PiGRRL Zero Raspberry Pi Zero Gameboy

by adafruit, published

PiGRRL Zero Raspberry Pi Zero Gameboy by adafruit May 12, 2016

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UPDATE The PiGRRL Zero case has been split into four pieces for printing on smaller beds! - Check the case-split.zip archive

You've seen PiGRRL, Super Game Pi, PiGRRL Pocket, PiGRRL 2 and now... it's time for PiGRRL Zero!

In this project, we'll turn the elusive $5 Raspberry Pi Zero into portable game console!

-Retropie 3.7 Emulation Station: SNES, NES, SEGA, N64, and many many more!
-14 Buttons, including D-Pad, L & R shoulder, Start/Select, A, B, X, Y and two extras.
-2.2" Adafruit PiTFT 320x240 Color Display
-Landscape portable console format

The USB female jack allows you to add any peripherals to the Raspberry Pi Zero, such as a WiFi or Bluetooth adapter, USB keyboard or mouse, USB Audio Adapter or USB Hub.

Check out our full step-by-step tutorial:

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Any plans to release the source files for the full joined case? I've found the Autodesk files for the split case (for smaller printers), but my printer is more than large enough and I'd like to make some modifications to the original design.

I've noticed on mine, the little tabs on the top and bottom of the case, where the shoulder buttons go, are quite fragile and prone to snapping off quite easily. Is this something I'm doing wrong with the print, or is there a better way to handle this?

Comments deleted.

The shoulder buttons in the tutorial seem to be others then the tactile switches - what are these ?? Are they non clicking?

I believe so. The guide mentions that they had them "laying around". The tactile switches work fine.

Hi, How long does it take to print this if I am going to use a Up box?

what is the washer part used for?

Comments deleted.

Has anybody printed the split case because of a small print bed? I have and I'm wondering what to use to permanently join the spit pieces. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

You could try friction welding, but you'll need to sand the weld and use a filler and paint it, or try using acetone to weld them together


Thanks for suggesting friction welding. I'll give it a try.

If I dismantle an old snes controller, will the buttons fit this case? I've found four of them laying around.

I think I'll get the kit! :)

"You've seen PiGRRL, Super Game Pi, PiGRRL Pocket, PiGRRL 2 and now... it's time for PiGRRL Zero!"
Which ones have sound? I want to learn about Pi and electronics so this seems like a great project.

Thanks, Martin.

They all have audio except this one because the pi zero doesn't have audio out. Hope it helps :)

Jun 13, 2016 - Modified Jun 13, 2016

Have you thought about making files for a 3.5 or 5 inch screen? This seems awfully small. And why no audio?

Comments deleted.

the pi zero doesnt has audio natively. you would either have to add a i2s dac or you have to make it like the raspberry pi foundation is doing it on every other pi: with some capacitors and some resistors. adafruit has a guide for this

Thanks for that info, would this be suitable? I ask because its so cheap


Nop, you need to search for I2S (Inter-IC Sound) and not (Inter-Integrated Circuit).

They are mostly a bit more expensive. That is the smallest one i could find on a fast search https://store.digilentinc.com/pmodi2s-stereo-audio-output/ . There are also some barebone DIP ICs, but i've forgot their name

So I've got everything together and working besides the button pad boards I'm still waiting on. Everything fits well, except for the screen. It sits quite deep from the upper part of the case. There is a 1-2mm gap where the screen sits low in the housing. I think the offsets are fine since the screen buttons sit properly and activate well, but maybe the lip around the screen should have been just a hair deeper. It still looks okay once the screen is on, but the gap is a little distracting. I don't really see this problem in the example build pics, so just wondering if there's something I might have got wrong? Maybe I should alter the model? Any thoughts? Could I stick something behind the actual display to push it forward a bit on the ptft board? Maybe something to act as a trim piece?

Ah, it's possible the screen is being secured to the PCB with double-sided scotch tape, as opposed to foam tape. Sometimes our kitting team runs out of materials and ops in for different tape.

If you carefully pull the display away from the PCB, you should be able to swap out the thinner scotch tape with a thicker foam tape.

I'm hoping thats the issue, should be a relatively simple fix. Let us know!


That sounds like the exact problem! Bummer, but as you said, an easy fix. I'll try and get some foam tape and get her fixed up. Thanks so much for the quick reply Noe! I can't wait for my button PCBs to finish this project up!

is there a tutorial or other content that covers the work flow of eagle PCB to 3D? It looks there is a fusion 360 gallery with some of the PCB's.

I was thinking more along the lines of the Eagle IDF-export utility to step file. But good to know the DXF is a "complicated". IDF export requires a HEIGHT attribute (boxes), library of 3D parts (no idea how that works) or post work to replace parts for better detail (most likely). I also use the caliper method now and then. Some of the PCBs in the gallery looked so go I thought the where done with the IDF export.

Nice project!

I want to build one, but I'm thinking about power consumption. Have you measured it?


there are already measurements of the pi zeros consumption, which are similar to the a+ ones. i would think its around the same as shooting video, so around 200 mah @ 5V which is 1W. taking the circuitry into perspective it would be maybe around 1.1-1.2W ,on the lipos side. This means the power consumption is around 400mah @ 3.7V. That means the Lipo would last 5H, but 4 would be better, because you dont want to drain it completely

Cool, thank you!

I'm in the process of printing the buttons and dpad now, and it occurred to me that I might want to print with a different % of infill. It's not mentioned in the instructions... should I be printing at 100%?

I ended up printing everything at 50% infill with 3 outer shells. Everything still feels quite strong and I don't perceive any problems. Most of the tiny pins and such in the case are solid anyways with the 3 shells, so I expect it to be alright. I'll certainly let you all know if I have any problems.

Great tutorial! I have only 2 suggestions. One just add some text that details where the 26AWG wire is used in the build instead of the 30AWG wire. If this is someones first build they may not know which wire size to use where. The second please add information on using the USB audio connector. I thought in your layer by layer video you were working on integrating it into the build and it is included in the BOM for the build.

Thank you! We have considered your suggestions and added them to the guide. There's now a new page that explains usage and extras.



if i modded the design, could i add a battery cover so i can ditch the powerboost 1000c? (and just take out the battery when i need to charge)

Sure! Just connect a 5V battery to the microUSB power port from Raspberry Pi Zero.

May 15, 2016 - Modified May 15, 2016
JackJ106 - in reply to adafruit

Wait, wouldn't that fry the PI? dosnt the pi zero use 1.5V?
EDIT: oh, i see. the powerboost increases the charge or whatever to 5V. but still wouldnt it fry the pi? sorry. im new-ish to electronics.

Pi zero uses 5V that's why the powerboost steps up the voltage from the 3.7V lipo battery to 5V so the pi can operate. 5V is where it should be to operate normally.

thank you very mutch! im just used to the 1.5V of my pi 1, model B.

Anybody have any tips for making the buttons work with PLA instead of Ninjaflex? My printer can't print flexible materials, but I've printed up the buttons in PLA. Will they work in PLA for this project? Anybody else use PLA buttons for previous PiGRRL projects? Should I cut the buttons apart? Any tips or help would be appreciated, thanks!

Shouldn't be a problem in PLA, you'll have to put the shoulder buttons in place before closing it and they won't feel rubbery but that's about the only difference

Great, thanks! I was just worried about the d-pad and the ABXY buttons pressing more than one actuator if they don't flex. I guess I'll find out soon enough. Cheers!

May 14, 2016 - Modified May 14, 2016
Ampersands - in reply to ExcessRope

the Dpad should be fine since you won't need to push 2 opposite directions at the same time and the ABXY buttons are split into 2 pairs so they'll be fine too.
Edit: just realised the files uploaded aren't the ones used in the pics, the ABXY buttons might be problem unless you split them into 2 pairs

So I should split them? Because the STL file available is a single circle with all 4 buttons. I know their example make has the buttons in two different colors, but I thought that was just for looks. I think I'll try them as a single part (since I've already printed them as such) and if it causes problems, perhaps I'll split it and print them again. Thanks again for the help.

Ampersands has great suggestions, although I haven't tried PLA buttons yet, I've heard some folks had success with other PiGRRL builds. I imagine the ABXY buttons could be split using a hobby knife (I used scissors to cut the ninjaflex ones). Let us know how it turns out :-)

Well, got my PiGRRL Zero built! It's great, almost. The PLA ABXY and shoulder buttons work fine, but the d-pad is pretty horrible. The tft buttons work okay, but I think I'll likely cut them apart so they have less chance of pressing more than one actuator. I'm not sure how to go about fixing the d-pad though. Any ideas? I really wish I could print flex material, but my bowden tube delta printer just will not do it and I'd really rather avoid 3d hubs or the like just for a d-pad. You think there's a clever way to split the d-pad so pressing one direction doesn't push 3 directions? It's kind of weird that the ABXY buttons work so well and the d-pad doesn't since they're so similar. I guess it's just the way the force is applied to the buttons closer to the ends and guided by the individual holes?

Overall, I'm super stoked I managed this build. It's my first semi-intensive electronics project and it went very well. The only issue I had at all was soldering the wrong 2 pins of the shoulder buttons the first time. Easy fix and then everything works as intended. Thank you so much for the great guide and all the parts and software needed . Oh, and the Fusion tutorials on Layer-by-layer too! I've learned a heck of a lot and grew some soldering confidence in the process. I can't wait for my next project. You guys rock!

OK! So I put together a new DPad specifically for hard materials, you can grab it here and try it out: http://www.thingiverse.com/download:2456336

It basically has four cylinders on the bottom of the DPad, so they can actuate the buttons instead of a large flat surface like in the original. Because of this, you have to print it upside down. Since the "base" is now overhanging, you'll need to enable supports in order to print it properly.

I tested it out on my setup and it seems to work OK - but mines different because I'm testing out new "silent buttons". We're going to carry these in the Adafruit store very soon! (they use rubber elastomers instead of a metal dome - so no clicky sound :-).

Let me know how it goes!

Thanks so much. I actually printed the buttons upside down and right-side-up. I like the top layer texture on the right-side-up one better and they both turned out pretty well with supports on, so I installed that one.
Good news, it seems to press the buttons independently just as expected. Bad news, while putting everything back together I managed to crack my micro sd card in half from pressure from the button pcb and some wires that got between them. Bummer :( I tried a different sd card and couldn't get anything except a white screen. I think I dorked that one up too somehow. I'm all out of micro sd cards, so I can't actually verify how well the buttons work, but they feel much better and more distinct. Thank you so much for your help with all this. I can't wait to get back up and running. I'll update when I can try again, but I think this new d-pad will work out just fine. Great job!
On another note, these things don't like getting taken apart and put back together too much, lol. The snap-fit edges are awesome, but I've managed to snap a few of my pcb supports inside with all the tinkering, so I may end up having to re-print the case. Nature of 3d-printing I suppose. Still, this is an awesome project. Thanks again Noe.

Thanks Adafruit! I will try to use the buttons as solid pieces first. If that causes any problems, I think I will cut them apart and perhaps use a pieces of tape or something to keep them together but basically integrate a hinge to allow for independent movement. Either way, I will post results. Thanks again for a fantastic project. I can't wait for my button pad boards to get cut and arrive. Everything else should be here tomorrow and I've already printed all the parts. Everything came out great, except I will have to ream out the holes for all the buttons just a hair. The tolerances were super tight there, but they all still fit. The buttons just don't move freely yet, nothing a little needle file can't fix. The case snaps together perfectly though and feels very secure. I'd post pics, but I want to get it all built first. I'm so stoked!

The hard D-Pad worked for me after I placed a M3 Nylon washer between the button board and each of the standoffs.

That's a good idea, thanks. The new d-pad worked better, but it's still a little bit picky. I'll try the washer and see how it goes. Cheers!

May 13, 2016 - Modified May 13, 2016

Any way there will be splits for the body like with your PiGRRL 2 for those of us with smaller printers? Mine is just a bit too small for this model

Sure, that sounds like a good CAD tutorial suggestion! I'll plan to do that on a LIVE YouTube stream sometime this coming week. Thanks ;-) – Noe

wow! another great project! just waiting on those pi zeros to be available again......

approximately how much does it cost?

$90 ish in parts from adafruit. probably about $40 in parts anywhere else.