Console Picture Review: Famicom (with NES)

Hello everyone,

Today I got 2 Nintendo Famicoms in the mail from Japan. I come from a family of retro-gamers and collectors, but this was my first time actually holding and playing with a Famicom. They’re super cool!

I won’t dive in too much with the history, since Wikipedia has a great article about it, but I hope you learn about this cool piece of technology from my picture review!

Famicom

The Famicom houses two controllers, one on each side. The cord length is about 2.5-3 feet each… not very long at all! Unlike modern systems, the Famicom was designed to be closer to the gamer than to the TV, so the power cords were actually quite lengthy.

Famicom (Back)

The back of the Famicom shows where the 2 controllers are connected, as well as the AC Adapter, TV/Game switch, CH1/CH2 switch and RF Switch port. Later Famicom models featured detachable controllers.

NES (Back)

Similar to its predecessor, the NES also features an AC Adapter port, CH3/CH4 switch and RF Switch port. It removed the TV/Game switch, however.

Famicom/NES Controllers

The Famicom controllers are roughly the same size as the NES controllers, but are less box-like. Both first player controllers have a familiar D-pad, Select, Start, B, A format. However, the Famicom’s controllers show which is player I and II at the top left. The Famicom’s player II has a volume slider and microphone built in and lacks the select and start buttons player I has.

Famicom/NES (Front)

Here you can see the drastic size difference. I was surprised how small the Famicom really is.

Famicom/NES (Side)

Again, notice how small the Famicom is in comparison. Even with the controllers docked, it still doesn’t come close to the NES’ height.

Have any questions on the Famicom? Hit me up! I’ll be doing a tear-down video shortly, so let me know what you think!

-Curtis

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World 1-4 (part 2): How to install multiple OS’s on RPi

Hey everyone,

Yesterday we walked through how to install multiple Operating Systems on a Raspberry Pi. While that’s an easy and basic way of installing multiple Operating Systems at once, I actually prefer a way slightly more round-a-bout. This way certainly isn’t for everyone, but it is what I do, so I thought it was at least worth mentioning. 🙂

First, I start with one of Steve’s MultiBoot NOOBS packages loaded directly onto my SD Micro card. The wonderful thing is that the most common Operating Systems are pre-loaded with his MultiBoot script, so they all seamlessly transition to one another at the beginning. The downside is that these versions of the Operating Systems are quite out of date.

Since I personally only want to install RetroPie and LibreElec, before I put my SD Micro card in my Pi, I go into the “os” folder and delete the non-RetroPie folders. Once NOOBS has booted up on the Pi, I log into my WiFi and select the latest version of LibreElec that becomes available, as well as the RetroPie version we started with. Click “Install” to begin installation.

NOOBS

NOOBS allows you to easily select and install Operating Systems for Raspberry Pi.

 

At this point we now have 1) the latest version of LibreElec, without Steve’s MultiBoot script installed and 2) the outdated version of RetroPie, with Steve’s MultiBoot script installed. When NOOBS is finished, I boot into LibreElec.

The first thing I do is when LibreElec has loaded is download Steve’s MultiBoot script so I can switch over to RetroPie on demand. I also configure the settings while I’m here, such as disabling the UI sounds (I personally prefer no audio). You may also notice that if you reset your Pi at this time, your screen will have a momentary square rainbow and it’ll take you back to the NOOBS “Select an OS to boot to” screen. However, will continue to auto-boot into LibreElec, and this selection screen will go away after we load RetroPie. 🙂

Once we’ve installed that script, we now have 1) the latest version of LibreElec, with Steve’s MultiBoot script installed and 2) the outdated version of RetroPie, also with Steve’s MultiBoot script installed. From here, boot into RetroPie.

The first time you boot into RetroPie, it’ll ask you to configure a controller. Deceptively, it does not count an attached keyboard as a usable controller. However, if you hold down a button on the keyboard RetroPie will configure it correctly. After you configure your keyboard or controller, it’s time to configure some of the basic settings.

Here are some of the settings I use:

You may notice RetroPie has black bars along all 4 edges. Personally, I like the UI to take up the entire screen, so I update this by going to: Raspi-Config > 9. Advanced Options > Overscan > No.

I also want my RetroPie to boot as quickly as possible. One way to save a little time is to go to Raspi-Config > 4. Wait for Network at Boot > No.

If I turn off my pi while it is booted into RetroPie, I want it to reload into LibreElec every time. I usually use my media center for movies and music, so this saves me a few clicks. You can do it by clicking “Enable ‘Always Boot to Kodi'”.

I also want to get rid of my unused MultiBoot options. Because I didn’t install Rasplex, or Raspbian, I delete them by hitting Select > Edit Metadata > Delete > Yes. Unfortunately you have to reset your system every time you do this…

Finally, the last setting I want is “Auto-load a Game’s Savestate on Start” and “Autosave a Game’s Savestate on Exit” and I do this through SSH. I personally use WinSCP. Once loaded, go to “/opt/retropie/configs/all/”. You’ll want to edit “retroarch.cfg” and update the lines: “savestate_auto_save = true” and “savestate_auto_load = true“. I also delete the proceeding #, but I’m not actually sure if that’s necessary.

We’re fully configured! Now, let’s update RetroPie to the latest version. Just to on the safe side, though, I make a quick backup first using Win32DiskImager. However slim the chances, I don’t want to risk my hard work so far get ruined!

Win32 Disk Imager

This program allows you to quickly read from or write to an SD Micro card. Good for making backups and image copies!

To update RetroPie we go to RetroPie Setup > Update all installed packages. The software will walk you through the updating process. Updating takes about 20 minutes, since it is updating everything across the board, but luckily it doesn’t require any participation on our end. Now we wait…

Eventually, you’ll get a message that says “Installed packages have been updated.” Success! Again, just to be on the safe side, I recommend rebooting and saving another backup.

From here you’re free to load ROMs, install custom themes and splashscreens and just have fun playing with your new dual-booting system. There is one particular project I’m hoping to try out in the future. 🙂

Enjoy!

-Curtis

World 1-4 (part 1): How to install multiple OS’s on RPi

Hello everyone,

Finishing our tutorial on installing Operating Systems on the Raspberry Pi, today I will be discussing how to Multi-boot multiple Operating Systems on the same SD Micro card. Similarly to last time, there are multiple ways of doing this: first I will show you the “correct way” and tomorrow I’ll show you how I do it. 😉

Before we start, you’ll want to read up on what we talked about last time, since we are going to follow very similar steps. Of particular interest is how to install Operating Systems via NOOBS and PINN. However, instead of choosing just one Operating System in particular, you will choose multiple. When it is complete, NOOBS/PINN will ask you to pick which OS you’d like to boot to. Pretty easy, right?

While this seems to be straightforward on the surface, there is a caveats. After you get the Operating Systems you want installed, you then need to configure the operating systems so they talk to one another. For instance, if I am running Kodi on LibreElec and would like to switch to RetroPie, I will need a special add-on (think of this as a small executable/program inside Kodi) to make this transition happen. Two programs I’ve used really well are Steve’s “Multiboot” scripts and Matt Huisman’s NOOB Companion. Both should really do the trick, however I did run into problems using both the NOOB Companion and PINN together, which appears to be a temporary bug.

Once those scripts are set up correctly, you should be able to successfully move between 2 or more Operating Systems! I also want to point out that your SSH credentials may be different on the different OS’s, so it’s important to remember those as you switch around.

Anyway, be sure to check back tomorrow for another way you can set up multi-boot on your Raspberry Pi!

World 1-3: How to Install an OS on a Raspberry Pi

Hello everyone,

Continuing from where we left off yesterday, today I am going to explain how to easily install a (single) Operating System onto a Raspberry Pi. We’ll cover dual-booting in another post.

Okay, you’ve probably read this a thousand times on the internet by now, but the Raspberry Pi is a cool little computer. It is small, adaptive and packs quite a punch. One of the cool things about this computer is that the operating system runs entirely off of an SD Micro card.

Kingston_2GB_Micro_SD_Card_with_Adaptera75Detail[1]

SD Card vs. SD Micro Card

Also, because the OS  runs entirely off of this card, you are actually able to swap out OS’s from different (compatible) Pi’s. This means if you break your hardware, you can simply re-enter the SD Micro card into a new Pi and continue like nothing happened. It also means you can easily save backups of your SD Micro card to a computer, in case anything ever goes wrong on the software side of things. I learned that lesson the hard way!

Anyway, there are actually multiple ways to install an OS on your new Raspberry Pi.

The easiest way is by using either NOOBS or PINN.  Once the NOOBS or PINN files have been downloaded, you simply drop them onto the root of your SD Micro card and plug it into the Pi. Some Raspberry Pi starter sets come with an SD Micro card with NOOBS pre-installed. Once your Pi turns on, these programs will let you select which operating systems you would like to install.

NOOBS

NOOBS allows you to easily select and install Operating Systems for Raspberry Pi.

If you choose to use the Lite version of NOOBS or PINN, you’ll also need to connect to a WiFi network, so it can install the most up-to-date version of the operating system you choose. This can be done by clicking the WiFi networks (n) button at the top.

Once the new Operating System is installed,  NOOBS or PINN will let you know with a pop-up and then load the new Operating System for you. Then you are good to go!

Another option is to install the Operating System yourself. Certain Operating Systems, such as OpenElec and RetroPie, will have you download an image of their system that you then write onto your SD Micro card. I do this with a program called Win32 Disk Imager. After saving the respective file to your computer, open Win32 Disk Imager and find the file you saved. Then, after confirming you have the correct Device/drive letter, click “write”. This will erase everything currently on the SD Micro card and install a fresh version of the OS you want.

Win32 Disk Imager

This program allows you to quickly read from or write to an SD Micro card. Good for making backups and image copies!

Lastly, once an Operating System has been installed onto your SD card, your computer will not be able to accurately show you how much free space the card currently has. This is due to the way the space on the card has been allocated and is not an indicator that the card is broken. 🙂

Anyway, let me know if you have any question! Until next time!

World 1-2: How to Choose a Raspberry Pi OS?

Hey everyone,

Today I am going to breakdown how to choose which Raspberry Pi Operating System is best for your project. The Raspberry Pi is a neat little computer that allows for much tinkering and modification… perfect for building Retro Media Centers!

The Operating System, or software, you choose will determine how it can be best utilized in your device, or hardware. For instance, if I wanted to make a touch screen computer with internet and file browsing capabilities, I might want to use Pixel. Or, if I wanted my device to primarily watch movies, I might choose OpenElec or LibreElec, both of which are Raspberry Pi distributions of Kodi. Myself? I personally want the multimedia playback functionality of Kodi with the Emulator functionality of RetroPie, so I am going to give my Raspberry Pi the ability to dual-boot.

Dual-booting has many strengths and a few minor caveats. By using multiple Operating Systems, my system will be able to utilize both Operating Systems to their fullest intent. Instead of choosing whether I’d rather be able to play movies (Kodi) or play video games (RetroPie), I get to do BOTH! Unfortunately, you need to literally switch between them when you want to switch activities, which can be a pain both setting up and doing. But compared to the gained flexibility and functionality, this is generally well worth the extra time.

I’m still working on getting the dual-boot finalized myself, but I’m on the right track!

-CurtisRetroMaster

World 1-1: Media Center Software

Hey everyone,

Today I received a couple Raspberry Pis in the mail. My current NES media center is running outdated versions of Kodi (via OpenElec) and RetroPie, so I decided to start my new builds from scratch. My plan is to dual boot both Kodi and RetroPie, which is really awesome since they transition seamlessly. I spend most of my time watching movies or listening to Pandora, so Kodi is perfect for me. On the other hand, RetroPie allows me to play games like Mega Man 2, Bubble Bobble and Super Mario Bros. 3 when I feel like retro-gaming. Love this machine!

Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3 on my NES Media Center! Many hours of fun!