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How to create your retro portable console with Raspberry Pi easy and fast? Step by step guide

How to create your retro portable console with Raspberry Pi easy and fast? Step by step guide

We can build our Arcade Retro console with games that we all like from our childhood through a Raspberry Pi, which gives us versatility at a low price.

This plate can be used thanks to two very complete operating systems such as Retropie and Recalbox . We will talk about each of them in the following paragraphs of this article.

In addition, we will show you all the necessary steps that we have to do in order to install each of these operating systems on our MicroSD card. We will show you the best websites to download ROMs and have them on the MicroSD.

What is a Raspberry Pi and what can I do with it?

A Raspberry Pi is a computer bus that has a microprocessor, a video computer and also a RAM memory on a board . It has an entry for MicroSD card , with these we would replace the hard drive of a computer, and one or more USB ports .

The operating system is based on Linux , for example, it can be Android or Unix, that is if we add a keyboard, a mouse, the monitor and different power cables we will have a complete computer .

There are two classes of Raspberry Pi, the class A that has 256 Mb of memory and a USB port and the model B , the most used today, which doubles the memory with 512 Mb and offers the possibility of having cable connectors and many more USB ports.

Qué es una Raspberry Pi y qué puedo hacer con ella

We can say then that being a processor that works with a power of 700 MHz will allow us to have different uses. They are :

  • As a video game console : It is the historical function of this computer, since we can have games on our PC that we played in our childhood in a very simple way.
  • It can be used as sensors for medicine : Thanks to this technology, doctors can detect different variations that exist in our body when connected to specific health equipment.
  • It serves to connect our computer with the TV : Through WiFi and with the XMBC application, we can turn our Raspberry Pi into a multimedia center, where we can control the TV from our PC.
  • Surveillance : If we have a webcam, we can capture photos and transmit a recording when the camera detects movements. For this it is necessary to download the Motion Detection program.
  • Artificial intelligence : It is one of the points that more studies and development has, since with this device we can manufacture a hardware that works like a robot so you can perform repetitive and synchronized activities detecting the need independently. For example, you can pick up trash from the floor and open windows or doors among other things.
  • Personal design : The range of possibilities that exist to use a Raspberry Pi is so great that we can put our imagination to work and create different recreational elements.

It is not recommended to edit images or surf the Internet.

What do I need to turn a Raspberry Pi into a retro arcade machine?

Qué necesito para convertir una Raspberry Pi en una máquina arcade retro

In order to convert Rasberry Pi class B into a retro video game console we will need the following elements:

  • A memory card MicroSD with storage capacity from 32 Gb onwards
  • Cable HDMI
  • A plastic box containing the Raspberry Pi plate is generally transparent and brings rubber holders so that it does not slip
  • Power cable > 5 volts with a minimum of 3000 mAh
  • 3 heatsinks , which will be connected one under the board and the other two next to the processor
  • USB keyboard , although it is true that we will use it very little with Recalbox, the same is not true for when we work with Retropie
  • Monitor
  • Mouse
  • Computer , we need our PC to be able to pass the video games and create the MicroSD card which we will be able to introduce in the Raspberry Pi

We will have to choose the command controls that can be :

  • Pad or Arcade , the one we like best according to its controls, duration and comfort
  • Generic controllers
  • 8Bitdo Wireless SF30 PRO for Android, 8Bitdo M30 or SN30 both for Bluetooth, or directly we can choose the 8Bitdo G BROS.

In addition to all this hardware, we will need to install different programs to format the card, update our Raspberry Pi and introduce images into the MicroSD. We will see each of the software later.

Differences between Retropie vs Recalbox Which is better for your console?

These software, which are used to play a retro Arcade machine, have differences that we will mention below :

Retropie allows a better update , having a community that follows in greater numbers with respect to its competition, so it allows different contributions that will improve each of the versions.

Recalbox are not configurable as your competitor , since it is almost factory set. It is ideal for those people who want to play after an hour of assembling the Raspberry Pi.

Both have a Kodi multimedia system that allows a very similar interface and design between the two, so aesthetics are similar .

Another similarity, which both operating systems have, is that they support online updating . In addition, we can highlight the different configurations to be able to take screenshots, as well as recover different matches or pause the games.

With all this we can determine that the 2 tools are very good to be able to turn our Raspberry Pi into a retro Arcade machine , it will depend on the intentions we have for the configuration.

If we need to have everything installed and configured practically from the factory, we will have to opt for Recalbox , if we want to be able to solve any inconvenience that arises we will choose Retropie .

Steps to turn a Raspberry Pi into a portable retro console with Retropie

The steps that we will mention below are those necessary to be able to convert, through the Retropie operating system, a Raspberry Pi into a portable retro console.

Armed Raspberry Pi

The first step we will have to perform is to assemble all the hardware of our future console. Let’s put the heatsinks on the computer board .

We place the element to lower the temperature of the copper material under the computer bus and then put the other two on top of the box, which will be close to the processor and RAM.

Once we have assembled our Raspberry Pi, we will have to introduce it in the plastic box to protect it from dirt and bumps , for this we enter our console in the box and with different screws we hold it.

We control the existence of all existing power cables and their perfect operation. We also check the HDMI cable connection.

OS update control

These are:

  • Software installation and update
  • We will have to download Retropie according to the Raspberry Pi model we have.

Recall that one of the main features of Retropie is to have a permanent update, so we have to keep this information in mind to obtain the latest remastering.

To perform these tasks we can click on:

  • Download Raspberry Pi 0/1

  • Download Raspberry Pi 2/3

If we need more help on how to perform an official installation, we can follow the guide provided by the provider.

Formatting the memory card

We need to format our MicroSD so that they do not detect any errors when we need to install the foot, we will use the program “ EaseUS Micro SD Card Formatting that is available for Windows.

The steps we will have to perform are the following:

  • We choose the disk we want to format
  • We right click and choose furtherFormatear
  • Then we click on “Accept”

Download Easeus for Windows

Image installation

We currently have to install Retropie on our memory card, following the steps below:

  • Download “Apple Pi Baker” , available for MacOS operating systems. If we use Windows we can perform the same steps that we will mention later for the installation of Recalbox.
  • With this program, what we will do is work on the understanding of the operating system. The process will be automatic and will only take a few minutes.

Download Apple Pi Baker V2 MacOS

Enter the MicroSD in Raspberry Pi Introducimos la MicroSD en Raspberry Pi

Once we have downloaded Retropie on the memory card what we do is connect it from our computer and then connect it to the Raspberry Pi.

We are currently connecting the Monitor to our Retro console via an HDMI cable

Enter Retropie

Once has started Emulation Station we can enter the menu to configure Retropie in the best way.

In order to perform this task we follow the following guide:

  • We constantly press assertF4rd
  • Continuously press “Ctrl + C”
  • In In the command line, enter and then

Add games

We can look for it in pages like “” where we will find a great variety of them.

Steps to convert a Raspberry Pi into a portable retro console with Recalbox

In order to convert our Raspberry Pi into a console using Recalbox we will follow these steps:

Hardware assembly

As we did with Retropie, we will have to assemble our Raspberry Pi according to the steps mentioned in the previous topic.

Recalbox version

In order to have an updated version of Recalbox we have to download it through a file decompression program such as WinRAR.

Download Recalbox Windows

Format the MicroSD

We need to perform this step in order to get the most out of it and thus have the opportunity to install the images in a correct way.

To do this, we will do these steps:

SD Memory Card Formatter for Windows

SD Memory Card Formatter for Mac

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