The RetroPi


Staff member
Mar 4, 2003
Guess I don't have enough work right now, eh? ;)

Just kidding, as this will be a pretty easy thing for me, but probably pretty neat for quite a few users.

I'm planning to create the RetroPi - which is basically a Retrode2 PCB (which I'm producing now, in case you don't know) and a Raspberry Pi (2) in one nicely designed case.

You might know there's a distribution for the Raspberry Pi which has a nice emulator frontend (called RetroPie).

The Retrode2 PCB will be connected internally in the case to the Raspberry Pi and provide two SNES port, two Megadrive Ports, a MegaDrive and an SNES cartridge slot - and of course the plugins will work as well.

In the end, you'll have an OpenSource, small machine which is a perfect gaming machine (though you can also use it as mediaplayer additionally).

Basically, a RetroN5 fully OpenSource with Linux ;)

Nothing has started yet, it was just an idea, but it should be pretty straightforward to create.

I'm planning to sell the case alone, the case including the Retrode2 PCB and the fully assembled case incl. the Raspberry Pi as well.

Creating the case is no biggie, however, there's one thing where one of you might be able to help me:

As far as I can see, the Raspberry Pi only has 4 USB ports which I plan to have outside of the case.

However, as I need to connect the Retrode2 via USB, it would be great to have an additional internal port as well.

I guess this can be done using the EXT connector of the Pi?

Does somebody know how to get USB out there?
To my knowledge, there's no USB interface on any of the board headers. It's just the usual SPI, I²C, UART and GPIO. Maybe a SPI<->USB bridge would work, but it'd be kinda slow and you'd need to make sure there's a linux driver for it..
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I don't have anything technical to add, or an answer to the question.

I do think the idea is pretty cool, and it gives me a very silly idea of my own.  I will be keeping an eye out for updates.

Have you looked into the interest level for this?  I don't intended to be a naysayer, but I have some doubts.  Would it hurt you financially if this didn't sell well?
No, the case is pretty simple and cheap and 1000 Retrodes are already in production :)

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
Why not the Odroid C1 instead of the Raspberry Pi? They seem to be priced similarly and the Odroid is more powerful. 
Why not both? There is no shortage of good and also yet to be made boards. A hotswap solution would be really nice. Depending on how the case fares.

Retro comuting doesnt fall out of fashion, but something only made for raspberryPi PCBs will.
Well, the Pi has a larger community ;)

Both would only work if I can produce a case where both systems fit... So connectorwise, it's something to think about (maybe a replaceable plate).

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
Why not both? There is no shortage of good and also yet to be made boards. A hotswap solution would be really nice. Depending on how the case fares.

Retro comuting doesnt fall out of fashion, but something only made for raspberryPi PCBs will.
Seems a bit overkill IMO.
If the goal is selling a device that you plug your carts in and play the games, does it really matter about what hardware it's running on? (Providing it actually works)

It would also mean that ED would have to compile two OS images, and possibly multiple cases (I think the footprint is the same, but the Pi2 has HDMI, and C1 has MiniHDMI IIRC)

If you're worried about swapping hardware, surely you'd just buy a retrode and then you can connect it to anything?
All the USB ports of the pi and the Ethernet jack are controlled by one usb interface.

That means all the ports are connected to one USB interface on the soc. So just go for a custom solution by using a usb hub that has 3 ports on the outside and one on the inside for the retrode. Then connect it to one of the usb ports of the pi or solder it directly to it removing the usb ports on the pi.

I modified quite some PIs to fit them into custom environments. And I also used and hacked around RetroPie.

If you have additional questions regarding Hardware or Software, PM me and I'll see if I can help.

I also built a custom console with arcade controls and usb ports to connect oldschool controlers to around a PI 2.

Edit: Also keep an eye on the thermal management. The Pis won't get too hot but can start to lag in emulators if they are overclocked too high. So don't block the way of hot air out of the case or use a small fan.
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You might be able to get an extra usb port by removing the ethernet port. I read that it is connect via usb.
It actually shares the bandwidth with the usb ports. So you won't get an extra port.

Also I think the microusbport cannot be used for any i/o. It is only for power.
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I've been modding a broken GameCube with the pi2. For extra ports I went for a powered 7 port hub and both the pi and hub pull their 5v from the GameCube power converter board. But you should be able to provide 2 5v lines for you retro pi?
A 2A supply should be enough for both. The pi can be powered conveniently over the pinheader.
Sounds like a good idea, i like retro gaming.

Is the raspberry Pi2 going to be an option?
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I don't want a solution where you need to solder.

As mentioned, I also plan to sell it without the Pi, in case someone already has one.

The problem basically is:

The Pi has four USB ports, all at the same area.

The ports will all be accessible from outside of the case, whereas the Retrode also needs an USB connection.

In order to do that, I either need accessible internal USB port or connect the cable outside of the case, which wouldn't look nice.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
You're not going to get it working with an internal solution using a passive cable unless you alter the design of the retrode. There is no internally exposed USB interface.

A bridge-board between the two could work though, depending on the required transfer speeds, latency, etc.. Your most likely bet is to tap into the SPI bus on the raspberry pi for your bridge. Usual peak SPI transfer speeds are in the ballpark of 20 Mbit/s, depending on what the hardware supports etc.. SPI<->USB host bridge chips exists, but I have not done research on how easy any of them would be to use or how well they would perform.
It might even be that i own a pi2 already.

So lets say i already have a retrode, i just want the added plastic bottom case part that can hold a pi2.

If its a less popular board im on my own as far as compiling goes, fair enough. With the kind of customerbase the retrode has, who arent going for pi2, that is ok.

Would be really nice if it shipped with software for dumping the roms. And you can also use the controller-ports of the retrode for emulaton, so its a kind of case for the arm board that has game-inputs built in. Again with the no soldering (changing regular controllers to usb controllers)

Somewhere to store the controllers would be a nice addition. Like you could clip in two snes contollers.

Maybe pair it with a pyra board and call it a pyratron or pyretrode pyratrode or somesuchlike

There is something very inception-like about running the whole setup with a SD-capable cartridge.

I should have started with trying to understand the original intention and prospect of it, and what the sweetspot is for a product that adds a computer. Sounds very nice though.
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Adding all that will make it way too complex and expensive!

Pairing it with a Pyra would increase the price over 200 EUR, whereas a complete package with Pi2, Retrode and the case would be about 100 EUR.

Also, software to dump the ROM? The normal FileManager :)
So maybe a solution where you do a custom case for the pi that has the retrode on top and connects both via external usbcable would be easier.

You could create some kind of clip that keeps them together.
Sound good,i need one then for my Computing Room ^_^

My real Snes,Genesis,Amiga,Dreamcast,PS2 and PS3 are in the Living Room here ;)

I need then a Silver or Black Case.

The Pi have HDMI,then no Problem to connect it to my Computer Monitor.

Do the newer Pi have Audio via HDMI too?

Joypads are enough here for near all Systems :)