Setting up a RetroPie Holocron

Holocron RetroPie

Today I got my RetroPie Holocron going. RetroPie is a game emulation system made for the Raspbian operating system. Thus it is a great way to create a retro gaming system running on a Raspberry Pi. This post will share this simple yet fun build.

I don’t have as many pictures with this post as I usually do. Apparently, I forgot to take photos as I went. But this is a pretty simple build and probably doesn’t need a lot of pics.

Hardware used

This build is pretty simple. The electronics I used include:

  • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (4GB)
    • I went with the 4GB model because I’ve had issues with one I have running 8GB. Plus 4GB is more than enough for what this emulator will be doing.
  • GeeekPi Raspberry Pi 4 Fan, Raspberry Pi Low-Profile CPU Cooler with RGB Cooling Fan
    • This is a short-term lighting solution. I found that while this fan has a cool-looking RGB light, it doesn’t give enough illumination to suit my needs. The standoffs that come with this kit are handy to mount the PI.
  • Samsung 64GB micro SD card.
  • 5.1 VDC wall wart to USB-C power supply.
  • USB SNES controllers.

Links to hardware used can be found at the end of this post. Some of them may be affiliate links.

3D printing the case

Michael Baddeley designed the RetroPie Holocron case I chose, and he has shared the design with his Patreon followers. If you want to build droids, this is a must Patreon to subscribe. For only $10 a month, Baddely gives access to some of the best droid designs around. I know I’ve seen other versions of the Holocron around, and possibly some of those are free for those who don’t wish to pay for a case.

The base was printed in Silk Champaign PLA filament from Mika3D. The cover was printed using Silk Gold PLA from Mika3D. They are both simple prints, neither of which require supports.

Mounting the Pi into the base

Since I used the GeeekPi Raspberry Pi 4 Fan, I had some offsets perfect for mounting the Pi 4 into the case. All I did was hook up the heatsinks and fan up to the Pi 4. The offsets that go under the Pi aligned with holes on the bottom of Baddeley’s case. Easy peasy.

The picture below shows the Pi 4 mounted in the case. Plus, the RGB fan is hooked up. I also have the dongle for my USB Keyboard and Mouse hooked up. I only leave the keyboard hooked up long enough to setup WiFi.

Holocron Base.

Here is what the finished Holocron looks like with the RGB fan functioning.

Holocron RetroPie

Installing RetroPie

RetroPie is a breeze to install on the SD card. Here are the steps I used:

At this time, the RetroPi is technically ready to go. The first time booting up with a controller connected RetroPie will present the wizard to map keys.

Also, the WiFi can be set up by going into the RetroPie configuration. When setting up the WiFi, you will also have to set up the Pi’s country. There is an option in the RetroPie configuration to see your IP if you want to know if it is connected.

Loading some test ROMs.

I wanted to test it out right away. So I chose to load some ROMs on via a USB stick. Before doing that, the USB stick has to setup to work with RetroPi. Here are the steps to do that:

  • Format a USB stick using SD Card Formatter.
  • Create a folder on the USB stick called retropie.
  • Place the USB stick into the RetroPie while it is booted up.
    • There will be a lot of activity on the USB stick for a couple of minutes. This is the directory structure being setup on the USB stick.
  • After the USB stick activity is done (I think after two minutes), the USB stick needs to be removed from the Pi and plugged into a computer.
  • Go to the roms folder that now exists inside the earlier created retropie folder.
  • I had some SNES ROMs I had previously downloaded (which I legally own, of course). I copied those ROM files over to the SNES folder on the USB stick.
  • Now put the USB stick back into the Pi.
  • Click on start, and go to quit, and choose to restart emulationstation.
  • After the reboot is complete, all ROMs will now be downloaded onto the RetroPie. The USB stick can be unplugged.
  • The main RetroPie screen will now show game systems for any ROMs that were downloaded.
  • Play games!

Here is what will show up in the RetroPie after some SNES games have been downloaded.

SNES emulator on the RetroPie.

Wow, F-Zero is not as graphic intensive as I remember it. But it does remind of many hours spent playing the SNES in the barracks.


Future plans for he Holocron RetroPie

I ordered two packs of various game controllers to use with the RetroPie. When I find some free time, I will print hooks for each of these controllers to hang them nicely by the TV.

Plus, I want more light coming out of the Holocron. So I plan to create a diffuser for the cube walls using translucent PLA. Then I will put a brighter light solution inside the cube. At this time, I think some sort of RGB ring at the bottom of the cube should give sufficient lighting.

But as of now, I am more than happy with the Holocron and look forward to schooling my kids on games from my youth.

Hardware used in this post

These are affiliate links to hardware used in this post. I may earn compensation from qualifying links. See my Affiliate Links page for more information.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (4GB) Amazon associate link.

GeeekPi Raspberry Pi 4 Fan Amazon associate link.

Samsung 64GB micro SD cardAmazon associate link.

5.1 VDC wall wart to USB-C power supplyAmazon associate link.

USB SNES controllersAmazon associate link.

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