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Running PICOPi on the Retroflag GPi case

I just got a Retroflag GPi case, which is a cool little enclosure for a Raspberry Pi 0(W) that has the form factor of a GameBoy. This gadget is intended primarily for emulation, but I REALLY wanted to use it as a portable pico-8.

Spoiler alert - I did.

Most tutorials for the GPi case focus on getting RetroPie running, and there are also resources out there for getting pico-8 running in conjunction with RetroPie. This is fine, but I really wanted a gadget that quickly boots into pico-8, no questions asked. Luckily, a software engineer going by Gamaral developed an image for all raspberry pi models that fast-boots into pico-8. This is, to my knowledge, the closest we can get today to dedicated pico-8 hardware.

Goal of this tutorial

This tutorial will focus on getting PICOPi running properly on a raspberry pi 0(W) in conjunction with the GPi case. You can find all of these materials for purchase on most online retailers. There are plenty of tutorials showing how to build the thing once you get all the materials (non-trivial!). I will not cover this.

Physical stuff you need

  1. Retroflag GPi case
  2. Raspberry pi 0 (the W model has wifi onboard, but the setup is the same, and it doesn't matter since the picopi image has no widi support anyway)
  3. SD card formatted to FAT32

Software you need

  1. Patch files for GPi case http://download.retroflag.com/
  2. PICOPi download for Raspberry Pi A-B-0 original site is down https://github.com/paloblanco/rpi-buildroot/tree/rpi/dist
  3. Raspberry Pi build of pico-8 (You can get this from the downloads page here on lexaloffle)

What you need to do

NOTE Since I am not sure about the licensing on the code I am linking to, I have opted not to copy-paste the exact code you will be copying around. Trust me, though, it's pretty easy.

DOUBLE NOTE as with all DIY projects, you are taking on the risk yourself in installing all of this software - I am not responsible for any bricked hardware.

  1. Assemble the GPi case and the Pi 0 (I am not going to help you with this)
  2. Insert your sd card into a computer (win/linux/mac doesnt matter)
  3. Follow the PICOPi directions for setting up your SD card
  4. Here is where things get a tiny bit tricky. Extract the contents of the GPI case patch somewhere on your computer, then navigate to GPi_Case_patch\GPi_Case_patch\patch_files. You should see two items here, config.txt and a directory named "overlays".
  5. Open config.txt, and copy all the contents of the file to you clipboard. Navigate to your SD card, open config.txt, and paste all of these contents ABOVE all the contents on the SD card. Your config.txt on your sd card should flow like this:
    1. All text from GPI patch config.txt
    2. All text from PICOpi config.txt
  6. In SD\config.txt, navigate to the #OVERCLOCK section, and remove the pound sign from all the overclock specifications. You need these to run pico8 properly
  7. Copy the overlays directory from the GPi patch, and copy this to the root of your SD card.
  8. The GPi instructions might have told you to flip the "safe shutdown" switch under the battery cover to "on." We want it "off," since PICOPi already has safe shutdown built in to it.
  9. Thats it! plug in your sd card and you should be ready to go! I was impressed by how easy this was.

You will need to pull the sd card in and out of the case to load new games, since PICOPi has no wifi support, but that is a small price to pay for the ULTIMATE pico8 handheld. Enjoy!

PBG

P#69927 2019-11-15 19:16 ( Edited 2020-05-07 11:53)

:: Mot

How easy is it to switch sd cards in a Retroflag Gpi case? Is the SD slot exposed? Or do you have to open up the case each time?

P#70015 2019-11-18 10:14

@Mot Images/videos I've seen of the GPi have shown off a MicroSD slot on the side of the cartridge so you can switch it out quite easily. One of the pictures on the official page for it shows this as well: http://retroflag.com/GPi-CASE.html

P#70104 2019-11-22 01:32

Sorry for the late reply. The technical answer is yes, there is a slot for taking the so card in and out. In practice, the card is a pretty snug fit, and I actually found myself needing tweezers to get it in and out.

P#70106 2019-11-22 02:57 ( Edited 2019-11-22 02:58)
:: cx-4

did not work on pi zero w. just boots to black screen and nothing happens

P#70201 2019-11-24 19:42

@cx-4 how long did you wait? It is a good 20 seconds of black screen before anything happens. I'm using a zero w, so there's one data point.

When I get back to my compy screencap what my root looks like.

P#70213 2019-11-25 14:50
:: cx-4

@paloblancogames haha that's right. I did not wait long enough. It works!

Also I created own build based on latest debian.. it loads into OS but once pico starts the screen goes mad.. -__-

P#70249 2019-11-26 15:10
:: jeffu

Trying to set up PICOPI on Retroflag GPi case with zero w. Pico-8 loads beautifully, either in Splore mode (offline) or directly into a cart (if named "rom.p8" in SD root directory). However, I'm running into 2 issues:
[EDIT - fixed both issues, but I'm keeping the post to help others]

  1. The buttons do not work at all. I double checked everything, and they are just not functioning.
    FIXED - the solderless board that connects to the Pi zero is tricky. It doesn't actually "snap" in, so it took me 3 tries to get the case snapped & closed in a way that would keep the board connected. And, it doesn't stay reliably connected. I should probably just solder it.

But while connected, the buttons work great. :/

  1. Splore will not see any carts at all - I have several carts in pico-8/carts and in pico-8/bbs/carts. Splore is locked to "Favorites" screen, since buttons will not function to switch screens in Splore
    FIXED - "Favorites" had no contents, but now that buttons work, I am able to navigate through to other carts. I can also add carts to Favorites using buttons.

Splore will read any .p8 or .p8.png files in pico-8/carts

Hooray!

P#73006 2020-02-12 05:03 ( Edited 2020-02-12 16:21)

Sadly, Guiller Moamaral, the developer of picopi, has died some years ago. Also his sites are all offline, including the one where you could download picopi...does someone know where i could find a download for it?

P#75980 2020-05-06 17:17

That is very sad to hear.

I do have a lot of the files saved from when I did this activity. I will examine the licensing and post here again if I am able to re host them.

P#75981 2020-05-06 17:27

@paloblancogames You're doing God's work, yo! <3

P#75982 2020-05-06 17:30

It's possible to catch those Downloads through the WayBackMachine:

https://web.archive.org/web/20200114210055/http://guillermoamaral.com/read/picopi/

Or another possible Solution: Pico8 using Raspbian

https://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=36884

P#75986 2020-05-06 20:04

@paloblancogames That's a great idea! I think it would be a shame if that project would not have some further exposure...

@Astorek86 Thanks a lot, i didn't think about WayBackMachine, i was able to download the image from there! I would prefer picopi over a pico8/raspian install since it feels much more like a console, wich was the original idea of picopi!

P#76025 2020-05-07 08:49

I saw the way back machine as well, but that is a clunky, undependable way to preserve the work in the long run. Currently, I am considering forking his repo and adding a "builds" directory, but again, I want to confirm that is ok per the license.

P#76029 2020-05-07 11:12
3

Files hosted on github

https://github.com/paloblanco/rpi-buildroot/tree/rpi/dist

After looking things over (briefly), I think it is OK to host Guillermo's files on github. He already had a repo which could be used to build the files from source, so I forked his repo and added a "dist" directory. The link above goes to the distributables of the forked repo. I copied over the readme as well.

At this point, I will probably also add the edits I made to the files to get things running on the GPi. Stay tuned.

Lastly, if you have any info about Guillermo, please share. Thanks.

EDITS

  1. I corrected the links in my original post to point to this repo. Again, if someone here has concerns about licensing or thinks this is not the proper way to handle this, please let me know.
P#76032 2020-05-07 11:45 ( Edited 2020-05-07 11:54)

@paloblancogames Hey-o, I know this isn't really GPi related, but I can't get PICOPi to work on my Pi 3. Is there any solutions.

Yes I did get the right version, but all I get is a black screen for some reason.

P#76054 2020-05-07 14:20 ( Edited 2020-05-07 14:20)

@ScorchWare how long did you wait? in my experience the boot process takes at least 20 seconds, if not longer.

P#76063 2020-05-07 15:28

@paloblancogames Uh...a couple seconds. I'll try it again and let you know how it works out.

P#76064 2020-05-07 15:35

It's been over a minute and I still get a black screen. I think I missed a step or something.

Then again, I should try redoing the SD card thing on my ThinkPad instead of my Chromebook.

@paloblancogames

P#76065 2020-05-07 15:45
1

@paloblancogames Thanks a lot! Really cool to see this project in a repo agian!

As with Guillermo, i only read of his passing in an youtube commentary. After looking at all his stuff and realising he stoped posting on his youtube channel and twitter for a long time i already expected the worst...was really shocked never the less as he was relatively young. He was ill of cancer, thats all i know.

P#76075 2020-05-07 16:51

So...turns out I've been using the wrong model of Pi 3. RIP.

At least Pi Zero version works on my old Pi Zero W with little to no problem at all. I found that out the hard way.

Sorry for all the trouble.

Anyway, I might get a GPi Case later, y'all...and then follow this tutorial of course.

P#76471 2020-05-13 00:24
:: Tense

FYI, gamaral died from throat cancer in the fall of 2019 for those that were asking.

P#77087 2020-05-23 20:12

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