Pi Zero - Gameboy NANO

by Rasmushauschild, published

Pi Zero - Gameboy NANO by Rasmushauschild Feb 11, 2016

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This is my newest Raspberry Pi portable.
Built around the Raspberry Pi Zero it measures just 6.9cm x 4.8cm x 2.7cm making it the smallest portable Raspberry pi I've ever seen, perhaps the smallest ever created!

It runs Retropie Emulationstation, which provides a wide variety of emulators from the first Atari all the way to the GBA, N64 and even Dreamcast.

It also features a 1.5" OLED from Adafruit, which is running using FBCP and a custom configuration I wrote for it. If the built in screen seems too small, or if you want to play a multi player game you can always connect it to a full sized tv through HDMI.

Unfortunately it does not have any speakers built in, since the Raspberry pi Zero does not feature any analog sound output. You do however get sound, when it's plugged into the tv.

The built in controller is connected through the GPIO, and configured using the Adafruit Retrogame script.

If you want one of these yourself you can of course attempt to build one using the files on this Thingiverse page, or you can buy one from me ([email protected])

Parts List:

Raspberry pi Zero with essentials:

Adafruit 1.5" OLED display:

1200 mah battery:

Tactile switches:

ON/OFF Switch:

(Ultra) Micro SD 32 GB:
I'm sure you know where to get an sd card.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr-s02-dv80

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Aug 8, 2016 - Modified Aug 8, 2016

Does anyone know how to wire the buttons on the breadboard? I'm trying to figure it out but I'm a total newbie at this. Any instructions or a good picture of the button wiring would help. I know where the buttons should go to on the zero from the other builds but not how to set them up on the breadboard.

the tactil switches has a single contact that you can connect to the pi zero the other contacts are to keep them stuck in the bread board now what you have to do is see the data sheet of your switches tactile to know what is the contact that of the output signal on youtube you will find or in the adafruit learn section i hope this helpfull

Post your build ;)

Do u need a breadboard for this?

Can you add wiring diagram here for connection to 1.8" tft display?

Is this build dead now? We still haven't gotten a assembly video and the two that were made were reportedly really hard to create....

When I enter a game my start and select button won't work but outside they do and this is in the super Mario 64 game if u could help guide me on what to do to fix it that would be great thanks

I found a 5 way switch for the joystick, but how would I wire it?

two questions how long is the battery life and is there a bigger screen that would work I'm thinking about making a gameboy advanced or psp sized portable possibly

Battery life is about 5 hours

So hey rasmus could you please tell me some wiring intructions for the switch and where do you solder the 5 way tactile switch for the joystick cause you said you should just use 4 of the tactile switches but ill prefer to just use the joystick and could you tell me which input to use, thanks man. Please give me a wiring diagram im sure this will help lots of people.

I have this same question.... I'm going to reply in case someone answers.

How were you able to resized the screen or emulation station to view properly on the 1.5" screen? It seems very out of proportion and almost impossible to see. Looks like it squashed a 16:9 to a 4:3 image.

Many thanks and very cool project!

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Have a look at the MAKES of this project... ;-)

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Under the pictures where it says Thing Details, Thing Files, Apps, etc. There's a Made section.

You should try and make a gameboy micro

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You can check wiring instructions and SD card images here http://www.thingiverse.com/make:220238

Pi Zero - Gameboy NANO
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It has a description with wiring instruction and SD card image....try harder

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Yeah this website needs help...not your fault.

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May 12, 2016 - Modified May 12, 2016

I am happy to announce that I have finished this build. It was really hard without any instructions. To help you build this, soon I will be releasing the sd card image and wiring instructions. I will post a link to the instructions in this thread later

Congratulations! That's looks very nice! I have just recorded an assembling video which will be going up soon :)

When's it going up?

Awesome! Thanks for the great design.

Yay! Awesome!
Thank you very much!

You can find the link for the SD card image http://www.thingiverse.com/make:220238

Pi Zero - Gameboy NANO

A video tutorial would be great. I myself suck at this kind of thing but really want t make one.

It looks like he forgot to add this part for the charging/battery circuitry.

Adafruit Powerboost 1000c


It is a 500c, the 1000c won't fit.

Ah thanks! Also, where did you get the d-pad 4 way button? I can't seem to find it...


Actually I would not recommend you to use that. Use four tactile switches instead :)

Apr 28, 2016 - Modified Apr 28, 2016

Do you know when you will have an instruction manual? I printed out all of your parts and bought all the electronics I just am not quite as skilled as you with the wiring and programming associated with this project. I would be willing to purchase a manual from you as well.

do you need a special type of 3d printer or will any work

I have a brother that can 3d print the parts for me and then send them to me but the other parts are expensive, do you know any other websites I can buy the parts cheaper, I have a $75 budget and that's pushing it, I think I can make it, please respond thanks and by the way great design!

Can you upload your design, to modify it? I would like to built in a 1,8" tft instead of the extremly expensive OLED (68$ for Germany)

This would be a great addition, with the TfT being easier to purchase, and ties into my earlier question below.

Yet another question (and the 120th comment!),
In one of your images, you got your screen (TfT?) to run alongside an HDMI monitor. If or when you publish a guide for this, will that be included in the details? I really want to run my 3.5' TfT on my pi as well as a monitor, and this is the only project I've been following that has done that. If anyone else knows how to do this, or can direct me to a tutorial, I would be very grateful.

Thank You!

...I now realize you used an OLED. Well, my earlier question above still stands, if anyone would be amazing enough to know, but now a new question. How? OLED?

So far 0 made... makes me think it is not easy to make.
There are no wiring instructions, no config settings or Retropie modified img.
All we know is we have to pay in order to get one.

I'd imagine that the creator spent a lot of time to get this done and might not want to share all his secrets, but why post it on thingiverse then?

Hi there,

I am currently working on a very detailed assembling guide for a kit that I'm doing with a French company called Dagoma.
Once the guide is done it will be posted here on Thingiverse as well.

Please let me know if you have any problems with building it, and I'll do my best to help you :)

Best regards

That was my question too! Thanks!

Hi there, would you have a image file of with your drivers and button config you could make from your raspberry pi? would save a lot of work of setup and install. I have all the parts and hope to start making one.

Yeah, I'd like to see how to set up the display and button controls before I make my own.

I'd like to have that image too, or at least some guidance on the settings...

Love this. How did you connect the LiPo to the pi though? Does the pi not need a 5V supply, but the LiPo outputs 3.5V, so did you use a regulator of some sort to step up the voltage? If so, what regulator did you use?

Ignore that... I should have scrolled further down!

I'm making one right now, but I was wondering, how do you wire it all up? Could you make a tutorial?

That's one thing I wanna know.

Sadly they are way too big.

That one would probably work, however it would be a bit of a hassle since it doesn't have a micro USB input.

Thanks! How about this? http://s.aliexpress.com/rYjuiQBZ
Free Shipping New Arrival 5V Mini MICRO USB 1A TP4056 Lithium Battery Charging Charger Module Hot Selling

Mar 31, 2016 - Modified Mar 31, 2016
dejven - in reply to dejven

(If I cut the rca input cables) and soldered it to rpi zero composite output, wouldn't it be a lot less work with this screen? https://www.adafruit.com/products/910

Mar 30, 2016 - Modified Mar 31, 2016
Rasmushauschild - in reply to Gsag

It would probably work, but it wont fit unless you modify the 3d design.

what about this one? http://www.ebay.com/itm/5V-Ready-1-5-OLED-Module-for-Arduino-Full-Color-SPI-AVR-PIC-STM8-STM32-ARM-PI-/141755173094?hash=item21014448e6:g:kR4AAOSwT6pV2uPL

It, like your used screen, is sorta meant for arduino, though this doesn't have a driver. Maybe it will work with fbtft driveR?

Could this thing play Pokemon White Version?

I was considering making one of these, and I was wondering what drivers/how you set up the screen. If you use fbtft, how do you hook retropie up to fb1, or do you use retropie+fbtft (or included drivers)+ fbcp? Also how much lag is generated if fbcp is used

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Never mind to this, I found a great place. If anyone wants, it is emuparadise.me

hope I don't get in trouble for posting this

I don't think you will.

I have a question about the LCD to Rasp Pi 0 connections. I know that VIN -> Pin 2, GND -> Pin 6, MOSI -> Pin 19, DC -> Pin 22, and I think SCK -> Pin 23 but where do OLEDCS and RESET go? Please correct me if I've got the wrong connections. Thanks!

I also have an additional question, do the power boost wires that go to the Pi connect to PP1(5V usb power) and PP6(Ground) pad probes on the back of the Pi?

Super amazing.
I want to build this myself but I'm insecure with this battery.
Does this work with the rest?
In every other build i've seen so far they used things like PowerBoots and even the side of the battery says:
"you only use a LiIon/LiPoly constant-voltage/constant-current charger to recharge them and at a rate of 500mA or less."
Please help ^^
Thank you :3

What battery are you using?

Mar 22, 2016 - Modified Mar 22, 2016

Your project is downright amazing! I do not have the money to pay you, but would love to make one of these. I understand your want for people to pay you to make these, but based on the multitude of other comments, there a lot of people who want to make this, and many people who have thought of ways to make this cheaper.

Could you please publish a guide to making one of these?

No disrespect intended, this is one of the coolest raspberry pi zero uses I have ever seen!

Hi there,
thank you for your nice comment :)
I know a lot of people are interested in making one of these and therefore I am working on an assembly guide right now.

I don't really know when it will be done though since I have a few other projects that I'm working on as well, and of course there's school...
It should be done in about a month though (hopefully)

Several of us would be just fine with pictures of the connections.

Mar 30, 2016 - Modified Mar 30, 2016
Rasmushauschild - in reply to snake6778

Hopefully I'll be able to shoot some pictures of the wiring in a few days :)

what did you do to enable the screen? I have everything wired up and no video output to screen, same screen as you are using. Is there something that needs to be changed in BIOS? thanks!

Try to paste this one in the "terminal/CMD prompt" on the Pi:

sudo modprobe fbtft_device custom name=fb_ssd1351 buswidth=8 gpios=reset:24,dc:25 speed=10000000 width=128 height=128 bgr=1 init=-1,0xFD,0x12,-1,0xFD,0xB1,-1,0xAE,-1,0xB3,0xF1,-1,0xCA,127,-1,0xA0,0x74,-1,0x15,0x00,0x7F,-1,0x75,0x00,0x7F,-1,0xA1,128,-1,0xA2,0x0,-1,0xB5,0x00,-1,0xAB,0x01,-1,0xB1,0x32,-1,0xBE,0x05,-1,0xA6,-1,0xC1,0xC8,0x80,0xC8,-1,0xC7,0x0F,-1,0xB4,0xA0,0xB5,0x55,-1,0xB6,0x01,-1,0xAF,-3

con2fbmap 1 1

con2fbmap 1 0

fbcp &

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This got the screen working, every time I reboot the screen goes off again, any ideas?


Mar 30, 2016 - Modified Mar 30, 2016
Rasmushauschild - in reply to nweuros

You will need to insert it in /etc/rc.local just befor exit 0. (the entire commant must be all in one line)

wow...im not sure if my pc is being wierd or, if you just broke the comments section... ={]

Just a thought, if you design a PCB for the control panel, you can probably cut down a lot of the time you need to spend building one of these. $250 is quite a lot of money for something like this (I appreciate that it does take a lot of time to build, but a PCB would probably only cost around $10 (or less) to have made (if you order 5 for instance) and there are loads of online places that will do small run PCB's for cheap. I think that would cut a lot of your build time down and make the overall price a bit easier to swallow.

Great project BTW :) I'll be releasing my Gameboy Pi thing to the world soon so I know how long these things take!

I'll consider doing that :)
Thank you

Mar 16, 2016 - Modified Mar 17, 2016

Hi !
I'm really impressed by what you have done ! I'm thinking about building one.
However, I don't want to waste time and money, so, is it possible for you to make a video tutorial from putting together the components up to the configuration of the PiZero ?
It will be very helpful for people like me, in love with video game and 3d printing but having problems with electronics.

PS : Is it possible to save to keep your progress ?

Thanking you in advance.

Ps : Sorry about my english

For instructions the I tunes will have to do for now... Sorry!
It is possible to save your progress anywhere in all of the emulators.

Too bad :/ I wanted to build one. Anyway ..

Mar 17, 2016 - Modified Mar 17, 2016
ledididu71 - in reply to ch33123

Bring up my post ^^ I didn't know, thanks to internet

I've been asking the same question over a week, only I was a fool to buy the kit first lol...ill still manage to build it (hopefully) would just be nice if there was some detailed pictures of the wiring.

What emulators did you use.
Did you write them yourself or did you find them online.
If you found them online please could you give me the links.
If not how much for the code

It uses Retropie.
Retropie is an operating system built on Raspbian. It has over 50 emulators built in all the way from the classic Atari to n64, ps1 Gameboy and even Mame! It even looks very sleek thanks to Emulationstation.
You can find out more on the official website: blog.petrockblock.com

Thanks for the reply
Im definitely building this

Look up retroPi and there you have it just add the roms and the emulator will show up when you restart

How do you convert the 3-4.2v to 5v ? And how do you charge the battery? There is nothing in the part list that can do this as i can see.

So much win! But my hands are WAY too big and too old for something this size!

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Works the Joystick Analog or Digital ?

For N64, PS1 and Dreamcast is a Analog Joystick indispensable.

It's digital.
Almost all ps1 games is made to work only with the digital d-pad and n64 games work fine for the most part.

Hello there!
Fell in love with this soon as I laid eyes on it haha, really good job very smart lad. I've gone and bought the parts and I'm going to attempt the build :-) but I am a noob when it comes to electronics, (built my own printer though) it would be a massive help if you could put some clear pictures of the wiring positions for us noobs to copy nothing major just some close ups would be really appreciated, keep up the good work

Hi, sorry for the late reply!
I am working on a kit together with Dagoma.fr, where I have to take some close up pictures.
When they're taken they will be posted here as well.

Awesome! and thank you for the reply

I would love to attempt this. It sucks that it is so hard to find a RpiZero right now. Oh well, it's on my wishlist and to-do list.

Awsome... Sharing right now!

This is awesome! Maybe i give it a try.

Beautiful assembly. Nice job!

these are very cool i made the bigger version but you should sell these pre made for the people with out printers, i think you'd make great profits. Keep going dude :)

and your HOW OLD?! wow i'm 16 and I only can make the stuff I have.

Mar 8, 2016 - Modified Mar 8, 2016

This looks like a fun project. If you can post schematics or get them to me I can design a switch PCB and place it on oshpark.com where anyone can have them made for a few dollars each.

Very intuative and neat little design! Well done.

Would it please be possible to get more information about the custom controller, how does the thumbstick work.

The thumbstick is a five way tactile switch but I strongly recommend you to just use four normal tactile switches instead.

Could you put more information up for the wiring diagram and what charger did you use. And the size screws preferred

This is kick azzzz. Ima have to build one!

with it being so small can you actually read the screen

since the resolution for the classic systems is so low, the resolution of the screen is just fine for that purpose.
With newer systems like n64 and dreamcast it's very hard to read anything though.

awesome!! this is the tiniest game system i have ever seen

plus how do I buy one off here

Mar 8, 2016 - Modified Mar 8, 2016

Send me an email :)
[email protected]

here's my email [email protected] but i'm going to need some time, I've got raise about $70 because I don't think i could do it off pictures, but i have to say this is amazing, i hope to become as good as you one day. I've been taking lots of classes. thanks for sharing this with everyone

is there instructions on how to build it.

As for assembly instructions the pictures will have to do for now... Sorry!

Do you find it a bit hard to press the buttons, since they're so small and all, or is there just enough space for this to not be am issue?

If you use the exact tact switches I used they're actually very nice to press.

Where can I find your custom FBCP script? I have another RPi project with an SPI screen that I'm having trouble with.

Nice work Mate!

Thanks for sharing!
Still though the speaker would have to be very small making it hard to hear...

I am experimenting with mobile phone replacement speakers at the moment.
Like this one.
They are really small an loud. I will let you know, if I get it to work with the Zero.

Any updates on this with audio/mobile phone speaker?

Any updates on this with audio/mobile phone speaker?

That's brilliant! I didn't even think about that :)

Let me say that for a 14 year old you are quite amazing! I look forward to seeing more stuff from you.

Hi Rasmus,

I really like your design, and am thinking of remixing yours with a slightly bigger enclosure (big hands) and a speaker, what part did you use for the D-Pad, I can't seem to find anything like it.

That sounds cool! (Ihave pretty big hands as well)
For the d-pad used this one: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10063
However I would recommend to just use four tactile switches instead, since it gets worn out really quick!
Please let me know once you're done! ;)

Add this to the parts list please!

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Which Adafruit powerboost did you use? I can't quite make it out. Just want to make sure that whatever I order is going to fit into the case. Also - any update on the assembly instructions? Even a simple circuit diagram would be useful for beginners such as myself. Thanks for making this awesome project!

It uses the Powerboost 500c but the more powerful 1000c would probably fit as well.
As for assembly instructions the pictures will have to do for now.. Sorry!
Please don't hesitate to write again if you have more questions ;)

Thanks! I just finished a building a pocket pigrrl, so I think I can figure out the wiring. One last question though: what script did you use to get the display to work properly? That's the last thing that I can't quite figure out.

maybe my question sounds a little stupid but ... can you upload a video playing Super Street Fighter 2 in Super Nintendo, and do a hadouken? The controller appears to be a little uncomfortable.
It's possible to buy to you a full assembled one?

Sure, I'll send you a link once the video uploaded.
Also, if the built in controller is too small you can always just configure a USB game pad of you choice (See how in the presentation video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tr-s02-dv80 )

If you buy one from me it is fully assembled, and comes with all converters (Mini HDMI to normal HDMI and micro USB to normal USB)
The price is $190 plus shipping (parts alone being $140)

wow this is super cool now all we need to do is make one that looks like a gameboy advance. props to you my creative friend.

Yeah, that would be cool!

Nice project! What battery did you use?

It's a 1200 mAh Lithium ion battery: https://www.pi-supply.com/product/lithium-ion-polymer-battery-3-7v-1200mah/?v=dd65ef9a5579

Btw I just uploaded the entire parts list to the description :)

How long that battery lasts playing?

This is beautiful! Nicely done!

do you have a full parts list and maybe some instructions to help someone build it on their own? its a great build and i would love to try and make 1 for myself

Yes, I am working on both.

Good work! Its lovely :D It will be awesome to see a gameplay video.

That looks awesome!

I'd love to build one. Are you working on a bill of materials by chance? Especially for the type of switches used.

Yes, I am working on a parts list.
I Think it'll be up by tomorrow.

If you're still working on this I'd love to make some. I was working with a composite display but this looks better.