Sometime it takes breaking something and shoving a Raspberry Pi in it, to make it better!!
Breaking Things, The Mother of All Mods
Good day backloggers!! Since today is a long workday, and I haven’t really played anything new in the last couple of days due to fiddling around with what I’ll be talking about within the next few sentences, I thought I’d just throw out a loose and fancy free post! Don’t worry, it’s still gaming related, so all you anti-anime and anti-random-classic-90s-movies people need not throw a fit. But what could I be talking about that’s gaming related but not about games?? Well my friends, that’s because it’s about more tinkering with gaming hardware!! Actually, I guess it’s gaming adjacent hardware, but let’s not get hung up on semantics folks.
As many of you know by now, I enjoy tinkering with electronics, whether it’s modding consoles, fixing up old controllers or failing at either of the two. And every now and again I get the urge to dive into the modding rabbit hole to see what kind of projects are out there and which would be fun to tackle for myself. And this past weekend, one of those projects kind of fell into my lap!
You see, a year or so ago, I bought my father one of those plug-n-play Namco arcade thingies that had a slew of classic Namco arcade games pre-installed. Things like Pac-Man, Xevious and most importantly, Galaga. My father is a huge fan of Galaga, so I thought it would a fun and unique gift for him that he could use to attempt to beat my highscore that I graciously left on it for him. It’s pretty cool, it has its own arcade stick, a couple buttons and only requires a few AA batteries. And although it wasn’t the most well made piece of hardware out there, it more than served its purpose.
Then, this past weekend, during our yearly Memorial Day barbeque, the family had another go at trying to beat my highscores. And that’s when I came to the realization that this little device, could be so much better! For one, if it had HDMI, the picture would obviously be much clearer. But the biggest issue was that I broke it! Not out of rage or anything, but just because like I said earlier, I kind of break things every now and again when I tinker with them. This time around it was when I tried to extend the the composite video cables while using my father’s horrible, horrible soldering iron and electrical tools.
It Can Be Better!
Feeling terrible, but knowing I now had an opportunity to do something fun with this little device, I opted to take it home to “repair it”. And instead of repairing it, I’m now secretly gutting the thing and stuffing it with a little MAME machine using the spare Raspberry Pi 3 I had laying around! But I also wanted to take it one step further and try to reuse all of the buttons and joystick that this plug-n-play device came with. Which will require me to rewire them and attach them to something like a Teensy so they can be used as or at least emulate a USB gamepad.
I’m actually pretty excited about this project because I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my Teensy and Raspberry Pi since my last failure. You know, something more than just installing RetroPie/EmulationStation on it and shoving it in a drawer. Even though I’m technically still just turning it into an emulation box. But actually, it’s the fact that I’m trying to do this all from scratch, on my own and not following a tutorial that’s making it so fun!
So far, I’ve already set up the Raspberry Pi with RetroPie, installed the same ROMs found on the Namco Plug-n-Play arcade thingy (plus a few more) and suited it up with a fancy comic book style theme with video previews of the games and everything!! Now the next step is to wire up the controls, pray to the arcade gods that my Teensy code works, and shove it all back into the case. Oh and make some holes for the extra buttons, power and HDMI cables that’ll inevitably have to protrude out of it as well.
One of the coolest features of using a Raspberry Pi, at least when you have a Pi 3, is that it has built in Bluetooth and wireless. So, if at any point I needed to update the firmware or install new games, it’ll be super easy. That and we can sync up a Bluetooth controller like the Xbox One or PS4 or one of those fancy 8bitdo controllers and gain access to even more functionality and consoles!
As I make progress on this project, I’ll be sure to post lots of pics on the social medias so you can see how it’s going! Oh and I’ll have to remember to set a new high score on Galaga for my Dad before I give it back to him. Because you always have to keep the mind sharp and you always need a goal to work towards!
Well my friends, that’s going to do it for me for today!! I really do love tinkering with electronics and when a fun little project like this lands in my lap, I’m always excited. I really do hope that this works out too because it’ll be a significant upgrade to what my Dad already had!!
Anyways, have a great rest of your day, and I’ll see all you backloggers tomorrow!!
Our World is Ended (Switch)
Celeste (Xbox One)
Total Backlogged Games: 721 …lines of code I had to tinker with to get this thing up and running!
Total Completed Games: 28 …the level of degrees my dad’s soldering iron apparently goes up to!!
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And you can keep tabs on my backlog by checking out the Backlog Odyssey Backloggery game list!