Portaberry Pi Ultra (Portable Rpi Game Emulator)

by 3Derp, published

Portaberry Pi Ultra (Portable Rpi Game Emulator) by 3Derp Jan 10, 2017
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Introducing the Portaberry Pi Ultra my newest Raspberry Pi powered portable emulator console! It is the spiritual successor to the original Portaberry Pi with a host of updates and improvements to make it an extremely versatile video gaming machine. For more information check the quick start guide HERE.

The aim here was to build on my previous experience with raspberry pi consoles to make a sleek and easy to build console that packed as many features as possible including: full modern controls, large HDMI display, speakers/headphone jack and large battery life. This console should be able to take advantage of newer Retropie emulators including the N64 and PS1 as well as any older system emulator.

-5" HDMI Display
-Full complement of modern controls (2 analog sticks, d-pad, 4 action buttons, start/select, and L/R shoulder and trigger buttons)
-Raspberry Pi 2 Running Retropie 4.1
-Stereo Speakers and headphone jack
-4400mAh battery giving roughly 4 to 5 hours of play time
-USB micro charging input using Adafruit Powerboost1000c
-Wooden laser cut front and rear panels

For those of you interested in building your own I recommend reading the Getting Started Guide first. Following this check out the Build Log to get a feel for what the build entails. Finally check out the Bill of Material for links to all necessary components.

These instructions are in a very early state. Some detail is missing which I am working day by day to improve. They also have not had a chance to be checked. If you decide to build your own Portaberry Pi Ultra please be sure to check through the instructions thoroughly for any incorrect or confusing steps. If you find any let me know in the comments and I will work to correct the issue.

Modifying this design:
I openly invite anyone who wants to to modify/improve this design as they see fit. To aid in this I've added a zip file in the Thing File tab with a STEP file of every part of the case. All I ask is that modifications be logged as remixes of this design so that any improvements can be easily tracked and accessed. Also just gimme some credit if you can :P


Current WIP Documentation:
-Working to add more detailed instructions to the build log.
-Working to add more useful information to the Getting Started Guide

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I know you will not answer and that sucks because this project is amazing, but my problem is, that the button work for me, but not in the emulator please help!

Hi I don't get this with the Teensy LC. Do I just have to upload the Porta_Pi_Ultra_Controls_3 file or do I have to make changes on the .ino file?


awesome! I am so gonna strip my old portaberry pi and do this, i even have a laser cutter :) yipee now i have something to do for the next few week(s)!

This is awesome, can't wait to get started! I'm trying to have an online 3D printer create the parts for me and the site asks what unit of measure these STL files are in, inches, mm or cm. Looks like mm, but does anyone know for sure?


Ok let me see if I can clear this up without making thing more confusing. In Solidworks my units were inches. However, when I check the STLs in Slic3r they come up as mm. To help you make sure your parts are the correct size I can point out that the part titled 'Front_Housing' which sets the system total width and height should be 196.85mm(7.750in) wide, 127mm(5.000in) high, and 10.67mm(.420in) deep. Hope this helps.

Jun 9, 2017 - Modified Jun 9, 2017

Need some help. This is my first ever electronics build, never soldered anything before, never put together electronics. Your instructions have been fantastic and easy to follow.

I've gotten to the point where I have the front buttons/joysticks working. Upon testing RetroPie, when it's quiet, I noticed a light hum from the speakers. Do you have this too, or did I mess up something? I checked my ground and the solder looks good. Any tips would be appreciated.

EDIT: I also noticed when I switch off the sound, and switch it on, it's perfectly quiet. Then when I play a game, and then go back to the menu, it's that same low hum again.

Thanks 3Derp!!

I just finished mine. Everything works, except for the Right Shoulder and Right Trigger. I cant seem to identify any problems or errors that might of caused it so far.

May 11, 2017 - Modified May 11, 2017


First of all, thank you so much for the guide. It's by far the most detailed one I've ever come across. I also love the fact that you used Teensy instead of GPIO. I know you said in your guide you would have preferred GPIO, but the setup you have now is fantastic for Lakka (as opposed to Retropie) -- Lakka is really meant to use USB input.

Quick question, I was interested in replacing your analog sticks with these: https://www.adafruit.com/product/512

I noticed that they're a little larger (1.5"x1.5") as opposed to (1.0"x1.0"). The wiring to the Teensy should be very similar. I took a look at your case, and I think (based on the position of the holes in the PCB for the larger breakout board) that it should just barely fit. I can drill holes in a different position on the case.

I wanted to get your take on this before I proceed.

Thanks again for the fantastic guide and design!

Hello 3Derp, I also made one Portaberry Pi Ultra. However, Teensyduino doesn't work under some games such as duke.
Would you mind sharing your setup? Thanks

Apr 26, 2017 - Modified Apr 26, 2017

I did this build to the letter except that I used the Pi3 and so far I have no issues running it with all the listed hardware.

Hey 3Derp, this project is great and I am building one for an engineering project, but I am having a lot of trouble getting the screws for the project. Where did you get yours? or what website/store did you use. Thanks, and love this project. Also I have done some testing with my Raspberry pi 3b with many different batteries, one of which had an output of 1.1a, and it worked with all of them. Of course the 1.1a had some glitchiness with the screen, the lithium Ion battery and the power-booster was able to work the board and the screen just fine, though I have no idea how long it will last.

Has anyone tried this with a pi3 yet. I know they need more juice and that can be an issue. Also is there anyway to do an hdmi out on this screen would be nice to be able to plug into the tv when at home. I know this screen in the BOM uses the hdmi out but maybe a hdmi splitter would work too.

I was Just wondering what kind of wood are you using for the front panel
is it bamboo or balsa i was just asking because i need to know what material to order

Mar 10, 2017 - Modified Mar 10, 2017

Has anyone in the U.S. tried taking one of these on a plane? I know the FAA and TSA have rules about what batteries and battery operated devices can be brought on board and I'm curious if you were allowed to bring this.

Hi billix0 - I take mine on the plane every week, in my carry on bag. The biggest issue is sometimes the on switch gets flipped when I pack it and the battery runs out before I finish my turn at advance wars.

any reason not to you use the Teensy 3.2? Looks like the LC is out of stock but looks like the pinouts are the same.

Has anyone found a power booster that will give a steady 5V 2.5a? I would really like to use a RP3

I see the display in your BOM has touch support. Is that a necessity?

Can I do this build with a raspberry pi 3 B? If i decide to do this it would be my first project with a Pi.

The Pi 3 requires more juice than the Pi 2 to operate.
"Use of the Raspberry Pi 3 is being discussed/researched. However the design in its current form uses the Rpi2 and there is no guarantee the power supply will support an Rpi3." From the Bill of Materials.

Im sure its quite possible, but would require some deviation from the provided guide.

Im very impressed with this build. Especially with the full Controller spec and design. I'm working on something similar, and until now i haven't seen any one else do that (to my knowledge). While it may be hard to justify all that for the current Pi hardware, and or limitations of the systems it can emulate (i.e. not taking full advantage of the controller) I have been testing Moonlight-embedded with Launchbox (Bigbox mode) to access not only controller based steam games, but the rest of the emulators the Pi cannot handle.

Hats off to you!
This is Solid!

Best one I've found without being way overpriced. Gonna do this for school technology project!

Jan 28, 2017 - Modified Jan 28, 2017

3Derp - about 50% there, parts all printed great, soldering this weekend.

For anyone who is just starting in with this as your first Rp2 project -- the raspberry pi is incredible, but one place where it seems it is always miserable (the e-z setups never work for me) is networking. Just so you don't get frustrated right out of the gate, after you flash your new RetroPie image onto your microsd card and fire up your RPi - do this (if you want to use a US English keyboard):

hit F4 to go to command line
type "sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration" enter (enter after each of these commands)
This will open a menu that will let you select your keyboard hardware and your localization options. Upon exit you will get a "update-rc.d:warning..." but your keyboard will now have the " and | keys where you expect them.
The Rpi2 has a power management problem - if you are using an Edimax or other wireless dongle there is a good chance you will have trouble connecting to the network or holding a connection. Fix it this way:

type "cd ../../etc/modprobe.d"
type "sudo vi 8192cu.conf" - this will create a file with vi, the best of all command line word processors.
type "i options 8192cu rtw_power_mgnt=0 rtw_enusbss=0"
then hit esc
then type ":wq!" This will save the file and exit vi
then type "sudo reboot" - the pi will shutdown and turn off and then turn back on and reboot. Hit F4 again.

now type "cat /sys/module/8192cu/parameters/rtw_power_mgnt" - if you typed everything correctly, this will return 0 (zero). If you didn't, this will return 1.

You need to enable the RetroPie-Setup script to be able to run it.
type "cd RetroPie-Setup"
type "chmod +x retropie_setup.sh"
type "sudo ./retropie_setup.sh" -- this should get you into the menu where you can configure retropie. If you can get online through the wifi config tool, great. It never worked for me - "cannot connect" errors even through I could see the router and I know the password was right.

If this happens to you, do this:

type "sudo vi /etc/network/interfaces"
make sure the content of that file looks like this (for WPA wireless, for older encryption use google to find an answer): -- ( vi commands: move to the line you want to change, hit i to insert, a to append, or x to delete. When you are done with a particular edit, hit esc to be able to move around the file with the arrow keys again. This will take some getting used to.)

auto lo

iface lo inet loopback
iface eth0 inet dhcp

allow-hotplug wlan0
auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
wpa-ssid "NETWORK_NAME"
when you are done making sure the file contains this and only this. Then type ":wq!"
type "sudo reboot"

Once your pi comes back up, type "ifconfig" look to see if your wlan has an actual IP address (something like inet addr: If it does, great! you are networked! If it doesn't try rebooting again.

Once you are networked, now you can install packages, upload roms, browse and generally life is much better. The newer releases of Raspbian have some dhcpcd tool that tries to take over and do this for you, but it never gives me anything but trouble. This has worked for me a couple of times. Now go get building!

Many thanks to the tons of forum posts at github, Modmypi, retropi.org.uk and others for this info. It really shouldn't be this hard, thank you to those who took the time to post their experience. I just collected it here.

Great to hear that you've started the build! If you have any in process pics I'd love to see them. Also great advice for the Raspberry setup. This is an area that I tend to neglect in my instructions and end up leaning on pointing people to existing documentation. If you don't mind can I add your instructions to the Getting Started Guide? I'll give you credit of course.

Hi 3Derp - if you think it is helpful, please do add any or all of this to your guide, no credit needed -- this is all info that someone helped me with so the more people know, the better. Once I did get everything uploaded I was very pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to configure RetroPie (even gba!). I'll PM you a link to some pics.

Is that a 3d printed case?? how did you paint it that way?

Yes and no. Looks like 3Derp has or has access to a laser cutter and in the images has laser cut front and back (looks great btw). but the .stl's to print them in plastic are included.

3Derp you are the MAN. What a great evolution of your original design. Ordering the parts tonight to get one built before the month is out.