is inserted into the given slot so that this set-up is completed.

Raspberry Pi Touchscreens

  1. Setting up of driver and software

This requires additional power. When you put the screen on, it displays the instructions for setting up the driver and software. The instructions are simple and you will be able to set it up in no time following those.

 

  1. Booting up of Raspberry Pi LCD display

Initially, the screen resolution may not be up to mark. Before this, putting on the screen may also require few attempts. The optimal power source is required to be connected with the display to put it on. To bring in the power source into the picture, there are two power slots provided on Raspberry Pi touchscreen set up. You have to ensure that the RPi screen is not overloaded with power; else it may get burned up. However, the optimal power supply requirement is already provided in the user manual. So, you go accordingly and use one or both of the power slots to connect the set-up to a power source. The moment the set up is fed with adequate power, the Raspberry Pi boots up giving the indication that the display is now ready to use.

Also, if the power supply is inadequate, it will require rebooting of the system again and again. So, booting up of the set-up is also an indication of receiving the adequate power supply.

Raspberry Pi Touchscreens

  1. Improving the screen quality

Once you boot the touch screen display, you may find that half of the screen is not serving the purpose due to the appearance of unwanted strips on it. This is removed by the installation of drivers for which the instructions are provided in the screen itself. Once it is done, the Display is ready to get connected with other devices such as gaming machine loaded with Mario 64 game, used here for instance.

So, all this requires nothing more than a beginner’s knowledge and you can feel proud of making an LCD touch screen display usable for playing games and watching movies totally on your own.

 

Verdict:

Making a gaming machine using Raspberry Pi is simple and worth trying project. RetroPi helps you revisit the games in childhood with the help of the RPi. What’s more, the touch display quality adds more fun to the gaming experience and that too, at a cost that does not cross even $38. So, if you want a portable homemade screen to play your favorite game, Raspberry Pi touchscreen monitor offers you a decent option to make this happen. It supports all fast-paced games like Fever SOS, Mario 64, and other racing games and does not let you feel the pain of any input lag. So, try setting up this project right away by referring to this video and gift your child a happening screen that can enhance his gaming experience manifold.


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