DIY Projects

Retrogaming Retropie Mini Console on Raspberry Pi 3 with 3.5 ” HDMI LCD Touch Screen

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In the last article, we tested the 3.5 ” LCD touch screen for the Raspberry Pi 3. This small screen is very well suited for carrying out a portable retrogaming game console project. After testing Recalbox, I propose today to install Retropie. Compared to the Recalbox project which is only delivered in the form of a pre-configured image, Retropie is very easy to install on a Raspbian distribution.


The WiKi is very well detailed. All the steps of the installation and configuration of Retropie on Raspbian Pixel are very well explained.

Necessary material

We will start from the previous configuration. Namely a Raspberry Pi 3 equipped with a 3.5 inch LCD touch screen delivered with a transparent acrylic case. You can add a SNES gamepad for example

Some tips and notes before you start

Do not install Retropie on a root account. It is theoretically possible but you will encounter a lot of permissions problems. It is best to install it on a classic user account.

Retropie will grab the system and start automatically instead of the Pixel desktop. However, it is possible to change the start order or exit Retropie to start Pixel manually. We will see how.

Follow this tutorial to assemble and configure the 3.5 “LCD touch screen with Raspbian.

Install RetroPie on Raspbian Stretch

Since Raspbian open a Terminal or open an SSH connection from another computer. Run this first command to install the necessary libraries for the project

sudo apt-get install git lsb-release

Go to the root of the user folder to retrieve the source repository on GitHub

git clone --depth=1

We make the configuration script executable before launching it

cd RetroPie-Setup
chmod +x
sudo ./

With a 16 GB SD board, you do not have to manually install the packages. At the risk of missing out, let the script do the work for us. At first startup, the installation utility asks you to add the pi user to the ‘input’ group. Accept to have access to the USB gamepad.

Select the option Basic install

and accept. The installation starts immediately and lasts a few minutes (depending on your internet speed of course).

At the end of the installation, reboot by selecting the Perform reboot option. Raspbian now starts automatically on Retropie!

Set up a USB Gamepad or Controller

At the first start, Retropie asks you to configure a joystick. The operation is absolutely identical to Recalbox. Plug a gamepad or joystick into a USB port on the Raspberry Pi and press any button for at least two seconds to start the setup.

Retropie tells us the type of controller that was detected.

Successively press the button corresponding to the command. Hold 2 seconds any button to move to the next command if you have no button that matches.

Be careful, it’s important to create a key combination on the last line called Hotkey. It is this combination of key that will leave a game at any time to return to the Retropie menu. By default, press the Start and Select keys simultaneously.

How to install game ROMs and console BIOS

To install game ROMs and possibly console bios, there are several ways to connect to the Retropie console.

Using a USB key

By connecting a USB key. Clearly, this is not the simplest solution especially if you are new to the Linux world

Using FTP

Installing files with an FTP connection is much easier than with a USB key. You will need an FTP client. FileZilla presented in this article is free and sufficient. It will be necessary above all to activate the SSH connection on Raspbian by launching the configuration tool with the command sudo raspi-config. Choose the Interfacing Options option

Then SSH

Validate to activate SSH


You can now connect to FTP with the following settings:

On the user’s account, there is a Retropy folder that contains two BIOS and ROM folders. The game Roms must be placed in the subfolder that corresponds to the console.

With Samba file sharing

This is probably the easiest method. By activating the Samba file sharing, you will be able to find the Retropie console on your local network whether on a Windows PC, Linux or macOS.

To enable Samba, select the option Configuration / tools



Scroll down the list to find the samba option – Configure samba ROM shares

Select Install RetroPie Samba shares. At the first installation, all necessary packages will be installed automatically. Wait for the end of the installation without interrupting it.

Back in the menu, turn on sharing by selecting Restart Samba service. Normally, the RetroPie should appear on your computer. If it does not, restart Raspbian.

Using the web administration interface (retropie-manager)

This is the method that I advise you to use. At least you will not have to worry about the installation directory of ROMs.

Recalbox comes with a web interface that allows you to easily manage many console options. Retropie took over some of the work. The interface must be installed manually from the installation manager. Open the Manage packages menu.

Select the Manage experimental packages option

Scroll down the list to find the RetroPie-Manager package

Then install from source

At the end of the installation, go to the Configuration / Options menu

Then Start RetroPie-Manage now to start the web interface. Take advantage of this to activate the launch of the WEB interface when starting the console and choosing the option Enable RetroPie-Manager on Boot

Open an internet browser and enter the IP address of the Raspberry Pi followed by the port :8000.

Configure the sound

By default, RetroPie is able to detect the audio output. As the 3.5 ” LCD is connected via the HDMI port to the Raspberry Pi 3, there is a good chance that RetroPie will consider using the audio output of the HDMI. So connect your speaker to the jack of the screen and not on this of the Raspberry Pi 3.


And now, you just have to install some games to have fun!

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