My Raspberry Pi Arcade


For some time, I’ve been hearing about the many things that can be created with the Raspberry Pi.  A few weeks ago, I purchased the Model B from the Amazon store for about $39.  After three days it arrived on my doorstep.  I haven’t had the time to do anything with it, but today I decided to get it running.  This is not a device that you can plugin and start using immediately.  I will cover the process that I went through to get my Raspberry Pi device running.  You can do many things with the Raspberry Pi, and I have chosen to create a simple arcade system as described by this article on Adafruit.

Raspberry Pi Model B
Raspberry Pi Model B


First, you will need an SD card and a method for writing an operating system image file to the card.  A 32 GB SD card and SD card reader from Wal-Mart set me back about $55.  These could probably be found cheaper online, but I was willing to pay a few extra dollars to walk out of the store with it in my hands today.  Since I will be emulating games, I needed to ensure that my card had enough storage to hold the game image files.


Don't forget the SD card and reader
Don’t forget the SD card and reader

A micro-USB power supply is also required, which does not come with the Raspberry Pi.  I will be using my phone charger, which is capable of 5.0 volts and 2.1 amps, which is sufficient for the Raspberry Pi.

Be sure that your Micro-USB power supply is capable of supplying 5 volts
Be sure that your Micro-USB power supply is capable of supplying 5 volts

An HDMI cable is required as well, for connecting your Raspberri Pi to your display device.  I am using the HDMI cable from my XBox 360.

HDMI cable is required for connecting you Raspberri Pi to the display device
HDMI cable is required for connecting you Raspberri Pi to the display device


Finally, a USB keyboard and USB mouse will be needed for interacting with the Raspberri Pi.


Any modern USB keyboard and USB mouse should work
Any modern USB keyboard and USB mouse should work

After getting the necessary hardware, the operating system for the Raspberry Pi will need to be downloaded.  The Raspberry Pi download site offers many options, and I chose to go with Raspbian.  This distribution has been recommend to me by others,  and it is also the recommended OS from the Adafruit article.  I downloaded the 2014-01-07 version of the Rasbian “Debian Wheezy” software, which was 780 MB in size.

External SD Card Reader
External SD Card Reader


After connecting my SD card reader to my desktop PC using the USB cable, Windows automatically installed the appropriate drivers for the SD card reader.  When I inserted the SD card into the reader, it recognized the card and opened a dialog window to view the contents of the SD card.




In order to install the Raspbian operating system on the SD card, I downloaded the Fedora ARM Installer, which is a 10 MB zip file.  I created a “RaspberryPi” folder on my desktop system, and extracted the contents of the Fedora ARM installer to that folder.

Extracted contents of Fedora ARM Installer
Extracted contents of Fedora ARM Installer

To run this application, you MUST right click the fedora-arm-installer-2.exe file and select “Run as administrator”.  The application will run without administrator privileges, but it will not be able to detect your SD card device.  If prompts for running DiskPart are displayed, then it is not running as administrator.

Don’t forget to run as administrator

After the program starts, the user interface will display.  Answering yes will allow it to make the necessary changes to install the operating system image on the SD card.  Next, the Raspbian zip package was extracted into my RaspberryPi folder.  After it was extracted, there was one file named 2014-01-07-wheezy-raspbian.img in the folder.  I used that file as the “Source” in the Fedora ARM Image Installer.  Next, I selected the SD card drive as the Destination.  The file size in parenthesis should roughly match the size of the SD card.  In my case, my SD card is 32 GB and the device display in the Fedora ARM installer shows 30 G.  The device description in my case displayed “Harddisk1”, which is not important.  It is important that the drive letter (F: in my case) matches the drive letter of the SD card device.  If it doesn’t match, then STOP and select the correct device or you could risk formatting your hard disk and losing all of your data.  When I ran the Fedora ARM installer it didn’t give me the option of selecting my local desktop drives (such as C:) as the Destination, so it may have some precautions built in to prevent it from reimaging your local drives, but you should still double check to verify that you are writing to the correct destination.


After I verified that everything was correct, I pressed the Install button to write the image to the SD card.  When the warning message displayed, I confirmed that it was the correct device and selected “Yes” to write the Raspbian image to the SD card.


Be sure that you are overwriting the correct device!
Be sure that you are overwriting the correct device!

Writing the image to the SD card took a few minutes.


Writing the image to the SD card takes some time.
Writing the image to the SD card takes some time.

Once the “Install Complete” message displays, the imaging is complete and the SD card can be removed from the card reader.

Booting up the Raspberry Pi

Insert the SD card into the slot in the back of the Raspberry Pi.


Slide SD card into back of Raspberry Pi
Slide SD card into back of Raspberry Pi

Connect the keyboard, mouse, and HDMI to the front of the Raspberry Pi.  Finally connect and plugin the micro USB cable to power on the Raspberry Pi.

Connect the keyboard, mouse, HDMI, and micro USB power supply
Connect the keyboard, mouse, HDMI, and micro USB power supply


Once powered, the screen should display the Raspberry Pi boot up sequence.

Raspberry Pi Booting Up
Raspberry Pi Booting Up


After the Raspberry Pi has booted, the raspi-config menu will display.  First, I selected “Expand Filesystem”.


raspi-config main menu
raspi-config main menu

A message about the root partition being resized and enlarged on the next reboot displayed.  To give the Raspberry Pi device a unique name on the network, I selected 8  Advanced Options, then selected A2 Hostname.  I was then able to enter a new name for the device.


Next, I selected 4 Internationalisation Option, and then selected I2 Change Timezone.  It takes it a while to move to the next screen, so don’t press anything until the Geographic area screen is displayed.  I selected US, and then selected Eastern on the next screen.  There were some confirmation messages displayed at the bottom of the screen that the time zone had been changed, and then it transitioned back on the raspi-config main menu.


Then I selected A4 SSH and enabled the ssh server.  This allows administration of the Raspberry Pi over the network through ssh.  Finally, from the main menu I selected 2 to change the password.  It will display a prompt at the bottom of the screen, and the characters will not echo as the password is typed.  It will prompt you to confirm the password that was just entered.  Now from the main menu, the right key was pressed twice to select Finish.  It will prompt to reboot, which I confirmed.


After restarting, the Raspberry Pi will display a command prompt to login.  If the login prompt is cutoff on the display, then run sudo raspi-config and change the option for overscan to enabled.  Once logged in, I ran the startx command to bring up the graphical desktop.


After the desktop was started, I connected a wired ethernet cable from my router to the Raspberry Pi to enable connectivity to the Internet.  Once the networking cable is connected, then additional green and yellow lights will illuminate on the Raspberry Pi.  I noticed that if the networking lights on the Raspberry Pi are not illuminated, then disconnecting and reconnecting the networking cable seems to solve the problem.  This sometimes happens after the Raspberry Pi is  powered off.  I did have a wireless networking USB adapter that I could have used instead of wired networking, but the Raspberry Pi only has two USB slots, which are currently used by the mouse and keyboard.

Raspberry Pi with Networking
Raspberry Pi with Networking

Downloading the arcade software

Now that I had a working desktop, I started the Midori web browser on the Raspbian desktop, and I downloaded MAME4all from the project page on the Google code webiste.  Then I downloaded the file using the Open option, and then I extracted the contents of the zip file to a folder called mame in my home directory.


The mame executable should already be built, so after changing to the mame directory using LXTerminal, I just typed “./mame” and it successfully started.  Unfortunately, after the title screen displays, the main menu did not detect any ROMs.  I went to a site called which had a collection of free and legal ROMS which can be used for testing.


I just picked a game called Circus, confirmed that I am using it for non-commercial use, chose the Open option.  For some reason, whenever I tried Save As it would just create a file with 0 byte size.  After it opens in the Xarchiver, I extracted the contents to the ~/mame/roms folder.  All of the files must be extracted to the roms folder.  After the files were extracted, I ran the game by typing ./mame circus from the mame directory.  This successfully started the circus game.  For some reason, when I just ran ./mame the main menu still couldn’t find the game.


The controls for mame games can be found on the mame4all-pi project page.  Pressing 5 on the keyboard adds credits.  After credits are added, pressing the 1 key will start a one player game.  The objective of this game is to use the left and right keys to move the see-saw to bounce the menu upward to collect the gems.  If one of the men misses the see-saw, then the player loses a life.  Mame has many other useful options from the command line, which can be displayed by running ./mame –help


Be sure to go into raspi-config and select 4) Internationalization options, select I3 Change Keyboard Layout, and set the keyboard to “Generic 101-key PC” and keyboard layout to “English (US)” format.  Otherwise, you will have a hard time typing symbols like pipe ( | ) and many keys like the “at” sign and double quotes will be out of place.

To get my Raspberry Pi to start mame on boot, I had to create an /etc/init.d/arcade script which runs my script.  I used this page as a guide.

My ~pi/ script:

sudo mame/retrogame/Adafruit-Retrogame-master/retrogame &

mame/mame <rom image>

Remember to “chmod ugo+x” your script files.

Edit using “sudo vi /etc/init.d/arcade” otherwise you will not be able to save the file.


Lack of Updates

A little more than a week ago, I was at home and started having chest pains.  The pains would no go away, so I went to the emergency room and they found a blood clot in my heart.  The operation to add the stent went quickly and it seemed like I was only in the operating room for less than 30 minutes.  After resting in the hospital for three days, I was allowed to leave and return home which was a week ago from today.  Each day I’m feeling stronger, and I’ll be back at my full time job very soon.

I’m taking a break from game development for now.  I think sitting around on my butt in front of the computer three days every week on my off days could have played a role in my heart attack.  I also need to get outside and exercise more.  I’m also improving my diet by eating less fast food and more fruits and vegetables, since I need to cut my cholesterol in about half.  My cardiologist said that I was the youngest person he had ever treated that does not smoke, drink alcohol, or do drugs.  He could not determine any one factor which caused it, but it was more like a one in a million chance thing that happened.  However, doing the right things like eating well and exercising will help lower the chances of it happening again.

Reorganizing Displays

One problem that continued to remain was the two different game states for the two display types in the game.  Those two display states are for the 2D sprite based view and the 3d model based view.  These two views shared the same data model, which is a reference to the game world.  However, having two game screen classes still led to some redundant code.  Both Screen states inherited from the ResistorKit.Screen class, which means that the control methods (stick movements and button presses) had to be handled in both Screen classes.  Therefore all of the controls were duplicated in both screens.  Additionally, other things not related to the display code also had to be duplicated, such as the sound effects.

Therefore, I modified the code so that there is only one GameScreen class.  This “new”class has two instance variables, one for the each display type, which are the GameScreen2D and GameScreen3D.  I should have probably renamed those to “Display” instead of “Screen”, since “Screen” implies a state in my game.  I could have also created a “Display” superclass for those two classes, but I thought that would have been overkill, especially since probably only one display method will ever be used in the final game.  I separated the actual drawing code for each display into its respective class.  The screen to be displayed is based on an instance variable in the GameScreen class which is set to an enum value that represents the currently active display type.  This prevents having to keep track of the display state in the main game class, which was the inefficient original approach that I took.

This also solves a long standing problem when exiting the menu screen.  Since the menu screen did not keep track of what screen was before it, the game always returned the player to the sprite based view even when the player was using the 3D model based view.  With the single display class, the player is always returned to the one screen state, which correctly displays the game screen based on the current display method.

I also have the GameScreen overlay displayed in the main GameScreen class, since the overlay should be identical for both the 2D and 3D views.

The only control difference between the 2D and 3D display is that the 3D display allows control of moving the camera when the Right Trigger is held.  That is the only display specific code that needs to be updated in the GameScreen class, and I will fix that in the near future.


I came across a new problem since adding my Jukebox class, which is an AccessViolationException when the program is ended.  This problem was reported in a thread on the AppHub forums, but a definite solution was never reported.  To see if it would help, I added a “Copy for Windows” of the ResistorKit library, and I added a reference in the BlastingBits for Windows project to the ResistorKit for Windows DLL.  However, I still occasionally see this error.