I had some free time this weekend so I took out the Picade kit I have been saving and finally assembled my new console. This is my third Raspberry Pi project, so setting up the linux installation was no problem, however the wire loom was another kettle of fish.

Luckily the Pimoroni guide includes a colour-coded wiring diagram which takes some of the pain out of the process.


I wanted a JAMMA cabinet like most people who grew up when the arcades were still around; then I looked at custom Mame cabs and finally I had to settle for a more pragmatic solution. The Picade is small and runs off a 2.5A@5V phone charger but it has a proper stick and buttons and feels rugged enough to hammer it like a real arcade machine.

The case is solid and all the parts are carefully prepared and labelled. All you need are a Philips-head screwdriver (I used the one on my penknife), a small flat-headed screwdriver, a Bluetooth keyboard (I use this Logitech one for all Raspberry Pi projects) and a HDMI-connected monitor.

guts of the machine

The console is a little tight on space but the parts are so well designed you could probably do it without the guide. Definitely something that is pleasant to put together with a beer in hand.

unshielded noise

I ran into some problems with speaker interference, so best keep the USB and speaker cables apart (see circled cables above). Also, the guide doesn't really cover the Raspberry Pi installation, so make sure that you hook up the 3.5mm jacks on the Pi and Picade board as well as USB.

finished article

This is the box when finished. There were a number of glue-backed rubber tabs, four thick black ones are obviously feet for the unit but the others I couldn't figure out - maybe they sit between the PCBs and the chassis? Make sure you don't screw the Pi or Picade board down too tightly - they will warp as they do not have flat bottoms.

You can test the buttons when you power on the unit. Each one will activate the Tx LED on the Picade board. Don't worry about the volume buttons - they don't trigger the light. The default wiring diagram assigns volume to the two black buttons on the front of the unit. I would probably change this to have the buttons at the side if I open it up again.

I also tried the top panel flipped in a left-handed position. This actually works pretty well but I discovered that I am now much more comfortable with a right-hand joystick layout and I wanted the printed flyer, so I flipped it back.

In terms of setting up the OS - I pulled down the latest RetroPie image. Once that had finished setting up, I plugged in the Bluetooth dongle and installed Unrar and Transmission.

sudo apt-get install unrar-free  
sudo apt-get install transmission-daemon transmission-common transmission-cli  

I also updated the Pi config to reduce speaker noise

sudo nano /boot/config.txt  

and add the line


The MAME Roms that RetroPie uses are now available from archive.org and can be installed with

cd ~  
wget https://archive.org/download/Mame0.37b5RomsAndBios/mame%200.37b5%20roms%20and%20bios.rar  
cd ~/RetroPie/roms/mame-mame4all  
unrar ~/mame%200.37b5%20roms%20and%20bios.rar  

The rest you'll have to look up and download with Transmission.

There's a lot of faffing about with configuring the inputs in Emulation Station that I'm not entirely finished with, but my final change will be to switch the input over to my old CRT TV for a more arcade-like experience. That can be accomplished with the following steps;

/opt/vc/bin/tvservice -o
/opt/vc/bin/tvservice -c "PAL 4:3"
sudo nano /boot/config.txt  

and add


Overclocking to follow!