My Raspberry Pi + Retrode SNES case mod

Discussion in 'Other Consoles & Oldies' started by mashers, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. mashers
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    mashers Stubborn ape

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    Kongo Jungle
    Hi everyone

    I built this last year and thought I would show some photos of the project. I bought a Retrode, which is a USB interface for SNES (and SEGA) carts and controllers. Combined with an original SNES housing and a Raspberry Pi, I built a more modern SNES. The main advantage of this is HDMI output without needing a scaler! The OS is Arch Linux and the front-end is custom. I made the Linux partition read-only so you don't have to shut down cleanly. I also modified the source code of the SNES emulator so it remounts the partition read-write before saving SRAM, and then remounts it read-only when saving is complete. That way you can still save your game but the partition is kept read-only.

    The Raspberry Pi and most of the wiring fits in the bottom half of the shell. Note the Lego platform which is screwed to the motherboard mounting holes ;) This supports the Retrode.
    IMG_1822.JPG

    Close-ups of the Raspberry Pi in situ. The reset button is mounted on some Lego bricks as there is no longer any PCB there. It is connected to some of the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi. A Linux service is monitoring this for button presses which trigger a shell script and shut the SNES down. (Though the OS is running on a read-only partition so clean shut down is not actually required).
    IMG_1823.JPG IMG_1828.JPG

    The Retrode fits in the top half of the shell. Its cart edge connector fits into the bottom of the opening in the lid of the SNES where the carts are inserted. The wires coming out of it are soldered to the controller ports on the front of the SNES.
    IMG_1825.JPG

    To save space, these pins are just pushed onto the Retrode's controller interface ports. It's secure once it's all assembled. The other ends are soldered to the controller ports on the front of the SNES.
    IMG_1826.JPG

    Here is the other end of the wire attaching the controller ports to the Retrode.
    IMG_1827.JPG

    The effect is that you can just plug an original SNES controller into the front of the SNES :)
    IMG_1829.JPG

    Here you can see that the Retrode aligns perfectly to the cart slot.
    IMG_1835.JPG

    This original SNES cart is actually connected to the Retrode inside!
    IMG_1833.JPG

    Here you can see how the ports at the back are wired up. The small green PCB is an Ethernet socket, and the black plug next to it is a female HDMI connector. The other ends of both of these wires is connected to the Raspberry Pi, allowing HDMI and Ethernet cables to be connected to the back of the SNES. The power socket is routed through the original power switch on top of the SNES so the device can be turned on and off.
    IMG_1824.JPG

    The only external modification is to the backplate. The HDMI socket fits nicely within the opening for the original A/V output, but I filed out the RF output for the Ethernet port. The original power connector is still used.
    IMG_1832.JPG

    The power LED on the motherboard has been replaced with another one the same colour which is powered directly off the power supply to show the power status.
    IMG_1836.JPG




    I made a video showing this in action. It's too big to post here so I hosted it on my web site:

    http://www.mashley.net/gameplay.mov
     
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  2. mashers
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    mashers Stubborn ape

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    Kongo Jungle
    I meant to say that the video is quite old. The Pi has since been replaced with a Raspberry Pi 2 and a newer build of Arch Linux has been installed. This makes the bootup and game loading significantly faster :)
     
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  3. yusuo

    yusuo GBAtemp Addict

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    Thanks mashers, after seeing your post earlier I'm thinking about doing something similar with an old raspberry pi I've got laying around and an n64 (it looks awful atm on my hdtv) it prob won't look exactly the same as I want to use it as a general emulation machine not console specific, but I've got a 360 controller that I can use so makes sense.

    Biggest question for me is figuring out how I get all the electronics working on the pi, such as led for power on and the switch, reset for said functions. Considering I have little electronic knowledge would you recommend this as a starter project
     
  4. gamesquest1

    gamesquest1 Nabnut

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    i have something similar, only i have custom nintendo multi-out HDMI cable too and official power supply .......i kinda wanted a retrode to finish it off, but couldn't really justify the price as it was supposed to just be a cheap project made from a broken snesXD, my second idea i toyed with was hooking a cart with USB ports and SD inside, so i can switch put to say a kodi cart or retropi cart etc just for the sake of it....but tbh i never really got around to finishing it off :(

    basically i wanted mine to look 100% stock on the outside even down to putting the ext port back in place on the bottom
     
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  5. ishygdaft

    ishygdaft A mystery wrapped in an enigma

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    The EU and JP version of the super nintendo look so nice. Nice mod btw.
     
  6. mashers
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    mashers Stubborn ape

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    Thanks mate! Yeah even our carts are nicer :P
     
  7. gamesquest1

    gamesquest1 Nabnut

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    not as good for storing on a shelf though :/
     
  8. ishygdaft

    ishygdaft A mystery wrapped in an enigma

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    If I remember properly you can remove some tabs and pop Japanese carts in an American unit.
     
  9. gamesquest1

    gamesquest1 Nabnut

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    yeah JPN/US use the same region lockout chip only the shape of the cart is what prevents using them on the other console, same deal with the N64, PAL was "special" and had actual region lockouts rather than just a different shape case
     
  10. ishygdaft

    ishygdaft A mystery wrapped in an enigma

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    I love playing games at 17.5% less speed. The old 50hrtz TVs.. I mean we didn't know the difference at the time.
     
  11. mashers
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    mashers Stubborn ape

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    I didn't know that existed. So it's the SNES multi-AV on one end and HDMI on the other?

    I paid quite a lot for my Retrode (two actually in case one died) but it was worth it :) They're out of production now :(

    I considered doing something similar. I was thinking of getting an edge connector and wiring some of the pins up to the RPi USB port, and then butchering the SNES carts so they each had a small memory stick wired up to the corresponding pins of their edge connector. If my Retrodes both die then I'll probably do that so I can still swap out carts to choose which game I want to play, but for now I'm happy with the setup :)

    Yeah I wanted the same, but changing the backplate wasn't a major compromise for me. I have a spare anyway from a broken SNES so I can put it back to stock later if I want. The EXT port hatch on mine exposes the female end of a USB extension cable so I can plug in a keyboard if I ever need to, but that's only necessary if I can't get a network connection to SSH in. My custom front end even has options to show the current IP address if needs be :)

    That's why I built this :)
    IMG_0185.JPG IMG_0184.JPG
     
  12. gamesquest1

    gamesquest1 Nabnut

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    was a bit of a hack job by myself made out of 2/3 old N64 RF blocks i had lying around as they normally only have 3/4 pins connected out of the 12 available, still plan to neaten it up (if i ever get a 3d printer it would help with these kinds of things) as the current one is kinda crude, but it works.

    yeah had a look before you can still get them, but including shipping it would cost like £60.....yeah i dont want it that badly XD

    that's basically what i planned on doing, having the option of swapping the cart which changes between OS and has most of the pi stuff wired up so if i want i could make a cart with a GPIO header, one with a hard drive inside etc.....kinda silly, but would also be kinda cool XD

    mine has ended up one of those projects that sits on the backburner (seemingly forever) i never really had mine screwed together, but i also had one of those lil wireless keyboards hooked up, so that wouldn't really be a issue for me, sounds like a cool setup though, shame the raspberry pi is kinda dodgy for N64 games as it makes a pretty decent emulator machine that could fit into pretty much any shell

    [/quote]
    yeah, but as a bit of a overly keen snes collector i kinda have too many to store nicely else it would take up too much room XD......well i kinda already does, but i recently packed away most of the sports titles, so not too bad now, so its like this, but with 100% less sports titles, and more games XD
    (this is a very old picture) but i try to focus on getting boxed games now for the snes
    [​IMG]
     
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  13. mashers
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    mashers Stubborn ape

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    Oh I see. I did consider making an adapted cable from a Nintendo RF cable, but I kind of assumed it wouldn't have enough pins. Looking at the raspberry Pi 3, I notice it has onboard wifi. So with that board and an RF->hdmi cable I could keep the backplate completely stock. Hmm...

    I'm still considering it. The Retrode isn't 100% reliable so it doesn't always read the ROM correctly, and it still suffers from that old SNES problem where if you push the carts in too far they're not recognised. So replacing the carts' guts with flash memory connected directly to the USB port would make it more reliable, but right now I can't bring myself to butcher my SNES carts.



    Would the RPi 3 be any better for n64 emulation? ISTR there's a cut down n64 emulator for the RPi in the same vein as pisnes so that might improve things.

    You're gonna need a lot of Lego.