RPi 2600 - Atari 2600 Suitcase Multi-Emulator

5 posts
by linearnova » Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:47 pm
Nothing too mind blowing technology wise but I wanted to share my latest project - The RPi 2600. I wanted a portable multi-emulator system I could take anywhere. The result is a RPi B running Chameleon with a cheap 7" TFT monitor mounted inside of an old Atari 2600 "woody" case. For you Atari fans out there, don't worry, everything is totally removable and you can swap the old 2600 board right back in.

IMAG1425 by linearnova, on Flickr

IMAG1468 by linearnova, on Flickr

The components used in this project are:

RPi B - ($40)
7" TFT - ($34)
2 Power Adapters ($20 total for 2)
16GB sdcard ($12)
Bluetooth USB ($11)
Atari 2600 ($20 used)
Screws, Hinges, Handle ($5)

Total build cost: $142
(includes everything except controller of your choice)

The RPi B is running the Chameleon multi-emulator (http://chameleon.enging.com/) on a 16GB sdcard. I made a case for it using an old Atari 2600 cartridge "Space War".

IMAG1398 by linearnova, on Flickr

The Atari 2600 console case is pretty easy to work with. It only has 4 screws and the motherboard comes out easily in one piece. The only permanent modifications to the case are the 2 hinges in the back and the handle on the front.

IMAG1422 by linearnova, on Flickr

IMAG1452 by linearnova, on Flickr

The 7" TFT LCD screen is mounted securely via small strips of velcro. It is so light you don't need much and it makes it easy to remove. The RPi cartridge is also attached via a small bit of velcro. To give me more space inside I stuffed the various cords for the screen into a "Combat" Atari cartridge mounted in the console cartridge slot.

IMAG1430 by linearnova, on Flickr

To power the screen I had to wire up a 12V DC power adapter since it expects a car battery. So right now there are 2 power cords coming out of the RPi 2600. One plug for the computer and one for the screen. My next project is to make a custom power adaptor to power both and use one plug. I am also looking into battery powered options to make it truly portable.

In terms of controllers I've gotten it working with a Xbox360 wired controller, USB NES controller, and Wiimote via bluetooth. My favorite portable option right now is the Wiimote as it fits in the case and is wireless.

IMAG1447 by linearnova, on Flickr

I'm definitely going to continue improving it. As mentioned, I want to consolidate the power supply and look into other power options. I also may build a small amp & speakers into the case for sound. Right now though I'm enjoying it as a practical solution to keep everything together that just happens to look pretty sweet :mrgreen:

IMAG1448 by linearnova, on Flickr
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by Jessie » Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:47 pm
That is killer. I really like the R Pi in the game cart.
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by mrpi64 » Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:20 am
That is a nice job. Well done!
I'm happy to help.
http://goo.gl/TAUaLS - List of games that work on the Pi.
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by jukingeo » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:49 pm
Very nice job!

Question: Does it have sound? It looks like you are using the composite video out for the screen, but nothing seems to be hooked up to the audio out.

If you ARE using sound, did you manage to find a way to get around the half a minute (I am not exaggerating either) video to sound delay? I had noticed I had this problem with my Raspberry Pi when running Stella. The sound delay is enormous. I WAS told that using the digital outputs of the HDMI connector would be better, but I have more TV's with composite inputs than HDMI.

Anyway, I am curious if you are going to hook up some 'real' switches to control panel.

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by linearnova » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:08 am
Hey thanks for the compliments everyone. I've been really inspired (and helped!) by a lot of the posts on here so I'm glad I can contribute a little bit to show the awesomeness that is the Raspberry Pi.

jukingeo - Since the TFT montior has no speakers I've been using headphones or hooking it up to my stereo via the analog output. That said though I've not noticed any huge lag when playing Stella. Definitely not 30 seconds! Have you tried playing with the audio settings? This post might help > http://atariage.com/forums/topic/134888-stella-audio-settings-what-does-each-thing-do/. In the MAME emulator I got much better performance by cranking the sample rates down and playing with he settings. Maybe also try doing a apt-get upgrade (or -update and then update just the sound drivers)? The upgrade seemed to help my overall performance over using the base Chameleon image. I've noticed sound is a big issue with the MAME roms but the Atari, NES, SNES emus all seem to have pretty solid sound.

As for future plans, I might actually build speakers into the box or at the very least create a headphone jack on the exterior. I DEF want to hook up real switches (at least one for power) but I'm having a hard time finding the right size switches that look OK. If anyone has any ideas let me know because and I definitely don't want to pull them off the 2600 motherboard and mangle it!
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