Tag Archives: Raspberry Pi Resources

Make a retro console with RetroPie and a Raspberry Pi — part 2

via Raspberry Pi

Here’s part two of Lucy Hattersley’s wonderful retro games console tutorial. Part 1 of the tutorial lives here, for those of you who missed it.

Choose the network locale

RetroPie boots into EmulationStation, which is your starter interface. It’s currently displaying just the one option, RetroPie, which is used to set up the emulation options. As you add games to RetroPie, other systems will appear in EmulationStation.

With RetroPie selected, press the A button on the gamepad to open the configuration window. Use the D-pad to move down the options and select WiFi. You will see a warning message: ‘You don’t currently have your WiFi country set…’. Press the D-pad left to choose Yes, and press A. The interface will open raspi-config. At this point, it’s handy to switch to the keyboard and use that instead.

Choose 4 Localisation Options, and press the right arrow key on the keyboard to highlight Select, then press Enter.

Now choose 4 Change Wi-fi Country and pick your country from the list. We used GB Britain (UK). Highlight OK and press Enter to select it.

Now move right twice to choose Finish and press Enter. This will reboot the system.

Connect to wireless LAN

If you have a Raspberry Pi with an Ethernet connection, you can use an Ethernet cable to connect directly to your router/modem or network.

More likely, you’ll connect the Raspberry Pi to a wireless LAN network so you can access it when it’s beneath your television.

Head back into RetroPie from EmulationStation and down to the WiFi setting; choose Connect to WiFi network.

The window will display a list of nearby wireless LAN networks. Choose your network and use the keyboard to enter the wireless LAN password. Press Enter when you’re done. Choose the Exit option to return to the RetroPie interface.

Configuration tools

Now choose RetroPie Setup and then Configuration Tools. Here, in the Choose an option window, you’ll find a range of useful tools. As we’re using a USB gamepad, we don’t need the Bluetooth settings, but it’s worth noting they’re here.

We want to turn on Samba so we can share files from our computer directly to RetroPie. Choose Samba and Install RetroPie Samba shares, then select OK.

Now choose Cancel to back up to the Choose an option window, and then Back to return to the RetroPie-Setup script.

Run the setup script

Choose Update RetroPie-Setup script and press Enter. After the script has updated, press Enter again and you’ll be back at the Notice: window. Press Enter and choose Basic install; press Enter, choose Yes, and press Enter again to begin the setup and run the configuration script.

When the script has finished, choose Perform a reboot and Yes.

Turn on Samba in Windows

We’re going to use Samba to copy a ROM file (a video game image) from our computer to RetroPie.

Samba used to be installed by default in Windows, but it has recently become an optional installation. In Windows 10, click on the Search bar and type ‘Control Panel’. Click on Control Panel in the search results.

Now click Programs and Turn Windows features on or off. Scroll down to find SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support and click the + expand icon to reveal its options. Place a check in the box marked SMB 1.0/CIFS Client. Click OK. This will enable Samba client support on your Windows 10 PC so it can access the Raspberry Pi.

We’ve got more information on how Samba works on The MagPi’s website.

Get the game

On your Windows PC or Mac, open a web browser, and visit the Blade Buster website. This is a homebrew video game designed by High Level Challenge for old NES systems. The developer’s website is in Japanese — just click BLADE BUSTER Download to save the ROM file to your Downloads folder.

Open a File Explorer (or Finder) window and locate the BB_20120301.zip file in your Downloads folder. Don’t unzip the file.

Click on Network and you’ll see a RETROPIE share. Open it and locate the roms folder. Double-click roms and you’ll see folders for many classic systems. Drag and drop the BB_20120301.zip file and place it inside the nes folder.

Play the game

Press the Start button on your gamepad to bring up the Main Menu. Choose Quit and Restart EmulationStation. You’ll now see a Nintendo Entertainment System option with 1 Games Available below it. Click it and you’ll see BB_20120301 — this is Blade Buster. Press A to start the game. Have fun shooting aliens. Press Start and Analog (or whatever you’ve set as your hotkey) together when you’re finished; this will take you back to the game selection in EmulationStation.

If you’ve been setting up RetroPie on your monitor, now is the time to move it across to your main television. The RetroPie console will boot automatically and connect to the network, and then you can move ROM files over to it from your PC or Mac. At this point, you may notice black borders around the screen; if so, see the Fix the borders tip.

Enjoy your gaming system!

More top tips from Lucy

Change the resolution

Some games were designed for a much lower resolution, and scaling them up can look blocky on modern televisions. If you’d prefer to alter the resolution, choose ‘RetroPie setup’. Open raspi-config, Advanced Options, and Resolution. Here you’ll find a range of other resolution options to choose from.

Fix the borders

These are caused by overscan. Choose RetroPie from EmulationStation and raspi-config. Now select Advanced Options > Overscan and select No on the ‘Would you like to enable compensation for displays with overscan?’ window. Choose OK and then Finish. Choose Yes on the Reboot Now window. When the system has rebooted, you will see the borders are gone.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

This article is from the latest issue of The MagPi magazine, which is out today and can be purchased online, at the Raspberry Pi Store, or from many newsagents and bookshops, such as WHSmith and Barnes & Noble.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

You can also download issue 81 for free from The MagPi website, where you’ll also find information on subscription options, and the complete MagPi catalogue, including Essentials guides and books, all available to download for free.

the MagPi subscription

The post Make a retro console with RetroPie and a Raspberry Pi — part 2 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Make a retro console with RetroPie and a Raspberry Pi — part 1

via Raspberry Pi

Discover classic gaming on the Raspberry Pi and play homebrew ROMs, with this two-part tutorial from The MagPi Editor Lucy Hattersley.

Raspberry Pi retro games console

Turning a Raspberry Pi device into a retro games console is a fun project, and it’s one of the first things many a new Pi owner turns their hand to.

The appeal is obvious. Retro games are fun, and from a programming perspective, they’re a lot easier to understand than modern 3D powerhouses. The Raspberry Pi board’s small form factor, low power usage, HDMI connection, and wireless networking make it a perfect micro-console that can sit under your television.


There are a bunch of different emulators around for Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial, we’re going to look at RetroPie.

RetroPie combines Raspbian, EmulationStation, and RetroArch into one handy image. With RetroPie you can emulate arcade games, as well as titles originally released on a host of 8-bit, 16-bit, and even 32- and 64-bit systems. You can hook up a joypad; we’re going to use the Wireless USB Game Controller, but most other USB game controllers will work.

You can also use Bluetooth to connect a controller from most video games consoles. RetroPie has an interface that will be very familiar to anyone who has used a modern games console, and because it is open-source, it is constantly being improved.

You can look online for classic games, but we prefer homebrew and modern releases coded for classic systems. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the process of setting up RetroPie, configuring a gamepad, and running a homebrew game called Blade Buster.

Get your microSD card ready

RetroPie is built on top of Raspbian (the operating system for Raspberry Pi). While it is possible to install RetroPie from the desktop interface, it’s far easier to format a microSD card† and copy a new RetroPie image to the blank card. This ensures all the settings are correct and makes setup much easier. Our favourite method of wiping microSD cards on a PC or Apple Mac is to use SD Memory Card Formatter.

Attach the microSD card to your Windows or Mac computer and open SD Card Formatter. Ensure the card is highlighted in the Select card section, then click Format.

Download RetroPie

Download the RetroPie image. It’ll be downloaded as a gzip file; the best way to expand this on Windows is using 7-Zip (7-zip.org).

With 7-Zip installed, right-click the retropie-4.4-rpi2_rpi3.img.gz file and choose 7-Zip > Extract here. Extract GZ files on a Mac or Linux PC using gunzip -k <filename.gz> (the -k option keeps the original GZ file).

gunzip -k retropie-4.4-rpi2_rpi3.img.gz

Flash the image

We’re going to use Etcher to copy the retropie-4.4-rpi2_rpi3.img file to our freshly formatted microSD card. Download Etcher. Open Etcher and click Select Image, then choose the retropie-4.4-rpi2_rpi3.img image file and click Open.

Etcher should have already located the microSD card; remove and replace it if you see a Select Drive button. Click Flash! to copy the RetroPie image to the microSD card.

See our guide for more information on how to use Etcher to flash SD cards.

Set up the Raspberry Pi

Insert the flashed microSD card to your Raspberry Pi. Now attach the Raspberry Pi to a TV or monitor using the HDMI cable. Connect the USB dongle from the Wireless USB Game Controller to the Raspberry Pi. Also attach a keyboard (you’ll need this for the setup process).

Insert the batteries in the Wireless USB Game Controller and set the power switch (on the back of the device) to On. Once everything is connected, attach a power supply to the Raspberry Pi.

See our quickstart guide for more detailed information on setting up a Raspberry Pi.

Configure the gamepad

When RetroPie starts, you should see Welcome screen displaying the message ‘1 gamepad detected’. Press and hold one of the buttons on the pad, and you will see the Configuring screen with a list of gamepad buttons and directions.

Tap the D-pad (the four-way directional control pad on the far left) up on the controller and ‘HAT 0 UP’ will appear. Now tap the D-pad down.
Map the A, B, X, Y buttons to:

A: red circle
B: blue cross
X: green triangle
Y: purple square

The Left and Right Shoulder buttons refer to the topmost buttons on the rear of the controller, while the Triggers are the larger lower buttons.

Push the left and right analogue sticks in for the Left and Right Thumbs. Click OK when you’re done.

Top tips from Lucy

Install Raspbian desktop

RetroPie is built on top of the Raspbian operating system. You might be tempted to install RetroPie on top of the Raspbian with Desktop interface, but it’s actually much easier to do it the other way around. Open RetroPie from EmulationStation and choose RetroPie setup. Select Configuration tools and Raspbian tools. Then choose Install Pixel desktop environment and Yes.

When it’s finished, choose Quit and Restart EmulationStation. When restarted, EmulationStation will display a Ports option. Select it and choose Desktop to boot into the Raspbian desktop interface.

Username and password

If RetroPie asks you for the username and password during boot, the defaults are pi and raspberry.

The MagPi magazine issue 81

The rest of this article can be found in the latest issue of The MagPi magazine, which is out now and can be purchased online, at the Raspberry Pi Store, or from many independent bookshops, such as WHSmith and Barnes & Noble. We’ll also post the second half on the blog tomorrow!

The MagPi magazine issue 81

You can also download issue 81 for free from The MagPi website, where you’ll find information on subscription options, and the complete MagPi catalogue, including Essentials guides and books, all available to download for free.

the MagPi subscription

The post Make a retro console with RetroPie and a Raspberry Pi — part 1 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Meet us at Maker Faire Bay Area 2019

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We’ll be attending Maker Faire Bay Area this month and we’d love to see as many of you there as we can, so be sure to swing by the Raspberry Pi stand and say hi!

Our North America team will be on-hand and hands-on all weekend to show you the wonders of the Raspberry Pi, with some great tech experiments for you to try. Do you like outer space? Of course, why wouldn’t you? So come try out the Sense HAT, our multi-sensor add-on board that we created especially for our two Astro Pi units aboard the International Space Station!

We’ll also have stickers, leaflets, and a vast array of information to share about the Raspberry Pi, our clubs and programmes, and how you can get more involved in the Raspberry Pi community.

And that’s not all!

Onstage talks!

Matt Richardson, Executive Director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation North America and all-round incredible person, will be making an appearance on the Make: Electronics by Digi-Key stage at 3pm Saturday 18 May to talk about Making Art with Raspberry Pi.

Matt Richardson

Hi, Matt!

And I’m presenting too! On the Sunday, I’ll be on the DIY Content Creators Stage at 12:30pm with special guests Joel “3D Printing Nerd” Telling and Estefannie Explains it All for a live recording of my podcast to discuss the importance of community for makers and brands.

There will also be a whole host of incredible creations by makers from across the globe, and a wide variety of talks and presentations throughout the weekend. So if you’re a fan of creative contraptions and beastly builds, you’ll be blown away at this year’s Maker Faire.

Showcasing your projects

If you’re planning to attend Maker Faire to showcase your project, we want to hear from you. Leave a comment below with information on your build so we can come and find you on the day. Our trusty videographer Fiacre and I will be scouting for our next favourite Raspberry Pi make, and we’ll also have Andrew with us, who is eager to fill the pages of HackSpace magazine with any cool, creative wonders we find — Pi-related or otherwise!

Discounted tickets!

Maker Fair Bay Area 2019 will be running at the San Mateo County Event Center from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 May.

If you’re in the area and would like to attend Maker Fair Bay Area, make use of  our 15% community discount on tickets. Wooh!

For more information on Maker Faire, check out the Maker Faire website, or follow Maker Faire on Twitter.

See you there!

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New Wolfram Mathematica free resources for your Raspberry Pi

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We’ve worked alongside the team at Wolfram Mathematica to create ten new free resources for our projects site, perfect to use at home, or in your classroom, Code Club, or CoderDojo.

Try out the Wolfram Language today, available as a free download for your Raspberry Pi (download details are below).

The Wolfram Language

The Wolfram language is particularly good at retrieving and working with data, like natural language and geographic information, and at producing visual representations with an impressively small amount of code. The language does a lot of the heavy lifting for you and is a great way to let young learners in particular work with data to quickly produce real results.

If you’d like to learn more about the Wolfram Language on the Raspberry Pi, check out this great blog post written by Lucy, Editor of The MagPi magazine!

Weather dashboard

Wolfram Mathematica Raspberry Pi Weather Dashboard

My favourite of the new projects is the weather dashboard which, in a few quick steps, teaches you to create this shiny-looking widget that takes the user’s location, finds their nearest major city, and gets current weather data for it. I tried this out with my own CoderDojo club and it got a very positive reception, even if Dublin weather usually does report rain!

Coin and dice

Wolfram Mathematica Raspberry Pi Coin and Dice

The coin and dice project shows you how to create a coin toss and dice roller that you can use to move your favourite board game into the digital age. It also introduces you to creating interfaces and controls for your projects, choosing random outcomes, and displaying images with the Wolfram Language.

Day and night

In the day and night tracker project, you create a program that gives you a real-time view of where the sun is up right now and lets you check whether it’s day or night time in a particular country. This is not only a pretty cool way to learn about things like time zones, but also shows you how to use geographic data and create an interactive experience in the Wolfram Language.

Sentimental 8-ball

Wolfram Mathematica Raspberry Pi 8-ball

In Sentimental 8-Ball, you create a Magic 8-Ball that picks its answers based on how positive or negative the mood of the user’s question seems. In doing so, you learn to work with lists and use the power of sentiment analysis in the Wolfram Language.

Face swap

Wolfram Mathematica Raspberry Pi face swap

This fun project lets you take a photo of you and your friend and have the Wolfram Language identify and swap your faces! Perfect for updating your profile photo, and also a great way to learn about functions and lists!

More Wolfram Mathematica projects

That’s only half of the selection of great new projects we’ve got for you! Go check them out, along with all the other Wolfram Language projects on our projects site.

Download the Wolfram Language and Mathematica to your Raspberry Pi

Mathematica and the Wolfram Language are included as part of NOOBS, or you can download them to Raspbian on your Raspberry Pi for free by entering the following commands into a terminal window and pressing Enter after each:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wolfram-engine

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The age of the Twitter bot

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Despite changes to the process, setting up a Raspberry Pi as a Twitter bot is a fairly easy process. And while many such bots simply share time-lapse snapshots, or change the colour of LEDs across the globe, we know some that fill our timelines with fun, random joyfulness of a daily basis. Here are a few of them:


Celebrated by cat worshippers the world over, Daphne’s Catflap documents the comings and goings of Daphne, the fluffy feline housemate of Kate Bevan. While my own cat is now too big to fit through his catflap, Daphne uses her catflap several times a day, and thanks to the Raspberry Pi connected to it, the catflap does a marvellous job of celebrating Daphne every time she graces us with her presence.

Daphne’s Catflap on Twitter

Adored Daphne, graceful empress of floof, floofybum. No adoring catflap could possibly be more blessed than me.


Ben made a thing.

The Raspberry Pi OTD Twitter bot shares past posts from this very blog you are reading RIGHT NOW, and thus traces the evolution of Raspberry Pi through its tweets. One day, probably in twelve months, this very blog post will resurface on the Raspberry Pi OTD timeline, and then we shall all meet back here and say hi.

Raspberry Pi OTD on Twitter

On this day in 2015: Raspberry Pi Zero: the $5 computer https://t.co/1GRhq0TYuz


Sharing posts generated by Rand’s Raspberry Pi, this twitter bot posts random GIF-packed tweets, usually with a retro 1980s vibe and the hashtags #80s, #MusicVideo, #GIF, and #raspberrypi

Rand’s RaspberryPi on Twitter

Random #80s #MusicVideo #GIF #raspberrypi https://t.co/ieraOHGFjr


Though it seems to be taking a hiatus right now, the Deck the Halls bot searches Twitter for tweets that fit perfectly to the tune of Deck the Halls, and retweets these with the classic “Falalalala, la la, la la!” as a comment. Be warned, a few of the tweets it recovers may be NSFW, but on the whole, it’s a joyful, joyful experience.

Deck the Halls on Twitter

Falalalala, la la, la la! https://t.co/r2dkE8wMFm


I promise we haven’t killed him.

Bert is a ficus tree that lives in one of the meeting rooms here at Pi Towers. When connected to the internet, his Raspberry Pi and moisture monitor update followers about whether he needs watering, alongside a photo of his current state. And while his last tweet, dated 10 June 2017, claims he’s “so thirsty”, accompanied by a photo of pure darkness, I assure you this is simply because the light was off…and the Pi has since been unplugged…and Bert’s alive, I swear it, I swear!

Hold on, I just need to go for a walk to Meeting Room 5. No reason. *runs*

Bert Plant on Twitter

I’m so thirsty!

Connecting your Raspberry Pi to Twitter

The process of setting up a Developer Account so you can build your own Twitter bot has changed recently. But once you follow their new steps, you can still use our free resources for connecting your Raspberry Pi to Twitter.

In our Tweeting Babbage resource, you will learn how to write code that sends images from your Pi to the Twittersphere.

And if you’re a more experienced coder, you could try your hand at our Naughty and nice resource, which will walk you through creating a program that checks whether a Twitter user is in Santa’s good or bad books. After all, Christmas is just under a month away!

Santa angrily staring at a Twitter account

And from there, the world (the Twitter world at least) is your oyster.

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The last 10%: revamping the Raspberry Pi desktop

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Simon Long is a Senior Principal Software Engineer here at Raspberry Pi. He’s responsible for the Raspberry Pi Desktop on both Raspbian and Debian, and his article from The MagPi issue 73 explores the experience of revamping our desktop. Get your copy of The MagPi in stores now, or download it as a free PDF here.

The PIXEL desktop on Raspberry Pi

It was almost exactly four years ago when I was offered the chance to work at Raspberry Pi. I knew all the team very well, but I’d had hardly any involvement with the Pi itself, and wasn’t all that sure what they would want me to do; at that time, I was working as the manager of a software team, with no experience of hardware design. Fortunately, this was when software had started to move up the list of priorities at Raspberry Pi.

The 2014 updated desktop

Eben and I sat down on my first day and played with the vanilla LXDE desktop environment in Raspbian for 15 minutes or so, and he then asked me the fateful question: “So — do you think you can make it better?” With rather more confidence than I felt, I replied: “Of course!” I then spent the next week wondering just how long it was going to take before I was found out to be an impostor and shown the door.

Simon Long Raspberry Pi

Simon Long, Senior Principal Software Impostor

UI experience

To be fair, user interface design was something of which I had a lot of experience — I spent the first ten years of my career designing and implementing the user interfaces for a wide range of products, from mobile phones to medical equipment, so I knew what a good user interface was like. I could even see what changes needed to be made to transform the LXDE environment into one. But I didn’t have a clue how to do it — I’d barely used Linux, never mind programmed for it… As I said above, that was four years ago, and I’ve been hacking the Pi desktop from that day on.

Raspberry Pi desktop circa 2015

Not all the changes I’ve made have been popular with everyone, but I think most people who use the desktop feel it has improved over that time. My one overriding aim has been to try to make the Pi desktop into a product that I actually want to use myself; one that takes the good user interface design principles that we are used to in environments like macOS and Windows — ideas like consistency, attractive fonts and icons, intuitive operation, everything behaving the way you expect without having to read the instructions — and sculpting the interface around them.

Final polish

In my experience, the main difference between the Linux desktop environment and those of its commercial competitors is the last 10%: the polishing you do once everything works. It’s not easy making something that works, and a lot of people, once they have created something and got it working, leave it and move onto creating something else. I’m really not great at creating things from scratch — and have nothing but admiration for those who are — but what I do enjoy doing is adding that last 10%: going from something that works to something that works well and is a pleasure to use. Being at Raspberry Pi means I get to do that every day when I come to work. Every time I see a photo of a Pi running at a Jam, or in a classroom, anywhere in the world, and it’s using my desktop — the thrill from that never goes away.

If you’d like to read more about the evolution of the Raspberry Pi desktop, and Simon’s adventures at Raspberry Pi, you can access the entire back catalogue of his blog posts here.

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