DIY two-player Arcade Machine powered by Raspberry Pi running RetroPie OS. Play the original Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man and other retro games. All this for the price under $300.
The cabinet is based on an amazing Instructable “2-Player Bartop Arcade Machine Powered by Pi” made by rolfebox. I used a hardboard instead of MDF, but only because this is what I had already available. The cabinet is 0.5 m wide and 0.55 m tall, also quite heavy – while not really mobile, it is very stable, so you can enjoy the game and push the controls harder.
Most of other projects on Internet are usually for a single player and I specifically searched for a two player version. Unfortunately I have to admit there are not many retro games for two players either (playing at the same time).
The instructable is from 2014, so rolfebox used Raspberry Pi 1 model B. Today you should take an advantage of more powerful Pi 2. As the game emulator can be CPU intensive, you should get heatsinks:
For the rest of the hardware I just followed the instructable.
The arcade machine is running on RetroPie OS. It is based on Raspbian at the bottom and integrates a set of emulators for computer systems from the past decades – to name just a few:
- Sega …
- PC – x86
- (Super) Nintento Entertainment System (NES/SNES)
- Playstation 1
It offers a graphical front end automatically started after a boot, so no keyboard is required. Basic settings and game selection is done by joysticks and buttons.
Configuring USB controller
I bought “USB Interface & standard Joystick set” from ultracabs.co.uk. It was the most expensive component of the machine, but it just would not work without it. All the buttons and both joysticks need to be wired to a USB controller (included), which is then plugged into the Pi. After OS installation, the controller must be configured to setup a function for each button and calibrate joysticks. Refer to the video tutorial:
Original games used to be stored on “cartridges”. Their equivalent is a ROM (Read Only Memory), which can be downloaded in a form of a single file. This file is then transferred to the emulator and you are ready to play. Unfortunately there are issues with copyright laws regarding the usage of ROMs. Legally you can have only ROM files of games you own. But remember – Google is your friend.
When you get a ROM file, what to do next? There are several options to transfer ROMs to RetroPie:
- USB – format any USB stick to FAT32, copy ROM on it and plug it into the Raspberry
- FTP – use any FTP client to connect to Pi (an SFTP server runs there by default), network connectivity is required
- SAMBA – use Windows sharing (known as Samba on Linux), server is enabled by default on RetroPie (hostname \\RETROPIE), network connectivity is required
- SCP (SSH) – use any SCP client (e.g. WinSCP for Windows), server is enabled by default, network connectivity is required
You can find detailed steps for each method here.
It was a challenging project, but it came out well and my kids definitely appreciate it. You would be surprised how a game from 1980 can still be a lot of fun today!