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RASPICON: Retro Gaming and Media Center Platform

Play 1000's of games from over 40 retro gaming platforms, or enjoy playback and streaming your media content. Raspberry Pi CPU inside!

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The goal of this project is to create a platform that is both aesthetically pleasing and inexpensive for Retro Gaming as well as for Media Streaming and Playback. With a price tag of $35, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B (900MHz, quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and 1GB RAM) is ideally suited for the task.

The enclosure is a custom, laser-cut case made with translucent acrylic designed using Python and OpenSCAD. The electrical system includes a custom 4-Port USB hub designed using CadSoft EAGLE. The system allows for easy access to Ethernet, Wi-Fi, A/V, and power connections, as well as 4 USB ports for connecting wired and wireless (Bluetooth) controllers.

RASPICON combines Kodi (Media) and Emulation Station (Retrogaming) for a fantastic out-of-the-box experience. Play 1000s of games and stream or play your favorite content!

The project was inspired by the fantastic Nin10do project!

What is RASPICON?

RASPICON is a Retro Gaming and Media Center computer rolled up into one, inside a sleek-looking console. Powered by a Raspberry Pi, RASPICON runs a customized version of Raspbian, which includes two fantastic Open-Source software packages:

Allows you to play the world's favorite games from beloved consoles like Atari, Nintendo (NES), Super Nintendo (SNES), Sega Genesis, Game Boy Color/Advance, Nintendo 64 (N64), Playstation (PSX), and more!

  • Kodi® (formerly known as XBMC™)

Through a custom, easy-to-use menu, select this option for streaming audio/video as well as for playing files like videos, music, podcasts, pictures from your SD cards, USB sticks, or network-attached drives!

What's under the 'hood'?

  • Sleek translucent enclosure

We've put a lot of effort into the design of the RASPICON enclosure that houses our console. As Makers, we wanted something that combined digital fabrication and excellent aesthetics for a low cost. We're very happy with the results!

  • Hardware electronics

    Inside the sleek, custom-made RASPICON enclosure you'll find the popular Raspberry Pi 2 Model B single-board computer, a custom 4-Port USB Hub, and a beautiful, lighted, aluminum button that makes it easy to power and reset the platform.

    • Wired and/or Wireless (Wi-Fi) connectivity

    A rear-mounted ethernet connector allows easy wired connectivity to the internet. Also, the extra USB port on the back can be used for connecting a USB Wi-Fi adapter (included with some rewards) for easy access to your Wireless Network.

    • Custom Easy-to-Use User Interface

    To access any of the platforms or content the RASPICON OS has an easy-to-use User Interface. We use a custom, great-looking theme for both Kodi® and Emulation Station that is aesthetically pleasing.

    • 1 × Raspberry Pi 2 Model B https://acrobotic.com/rpi-00012
    • 1 × ACROBOTIC USB 4-Port Hub (FE1.1s)
    • 1 × Aluminum Illuminated Power Button
    • 2 × USB Controller (NES-type)
    • 2 × USB Controller (SNES-type)

    View all 13 components

    • Laser-cutting the enclosure, finally!

      ACROBOTIC Industries01/16/2016 at 21:52 0 comments

      Finally testing the enclosure design on 1/8in clear acrylic using our little 40W laser cutter in the shop.


      We've been playing with the overall dimensions a bit, and found that 6.5in is a bit small on the back to fit the two panel-mount connectors and the Pi. It seems that we'll settle for a 6.75in square with a 1/4in overhang for the footprint of the case!

      More coming soon!

    • Testing the FE1.1s-powered USB Hub

      ACROBOTIC Industries01/13/2016 at 22:41 0 comments

      Finally had a chance to assemble and test the prototype for the 4-Port USB Hub that will go inside the console. More than a Hub, we're using this custom board as a USB breakout for the Raspberry Pi inside RASPICON, as its onboard USB ports won't be easily accessible from outside the RASPICON enclosure.

      First test using a microSD card reader connected to the hub carrying... you guessed it... a microSD card with Raspbian loaded on it :)

      The good news is that it works, and even though we haven't done extensive testing for transfer speeds (a few people online have reported 1.1 speeds on some hubs using this IC), we're happy that the hub is recognized on Windows 10, OS X (El Capitan), and Raspbian (Jessie).

      Of course, as with any first prototype of a PCB design we had a few things to correct. The first is the ordering of the LEDs relative to the ports (d'oh!). Apparently, @Cisco 'MakerBro' Zabala was lazy to reposition the USB ports on the schematic and thought he could get away with renaming the parts themselves. Well this is the result:

      The LEDs for ports 1 and 4 are swapped, as well as those for ports 2 and 3 :) Another thing we noticed is that two of the LEDs do not power at all when a device is connected to the corresponding port. As one would immediately suspect, the LEDs in question are those whose cathode is connected to the DRV pin on the FE1.1s. We're in the process of hooking things up to the oscilloscope and seeing what's going on, but decided to take a break to write this log #procrastination

      We're also happy to see this design out in the wild, so check out the uber cool version made by [Richard Hawthorn] for the Raspberry Pi Zero (http://hackaday.com/2015/12/19/yet-another-pi-zero-usb-hub/). A few other Open-Source hubs have started popping up as well on this site, so we're happy we'll get to see what works/fails as several people come up with different designs using the same FE1.1s IC.

      Photo Credit: Richard Hawthorn (https://github.com/richardhawthorn/piZero-Hub/)

      So yeah, we've started asking around to see if anyone else noticed the problem with the LEDs too, as the schematics from a few different projects suggest that our design is okay...

    • Emulation Station and Kodi integration

      ACROBOTIC Industries12/13/2015 at 01:04 0 comments

      We've been trying to find a seamless way to integrate Emulation Station and Kodi into one another. So far, @Brayden DeVito has made some progress and is able to boot Kodi from the Emulation Station side using some of the work by Steve Smith where he integrated RetroPie and Kodi: We'll be starting with the Kodi side of the equation shortly!

      The goal is to have a stablem 'vanilla' image people can download and flash on an SD Card. To do this, we (of course) won't include any of the Kodi add-ons for streaming illegal content, and only freeware/shareware games on the Emulation Station side of things.

      Besides this integration, the next thing to tackle will be (perhaps) a simple x-platform application for non-technical folks to drag-and-drop games onto the RASPICON. Stay tuned!

    • Finishing the enclosure and testing N64 & PSX operation!

      ACROBOTIC Industries12/11/2015 at 02:08 0 comments

      So we spent some time testing the cutouts for the panel mounted connectors for ethernet and USB, as well as making sure that the mounting holes for our internal USB Hub and Raspberry Pi fit nicely.

      We are ready to start cutting our first version and do a fitting test. We bought some nice, black translucent acrylic for the final version, but we'll do our first cuts on plain old clear acrylic. We'll be using 3mm (~1/8in) acrylic for these enclosures as there is no need to go thicker because the electronics inside are very lightweight.

      @Brayden DeVito has been working on the software side of things, and started testing the N64 and PSX emulators on Emulation Station, which work quite well. We upgraded the microSD card to 32GB and will likely do a split where 1/3 of disk space is assigned to Kodi (~8GB) and 2/3 to ES (~24GB), obviously subtracting space needed by system files.

      We went ahead and purchased a few USB N64- and PSX-like controllers to enjoy the full experience! We'll post some pics and video when they arrive.

    • NES- and SNES-like USB Controllers!

      ACROBOTIC Industries11/30/2015 at 23:58 0 comments

      Oh the nostalgia... As a child of the 80s, @Cisco 'MakerBro' Zabala was all giddy when the controllers came in the mail. These are inexpensive look-alike controllers to the original NES and SNES controllers with a USB interface.

      We want to pug together a kit where two of each are included so that users get 4 controllers (the max number of USB ports in our custom hub) right out of the box. We also plan on including a little USB BLE adapter (without a BLE controller) to allow connecting any XBOX/PS3/PS4 controller to the RASPICON.

      We also received most of the electronics, so we'll be assembling the USB Hub and posting a new log over the next couple of days!

    • Custom 4-Port USB Hub boards have arrived!

      ACROBOTIC Industries11/20/2015 at 10:15 0 comments

      The first version of the PCBs for the Custom 4-Port USB Hub have been manufactured! The circuit design (available on Github) is straight-forward. It is based around the ubiquitous FE1.1s USB 2.0 High-Speed 4-Port Hub Controller.

      Because we're connecting our Hub directly to one of the USB ports on the Raspberry Pi, we can have peace of mind knowing that the USB-related circuitry on the Pi is reliable. We skip dealing with some of the nuisances that encountered when designing powered hubs.

      The motivation to have a custom USB Hub is that it gives us more flexibility for connecting the controllers, adapters (e.g., Wi-Fi, Bluetooth), or any other USB device. Also, having the hub inside the RASPICON instead of externally (perhaps using an off-the-shelf hub) will make the overall design more compact and improve the aesthetics. Finally, instead of dismantling an Off-the-Shelf hub and adapting the PCB to our own enclosure, we get more control of the placement of the connectors, mounting holes, etc.

      Now we wait for the FE1.1s ICs to arrive to start testing!

    • Programmatic Design of the Enclosure using py2scad

      ACROBOTIC Industries11/17/2015 at 01:00 0 comments

      Worked a bit on the enclosure using py2scad (https://github.com/acrobotic/py2scad). This neat module auto-generates the OpenSCAD files allowing for easy programmatic design of a few things. It's particularly useful for box-type enclosures.

      The auto-generated files can then be opened using OpenSCAD:

      The holes size and position are temporary for now, the next step will be to do some careful measurements of the Raspberry Pi and the USB Hub PCBs in order to adjust these parameters to fit all the connectors more precisely.

    • Custom USB Hub using the FE1.1s

      ACROBOTIC Industries11/16/2015 at 14:32 0 comments

      We designed a basic 4-Port USB Hub using the inexpensive FE1.1s IC. The basic reason is to use one of the Raspberry Pi's built-in USB ports to add 4 USB ports that are easily accessed from outside an enclosure.

      Using a short (6in.) USB micro-B to USB-A cable we'll connect this USB Hub to one of the Raspberry Pi's ports. For now, we'll be powering the Hub directly from the USB port of the Pi as we don't intend to draw too much current from the hub output. A separate port from the Pi will be used for running any other USB device (in our case, we'll only need one for a Wi-Fi adapter).

      Caveat emptor: we'll have to test this arrangement using 4 wireless controllers, which need the USB Bluetooth Adapters and may draw too much current from the single port of the Pi.

      The design files are up on Github: https://github.com/acrobotic/Ai_Hub_USB

    • First pass at the BOM

      ACROBOTIC Industries11/16/2015 at 07:44 0 comments

      Compiled a list of the major items needed for this project.

    View all 9 project logs

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    Daniel wrote 03/10/2016 at 10:36 point

    Did you manage to get High Speed with this IC? I am only getting Full Speed. :(

      Are you sure? yes | no

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