Raspberry Pi Model B+Raspberry Pi Model B+ pops up, and I was surprised to see more USB ports. Adding more peripherals without a secondary USB hub is inspiring. So, I thought about what I could do with more USB ports.


External harddrive, CD drive, Floppy drive? Kind of boring.


How about a bunch of arcade controllers? Word!



I remember my local arcade used to give free tokens to those who received A and Bs on their report cards. Most of the time it didn’t matter for me. I would go into the arcade with one or two quarters, and shut the place down in the various Street Fighter games. The arcade closed down, and I wanted the exact same experience at home.


With Street Fighter, I found that the Sega Saturn had the best and closest experience to the arcade. So, I built an arcade controller for the Saturn. I measured the placement of the buttons prior to the arcade shut down. So, I was able to lay out regulation controls. I sourced real arcade parts from a now defunct company. It was fun. You may not think this, but arcade controllers are loud. All the switches are super sound in a quiet room. Arcades are full of constant noise, so, you never hear it!


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The Street Fighter controller, during the Pi test (via me)


My girlfriend was really into the Dance Dance Revolution, arcade dancing games. So, I built a “arcade quality” dance pad. I wanted something made of metal, heavy, and the exact size. All store bought dance pads were soft, moved around too much, or not the correct size. So, I built a dance pad for the Playstation 1 (aka PS1 or PSX).


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About a year later, I was off to college, and these both went into storage, where they remained... until now!


Time for a Raspberry Pi Arcade!


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Dance Pad and Street Fighter arcade panel up and running with the Raspberry Pi model B+. Playing some Street Fighter 2! (via my big test)


Now... some game emulation on the Pi using my old Arcade controllers!



Here were my requirements of the Arcade setup:

I simply wanted to interface my game controllers, a regular keyboard and mouse all at the same time.

The arcade is an open place, so there was no way I wanted to just interface with a small screen. So, I wanted to try a projector and the biggest image I could make. A 120 inch (3 meters) diagonal!


Project by sections:

- The games

Stepmania for the Raspberry Pi is not ready yet. It would be a game found in the Raspberry Pi Store.

I instead used the free emulator in the Pi Store called PCSX_reARMed. Although it need a Playstation Bios to run properly, it was able to without one.

I grabbed some of the PS1 games I had and turn the disc into an image I could run on the Pi emulator. I did this and not MAME, mainly due to the availability of games. Bootlegging game ROMs is not an advisable activity.

I used the games Stepping Stage Party Edition and Street Fighter Collection 2.


- Controller connectivity

I striped the PS1 and Sega Saturn gamepad PCBs off their respective DIY arcade controller I built. Originally I had my arcade controllers literally connected to the buttons of gamepads, like an external button.

For the Pi B+, I thought about doing something similar but with a keyboard. I didn’t want a big keyboard base laying around with a bunch of wires delicately soldered to it. So, I went out and found a USB keyboard adapter from an arcade parts supplier. \

It was just a keyboard breakout board with A-Z and 0-9 represented with screw down terminals.

So, I bought one for each controller, the fight stick and dance pad.


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Fight Stick and Dance Pad wired to their keyboard breakout boards.

- Projector

I chose a Pico Projector P300 for this project. It could project a 120” image. I bought one used off Ebay. It worked! Lucky.

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Projector test on a wall... looks ok when all the text is huge. Small text, forget out it.


The difficulties

- First and foremost, the projector was quite lacking. It was a blurry image at any size. However, with games, it hardly matters.

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While installing the OS, I projected the Pi on the ceiling. Blurry everywhere.


- Re-wiring the controllers was a pain. I needed a cable with 23 wires for the fight stick setup. I used a surplus parallel cable. So, A lot of wire striping, soldering, crimping, and continuity testing.

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Underside of the dual fight stick controller... See all those wires?


- Being portable. I wanted everything to be like an arcade you can just drop and turn on. However, the external battery for the projector never came in. And I wanted a good sound system, and the projectors internal speakers were weak. I had to bring in an amplifier stereo.



Schematic and Design

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Pi B+ Arcade connections and block diagram (via me)



No code needed, this time! Though, getting the games into a format the Pi can use, is a process.


Other uses of the system

- As a gaming time vortex.


When I have more time and money

- I plan to make the system more into that “Drop Arcade” idea. Everything portable, everything housed in an enclosure.

- Replace the projector with either a better one, or just a plain old big screen LCD. Not as big. I would love to project the games on a side of a building!



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