The RetroStation project – Part 1, making the case

I’ve wanted to build a portable MAME machine to play some of the old arcade games that I cut my teeth on back in the ’80s and I’m sure these will need no introduction.

1984 Bomb Jack

1984 Kung-Fu Master

1986 Out Run

1982 Joust

I’ve seen some great projects where people have put a Raspberry Pi in to all sorts of unusual cases and they’ve each provided me with some of the inspiration for my RetroStation project.

So what I needed was a suitable case in to which I could mount not only the shiny new Raspberry Pi 3, but also the arcade controls, all in the one (portable) unit.

These were the kind of arcade controls I wanted:

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So I needed a suitable case which could house this little lot, but still be portable.

Keeping with the retro gaming theme, the full size PlayStation 2 looked like it would provide the perfect ‘box’.

Off I went to eBay where I bought a broken PS2 for the princely sum of £5.20, delivered!

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There are loads of broken PS2s on eBay so I was careful to look for one with a case in good condition and no scratches or marks on the outside.

The next step then was to strip out everything I didn’t need on the inside. This was the easy bit as I didn’t need anything inside it!  I’ve seen some great Raspberry Pi mods in PS1 cases and some of them even use the original PS power supply but I didn’t need that (nor did I want 240v running round inside this project) so I could afford to let even the power supply go.

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None of this was needed:

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I did need to keep a few bits though. Mainly the rear fan and switch assembly, the front USB ports, the CD tray cover and the controller ports.

I didn’t intend to use any of these but more importantly, I didn’t want any big gaps in the case itself.

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Some of these parts were originally attached to some of the chassis (above) which I’d discarded so they needed to be glued in place. I used epoxy resin to stick these bits back where I needed them.

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The CD tray cover was slightly tricky to stick in place as the ‘lines’ on the front needed to align with the lines on the rest of the case so I used some masking tape to hold it in the exact place that I needed it, then applied epoxy to the rear to keep it in place.

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Once all the resin was dry, I was then left with a solid PS2 case which looked exactly as it should.

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Even the CD tray cover lined up.

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And the only give-away really was the missing audio-out and video-out sockets on the rear.

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This was not going to be an issue though as I intended to use these two holes for power-in and HDMI-out.

I found a good quality ‘HDMI panel mount’ on eBay (gotta love eBay for these kind of projects) which was about 6″ long.

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This was ideal as it allowed me to have some wiggle room for mounting the Raspberry Pi inside and was promptly put in place. Notice in this photo below that I Dremel’d out the centre post that was in the middle of the case as it was going to get in the way.

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So from the outside here’s how the HDMI socket looked when semi-mounted. Job done.

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The next job was to mount a new power-in socket. I looked all over the world for a panel mount Micro-USB socket but couldn’t find one anywhere. So instead I opted for a Micro-USB splitter cable. This will be ideal going forwards as it has a male-to-female Micro USB plus a standard USB socket too. I intend to put some blue LEDs in the case (so it glows out of the vents) so I’ll be able to power the blue LEDs from the now-spare USB socket on this splitter cable.

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As this isn’t a panel mount, copious amounts of epoxy resin were used to hold the power socket in place.

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In the photo below you can also see some of the resin I used on the outside of the sockets too. Naturally this needs to be applied REALLY carefully. It’ll dry clear so I’m not worried about it being white in the photos.

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This leaves us just nice sockets for cables on the rear, one for power (USB) and one for the video signal to the TV (HDMI).

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The case is now nearly ready for mounting the buttons etc in, but before that, just one more mod was needed.

Blue LEDs.

You can’t build something without blue LEDs, right?

I bought a strip of 5v blue LEDs from, you guessed it, eBay for a few quid. This LED strip was 1m long, comes complete with a standard USB plug on the end, can be cut to any length you like and even has sticky backing tape on it.

Side note, it’s impossible to take a decent photo of a lit LED!

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Blue 🙂

All that was then required was to peel of the sticky backing tape and stick the LED strip all the way around the inside of the PlayStation case.

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Then with some power applied, here’s how it looked.

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It’s really bright.Thankfully, I don’t want to be able to see the bulbs at all. All I need is for a blue glow to come out of all the vents on the case.Again, the camera on my phone doesn’t do this justice, it even makes it look purple for some reason, but you’ll get the idea.

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And a close up of the rear, at this angle you can see bulb itself, I might add some speaker grille cloth across the fan opening if this becomes an issue.

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You get the idea! So that’s it, the case itself is pretty much finished. Next steps of the project are to fit the arcade controls on the top and then mount the I-PAC2 controller and Raspberry Pi inside the case.

Check out: The RetroStation project – Part 2, fitting the controls

Any questions, just ask in the comments box below!

Raspberry Pi controlled LED Chaser project

A while ago I started work on a Raspberry Pi controlled LED Chaser project, designed to look just like the lights on the front of KITT (the car from Knight Rider).

It started off with a few LEDs and an Adafruit Cobbler breakout kit for easy hookup to the GPIO pins on the Pi.

The Raspberry Pi has a limited number of IO pins but it does have I2C and SPI. So I used a MCP23017 I2C expander chip to increase the IO pins to 16 which will allow me to drive 16 LEDs in all.

Here’s how it started:

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And to make sure it was working in theory:

Taking shape now, all sixteen LEDs in place:

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And making sure all sixteen work smoothly together:

Once I was happy that it all worked as planned, I decided to transfer it to a more permanent board.

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Then to add the LEDs:

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A quick test:

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And we’re all done:

Any questions, just ask 🙂

Raspberry Pi hardware Tor Proxy

Some people have done some incredibly useful and clever things with the Raspberry Pi in the short time it’s been around.

Here’s another fantastic project, this is called Onion Pi and it’s a hardware WiFi Tor Proxy!

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An extract from the Adafruit web site reads:

Feel like someone is snooping on you? Browse anonymously anywhere you go with the Onion Pi Tor proxy. This is fun weekend project that uses a Raspberry Pi, a USB WiFi adapter and Ethernet cable to create a small, low-power and portable privacy Pi.

Using it is easy-as-pie. First, plug the Ethernet cable into any Internet provider in your home, work, hotel or conference/event. Next, power up the Pi with the micro USB cable to your laptop or to the wall adapter. The Pi will boot up and create a new secure wireless access point called Onion Pi. Connecting to that access point will automatically route any web browsing from your computer through the anonymizing Tor network.

Cool project 😎