Building Raspberry Pi/Retropie from scratch as a newbie

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This topic contains 27 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of karhu karhu 1 year, 1 month ago.

Viewing 28 posts - 1 through 28 (of 28 total)
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  • #121896
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    Hi, thought I might start a topic as more of a blog detailing my steps as I try to build a Raspberry Pi retro games machine, but with no experience at all of the hardware or software. Hopefully as I add to the topic experienced users can explain what I’m seeing and doing and more importantly people in the same situation can read through and skip the pain of trying to read answers and format questions. I don’t really plan to ask questions directly, but if those with experience could add comments explaining things as we go it would be great.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #121901
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    Step 1 (about a month ago), buy the Raspberry Pi. Seems easy online but there are two options, one includes an 8GB SD card with something called Noobs, so time to read up and work out what this is. Turns out the Pi needs an SD card to store it’s operating system on, without an SD card you can’t get anywhere. So I buy the version with the SD card and Noobs and it arrives in a little box, just a printed circuit board with some chips and connectors. In my mind I’m going to build a full retro arcade machine, but as I’m an ‘agile’ developer these days (on mainframes) I know to set myself a smaller goal and hit that first. So find a HDMI cable and plug that into a monitor at work, plug in the mini USB power and it starts up, lots of unintelligible stuff on the screen and then a type of windows look with some games. First roadblock, I’m going to need a USB mouse to get control of it.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #121912
    Profile photo of herbfargus
    herbfargus
    Moderator
    #121919
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    A good guide herb, and one I did get hold of when I started. So having got your Pi up and running noobs, you wonder how to get retropie onto your precious SD card without destroying noobs. After a lot of reading I found that you can use berryboot to have two boots on one SD card and choose them, but I also found that noobs was a free download and so there was no risk in wiping it from the card. To take the easy approach I decided to wipe the card and load retropie onto it, which is where you start finding all the issues. So first step, download the retropie image which is easy. Next step is to extract it, but windows 10 wants no part of that so you need another extract program. Tried to get winzip to work but it was unhappy, tried winrar but wrong format, eventually found 7-zip which seems to be able to unpack the image and so downloaded that and unpacked the SD card image. Thats another day gone (remember this was a couple weeks back). So anyone following this guide, make sure you find a way to unpack the image before you move on.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #121928
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    Next step, write the image to your SD card. My PC has a SD card slot so I inserted the SD card using an adapter and then downloaded and installed WIN32DiskImager. When you run this be careful, it can default to your C drive as the one to be written! So select the unpacked file, select the SD card, and press the write button. After a short pause, it says it’s ready! From here it should be a short hop to space invaders and galaga I’m sure. So you insert the SD card in the slot on your Pi and fire it up, again it complains about a date and time being in the future (does this a lot), talks about dirty bits (I don’t ask what a dirty bit might be, all seems to go past anyway) and then shows a pretty pie picture with a joystick, all looking great! Then it starts emulationstation, some guides tell you it will go into a prompt mode where you can expand the filesystem on the SD card but mine didn’t so I moved on. And next roadblock, I don’t have any way of controlling it. So a hunt around shows that the logitech F310 is a good choice, order one of those and wait. So if you are doing this yourself, buy the controller at the same time as the Pi.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122024
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    Controller arrives, I plug it in to a USB port and start up again. There is a lot of moving the Pi from desk with PC to screen in the main room, and it doesn’t look like it is very well protected. Emulationstation starts up, recognises the controller and I push all the buttons as it asks me, and I’m in! Can’t believe it was so easy, there are emulators and I can scroll through! Howver the only actual games I can find are doom, which is showing it’s age. Time to work out how to get a rom on to the Pi. Then I drop it, luckily nothing damaged as far as I can see but obviously a protective box is a good idea. I get online and order an acrylic one, so moral of this post is as you order your Pi and controller, order a protective box too.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122060
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    (Bear with me, almost up to the point where I’m current and actually lost).
    I’ve noticed that only some of the emulators are present as I page left and right, and no sign of mame or the ZX Spectrum, so something is obviously wrong as other emulators are present. Back to google search and eventually I find out that the emulators do not appear in the list until you actually put a rom in there, OK thats a problem explained.
    So I find some instructions on how to load roms from a USB stick and it seems pretty straight forward. I format a USB stick FAT32 and add a ‘retropie’ folder, fire up the Pi and put the stick in. Wait a couple minutes, take it out and put it into the PC. And now the retropie folder has subfolders for all the roms, it really is very easy from here on in (I think at this point). So lets go for the obvious, the old original space invaders. Found the rom (they are so small!) and downloaded, it’s a zip file. Easy this time as windows10 can unzip right there, so I do that and end up with around 5 files. I copy these to the Mame4all rom subfolder, no idea how it knows the name or anything but if it’s magic thats fine by me. I put the USB stick back into the Pi, nothing seems to have happened. Instructions say to reboot, I have no idea how to reboot so I unplug the power and back on. Again through the emulators, still no sign of mame, hmmm. Back to google.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122061
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    99.9% of you are saying ‘no, you put the zip files in the rom folder’. You know that, I know now, but so few sites actually tell you what to put on the rom directory. So for anyone who doesn’t know, you put the zip file for the rom directly into the mame4all folder just as it is.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122062
    Profile photo of herbfargus
    herbfargus
    Moderator
    #122065
    Profile photo of drakaen391
    drakaen391
    Participant

    The Pi is underprotected in a way… You can build a case or buy one…

    Though the thing is more resilient then most other computer components

    #122067
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    The last thing you want to do after this much work is destroy it with static, and I have to keep moving mine between the office and the screen in the main room so it seemed a good investment!
    So having put the zip file on the USB stick and inserted that, plus powered off/on, I see the mame emulator come up in the list…..it says 1 game….I select it and sure enough there is space invaders, finally I’m there! Now I have the method sorted it will be easy to go back to those 1980 days. I select the game and sit back, it shows some missing files with a .e, .f, .g, .h suffix and exits. Back to the PC and check the zip file, the files seem to be there. So once again back to google and there are LOTS of people with the same issue and LOTS of people with different solutions. I wonder what is actually on my Pi, as I have no way I know of to check. I find a website that says you can connect your Pi to the same router as your PC and then access it directly from your PC, which sounds great. So next step – find the IP address of the Pi and access it from the PC.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122079
    Profile photo of jsawhi
    jsawhi
    Participant

    More than likely, your issue with the rom is a MAME version mismatch. Mame4all uses MAME 0.37b5 (which is quite old). See the guide here:

    https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup/wiki/MAME

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Profile photo of jsawhi jsawhi. Reason: type-o
    #122126
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    So I logged on to my router and easily enough found the IP address of the Pi. Now for another download, this time FileZilla. Load it up, enter the address and the username/password and it shows a file directory I can recognise! All good steps, so I deleted all the stuff under the mame roms directory and copied over the invaders zip file again. Start up, and same issue. Somebody suggested on a forum that the mame.cfg and es_system.cfg need to have the right roms directory in them. Found the mame.cfg OK and checked it – all good. Can’t seem to find the es_system.cfg and the guy in the forum said it’s located /etc/emulationstation. In my ignorance I assume /etc/ means etcetera and I’m supposed to substitute /home in it’s place, so a few days of confusion.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122127
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    Out of desperation I entered /etc/emulationstation directly into the location of FileZilla, and there are the files! They don’t show when you log on at all, and /etc is actually the name of the directory not something you need to substitute!
    One step forward, and then one step back as I find the config file and check it, only to find it is correct. Next suggestion, as jsawhi mentioned, is that the rom I have downloaded is the wrong version so time to check it. Found several databases of what can run and what can’t, all show that inavders will run on the version I have and even the file name matches. Yet I still get missing files, but a new line of investigation seems to tell me that I need to fix the files using yet another download.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122141
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    Must be close now, there seem to be two programs that can clean up the roms so that they work. One is called romcentre, one is called clmame, it seems romcentre is easier to use so another download and then it starts, wants a data file. Can’t seem to find one around, but when I use FileZilla to check the Pi there is a clmame.dat file on the mame directory, that must be the same thing. Copy it over, load it to romcentre, and give romcentre the location of my space invaders rom. It shows as red, i.e. bad! That’s good! I click on the fix button, it now shows as green, so I move it to another folder on my pc to keep it safe and use FileZilla to copy it to the Pi. Once more back to the TV, another start, and again missing files. It seems I might have actually run out of options here, nothing else I have found seems to apply. So before I give up there is one more option, wipe the SD card completely and reload from scratch in case I broke it. So back to the start, download retropie 3.6, wipe the SD card and load the retropie image. Format the USB stick, create the folder, insert and the roms folders are created. Copy over the green space invaders rom to the USB, insert it into the Pi, restart the Pi. Last chance…….and there it is, just like I remember it, space invaders!

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122185
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    Now we are almost up to date, so maybe time for questions if people are struggling with the same issues as me. First one, space invaders does not keep my high scores. After looking around there seem to be two options, either install the hiscore.dat file (which might or might not require me to rebuild retropie which is way beyond me right now) or the easier option seems to be to set autosave on so that the state is saved when I exit. I can do this on the PC by transferring the files, but if I was to try to edit a file on the Pi using my keyboard, how would I do that?

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122225
    Profile photo of rbro1212
    rbro1212
    Participant

    Hey I just got the raspberry pi3 as I want to do the while emulator thing as I saw a video on YouTube with the arcade machine with this. I have everything I need for the system but when I install at all my micro SD card changes from 14gb to 60mb after installing the retro pie image. And when the system boot on the TV it says there isn’t enough space.

    I am 100% new to this all. Please help.

    #122232
    Profile photo of drakaen391
    drakaen391
    Participant

    You have to expand the system in Rasp config… Best to use a keyboard to navigate but I believe it’s the first option

    #122235
    Profile photo of rbro1212
    rbro1212
    Participant

    When I boot the system up it comes to a image of a raspberry and with slot of information but can’t type with the keyboard.

    #122237
    Profile photo of drakaen391
    drakaen391
    Participant

    When emulation station boots up is where you change it

    #122238
    Profile photo of rbro1212
    rbro1212
    Participant

    It doesn’t get to the emulator station. It stops saying that there is no more space on device even tho it’s a 14gb card

    #122260
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    Hey rbro, and welcome to the world of ‘how hard can it be’. Sounds like your problem is unlike anything I had, so can you let us know what version of retropie you have installed and how you did it? I think there is a way of extending the card from the command prompt but don’t be afraid to wipe the card and reinstall – you have nothing to lose.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122263
    Profile photo of drakaen391
    drakaen391
    Participant

    I am wondering the same… Got your PM…

    Will reply with an easy fix in the morning

    #122293
    Profile photo of dankcushions
    dankcushions
    Participant

    Now we are almost up to date, so maybe time for questions if people are struggling with the same issues as me. First one, space invaders does not keep my high scores. After looking around there seem to be two options, either install the hiscore.dat file (which might or might not require me to rebuild retropie which is way beyond me right now) or the easier option seems to be to set autosave on so that the state is saved when I exit. I can do this on the PC by transferring the files, but if I was to try to edit a file on the Pi using my keyboard, how would I do that?

    to edit a text file you go to to the command line and type
    nano /directory/whatever/filename.whatever
    then it opens a text editor. it’s ctrl + x to exit and save.

    to enable autosave you need to ensure

    
    savestate_auto_save = true
    savestate_auto_load = true
    

    are in the relevant retroarch config file, but without knowing what exact mame emulator you’re running (and if it’s even a libretro/retroarch one), i can’t tell you where that would be.

    also, you don’t need to rebuild your retropie to enable hiscore support, but again it depends on what emulator you are using.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Profile photo of dankcushions dankcushions.
    #122358
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    I will try that as soon as I get chance, does that mean I need to exit the emulator (I’m using mame4all) via a keyboard shortcut to ensure that the state is saved?

    Drakaen – can you share with us what advice you give and rbro can you let us know if you get the issue fixed? No doubt someone will end up here looking for the same question and would appreciate the answer.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

    #122459
    Profile photo of rbro1212
    rbro1212
    Participant

    I actually managed to get it working. I saw a video on YouTube that showed you how to do it all. I’m just wondering how you get some games to work as some load and some don’t .

    #122472
    Profile photo of senkun
    senkun
    Participant

    I actually managed to get it working. I saw a video on YouTube that showed you how to do it all. I’m just wondering how you get some games to work as some load and some don’t .

    All your answers right here;

    https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup/wiki

    #122490
    Profile photo of karhu
    karhu
    Participant

    So we are almost at the same level. Which game specifically are you having issues with, and can you share what you did the second time compared to the first in case people in the same position are reading? Nothing worse than finding someone with the same problem as you but not having the answer.

    Raspberry Pi with a box and Logitec F310 controller, and Retropie

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