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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 portable factor. Besides playing games, you could easily install Kodi, and watch videos and Youtube. And list of compatible games goes far beyond console emulators. I personally 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
    • Its Raspberry Pi!
    • Good display
    • Realy 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 device from charger, it reboots
    • For PlayStation fans, note that there are only 2 shoulder buttons instead of 4

Case

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
    • Author also suggest to solder on DPad instead of Joystick, but you can put it without any modifications
  • More of them
  • Elegant case
    • You console will look like factory made and user friendly product
    • Download of model costs 7 bucks (in addition to 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
    • Model also contains limiter for joystick, which makes handling better
    • You will also need two M3x16mm flat head screws, and two M1x5mm screws. Bought a big set of screws once.
    • Note that USB port will be not accessible, even if you drill hole in case
    • Read comments

Gamehat 3D printed case

Battery

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

Alternatives

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
    • Screen is connected via 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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