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Orders from the Command Bunker #2 - How to setup a Raspberry Pi for emulation with RetroPie

In this article we will show you how to setup a Raspberry Pi for emulation in 6-ish steps.

What you will need:

  • Hardware:

  • Raspberry Pi - There’s multiple models, we recommend the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.

  • Micro SD Card - Storage capacity will depend on the amount of ROMs you own. 32gb is a good start.

  • SD Card Reader - Most computers have a built-in reader but it may require a microSD to standard SD Card adapter.

  • Power cord - Micro USB (2.5 Amps recommended).

  • Game Pad – We recommend Logitech F310, it’s a solid controller and with dual analog sticks it will work great with most games (even PS1 and N64).

Tip: CanaKit sells starter kits on amazon that will have everything you need to get started (except a controller). https://www.amazon.com/CanaKit-Raspberry-Complete-Starter-Kit/dp/B01C6Q2GSY

  • Software:

  • Latest version of Retropie (https://retropie.org.uk/download/) – in this tutorial we’ll use RetroPie v4.3 – released on the 21st September 2017.

  • SD Card Formatter (https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/) – This will allow you for prepare your SD Card for the Retropie OS.

  • Win32 Disk Imager (https://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/) – This will install the Retropie OS on the SD Card.

  • WinSCP (https://winscp.net/eng/download.php) – This will allow you to transfer files onto the Pi using a user-friendly interface.

  • PuTTY (https://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/latest.html) – With this application, you can run terminal commands on the Pi, but from your PC. It is mainly used for advanced configurations, so while useful, it is an optional program.

  • ROMs – These are the games you will be playing on the Pi. While we won't link to where you can get these files, we are fairly confident you should have no trouble locating them. RetroArch accepts both zipped and unzipped roms, as well as .bin/.cue files for cd-based games, and .pbp for PSX isos (which is a great space-saver as this format is roughly 20-30% smaller than iso images).

Getting Started:

  • Download and install SD Card Formatter, Win32 Disk Imager, WinSCP, and PuTTY.

  • Download extract the latest version of RetroPie.

  • Insert/Connect your SD Card to your PC.

Installing the Retropie OS:

Step 1 - Format your SD Card:

  • Launch SD Card Formatter, select your SD Card, and click Format. Note: Be sure to select the correct SD Card as this step will erase the entire content of the card.

  • Click Yes to continue formatting your card.

  • Now that your SD Card was formatted, click OK and then close the application.

Step 2 – Installing the image on the SD Card:

  • Launch Win32 Disk Imager.

  • Click on the folder icon, select the RetroPie image preciously downloaded, and click Open.

  • Select the drive letter for your SD Card. Note: Make sure you select the correct drive as you may overwrite your data.

  • Click on the Write button, then click Yes to confirm writing the image to the SD Card. This process will take several minutes.

  • Once the image has been copied to the SD Card, click OK and close the application. You may now eject the SD card and place it into your Pi.

Step 3 – Boot up you Raspberry Pi and configure your controller:

  • Connect power adapter and controller to the Pi.

  • Connect the Raspberry Pi to your TV/Monitor and power it on.

  • Once the Pi has booted, follow instructions to configure your controller.

Tip: The following page provides information on button mapping for the various emulators. (https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup/wiki/RetroArch-Configuration)

Step 4 - Enable SSH - This will allow you to remotely connect to your Pi to transfer roms, bios and other files:

  • In the Retropie Settings menu, select Raspi-Config.

  • Navigate to and Select Interfacing Options.

  • Navigate to and Select SSH.

  • Select Yes to enable SSH and select OK, then Finish to return to Emulation Station.

  • Reboot your system

Step 5 – Transfer ROMs

  • Connect the Pi to your network. Hardwired/LAN connection is recommended for these steps as it is typically both faster and more stable than wifi.

  • Locate your Raspberry Pi’s IP Address by going into RetroPie options from the main menu and selecting the Show IP option.

  • Launch Win SCP, enter your log in information, and click Login.

  • File Protocol: SFTP

  • Host Name: Raspberry Pi’s IP Address from previous step.

  • Port Number: 22 (default)

  • User Name: pi (default)

  • Password: raspberry (default)

  • On the left panel navigate where you have stored your roms.

  • On the right panel navigate to the Raspberry Pi’s roms folder. /home/pi/RetroPie/roms/

  • Drag and drop your ROMs into their corresponding folder and click Ok. Note: You may transfer multiple ROMs at once. Also, keep in mind, some cores/emulators, require bios files in order to play the games. These cores include the PSX, Sega CD, Neo Geo, PC Engine CD, and Famicom Disk System, to name a few. These files have specific, case-sensitive names and versions. The following page is a great resource for sorting these requirements out (https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup/wiki/BIOS).

  • Once you have transferred all your roms to the Raspberry Pi, reboot your system and you should now see new icons for each of the systems you added roms to via the SFTP transfer.

Step 6 – Enjoy your games, listen to Emulate This, and come back to www.EmulateThis.net for more tips on emulation with the Raspberry Pi.

Bonus: Here's how to save an image of your completed Raspberry Pi.

  • Step 1 - Remove your SD card from your Pi and insert it into your PC.

  • Step 2 - Launch the Win32Disk Imager program and give your new image a name in the Image File field. Next, click Read and then simply wait for the new image to be written. Once completed, simply return your SD card back to the Pi and close the program. Now that you have an image of your completed Pi, should you ever need to redo your Pi, you can simply burn this completed image rather than the stock one outlined above, and therefore skip all of the intervening steps regarding adding roms, setting up controllers, etc.

Don't forget to check out our Raspberry Pi episode (here). Please let us know what you think or ask any questions in the comments below.

Emulate This is not endorsed or affiliated with the RetroPie Project or Canakit.

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©2017 by Emulate This; Retro Gaming Exploration.