Assembling your Picade Console

Picade Console will take around an hour to build. A large table with a soft covering is an ideal build space. All you’ll need is a Phillips screwdriver and a pair of hands.

Beginning to build the casing

Note that you’ll always be attaching the plastic brackets to the sides of the panels with the markings and text on.

Lay panel A with the text upwards, and the square-ish cutout on the left hand side. Attach three plastic brackets at the top corners and top edge, using three metal M3 bolts and nuts, with the nuts on the inside of the panel (the side with text on). The bolts go through the centre hole of the three on the brackets.

Take panel B and attach it to the bracket on the right hand side of panel A, using two more metal M3 nuts and bolts.

Attach panel C to the bracket on the left hand side of panel A, again using two metal M3 nuts and bolts.

Attach the front, panel D, to the bracket at the front of panel A, using another two metal M3 nuts and bolts.

Building the console

The console has three pieces: a black MDF piece (bottom), the artwork (middle), and acrylic (top). Make a sandwich of these pieces, with the numbers on the MDF on the bottom.

Attach the joystick first, to hold the whole assembly together. Make sure that the pin connector faces towards the middle of the console. With the metal shaft sticking through the large hole in the console, mount the joystick using two M3 bolts and nuts. Put the dust cover on and screw the ball top onto the joystick, using a flat-head screwdriver to hold the shaft of the joystick from below, if necessary. Be careful not to over-tighten these nuts, or you’ll risk cracking the acrylic.

Push the buttons through from the outside of the panels. The buttons on the console are yellow, pink, and blue, from left to right, and the remainder are black.

Unscrew the ring from the power button, push through the small hole in panel B, and screw the ring back on.

Note - recent Picade Console kits include a metal power button with a yellow ring, don't worry if yours looks a little different to the one in the photo!

Take the remaining pair of plastic brackets and attach one to each side of the underside of the console, using the centre holes of the three on the brackets, with two metal M3 nuts and bolts.

Mounting the speaker and Raspberry Pi

Mount the speaker in panel A with two metal M3 screws, pushed through from below, and secure with M3 nuts. It’s best to have the wires towards the centre of the console. The speaker has a rubber surround around the cone to protect it, so only tighten up each screw loosely before finally tightening, so that the speaker lies flat against the base.

Push four nylon M2.5 bolts through the remaining holes in panel A (a little piece of Blu Tack on the head of each bolt can help to keep them in place temporarily), place white plastic spacers on top of each, then place your Pi onto the screws, with the USB ports facing panel B and the HDMI port facing the back. Screw the four metal standoffs onto the screws, securing your Pi.

Fit the Picade X HAT, pushing it onto the GPIO pins on the Pi. Use four short metal M2.5 screws to secure the HAT to the standoffs.

Wiring the joystick

There are four sets of wires, for the joystick, console and utility buttons, and power button. The wires with a white plastic connector on one end and a 5-pin Dupont (black plastic with male pins) connector on the other are for the joystick. The two sets of twelve wires with Dupont connectors on one end and spade connectors on the other are for the console and utility buttons. The remaining set with a red and black wire is for the power button’s LED.

Connect the white plastic connector to the pins on the underside of the joystick. Looking from below, it attaches with the clip on top. The wires from left to right are up, down, right, left, ground, as you’re looking at the connector from below with the wires facing downwards. Take the other end, with the pins on, and plug it into the JOYSTICK header on the HAT.

Wiring the player buttons

Next, take one of the sets of twelve wires, and separate the strands a little into six pairs at the end with the spades. Working from one side of the cable, connect each pair of spades to buttons 1 to 6 (marked on the underside of the console). Take the six pairs of pins at the other end, and connect them to the terminals marked BUTTONS, from 1 to 6 (orientation doesn’t matter).

Take the other set of twelve wires, and strip off one pair of wires (you’ll only need five pairs). Again, separate the strands a little into pairs at the end with the spades. Taking each pair in turn, connect them to the ENT, ESC, 1UP and COIN buttons respectively. The remaining pair of black wires is for connecting up the power button.

Wiring the power button and speaker

First, you'll need to identify what variety of power button you have.

The two kinds of power button

If you have a 4 pin plastic power button, connect the spade connectors on the last pair of black wires to the pair of spades closest to the edge of the button. Take the pins at the other end and connect them to the terminals marked ON on the Picade X HAT.

If you have a 5 pin metal power button, connect the spade connectors on the last pair of black wires to the spades on the button marked C and NO (if you find the spade markings a little hard to see there's a labelled photo below). Take the pins at the other end and connect them to the terminals marked ON on the Picade X HAT.

Metal power button pinout

The remaining pair of wires, the red and black ones, are for the power button LED.

If you have a 4 pin plastic power button, connect the red wire to the spade on the button marked + and the black to -.

If you have a 5 pin metal power button, connect the red and black wires to the spades on the button marked 1 and 2 - either way round (the LED in this button is reversible polarity 🤯).

Connect the pins at the other end to the terminals marked LED, with the red one at the side marked +.

The speaker wires push into the terminals marked SPKR + (red) and - (black). Use a pen or pencil tip to gently press the clips on the speaker terminals as you push the wires firmly in.

Attaching the console

Before attaching the console, plug the small end of the panel mount USB socket into the connector on the Picade X HAT. It’s important that you plug it into the HAT and not into the Pi itself, as the HAT handles power management.

Note - recent Picade Console kits will have a USB-C power connector and matching panel mount cable.

Slot the console into the casing, with the joystick closest to the side of the casing with the power button in, and attach with a pair of M3 bolts and nuts. Reach in from the rear of the cabinet to hold the nuts in place while you tighten the bolts.

Peel the backing off the rubber feet and stick them on the underside, in the four corners.

Mounting the panel-mount USB socket

Unscrew the two screws from the panel-mount end of the cable and use them to attach the socket to the back panel of your console. You can now click in the back panel, by locating the top set of tabs in the slots in the console top, and then flexing the bottom of the console slightly to allow the bottom set of tabs to pop in.

Connecting up Picade Console

Connect an HDMI cable from the back of your Picade Console to your TV or monitor, and plug a USB power supply into the panel mount socket. If you have a Raspberry Pi 4 with a micro HDMI socket and/or a Picade X HAT with a USB-C connector, it will look a little different to the photo above.

Getting started with Retropie

How to write Retropie to your SD card

We recommend the Retropie operating system for your Picade Console. You can write it to your SD card with Raspberry Pi Imager, available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Once you've downloaded it, plug your micro-SD card into your computer, open up Raspberry Pi Imager, and click on the first box to select Retropie (making sure to select the correct version for the kind of Raspberry Pi you're using). In the second box, select your SD card, then click on the write button.

Raspberry Pi Imager screenshot

We'd recommend only using official Retropie images with your Picade Console, as we've found that third party images often have custom configurations and default button mappings which can interfere with our install script.

Once Raspberry Pi Imager has finished, pop your freshly-burned micro-SD into the slot on the underside of your Pi. You'll need to plug a USB keyboard into your Pi the first time you boot it, to allow you to configure the Wi-Fi.

Press the power button on the Picade Console and it should now boot up!

Connecting to Wi-Fi

You'll need to connect to Wi-Fi to run the Picade HAT installer (which will install the scripts to make the buttons, joystick, audio and safe shutdown work). Press F4 to get to the terminal. Then type sudo raspi-config. The wireless settings are under 1 System Options > Wireless LAN - you can navigate this menu with the cursor keys on your keyboard and enter. You'll need to enter your country, wireless SSID and password - note that the SSID and password are case sensitive!

Retropie defaults to a UK keyboard layout, so if you're not using a UK keyboard you might want to change the layout to one that matches your keyboard while you are in this menu - you'll need access to some of the more esoteric keys for the next bit! You can change the keyboard layout under 5 Localisation Options > L3 Keyboard . Reboot to save the raspi-config changes (it will prompt you to reboot when you try and exit the raspi-config menu, or you can type sudo reboot at the command prompt).

Installing the Picade software

Once Retropie has started up again, press F4 again to get back to the terminal. To run the Picade HAT installer, type curl | bash and press enter, then follow the instructions.

The pipe symbol (|) in the command above is a tricksy little fellow - if you can't find it on your keyboard, this video might help locate it. If you're pressing the pipe symbol and getting another symbol, you might need to switch to a different keyboard layout as in the section above.

Once the Picade software has installed successfully (and you've rebooted again - last time we promise!) you should find that the power button, sound, buttons and joystick all now start working!

Mapping the keys

From Retropie's welcome screen, you should now be able to hold down the joystick or any of the buttons to start mapping the keys. The buttons/joystick will show up as a keyboard rather than a controller, because the Picade X HAT reads the joystick and button inputs as emulated keyboard presses.

Retropie will ask you to assign a button to all its controls, but if you want to skip a button assignment (for the analog sticks, for example, which retro games don't really use) you can hold down one of the buttons to move onto the next one.

The key mappings you set in Retropie are inherited by some emulators but not others. If you find that your controls are working in the Retropie menus but not in games, we'd recommend consulting the documentation for the emulator in question to find out how to map the controls.

Adjusting the volume

Once you've installed the software, the volume of the speaker will be set at 100% by default. If that's a bit much, you can adjust the volume using the sound settings menu, which is accessible from the Retropie menu by pressing whatever button you've got mapped as START. Your 'audio device' should be set to PCM, 'audio card' to DEFAULT and 'OMX Player Audio Device' to ALSA.

Like the key mappings, these volume settings will only apply to the emulators that inherit their settings from Retropie, so you might find that you need to adjust the volume for some emulators from within their own settings.

PEW! PEW! PEW! Your Picade Console is now set up and ready to go!


I get a 'could not resolve host' error when I try and install the software!

If you get a 'could not resolve host' error when you try and run the install script, there's probably a problem with your Wi-Fi settings. Go back to sudo raspi-config and try inputting them again, then rebooting. Note that both SSID and password are case-sensitive!

I get an 'apt failed to update indexes' error when I try and install the software!

This error sometimes crops up when new versions of Raspberry Pi OS (which Retropie is based upon) are being introduced. Enter the following command in the console to get your indexes back in sync:

sudo apt update

and then re-run the curl one line installer.

That's all folks!

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