Of course I did this with a Pi Zero W. 😉
One of the reasons I like the Raspberry Pi is that it lets you take hardware and turn it into a dedicated purpose based appliance. Cheaply! And one of those uses is to make a retro game system. I've used the Raspberry Pi Zero before but I was hampered by the fact that it lacks network and Bluetooth access. To get that you need to purchase a USB hub, wifi dongle and if you want it an Bluetooth fob.
The new Pi Zero W addresses that and adds both wifi and Bluetooth on the small package. Once it's setup all you need is an HDMI cable and power. That's it.
Here's how I did it with an 8Bitdo Bluetooth SNES style controller.
- Download Retropie for the Zero onto another Pi Zero (non-wireless one, I have a few). I could not get the image to boot on the new device so I setup a hub with a wifi dongle and keyboard on an old version.
- After the image reboots to resize the file system then F4 to get out of Emulationstation and on the command line run this command.
sudo apt-get update ; sudo apt-get -y upgrade ; sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade ; sudo apt-get -y autoremove
That will take a while to run and you will need to read part of the upgrade and press Q at a point. That annoys me as those commands should run unattended. Meh.
The purpose of this is to get the underlying Raspbian OS up-to-date.
sudo shutdown -h nowand swap the old Pi Zero for the Pi Zero W. Unplug the wifi dongle, you don’t need it anymore. Boot up the Pi Zero W with the keyboard attached via the USB adapter.
cd RetroPie-Setup sudo ./retropie_setup.sh
And select "U Update all installed packages" with your arrow keys. I don't know if that step is necessary but I do it out of habit. I like making sure I have the latest updates. That will take a long while too and reboot when it's finally done.
retropie-setupscript again. Follow these instructions to connect your 8Bitdo controller and don’t forget to do the UDEV part. Reboot as needed.
The final parts list came out to this.
|Pi Zero W||$10|
|8Bitdo SFC30 Bluetooth controller||$30|
|Pi Zero Case||I used one I 3D printed|
|Mini-HDMI cable adapter||$20|
|2A micro USB power adapter||$8|
I already had the cables and power supply but I'm trying to be complete. Not counting the case it's ~$70 for this one player setup.
It's not a Raspberry Pi 3
The overall experience is good and if you limit your retrogames to the older 8bit systems then you'll like it. But the Pi Zero W doesn't have all the CPUs and RAM of the bigger Raspberry Pi 3. The good Neogeo games won't play well. Sometimes sound suffers due to CPU use. Lag is a thing.
But if you have the technical know how this beats the Nintendo Classic by a mile.