Porta Pi Arcade

After completing a number of simple Raspberry PI tutorials, I decided I wanted to try and build a Porta-Pi Arcade Lite Raspberry PI retro gaming system. Since I already have a projector, several monitors and a TV the lite model without a built in screen really appealed to me.

I also liked that the Porta-Pi kits are designed and produced by one guy, Ryan Bates, that had a successful kickstarter. I really appreciated that Ryan had continued to design and provide new DIY kits after his kickstarter since a lot of other projects seem to stop providing DIY kits and outsourcing everything once they become popular.

On top of the standard build I wanted to add a power button, and use a joystick with individual micro-switches so it is more obvious how everything works for my daughter.

I ordered the laser cut wood kit from RetroBuiltGames and downloaded the PDF build manual with a bill of materials and set about ordering parts. Being a software engineer every project needs to have some feature creep so some of the parts I got are not necessary to build a working arcade.

I also wound up buying two extra buttons and two ball tops after my daughter Elsie decided that we each needed a button that was our favorite color (hers pink, mine purple) and that we should have a pink ball top. It turns out that a pink arcade button is a a real hard to find item, I finally managed to find one in Hawaii at Paradise Arcade Shop. They also had a purple button and a Zippyy joystick with 4 micro-switches and changeable ball tops.

Simplified Parts List

  • Porta-Pi Lite Wood Kit and PDF Manual — $31.00 Shipped
  • 10 Arcade Buttons from SparkFun — $30.00 Shipped
  • Assorted Cables from DX .com— $13.00 Shipped
  • Mausberry Circuits Shutdown Circuit — $15.00 Shipped
  • PLATT Electric Solderless Connectors (50) — $16.oo
  • Joystick 2 Ball Tops and 2 extra buttons — $23.00 Shipped
  • Assorted Screws and Nuts for Joystick — $2.00

Total Parts Cost without Raspberry Pi $130.00 Shipped

I already had a rocker switch to use with the shutdown circuit and a raspberry pi and power supply. I also used rubber feet, stain, wood glue and clamps I already had.

All of the parts started shipping quickly after I ordered them and I received the wood kit and buttons in the mail in a few days.

Porta Pi Arcade

Wood kit and buttons mocked up.

I followed the instructions in the manual and fitted the pieces together a couple of times before staining and gluing. I have found my iPad to be really useful for viewing PDF’s, videos and tutorials while working on projects with the Raspberry Pi.

After fitting things together I laid out the pieces on some newspaper and stained the wood.

I have not played with linux in probably 10 years, when i did then everything was a hassle. I made a firewall media server device out of a loud and huge dell power edge server. After buying a raspberry pi for my daughter and I to play with I was amazed at how easy it is to install and update linux now, especially on something with common hardware like the pi.

First thing is to download the newest version of Raspbian from the Raspberry PI foundation and put it on your sd card.

Start up your pi and log in with user pi password raspberry, once logged in type the following command to open raspi-config.

sudo raspi-config

Once you are in the configuration wizard expand the file system, overclock your pi if you want, and if you are in the US update region, timezone and keyboard settings if you are in the US. Make sure and change the default password.

Tab over to finished in the raspi-config and reboot your pi. Log in again with your new password and run the following commands in order to get the latest updates on your pi. Each of these may take a while to run depending on how fast your SD card is and how much you overclocked your pi.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo rpi-update

If you want to use scratch with the GPIO ports on your raspberry pi install Scratch GPIO

sudo wget http://goo.gl/Pthh62 -O isgh5.sh
sudo bash isgh5.sh

The PiGlow board works with Scratch, fits nicely in the pibow case and has many lights. Run the following commands to get your piglow all ready to use.

sudo apt-get install i2c-tools
sudo apt-get install python-smbus
wget https://github.com/heeed/pi2c/raw/master/pi2c.sh
sudo bash pi2c.sh
mkdir piglow
cd piglow

Now that we have everything all set up lets run some example code from the internet. A quick warning, the PiGlow is really bright especially the three center white LEDS don’t look directly at it when you first run the scripts or you may see black spots for a bit.

wget https://github.com/pimoroni/piglow/raw/master/examples/piglow-example.py
sudo python piglow-example.py

#more piglow python examples
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/piglow.py

#python psutil for cpu example
sudo apt-get install python-psutil
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/all.py
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/arm.py
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/clock.py
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/cpu.py
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/cycle.py
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/cycle2.py
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/halloween.py
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/indiv.py
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/indiv2.py
wget https://github.com/Boeeerb/PiGlow/raw/master/Examples/test.py