How To Make a Raspberry Pi Game Console
The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized computer that revolutionizes DIY tech for tech makers and DIYers. Today we are going to be talking about building a Raspberry Pi game console! Created in 2012 by Raspberry Pi, the mini computer was supposed to bring technology to disadvantaged areas in a super mobile and small format. The Raspberry Pi computer has opened the door for thousands of cool DIY gadgets and has made computers feasible in many regions of the world.
We’ve talked about building a DIY Bartop Arcade Game using a Raspberry Pi computer. Now we want to show you some of the user-friendly kits out there to use a Raspberry Pi computer to build a handheld gaming console.
The Raspberry Pi Computer:
We now have four different versions of the Raspberry Pi computer since its debut in 2012. Unlike other technology, the older versions of the Raspberry Pi are still useful. If you plan to create a pretty basic digital sign for your business or require less functionality, one of the older (and cheaper) versions of the Raspberry Pi will work perfectly for your application.
With the Bartop Arcade Game, we recommended the Raspberry Pi 3 because the newest Raspberry Pi four is not compatible with most arcade control and buttons available.
The Raspberry Pi 4 has some exciting features:
- Available in sizes of one, two, and four GB of RAM
- Wireless capabilities
- Bluetooth capabilities
- 4 USB ports (2 USB 3.0 and 2 USB 2.0)
- 2 Micro HDMI ports (That support 4K)
- Enhanced Graphics
- DSI Display Port
- CSI Camera Port
- 3.5 mm Audio and Composite Video Jack
- Micro SD Card slot
- Powered by USB-C
Every version of the Raspberry Pi is still in production, which means you can choose the device that works best for your purposes. If you’re building a digital sign for your business, you might not need all of the features of the Raspberry Pi 4. If you’re building a 4k smart mirror, on the other hand, the Raspberry Pi 4 will make that project come alive.
The one downside to the Raspberry Pi 4, is the new connectors and additional USB ports mean your cases from your previous Pi’s won’t fit. Raspberry Pi recommends that you order a new case for your Raspberry Pi 4, but the good thing is they are not expensive.
Building a Raspberry Pi Handheld Game Console:
Building a Raspberry Pi game console using a DIY kit is fun and easy, and takes very few actual “tech” skills. To make it easier on us newbies, there is a vast DIY tech and Raspberry Pi community online. Raspberry Pi DIY videos and tutorials are all over and easy to find.
The most challenging part is sourcing legal game RAMS. Learning how to program those games onto your Raspberry Pi computer can take some patience. To do this, you need to download and install Retro Pi on your Micro SD card. Loading the software onto your Raspberry Pi is done by connecting your SD card to your regular PC. An SD card reader is handy for doing this.
If you’re using a Raspberry Pi 4, the USB C connection allows you to connect your Raspberry Pi directly to your PC to program your SD card that way!
Handheld Raspberry Pi Game Console Kits:
Waveshare Game Hat for Raspberry Pi:
This make-your-own game experience kit comes with MOST everything needed to create your handheld game console. The console kit comes with a 3.5in 480 resolution screen for game viewing and play. The Waveshare is compatible with the Raspberry Pi zero up to the 3B.
The downside to this game console is the handheld console is not fully enclosed. You’re not going to want to stuff this console inside your suitcase or backpack without some protection.
What you need to make the Waveshare Work:
- Raspberry Pi (We recommend the 3B)
- Lithium-Ion Battery (18650 Flat Top)
- Micro SD Card (The size depends on how many games you want to play on your console. We recommend an 8gb).
Tech Skills Needed:
- Use your PC to upload Retro Pi and games to your SD card. See our post on building an arcade game to learn how to program your SD card for play.
That’s it! The Waveshare kit comes with all of the hardware needed to build the console. This kit would be perfect for a newbie or even a kid looking to get into the DIY tech hobby. At just $48, you can create some fun STEM projects with your kids with this affordable kit.
This kit includes JUST about everything you need, including the Raspberry Pi and the SD Card.
The GeekPi Retroflag is a Gameboy inspired case that looks and feels like the real thing. For $98, the only things you need to purchase separately are the AA batteries and an SD card reader to program your micro SD card.
The GeekPi kit comes with a Raspberry Pi Zero W, but it is also compatible with a Raspberry Pi Zero.
The kit also includes:
- 32GB micro SD card and SD card protector Case
- Carry Case
- Flannel Bag
- Instruction Manual
- Headphone Jack
The only technical skills required are learning how to program the Retro Pi software and Game RAMS onto your micro SD card. For $98, this all-inclusive kit is an excellent Raspberry Pi game console kit for any Gameboy lover!
TAPDRA Raspberry Pi Zero Handheld:
This kit comes in a bit more expensive at $149. The added costs come from the incredible amount of games and software already pre-loaded onto the 128 GB SD card! If you want your kids to get into DIY Tech, but you’re worried about letting them download software and game RAMS off of the internet, this kit is perfect. The SD card is pre-loaded with the Retro Pi Software and over 14,000 games. This kit’s fun comes in learning how to install the components and put the handheld game together.
The Kit Includes:
- Gaming System and Emulation software
- Gameboy Inspired handheld Case
- Copper Heatsink
- 128GB MicroSD Card
- Raspberry Pi Zero
- SD Card Reader
- DC Power Cable
- Instruction Manual
- Raspberry Pi Zero
All you need is to purchase the AA Batteries or use the included DC power cable.
To introduce yourself or your kids into game building using a Raspberry Pi Computer, this kit requires minimal software skills. While a slightly heftier price tag, the games are a huge perk since it can be tricky to download games that you don’t already own legally.
Why the Raspberry Pi is So Popular:
The Raspberry Pi is a sleek and affordable piece of equipment that makes computer technology accessible. You can use a Raspberry Pi 4 to build quite an impressive PC for an impressively low price tag.
The number of tech gadgets created using a Raspberry Pi increases by the day, and you too can make smart home gadgets at an affordable price using a Rasberry Pi. We’re thinking of trying a smart mirror next!
What do you want to build using a Raspberry Pi?
Check out some of our DIY Tech Posts!
- Making a Raspberry Pi Arcade Game
- How to Build a Drone
- Flying Model Rockets
- The Best Cricut to Make Your Own T-Shirts
- Best 3D Printers for Under $250