how to make a games console

Recently, retro games from the 90s, for some unknown reason, have begun to gain immense popularity. The Japanese company Nintendo even released mini versions of two of its consoles, which at one time were hits – Nintendo Classic Mini and Nintendo NES Classic Mini, with a limited set of games onboard. In this article, we will try to tell you in simple and accessible language how to make a games console.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Make a Video Game Console of Your Own

To make a gaming console, we will be using a 4-in-1 kit that includes:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B + individually wrapped;
  • an active cooling system in the form of a miniature 20×20 mm fan, and a protective grille for it;
  • cooling heatsinks for chips;
  • parts made of transparent acrylic for assembling the case.

Make a Raspberry Pi Game Console: Building the Console

Let’s start to build your own game console. For this procedure, we only need a screwdriver. The first step is to stick complete cooling heatsinks on the chips. Before gluing the surface of the microcircuits, it is advisable to degrease. The radiators have a self-adhesive backing, so this operation shouldn’t be a problem. Assembling the case takes a few minutes. With the help of the supplied fasteners, we fasten the board to the bottom part of the case. Install a cooling fan on the upper part.

We connect the cooling fan to GPIO pins 4 and 6. Since all parts of the acrylic case are fastened with latches, be careful not to break them. As a result, we get quite a pretty transparent parallelized with dimensions 94x67x35 mm and weighing 120 g.

The only not entirely pleasant moment is how to make a retro game console Raspberry Pi – in order to remove the memory card from the slot, you will need to use tweezers. A too small part of it sticks out of the body, you can’t grab it with your fingers.

How to Make a Games Console: Launching and Configuring

build your own games console

Let’s get down to the next important part of making your own games console – installing the operating system and emulator on our console. Here we will explain how to make a RetroPie console, because it is this thing that allows you to make a console at all. It is this process that will take the most time to build your own retro game console, so you need to do everything as clearly as possible. To do this, we need an SD card with a capacity of at least 8 GB and preferably “fast”. We go to the official website of the RetroPie project and download the required OS image for the Raspberry Pi 2/3 model in the download section. The image is packed into an archive with the “.gz” extension, but you don’t need to unzip it, the program that we will use to write the image to the memory card understands archives by default.

The system image is recorded on the card using special programs. We recommend using a simple and free program Etcher to make your own video game console. On its official website, there are versions of the installation files for Windows. The process of recording an image with its help is simplified to the extreme. Insert the microSD card reader into the USB of your computer, select the previously downloaded RetroPie image in the Etcher program, specify where to write it, and click the “Flash!” Button. When finished, remove the memory card from the card reader. As you can see, there is nothing particularly difficult about how to make your own video game console. You just need to be careful.

After the system image is written to the memory card, we install it into our console. We connect the HDMI cable from your TV, power to the micro USB connector. If you wish, you can also connect a keyboard and mouse (it is completely optional to connect). But the main thing isn’t to forget to connect a gamepad, without it to build your own games console simply loses all meaning.

Since we touched on the topic of game manipulators, we immediately noted that almost all types of gamepads were connected and worked without any problems. The Xbox 360 gamepad immediately worked wirelessly through the receiver from the PC without even having to make any settings, just plugged the receiver into a free USB port and the joystick was immediately identified by the system as – Xbox 360 Wireless Controller. That is why you can use this gamepad rather than how to make a Raspberry Pi game console. But the point is this. On modern gamepads there is a very small and inconvenient crosspiece, and playing old platformers on such joysticks is not very convenient, the analog sticks located nearby simply interfere with the grip. You can play with analog knobs, but that’s still a pleasure. In our opinion, the best and most optimal option would be to purchase clones of controllers from Sega or Nintendo with a USB connection, they have a large convenient crosspiece. Finding such a controller on marketplaces in China or even local retail stores won’t be difficult. So you can safely choose them while building your own video game console. By the way, their price will be much lower than conventional gamepads.

After applying power to the Raspberry Pi, we can see how to make an emulator console come to life, and we briefly see the operating system boot screen. The system will automatically determine that a gamepad is connected to it and will offer to configure it. To perform this action, simply press any button on the game controller.

The configuration window will open. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your controller. Just use the buttons, triggers, and sticks in the order they appear in the setup window. If your gamepad is missing some items, you can skip them by pressing and holding any button on the controller. When you get to OK, press the button configured as “A”. If you want to customize another controller, you can do that later in the RetroPie start menu. This is basically all the setup that will be required, then how to make your own game console.

Since we make a game console there are no games loaded yet, we can only go to the RetroPie configuration screen. In this section, you can configure the shell, load screensavers, and change skins, configure the network environment, connect Wi-Fi, add a gamepad.

How to Make a Games Console: Download Games

build your own game console

So we got to the main interesting point in making your own game console – downloading games to our console. There is one unpleasant moment here. The fact is that the emulator we use is free and absolutely legal, but the images of games for it, called ROMs, are not. The emulator works with digital copies of old game cartridges or CDs for game consoles. Despite the venerable age of the games, they all belong to the publisher and developer, the illegal use of such content or copying is called, in one word, piracy. In this regard, we have no moral right to give direct links to the “deposits” of games for old consoles and how to make a retro game. But still, we will show you where you can find them. Just type in the search engine “NES ROM” or “SEGA ROM” and you will be pleasantly surprised by the prospect of downloading several gigabytes to your hard drive. As an option, this kind of goodness is full on the very sites from which everyone usually downloads films, they even have thematic sections with selections by genre. Search and you will find. Now let’s talk about how to transfer the collection we downloaded to our makeshift console. There are several ways, but let’s talk about the simplest one. Any USB flash drive is suitable for this.

Wait until the LED on the flash drive stops blinking and data exchange with its stops. We take out the USB flash drive from our set-top box and re-insert it into the PC. We will see other folders appear in the retropie folder. As a result, we are interested in – “retropie/roms/”. This directory contains a bunch of folders with the name of the emulated consoles. For example, in the folder “retropie/roms/nes” we will record our roms from the Nintendo Entertainment System. We hope the principle is clear. After you fill the flash drive with images of games, you need to disconnect it from the PC and reconnect it to the Raspberry, while the data from the flash drive catalogs will be automatically copied to the SD card, which acts as an HDD in our console. After the indicator on the flash drive stops blinking (and this may take a lot of time, it all depends on the amount of data being transferred), we remove our flash drive and reboot the console. To reboot RetroPie you can use the QUIT – RESTART SYSTEM menu item. The menu itself is called by pressing the “Start” button on the gamepad.

We are sure that our tips will help you make a games console on your own and even without the help of specialists. Good luck!

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