Using a Raspberry Pi and some custom components, many people have created their version of a Retropie handheld game emulator that can play many retro games of the NES, SNES, Gameboy, Dreamcast and many more. Recently I built the Pigrrl 2.0 using the excellent kit and tutorial on Adafruit.com. This was a nice project, but it came out quite expensive, since I am located in Europe, and the parts must come from the US. Next to the parts, I had to pay € 35 for shipping, and another € 35 in VAT and duty at delivery. The total cost of this unit came at about € 180 because of that.
Looking around, I also found the great projects on Sudomod.com. This is a website dedicated on modding the original gameboy into a RetroPie handheld. Looks really awesome, but again, the parts need to come from the US from many different stores, and some of the parts are custom made for this purpose and very expensive.
So, I decided to do my own project and build my own Retropie Handheld, including custom enclosure. I tried to get all parts from Banggood.com, since they ship to The Netherlands for free or almost free, and they are extremely cheap.
In search of the parts, I found that a USB SNES controller is sold at 3-4 euro’s at Banggood. After removing the enclosure of it, I will have a PCB, buttons with the right feel, AND only 4 wires to connect to the Pi, since USB is only 4 wires.
I also wanted a bigger display that the 2.4″ of my previous project. I am still in doubt between a 5″ display and a 3.5″ display. I have the 5″ laying around already, and ordered a 14 euro 3,5″ display as well. When I have all the parts I can decide which display to use.
For power, you’ll need a battery and an internal charger / step up combo like Adafruits Powerboost 1000C. A simple charger wouldn’t be good enough, since you also need something to protect the battery from over-discharging. I found a very nice, although slightly big battery/charger combo that I am going to use for that. It even has an on-off switch, so I’ll see if I can use that as well. If not, I might need an extra switch.
Sound. I want to hear sound. This is what made me decide not to build the beautiful PiGrrl Zero since it is lacking a speaker. For this purpose we need a small amplifier board and some tiny speakers. I want two speakers since I am going for stereo. I couldn’t find the right speakers at Banggood, so I ordered these from Conrad.nl. I think I will glue them in place, so if you want to order a slightly different model, it shouldn’t be a problem.
You’ll obviously need a Raspberry Pi. I decided to go with the Raspberry Pi 3. The Pi Zero might also be an option, but I like the on-board wifi and extra CPU power of the Pi 3.
I also ordered some AWG 28 wire. I picked 4 different colors, but obviously the color doesn’t influence the success of the build. It only makes building slightly easier.
When I have all the parts, I will design my own custom enclosure in Fusion 360, and 3D Print it on my Ultimaker 2+. When finished the files will be published on Thingiverse, including the source files so you can easily change details and make a remixed model.
MY Parts list FOR RETROPIE HANDHELD SO FAR
- SNES controller
- 5″ Display or 3,5″ Display
- Charger/Battery combo
- Amplifier board
- Speakers (2pcs)
- Raspberry Pi 3
- AWG 28 wire
Total cost so far is around € 80 including VAT and shipping.
Now I have to wait for all goods to be delivered before I can continue. Follow me on Twitter to get notified of the next part.
[UPDATE 22-04-2017] Not enough time, to many things to do. Decided to make an easier build. The part list above works fine though. Although I didn’t get to finish the enclosure design, I did hookup the parts with success.