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Retro Pie Box - Portable Raspberry Pi Emulation Console ***OUTDATED VERSION***

by NickRBrewer, published

Retro Pie Box - Portable Raspberry Pi Emulation Console ***OUTDATED VERSION*** by NickRBrewer Jul 16, 2013
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Update - Here's the 2015 update for this project - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:688566

Back in December I found a great mod where someone shoved an SNES into a pelican case. I wanted to recreate this, but using a Raspberry Pi for a portable gaming rig.

It took about 7 months of frustration, joy, anger, blood, fried boards, and tears but it is finally complete.

This wouldn't have been possible without the awesome work people have put into the Retro Pie and Emulation Station projects.


Here's a great walkthrough from Lifehacker - http://lifehacker.com/how-to-turn-your-raspberry-pi-into-a-retro-game-console-498561192

You can attempt to recreate my project, but I'd recommend using it as a template and make it your own. I've included the blank pieces that should fit the interior of the pelican case so you can modify it to you heart's content. I've left off the accent pieces that I printed in white. They helped hide the seams of the separate prints it took to put the faceplates together.

The entire thing is waterproof and probably weighs 3 or 4 lbs. It probably wouldn't make you super popular with airport security, but the whole thing is portable. I've got a 16gb SD card for the main operating system and a 16gb flash drive for extra storage. It can boot into Raspbian and features wifi so you can ftp into it if wanted. Unfortunately there is no way to externally power the system while you are using it, but they are beefy lipo batteries that should hold out for several hours.

I was able to get about 7 hours while plugged into an external HDMI TV with the internal screen powered off. If you were to play it using the internal screen, it would most likely last for 3ish hours.

I'll post as many of the parts as I can find, but good luck and godspeed!


Go forth and create!

Partial Parts List
Raspberry Pi Model B - http://www.adafruit.com/products/998
Screen - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007G3J4EC/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Wifi - http://www.adafruit.com/products/814
Wireless Keyboard - http://www.adafruit.com/products/922
Panel Mount Ethernet - http://www.adafruit.com/products/909
Panel Mount HDMI - http://www.adafruit.com/products/978
Panel Mount USB - http://www.adafruit.com/products/908
SNES USB Controller - http://www.amazon.com/Retro-Nintendo-Controller-Not-Machine-Specific/dp/B0034ZOAO0%3FSubscriptionId%3D11V4BFFP7Y247FYTQ882%26tag%3Dkinjamod-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB0034ZOAO0&ascsubtag=[postId%7C498561192[asin%7CB0034ZOAO0[authorId%7C5716493564230329059[type%7Cmodlink
Lipo Batteries - http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=7314
Pelican 1200 Case - http://www.amazon.com/camera-photo/dp/B0002INQT2

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Hello I was wondering if you could answer a few questions I had about the setup
my email is [email protected]

Also what did it cost to make this?

The overall cost was probably around $150 between the cost of the pelican case, raspberry pi, controller, and various other parts.

This is really cool. I saw something like this on instructables but it didn't look nearly as nice as this.

Jan 28, 2015 - Modified Jan 28, 2015

I'm sorry if this is a newbie question, but I'm looking into creating a case like this for my RetroPi, and I'm wondering how you got the battery set up? In particular, how do you have it charging both the RaspberryPi and the display, and how do you ensure that you're sending each the right amount of power to each? Also, what's the battery life like?

One more question: Am I correct in thinking that the HDMI output pictured could be plugged into a different TV so you could play the games on that TV?

Thanks for your help, and for posting this cool project in the first place!

No worries, we're all newbies till you figure it out, then eventually people will ask you how you did it.

I'm going to answer these with what I think would work best for you now, not what I originally used since I'm thinking of spending some time updating it anyways.

For power, I would recommend something like this - http://www.adafruit.com/product/1903 - It takes in 3.7 volts from a lipo battery and spits out the 5v needed to power the RPi. You can modify those screens to run off of 5 volts, so you can power both the Pi and the screen off the same battery. For a screen this size I would recommend a 6600 mah battery.

And yep, you can run the HDMI to a TV, basically the pi first checks to see if the HDMI is powered, and if it is, it goes there. If not, it runs to the screen.

Hopefully this helps. Adafruit has a TON of really good tutorials as well.

Can you elaborate on the electrical wiring and connections?

Hi, how did you work around the S video to HDMI, I have a B+ and cant seem to figure it out, thanks!

Here are two sites that helped me. In the project I used a B, but I'm messing around with an A+ for something different but it should work for you too.

This helps break down the 4-post plug. - http://www.raspberrypi-spy.co.uk/2014/07/raspberry-pi-model-b-3-5mm-audiovideo-jack/

I followed this to force the A+ to use composite video all the time - http://raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/23915/the-composite-video-on-my-raspberry-pi-isnt-working

hope it helps!

This explains allot! thanks for the help! :)

Do you know how much it all cost?

I'm actually attempting to make one of these myself, so can help you with what i've spent so far.

Prices a little inflated because: Australia.

Raspberry Pi: $41
64GB SD Card: $79
Pelican Case: $36 - I actually know the distributor for the cases and got it at wholesale cost. Normally they are $70.
SNES Control: $4 (quality of the one I got is not that great, so may look in to getting a better one, possibly a wireless ps3 control)
Bluetooth Adapter: $11
7" Screen: $114
Li Ion Battery: $59 - However, have a mountain of them at work so got it for free.

I haven't gotten to put it all in the box yet, so i'm imagining there will be some cost in extra bits and pieces to hold it all in place. I'm hoping to fit the whole lot plus the controller and headphones in to the same box for super portable gaming.

That's awesome! Post some pics when you're done.

Can you explain the connection of the inner parts? E. g. how you wired up the battery. Furthermore, are you using a speaker for sound output?

is there a way we can get a picture of the underneath? How do you keep the board from sliding around?

I've added two additional photos of the inside. I still might play with the battery system a bit, but for now, this is what's going on inside.

I'm doing a little bit of additional work on it, so I'll try to get a good one tonight. This also reminded me of a part I forgot to add to the derivatives, to keep it from sliding around, I just used the bottom part of - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:16104http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... - and used velcro on the printed piece and the pelican interior.

I tried to keep from modifying the pelican case as much as possible. I didn't drill any holes or anything, so when closed, it is actually still waterproof.

Raspberry Pi case
by HansH