We’ve been working on setting up a Raspberry Pi MAME Arcade and our favorite ROMs with an XBox Controller and a Chatpad. It’s going to be an awesome console for our 65″ flat panel home theater setup. And once we get that running, we’re going to make a handheld unit out of it. But first, we have to debug the entire mishmash of a system we’ve got.
Here’s some pictures of what we’ve got running so far – the almighty Bubble Bobble – running here in the home office / music studio on a 45″ flat panel. Pretty sweet!
Our full instructions and tutorial for setting this up are not completed yet. It’s TOO BUGGY!
You might not want or need the XBox controller with a Chatpad. If so, then just install PiMAME and your ROMS. However, that’s not good enough for us. The menuing setup requires too much intervention. I want the little sucker to run like a kiosk or a true console would – right off the controller. Hence, the Chatpad.
Now, if you just can’t wait and want to build your own – go snag PiMAME, configure AdvanceMAME on it, then install the xboxdrv library, and after that you can spend the usual nights & weekends time to figure out all the keymappings for your controllers. And if you are like us you are going to wind up overclocking the hardware, or at least trying to (we haven’t been convinced the technique works well).
You must run a 2 Amp USB power source because the XBox controller sucks up a ton of current. At the very least, that’s what we found out because we also wanted to run a WiFi connection on the device and the WiFi radio sucks up current too. The Raspberry Pi isn’t a magical power-provider so you need to be mindful of these things. But, the Raspberry Pi has HDMI output and looks awesome on our 65″ flat panel… so… we fully intend to push this platform to its absolute limits (keeping in mind that the ARM processor on this puppy is only about as powerful as Grammy’s Pentium II).
What’s taking so incredibly long with this project is:
1) figuring out all the keymappings so we can completely kill the requirement for a full size keyboard, as we only want to use the Chatpad
2) getting & testing the very latest ROMs for the games we like. We have 4,000 old ROM files, but they are just far too old… we had used them for a full-size cabinet and SlikStik Classic setup in the basement that we built ages ago. We never kept the ROMs current because once we got the old arcade running, we just started using it (it is still running).
More to come – just need more time to get this project to a polished state. Thanks for your patience and check back soon.
UPDATE: Although I still haven’t had time to document each and every step of the configuration, we *have* posted a full IMG file of our current working version. You can download it here. A word of warning: it is already “expanded” — you will need a 16GB SD Card. And of course, you will have to supply your own ROMS. I’m sorry I couldn’t shrink it like the original PiMame distribution but please understand I’m slammed for time between business trips and app deliverables. This was the fastest way for me to get you guys something to play with, so I just dd’d an IMG and then gzipped it for all y’all. 16GB SD cards are dead cheap – I got mine at Walgreens in a 2-for-1 special – I’m sure you can find a steal of a deal somewhere. Enjoy.