RetroPie Project – Part 1 – Raspberry Pi

RetroPie Project

Inspired by others, I decided I wanted to have a go at a RetroPie build using one of the best things to occur in the world of hobbyist computing since the BBC Micro and Commodore C16/C64 – the Raspberry Pi.

I was already proficient with RetroArch on Linux Mint Debian Edition, Ubuntu, Android and Windows – so getting set up and running was quite simple.

My Raspberry Pi B Rev. 512MB arrived on 12th December 2013.

First Impressions

As is common place, I was quite surprised by the size of the thing – tiny. I’ve been used to Shuttle Small Form Factor XPC’s for quite a while but this was a whole new level of small.

The board arrived well packaged inside an anti-static bag and within it’s own translucent pink case (Raspberry coloured is my guess). Inside was also a quick start page with various URL’s on information and resources to get up and running.

Accessories

I purchased the following items to go with my Raspberry Pi:

  • San Disk 16GB micro-SDHC Ultra Class 10 Card with micro-SDHC to SD Adapter [Link]
  • The Pi Hut Heat-sink for Raspberry Pi [Link]
  • Raspberry Pi Case – Black [Link]
  • Wired-up HDMI to HDMI Gold Plated Connectors 1.8m Cable v1.3A [Link]
  • Bluetooth 2.0 USB Adapter by Sitecom – 100m [Link]

Sixpair / Six Axis has better success with genuine CSR (Cambridge Silicone Radio, now CSR plc) Bluetooth adapters for pairing and operation with Sony Dual Shock 3 controllers under Linux. I’ve had bad experiences from using various Broadcom based (Belkin / Technicka) USB adapters so I decided to grab whatever the cheapest offering in the 100m range was from Sitecom.

Cracked it open upon arrival (before even plugging it into anything) to find the following staring back at me:

Sitecom (Genuine CSR) USB Bluetooth Radio

Sitecom (Genuine CSR) USB Bluetooth Radio

Some British pride going on in this project! 🙂

 

Getting Set Up

Being of the Ubuntu/Debian/Mint ilk, I headed straight over to Raspbian for information and Raspberry Pi.org for the latest image.

As my Windows laptop was to hand, I downloaded the recommended SD Formatter 4.0 to format the 16GB SDHC card as Fat32 (using Quick format Yes and Format Size Adjustment On):

SD Formatter V4.0

SD Formatter V4.0

The next step was to use Win32 Disk Imager to apply the image to the formatted card:

Win32 Disk Imager applying Raspbian image to SD Card

Win32 Disk Imager applying Raspbian image

 

First Boot

Raspbian boots straight into it’s setup called (raspi-config). I ran through the following:

Raspbian First Boot Menu

Raspbian First Boot Menu

  • Expand file system
  • Change password
  • Change host name: Ravage
  • Internationalisation Options, Time Zone: London
  • Enable SSH
  • Overclock: Medium (800Mhz CPU)
  • Reboot

I decided to restart with the following as my first attempt to install packages resulted in dependency hell:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

After a reboot I threw it a startx to see how the desktop looked:

Raspbian Desktop

Raspbian Desktop

After playing a bit of SuperTux, I ran a sudo halt then powered off the device to check the temperatures. I demoted the Pi Hut heat sink to keep the USB controller in-check as this was getting quite warm.

Then I added the following heat sink to the SoC (System on a Chip) ripped lovingly out of a burnt-out Belkin N1 router:

Belkin N1 Heat Sink

Belkin N1 Heat Sink

Then went for +1Ghz overclock:

#uncomment to overclock the arm. 700 MHz is the default.
arm_freq=1033
# for more options see http://elinux.org/RPi_config.txt
core_freq=512
sdram_freq=512
over_voltage=6
gpu_mem=256
avoid_safe_mode=1

With all things stable (left SuperTux 2 on over the weekend), it was time to proceed with getting RetroPie up and running.

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