For a while now I’ve been wanting to do a project with the Raspberry Pi. The ultra low cost, single board computer is making roads in both education and the do-it-yourself maker scene. It’s a great platform to learn programming and basic electronics, and the heart of many enthusiast projects. After thinking about what I could make, I settled on an emulation-based arcade machine.
The new Raspberry Pi 2 pushes platform over the hump to be the ideal brains inside a homemade arcade system. Not only does it give you reasonably fast loading times and smooth menu navigation, but its quad-core Broadcom processor allows for emulation of power demanding games and platforms. The Pi platform also has a big advantage for an arcade machine – the General Purpose Input/Output pins allows standard arcade stick and buttons to be directly wired up to the unit, without any need for a keyboard simulator or any kind of USB controller. Using the Retrogame software, it’s just a matter of connecting each button or joystick direction to both an unused I/O and a ground pin.
A big factor in any arcade unit is the choice of monitor or screen. Natively the Raspberry Pi can output a HDMI signal at resolutions up to full 1080p, or an older Composite video signal like every console in the 90’s used. If you have a CRT or other older monitor you can get a cheap, sub $20, adapter to let you use a VGA connection.
HDMI to VGA Video Adapter: If you have a computer or tablet or device with HDMI output but you want to connect it to a projector, monitor or display with VGA input, you have come to the right place! This nifty adapter cable has a classic HDMI plug connector at one end and at the other end a DB-15 VGA connector (it has hex nuts that you can remove if you are trying to mate it with a cable that also has hex nuts). There’s also an audio jack on the side, this provides stereo headphone/line out (HDMI 1.3 cables carry both video and audio). You may also need a VGA DB15 male/male cable (not included but available in the shop) to connect this to your monitor. Read more.
Each Friday is PiDay here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts, tutorials and new Raspberry Pi related products. Adafruit has the largest and best selection of Raspberry Pi accessories and all the code & tutorials to get you up and running in no time!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.