May 1, 2016

Raspberry Pi Zero NES Emulator

Being the electronics hoarder that I am, once the Raspberry Pi Zero was announced, I immediately wanted to get one. As usual, I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I knew I wanted one. Somewhere during what seemed like the 2nd or 3rd production run of these things, I finally nabbed one from The Pi Hut

Having one in hand, I decided to make myself a little NES emulator. By no means an original idea, but something I was interested in at the time given my recent patronage at a local bar with a retro game theme. In order to see if Contra was really that hard or if it was a side effect of the beer, I set out to make me an emulator.

I accomplished this task by using the super popular Retro Pi distro. There was nothing exotic about the installation, short of the handicaps inherent to the Rasbperry Pi Zero (1 USB port, no Ethernet, etc.). These issues were solved by using a USB hub and USB-to-Ethernet adapter. Again, nothing too exotic but something you don't normally run into when using the larger versions of the Rasbperry Pi.

Prior to throwing it into the controller, I made sure it booted and made sure to put some ROMs on it.


Following a sucessful boot, I proceeded to putting the Pi Zero into the controller. Suprise, there really isn't anything going on inside of an old NES controller!


I did have to cut off one of the plastic pegs used to hold the case together, but having 3/4 of those intact is plenty. I needed to have access to the devices power, HDMI out, and USB port. This was easily achieved by orienting the Raspberry Pi as shown and cutting away some of the controller.



Having it all thrown together, I started it and started to play some games! Admittedly, having the HDMI and power cord hanging off the front of the controller didn't make it the most usable, but given that this is a novelty, it will work.