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Waveshare Game Hat review

Best DIY portable console

If IKEA made game consoles, it would be Waveshare Game Hat. Some assembly required, but you can get it working in 10 minutes without any special skills. And no soldering!

After that, you've got all possibilities of standard Raspberry Pi (which are endless) in the portable factor. Besides playing games, you could easily install Kodi, and watch videos and Youtube. And the list of compatible games goes far beyond console emulators. Personally, I recommend:

This is standard Raspberry Pi running Linux, not custom chip. As you probably know Raspberry Pi 3 can handle 1080 movies and PSX games without any issues.

Awesome.

Pros & Cons

  • Pros
    • It is Raspberry Pi!
    • Good display
    • Really simple to assemble and setup
    • Cheaper and has better compatibility than alternative products
  • Cons
    • Buttons are bit loud
    • Joystick throw is too big. 3D printed limiter solves this (see Elegant case ↓).
    • Due to technical specifics, if you unplug the device from the charger, it reboots. Don't forget to save! (plugging in works fine)
    • For PlayStation fans, note that there are only two shoulder buttons instead of 4

Case

The device is pretty solid even without a case. You can 3d print one if you want. Currently, there are multiple options:

  • Simple case
    • Looks a bit bulky
    • The author also suggests to solder on DPad instead of Joystick, but you can put it without any modifications
  • More of them
  • Elegant case
    • Your console will look like factory made and user-friendly product
    • The download of model costs 7 bucks (in addition to the price of 3d printing)
    • [Optional] Author says you will need to get Adafruit silicone buttons or (cheap alternative from Ebay) and solder them in instead of existing ones, but I've used 3d printed case without any modifications and it fitted ok
    • The model also contains limiter for joystick, which makes handling better
    • You will also need two M3x16mm flat head screws and two M1x5mm screws.
    • Note that USB port will be not accessible, even if you drill a hole in the case
    • Read comments

Gamehat 3D printed case

Battery

I bought Keeppower 18650 Protected Battery, with 3.7v, 15A, 3000mAh for 10€. Works good, lasts around 3 hours. You can buy more expensive battery with higher mAh. Or if you feel adventurous try cheaper battery with the risk of explosion.

Configuration

If you are using default Waveshare GameHat image almost everything will work out the box.

Some additional useful keybindings:

  • Volume control on Select +/
  • Saving game state on Select + TL (Left shoulder)
  • Loading game state on Select + TR (Right shoulder)
    • Will also handy to skip all these loading screens/cutscenes on PlayStation

Edit /opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch/autoconfig/GPIO Controller 1.cfg. Append:

input_save_state_btn = "7"
input_load_state_btn = "6"
input_volume_up_axis = "-1"
input_volume_down_axis = "-1"

DOSBox

To play DOS games on Waveshare Gamehat, you will need to download config that maps joystick and buttons to the keyboard.

Alternatives

Best DIY portable console

Note that Waveshare also has smaller GamePi15 (for Pi Zero) and larger GamePi43.

This fills void left after Dingoo A320. Raspberry Pi is standard de facto, and has much better compatibility/support than any other alternatives:

  • PXP - Sega only
  • Joystick for iPhone/Android - requires smartphone
  • RS-97 - lots of compatibility issues
  • Retrostone
    • No wifi/bluetooth
    • Custom made PCB, based Orange Pi not Raspberry Pi
    • The screen is connected via the analog port, more blurry that GameHat which uses HDMI
  • PiGRRL Zero - Pi zero is slow for PSX games
  • PiGRRL - more expensive, require soldering

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