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NES (Games) Classic Games (Games) Emulation (Games) Hardware

Geek Builds His Own NES Classic With A Raspberry Pi (arstechnica.com) 132

"It turns out that the NES Classic Edition is just a little Linux-powered board inside a cute case," writes Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica, "and it's totally possible to build your own tiny Linux-powered computer inside a cute case without spending much more than $60." An anonymous reader writes: Andrew used a $42 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B -- "it's relatively cheap and relatively powerful, and it can easily handle anything from the original PlayStation on down" -- plus an $8 case, and a microSD card. He also purchased a pair of gamepads -- there's several options -- and reports that "Putting our little box together is ridiculously easy, and you ought to have no problem with it even if you've never opened up a PC tower in your life."

"Making retro game consoles is a fairly common use case for the Pi, so there are a few different operating system choices out there," Andrew reports, and he ultimately chose the Linux-based RetroPie OS, which includes a number of emulators. Basically the process boils down to dropping a RetroPie boot image onto the SD card, putting it into the Pi, and then plugging it into your display and connecting your controllers -- plus configuring some menus. "The default quality of the emulation looks just as good as it does on the NES Classic Edition," and "the emulators for these older systems are all advanced enough that things should mostly run just like they did on the original hardware... I've been having a ton of fun with mine now that it's all set up, and its flexibility (plus the quality of those USB gamepads) has made it my favorite way to play old games, outpacing my Apple TV, the pretty but not-living-room-friendly OpenEmu, and the old hacked Wii I still have sitting around."

The hardest part may just be finding a PC with an SD card slot -- and of course, the resulting system gives you lots of flexibility. "By using the Raspberry Pi and freely available software, you can build something capable of doing a whole heck of a lot more than playing the same 30 NES games over and over again."
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Geek Builds His Own NES Classic With A Raspberry Pi

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2017 @04:56PM (#54245935)

    I've running emulators since... I don't know, AGES. Why is this "news for nerds"?

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @05:22PM (#54246037)
      before even a fraction of people who wanted them had them. It's a massive dick move on their part, btw. Any other company (except maybe Apple & Blizzard) would have been crucified by their fans.
      • Discontinued is a strong word for saying they won't produce any more "this year". Incidentally they said this right after they said they will massively ramp up Switch production due to unexpectedly high demand.

        • it's April. 8 months is a long time to go without producing a highly in demand product unless you have a good reason to.

          Fact is they just use the NES classic to remind folks the brand exists in between the Wii U dying and the Switch launching. It worked, but they got a lot of ill will from all the scalping. But not nearly as much as they deserved. Like I said, it's a dick move. Collectors, fan boys and just plain 'ole guys & gals in their 30s and 40s couldn't get one without paying 2x-5x retail to a
    • The idea isn't new, but people might not have heard of this particular distro. I have an old netbook with ZSNES on it, but if I wanted something more modern this distro would expedite the installation process quite a bit. I'm actually thinking I might get a Pi and a new controller now and put this on it.
      • If you want accurate emulation, use higan (f.k.a. bsnes) on a decent computer. The Pi can't handle accurate SNES emulation [tested.com]. RetroPie just uses Snes9x. While it was more accurate than Zsnes, it's not great by today's standards (Higan is cycle-accurate).

        Both are better than Zsnes - it has horribly inaccurate sound and can't even run some of the levels in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island at all (of the games I played).

    • by joboss ( 4453961 )
      I tend to agree. It's just a case mod and maybe something special for the controller or even if it supports carts which I doubt. I used to use emulators a lot a decade ago. Last time I calculated something like if you pay three or four times more than they charge for a console and a few dozen games then you get a system that can be used as a not entirely bad PC, plus that can emulate a bunch of systems and that can store hundreds of thousands of ROMs in total (most systems are thousands of ROMs to tens of
  • What the... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @04:59PM (#54245939) Homepage

    I was expecting something that at least looked like a NES. But no, it's just a Raspberry Pi stuck in a case with a couple of gamepads. That's a really common use for a Raspberry Pi.

    Is there anything new or innovative about this?

    Perhaps I should write an article about how I installed Linux on a PC and use it to browse the internet and work on spreadsheets.

    • Basically it's an article about installing RetroPie, one of many RetroArch/libretro distros available. I consider articles like these on slashdot to be equivalent to articles about people "discovering" Ubuntu. It all seems very pointless, but maybe someone hasn't heard the news on this in the last 2-3 years.

      It's more interesting to packa Pi it into a Game Boy case modified with SNES buttons [raspberrypi.org]

      P.S. - Pi 3 is kind of overkill for doing NES. But it's a nice option if you want to do SNES and MegaDrive as well. Aud

      • I mean "pack a Pi into a Game Boy"

      • Pi 3 is kind of overkill for doing NES

        Only if you don't care about accuracy. I don't think Higan will even run on the Pi because it's too slow. This is the most accurate NES emulator I know of.

        • There isn't an accurate NES emulator that will run on Pi3 but not on Pi2. (that I am aware of)

          P.S. - I have a real NES, modified for debugging and do a bit of development for it. (I use the assembler from sdcc). I sometimes work on stuff that won't run in some of the emulators, and I end up modifying it a bit trying to get it to run on as many emulators as I can.

          • There is or there isn't? I can't quite parse that first sentence.

            Higan is basically cycle-accurate to the real hardware, so since I have a real computer, I will use that anyway.

            • I am very familiar with Higan. Not everyone is using it though. And I've been hacking little NES toys for a lot longer than Higan has been around.

              Rewording the sentence:
              There is no NES emulator for Pi3 that is highly accurate. Any NES emulator that runs on Pi3 will also run on Pi2. I would love to be proven wrong in this.

              • Yeah, Higan is obsessive, and only recently renamed from bsnes. It's been around for a while, but I also started toying with emulsion all the way back in the 90's.

                It'll be nice when Pi-sized computers are up to the job, but I honestly hate seeing all this promotion of inferior options - it makes emulation itself look like a toy instead of a preservation project and a long-term source of fun.

    • was expecting something that at least looked like a NES.

      That's one of the problems I have with these pi projects, they all look like garbage if you try to keep a neat entertainment center. Cords coming out of every side, etc.

      I wish they made a pi case, or a pi, with all the ports on one side.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Archfeld ( 6757 )

        Raspberry Pi cases, just off the top of google...

        https://www.google.com/#q=rasp... [google.com]

        • Re: What the... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dugancent ( 2616577 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @06:21PM (#54246241)

          I'm aware as I have a pi. I would like a case where there are short cords or adapters to plug everything into the back.

          • Re: What the... (Score:4, Informative)

            by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @04:55AM (#54247659) Journal

            (this is why I like articles like these, but he way, they might be "simple", but that means they're actually in reach of most of us here and so there's actually something meaningful to discuss).

            I've built a few things professionally recently (some test kit) which are not all that much more than an RPi 3 in a box. I used these:

            http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/... [rs-online.com]

            and some short USB cables internally for connection. They give a very solid, professional feel, and from my point of view, if a technician inexplicably whacks the connection with a hammer, then all I have to do is replace the bulkhead port, not anything more expensive inside. Not so important for home use, but they're still professional looking and robust. I believe that HDMI is available in the same series.

            There's also quite a lot of other alternatives, and I expect you can get cheaper ones off aliexpress with all the usual caveats about variation in mileage.

            They probably do panel mount micro USB connectors too, but you're better off sticking a proper IEC module on the box and having the PSU inside, becasue micro usb is utterly hateful in every possible way.

            There are plenty of standard and less standard equipment boxes that'll fit all the necessary gubbins inside, or you can 3D print one, get the sides laser cut or craft it from fine hardwood if that's more your scene. Obviously, buying a ready made plastic box from a standard supplier is the easiest. I 3D printed mine since it had to be able to physically interface with an odd shaped piece of hardware.

      • Re: What the... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @05:31PM (#54246077)

        For my brother's birthday, I just put one of these into a tabletop arcade cabinet that I bought as a kit. It came out absolutely fantastic, and it emulates everything up to about the Playstation 1 (PSX) very well. Of course, since I picked an 8-way joystick and 6 buttons, not every game is a great experience. But Retropie is really a great piece of software. For entertainment center duty, there are lots of cases for the Pi (or you could just tuck it behind the TV) - and it has bluetooth so you don't really need the ports. If you want corded controllers, you could mount a usb hub somewhere convenient and inconspicuous.

      • Do what I do: run the Pi behind your TV and use one of the TV's usb ports to power it (most modern TV's have at least one USB port supplying enough power for a Pi). The advantages of this is your Pi's completely hidden, you don't have to buy another USB power adapter, and it's only powered up when the TV is on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ledow ( 319597 )

      Worse than that, you can actually just buy bundles that are 100% this.

      RPi, Retropie card, controllers.

      • Re:What the... (Score:4, Informative)

        by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @05:33PM (#54246085) Homepage

        Bugger: Missed off the link:

        https://thepihut.com/collectio... [thepihut.com]

        • Given the notoriously litigious current IP landscape, I have to wonder how many cease-and-desists companies selling kits like these get hit with, since they're basically selling pirate ships.
          • Re: What the... (Score:4, Informative)

            by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @06:32PM (#54246277) Homepage

            So long as you aren't selling ROMs, pretty much the law has decided that it's not a problem.

            Some emulators are available - for money - on things like Google Play Store and have been for years. For example, Spectaculator, etc.

            Emulating isn't breaking the law. Only providing copyright code (e.g. roms, software, etc.), or misappropriating trademarks (e.g. a picture of Pacman) is.

            You stand more chance of being sued for drawing Pacman on a sticker than selling a system intended for emulation.

            To be honest, from that kit, I'd be more worried about patents on the shape of the SNES controller (and why did the guy use SNES controllers on an NES console?), but that's the manufacturer's problem, not the end user.

            • ...why did the guy use SNES controllers on an NES console?

              Because they're both gamepads made by Nintendo, the SNES controllers are compatible with more games/systems because of the total number of buttons and the NES gamepad sucked (a rectangle with sharp edges - almost as bad as the Colecovision and Intellivision controllers).

            • They made an official "dogbone" NES controller. Sold it alongside the toploader.

          • A pirate ship is just a ship. Its the humans aboard that hoist the Jolly Roger.
          • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

            They've been doing it for a while. They all have disclaimers saying you must own the cartridge, etc. This ground has been thoroughly covered legally so it's no problem.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is the best looking raspi nes. it even has the ability to load "cartridges" via NFC

      http://www.daftmike.com/2016/07/NESPi.html

    • Wait.... wait a second now... you're telling me you can work on spreadsheets on Linux?

      THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!1

    • Yeah you can buy complete RetroPie kits off Amazon. No l33t h4xx0ring required.

    • Perhaps I should write an article about how I installed Linux on a PC and use it to browse the internet and work on spreadsheets.

      It's been a while since I've read that this is the year of the linux desktop.

  • by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @05:03PM (#54245963)

    Next up... geek upgrades his own workstation's RAM!

    • That would be silly, wouldn't it? That's too easy, not newsworthy. (You just download some more, or so I've heard.)
      • You don't "download more RAM" you idiot. You get more using FTP, which is totally different from downloading which everyone knows is illegal.

        • You don't "download more RAM" you idiot.

          But you can download software to make more efficient use of the RAM you have. About two decades ago, Connectix made an installable module for classic Mac OS that overhauled its virtual memory manager, setting up what amounted to a compressed swap file in a RAM disk. It was called RAM Doubler, and in an era of 16 MB RAM, it worked. Years later, the Linux developers reinvented it as zram. (Or were they waiting for Connectix's patent to expire?)

          Or you can download 4 GB of DDR using a BitTorrent tracker and pla

        • Ah, the Flip-flop Transfer Protocol!
    • If the "workstation" is a 2014 Mac mini, I'd like to see that.

  • People have been doing this since the Raspberry Pi existed.

  • Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @05:27PM (#54246055) Homepage Journal
    Funny there is an article about this guy who just threw together some already built packages, and nothing about the developers who actually wrote all the software. Millennials.
    • Millennials

      Is that who did all the hard work? Wouldn't surprise me since that includes basically everyone under the age of 37.

    • how easy it is. If you want to read the details about how emulators are built most are open source and there's forums galore. It's ridiculously technical and most wouldn't be able to follow it. Ars is a more general tech site.
      • If you want to read about emulators on the Raspberry PI there are literally hundreds of sites and videos devoted to it.
    • <translation>

      Whine whine someone put in the effort to write a long format instructional article whine whine I'll make myself feel better by spending two lines to shit on it even though I've never done anything half so worthwhile whine whine whine.

      Whine, also, I'm going to shit on younger people than me because the only way I can be better than anyone at anything is to define arbitrary criteria of "betterness" that are outside of my and their control whine whine whine.

      PS, whine whine wine

      </transla

      • Actually I am one of those guys that actually wrote some of the software for the Pi. There are tons of instructional videos and articles about emulators on Raspberry PI's already. Grow up.
        • Actually I am one of those guys that actually wrote some of the software for the Pi.

          Yeah, sure.

          Grow up.

          If growing up means shitting over people who do useful things and age related bigotry, then you can keep it.

        • by Wulf2k ( 4703573 )

          Is that why my Pi gives me a "space nutter" error whenever I try to play the Lunar Lander game?

    • Yeah really. Now that the Raspberry Pi can do OpenGL 3D (SDL) we have a lot more possibilities. Emulators - Schmemulators. Build your own games form source (Supertux/Tuxcart), then build a way better case. Give AdvMenu (part of AdvanceMame) a try too. This is how you do it > http://gluebox.com/arcade [gluebox.com]
  • HyperDUD (Score:5, Informative)

    by williamyf ( 227051 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @05:28PM (#54246059)

    Trom the TFA:

    We wrote this article on Dec 2016 [...] We reposted it today with updated prices...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Horrified to discover that less than 50% of NES Classic Pi builders are female. How can womyn succeed in STEM if their emulator building is suppressed by the patriarchy. Also, womyn-built emulators cost 40% less according to study by SJW Dynamix Consulting Group.

  • That's what I gave my boys for Christmas.
  • $80 and build it yourself. For 99% of people out there pre built will do just fine.

  • by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @07:22PM (#54246393)

    This quite reminds me of the local news section on other website, celebrating the highs of daily life. Following is a recent article (continued on web site, so I avoid pasting it entirely)

    "Man Tries Using Pink 6-Pound Bowling Ball To Great Amusement"

    WEST ORANGE, NJ—Seemingly knowing full well that the relatively small and light ball was not designed for someone of his size, sources confirmed Tuesday that 25-year-old Darren Foerstner tried using a pink 6-pound bowling ball for one frame, all to the incredible amusement of friends and onlookers at Eagle Rock Lanes bowling alley. “When Darren walked up to the lane holding that little pink ball, we were all thinking, ‘Wait a minute, that ball is meant for children,’ but then we realized what he was doing, and everyone just started cracking up,” said friend Kelly Lingard, adding that, as part of his lighthearted and exceptionally entertaining display, Foerstner demonstrated that his thumb and fingers were unable to fit into the smaller holes of the pink ball, forcing him to palm it with his entire hand.
    (...)

    http://www.theonion.com/articl... [theonion.com]

    • I actually do bowl with the kids balls. They are fun!

      I saw the Onion article last week and had a good laugh (the wife pointed it out to me).

    • by tim620 ( 1052986 )
      It is almost as if slashdot missed April 1, by a few weeks....I can't believe they would seriously put this article out there.
  • Screw you and your lazy writers, Slashdot. I was looking at doing this months ago and tons of cases are available on etsy/ebay/amazon/etc... This is as old as the Pi and even before that people have been making their own systems.
    You gonna write about that kid that made a clock by buying a clock and taking the case off next time? No, because I'm pretty sure you milked that cow already.

    This just in: Kid buys LEGO spaceship set, makes spaceship out of it!

    Surfuckingprise.

  • Using RP's for emulation has been done since the RP has been released, so how is this actual news?
  • Is installing software on a computer now newsworthy in the new society that embraces mediocrity?

  • So basically, "Yet another customer buys Raspberry Pi + recommended components and installs RetroPi"?
  • There's nothing new here. A significant portion of the people buying the Raspberry Pi are doing this.
  • Now there's a /. article.

  • Come on Slashdot! Really? This is not news. RetroPi, Recalbox, and others, have been around for quite a while, for the Raspberry Pi. I put one of these together last year. It is not that hard.

    I'm very disappointed in this article and the fact that slashdot would even post it.

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