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!
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).
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!
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.
Fight Stick and Dance Pad wired to their keyboard breakout boards.
I chose a Pico Projector P300 for this project. It could project a 120” image. I bought one used off Ebay. It worked! Lucky.
Projector test on a wall... looks ok when all the text is huge. Small text, forget out it.
- First and foremost, the projector was quite lacking. It was a blurry image at any size. However, with games, it hardly matters.
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.
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
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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