This tutorial will help you assemble your 10" Picade, 2020 edition with PICO-8. Check your box looks like the one below - if you have a square PICO-8 sticker at the top right corner of the box, you're in the right place! If the box doesn't have a PICO-8 sticker, you should follow this tutorial instead!
The 2020 edition contains lots of little, incremental updates that will hopefully make putting your Picade together a little easier, as well as some nifty updated art and a code to install PICO-8, which will let you make your own tiny games. These instructions will include photos of all the important bits and will eventually link to the relevant sections of Paul's build video, which is coming very soon.
You'll also need the following, which aren't included in the kit.
A Raspberry Pi 4 - any of them will run Retropie or PICO-8 very happily. If you want to use an older Pi with this kit that's also possible (as long as it's one of the ones with a 40 pin header), but you'll need to pick up a USB-C power supply to plug it in.
A USB keyboard for installing the software (you'll only need this while you're setting up your Picade, so you could borrow one temporarily from another computer.)
It'll take two to three hours to build your Picade. A large space, like a table or floor, with a soft covering is an ideal build space. Some parts are fiddly so it helps to have an extra, friendly, pair of hands on stand by. You’ll need a Phillips screwdriver (or, if you're fancy like Paul, a Wowstick).
In the box, you'll find a poster, a cheat sheet for PICO-8 (with your redemption code printed at the bottom), an envelope full of our best stickers and four smaller boxes that contain the CABINET, FIXINGS, SCREEN, and ACCESSORIES (you'll find the cabinet box underneath the other three!).
Here's a complete list of everything that's inside each box! If you're missing anything, drop us an email at email@example.com .
To start, you'll need to find the square black wooden panel marked A in the CABINET box - this will become the base of your Picade. You'll also need your Raspberry Pi, and the M2.5 bolts, nuts, spacers and standoffs from the FIXINGS box. The nuts and bolts are the ones that look like this:
The wooden panels are laser cut by us and then powder coated by a friendly, local Sheffield company. This process can result in some textural variation on the back of the panels and you might also notice some holes on the back that don't go all the way through - these holes are where the panels are hung up to be powder coated. There should be an obvious good side and a 'label' side with markings and text on. The label side will always be on the inside of your Picade, so any patchiness on this side won't show once your Picade is assembled.
To mount the Pi to the base, turn the base panel label side up, and push four nylon M2.5 bolts through the four holes near the rectangular cutout, from the bottom. The threads of the bolts should be pointing towards you.
Place the white plastic spacers on top of each bolt, then place your Pi onto the bolts, with the Pi's SD card slot over the rectangular cutout. Screw the four metal standoffs onto the bolts, securing your Pi to the base. If you're having trouble with the bolts falling out of the holes before you have the chance to tighten them up, a piece of Blu-Tack over the head of each bolt can help to keep them in place while you fit the spacers, Pi, and standoffs, and can simply be removed afterwards.
Next, find the Picade X HAT and remove it from its bag. Push the Picade X HAT onto the Pi's GPIO pins, ensuring that the pins are correctly lined up and the holes line up with the standoffs.
Use four of the smaller metal M2.5 screws to secure the HAT to the standoffs.
Peel off the backing from the four rubber feet and stick them on the good side of the base, close to the corners. The tabs on the edges of the base will need to fit into slots later on, so make sure the feet aren't positioned right at the edges.
Now you'll need the big bag of M3 nuts and bolts, and the black plastic brackets from from the FIXINGS box. You'll use lots of these nuts and bolts for fixing the cabinet together, and you'll want to always have them so that the heads of the bolts are on the outside and the nuts are on the inside of the cabinet (the side with the text labels on).
Attach five plastic corner brackets to the rectangles marked on the base (panel A), using five M3 bolts and nuts. You'll want to put the bolt through the round, centre hole on the bracket - the round holes in the brackets can be a bit tight so you might need to apply a bit of pressure to get the screw thread to first engage.
Place the speaker on the label side of panel A, with the paper cone against the cutouts and the wire pointing towards the edge of the Picade. Secure it with M3 screws, pushed through from the good side, and M3 nuts. The paper cone of the speaker is delicate, so take care not to accidentally damage it.
The speaker wires connect to the push fit connector on Picade X HAT, marked SPEAKER, red to + and black to -. This is a bit of a fiddly connector, so it's worth taking a look at how it works before you begin attaching the wires! Look down the barrel of the connector whilst using a small screwdriver to gently press on the round indentation on each connector - you'll see the little iris open up inside the connector, this is the part that grips on to the cable.
Attach the wires, one at a time, by gently pressing on one of the indentations to open up the connector whilst at the same time pushing the speaker wire in from the side. Don't press down too hard - it's possible to break the clips if you do. If the wire won't go in, release the pressure and check that you're inserting the wire straight (it might be helpful to grip the wires with tweezers or pliers as you feed them in). Once it's attached correctly, the wires should be gripped tightly in the speaker terminals.
Locate side wooden cabinet panel B and attach it to the two brackets on the side of the base closest to the speaker grill with the labels inside, using two more M3 nuts and bolts pushed through from the outside. Attach the other side panel, panel D to the opposite side of the base in the same way.
The front panel is cabinet panel E, and it slots between the short edges of the side panels (the tabs should fit neatly into the slots). Make sure the two little holes are at the bottom edge of this piece, next to the base.
Secure the front in place with two M3 bolts.
While we've still got some flexibility in the cabinet, now is a good time to build and fit the screen assembly. Set aside the cabinet for now. For making the screen assembly you'll need the printed cardboard screen surround and the large square acrylic screen panel from the CABINET BOX and the LCD screen itself, the four curiously shaped screen mount acrylic pieces labelled with TOP and BASE, the baggie of 4 M2.5 metal flange bolts and the screen driver board, keypad, and associated ribbon cables from the SCREEN box.
All of the acrylic pieces, including the screen acrylic, will have white protective film on. Peel this off each of the pieces as you use them (you can leave on the layer on the outside of the large screen piece until the end of the build to protect it, if you wish). Once you've removed the protective film from the inside of the large screen piece (and from the screen itself) you'll want to try your best not to get any dust, fingerprints, crumbs or pet hair on these inside surfaces, as it will be difficult to get rid of once these pieces are sandwiched together.
Take the large square acrylic screen panel and lay it down with the tabs on either side, and the curved edge at the top. Place the screen surround artwork face down onto it, also with the curved edge at the top.
Peel the protective film off the screen using the tab at the side (being careful to avoid fingerprints), and place the screen facedown on top of the cardboard, with the display connector towards the top edge.
The two narrow, clear acrylic pieces marked 10" TOP 1 and 10" BASE 1, go at the top and base of the screen and hold it in place. The curved edge of 10" TOP 1 will align with the curved edge at the top of the screen acrylic, and the notches in 10" BASE 1 should be on its upper edge (the triangular notches at the bottom edge of the LCD panel will slot into these in a moment). With all these screen mount pieces, the text should be the right way up and facing you.
Before adding the final parts of the screen assembly, attach the display driver board to its acrylic bracket. Take the acrylic piece (marked 8" 10" TOP 2), and place it with the protruding part pointing downwards and the text facing you.
The bolts used to attach the display driver board to its bracket are the four black metal M2.5 flange bolts in a separate bag. These have low-profile heads, with no slot on top, and prevent the acrylic bracket for the driver board from bending out too far. Use four of the black plastic M2.5 nuts to attach the flange screws.
Push the four M2.5 flange bolts through from the back of the acrylic, and then attach the driver board with four more M2.5 nylon nuts, making sure that the HDMI and micro-USB ports are towards the base, and the ribbon cable connector is at the top.
We found it easier to connect the screen to its driver board now, before adding the BASE 2 and TOP 2 screen mounting pieces. Locate the small, wide ribbon cable with one gold end and one blue end. Carefully flip up the grey tab of the LVDS connector on the driver board so it's pointing towards you. You should then be able to slot the blue end of the short, wide ribbon cable (with the blue side facing up) into the open LVDS connector, and flip the grey tab back down to secure it. If you have trouble inserting this end of the cable into the connector, check that the grey tab is fully open - take care not to bend it back too far though, as the clips are reasonably delicate.
The gold end of the cable plugs into the screen - the connector should just slide into the gold connector sideways, and once you've got it lined up you should be able to push in gently in using your thumbnail (don't force it). This end doesn't really lock in place, so be careful not to dislodge it when you're repositioning the TOP 2 acrylic piece.
Place the acrylic piece marked 8" 10" BASE 2 at the base of the screen assembly. Place the 8" 10" TOP 2 bracket with the driver board towards the centre of the screen. You might need to gently encourage the screen cable to flex upwards so that you can line up this acrylic piece. Use four M3 screws, pushed through from the front side of the assembly (with the clear acrylic), to hold the whole screen assembly together, and secure it with four M3 nuts. Be careful not to over-tighten these nuts and bolts or you’ll risk cracking the acrylic.
You can plug the long narrow keypad cable into the driver board now (though we won't be attaching the keypad until later). Time for another kind of connector! You can open the keypad connector on the driver board by carefully sliding the grey part away from the white part, towards BASE 1 and BASE 2, allowing you to poke the ribbon cable into the slot in the connector. Like the last one, the blue side of the cable should be facing towards you, away from the board. You can then slide the connector back into position - if it's plugged in correctly, the cable should be locked in place. Note that the ribbon cable for the keypad should go underneath the grey plastic clips on the connectors on both the keypad and display driver board. If you insert the cable on top of the grey plastic clip then you might still get it to fit but it won't work!
Lay the keypad aside for later. Your screen assembly is done! That's probably the fiddliest bit, so reward yourself with a cup of tea or something nice.
We're about to add the screen assembly to the cabinet, but before you do, you'll want to add two more plastic brackets at the top. Use M3 nuts and bolts to secure them in place through the centre hole as before, they should line up with the slots in the top of the side pieces with the flat surface with two slots facing upwards.
In the video, Paul attaches the top wooden panel (panel C) of his Picade at one end now, but you can leave attaching the top until later if you want.
You might find it helpful to turn the Picade onto one of its sides for this next bit, as you'll be wrestling a lot of things into slots at the same time and it's easier to get them lined up if they're supported at one end. You'll need to slot the whole screen assembly into the cabinet (making sure the curved edge of the screen assembly is at the top of the cabinet). The tabs on the sides of the screen assembly should fit neatly into the slots in the side panels, and there should still be enough flex in the cabinet to wiggle them in.
You'll now want to locate the marquee assembly - that's the bit that sits above the screen with the Picade logo on, and is a long, thin sandwich of two acrylic layers and one paper layer that was originally in the CABINET box (but is now probably in a big pile of leftover bits). Remove all the protective plastic, and re-sandwich the layers back together with the cardboard layer in the middle.
A little masking tape or a rubber band can help to hold the marquee sandwich together (you’ll be able to peel it off easily later). You can now slot this piece into place into the slots at the top and front of the cabinet, with the PICADE text facing forward. Make sure to keep an eye on the screen assembly while you do this as it might fall out of its slots - another pair of hands might be useful for this bit.
To complete the body of the cabinet, locate wooden panel C (if you haven't attached it already) and slot it into place at the top of the cabinet, with the protuberance for the door closure (or the 'nobble' as we're apparently calling it) pointing backwards, away from the screen - as with the previous step, you might need to hold the screen assembly and the marquee assembly in place while you get everything slotted in. Once everything's in place, you can use four M3 nuts and bolts to attach top panel C to the brackets, which should secure everything. You can now let go of all the things you were holding on to!
Before we move on, now is a good time to plug in your HDMI cable. If you're using a Pi 4, you'll need to use the HDMI cable and the micro-HDMI adaptor, if you're using an older Pi you'll just need the HDMI cable. One end goes to the HDMI port on the screen driver board, and the other end to the HDMI or micro-HDMI port on your Pi. HDMI-0 is the default HDMI port on the Pi 4, so you'll want to use that one - it's the one furthest away from the Pi's USB ports.
You can now attach the keypad (the small, black board with five buttons) to the end of the narrow ribbon cable. The connector on the keypad is the same as the one on the other end of this cable, and you'll need to plug it in with the blue side of the cable on the same side as the keypad buttons.
Turn the cabinet round so you're looking at it from the back. There are two holes on the left hand side near the top of panel B for attaching the keypad to the cabinet, line it up with the holes with the ribbon cable pointing towards the screen, and secure it in place with nylon M2.5 bolts and nuts, with the nuts on the inside.
Locate the power button from the bag with the buttons - it's the smaller, yellow, translucent one, with four spade contacts on the back. You'll also need the red and black power button cable. Unscrew and remove the black collar on the button, this will be used to secure it to the cabinet once you've wired it up. The two contacts at the centre of the button are marked with a + and -.
The contacts on the illuminated power button can be a little fragile and the spade connectors on the wires a little tight which means it's possible to make the contacts disappear into the body of the button if you push on them too hard. If the contacts on the button don't slot into the spade connectors easily we'd suggest loosening the connectors on the wires slightly by prying them open with a flat-headed screwdriver, you can then crimp them gently with pliers once attached. With this in mind, gently push the spade connectors on the cable onto the contacts, red to + and black to -.
From one of the black wiring looms, tear off a pair of two wires from one end. Plug the spade connectors onto the other two contacts on the power button, it doesn't matter which way round these ones go. You'll want to check that none of the metal connectors plugged into the back of the button are touching each other, you can gently bend the contacts slightly to separate them if they are. You can then thread both sets of wires through the hole in panel B from the outside, followed by the button, and then secure it in place using the black collar. We'll wire up the Picade X HAT end of these cables later on.
Now is another good time for a break, before we get started on the final stretch!
The last bit to assemble is the console assembly, where the buttons and joystick live. Locate the sandwich of wood, cardboard and acrylic with lots of holes in. Line the three pieces up so the button holes match and the printed cardboard is facing the acrylic. Remove the inner protective layer on the acrylic - you can leave the outer protective layer on until the end of the build if you wish.
Poke the yellow, pink and blue buttons through the six holes in the console sandwich from the outside. The canon arrangement is yellow on the left, pink in the middle and blue on the right to match the artwork, but feel free to arrange them however you wish!
Slot the console assembly on the tabs on the front of the Picade. The buttons should be on the right, and the stripes on the screen assembly and console assembly artwork should match up.
We're now going to attach the joystick! Peel off the protective plastic on top of the joystick, and then locate the set of five pins - these are what you'll plug the joystick connector cable into. They sometimes get a bit bent in transit, but you should be able to straighten them out with your fingers. Poke the joystick through from the bottom of the console assembly, and orient it so the pins are pointing towards the buttons. Fasten it in place with M3 bolts through the holes at the top and bottom of the joystick, and nuts on the inside - take care not to over-tighten these nuts and bolts or you’ll risk cracking the acrylic. You can then pop the dust cover collar over the joystick, and attach the ball on top. You can use a flat-head screwdriver to hold the shaft of the joystick from below while you tighten up the ball, if necessary.
Note that the bolts used to attach the joystick are only slightly larger than the holes on the metal joystick plate, however the holes in the plastic and MDF console pieces are spaced slightly further apart than the holes on the metal joystick plate so that the nuts grip over the edge of the holes when tightened. This is an intentional feature of the design, and your joystick will still be firmly attached.
Push the black buttons through the holes in the front and sides of the cabinet. We're going to leave off attaching the console assembly to the cabinet until after we've wired everything up, as it makes things a lot easier!
Back to the black wiring looms with spade connectors on one end! You're going to need one set of twelve wires (for the coloured buttons on top), and one with eight wires for the side and front buttons, so remove another pair of wires from the one that you stole a pair from earlier and set it aside.
Take the set of twelve wires, and separate the strands a bit into six pairs at the end with the spades. This will help when connecting them up. Flip the console assembly upside down so you can access the buttons easily, and working from one side of the cable, connect each pair of spades to each button from 1 to 6 (marked on the underside of the console).
While you're looking at the underside of the console, take the opportunity to plug in the joystick cable (that's the one with five wires and a white plastic clip on the end) The white plastic clip pushes onto the five pins on the joystick, with the locking clip facing you (and the exposed metal on the connector pointing towards the wooden layer of the console assembly).
Before you put the console assembly back on the cabinet, take the other wiring loom (with eight wires) and separate the strands a little into four pairs at the end with the spades. Taking each pair in turn, connect them to the ENT, ESC, 1UP, and COIN buttons.
Poke all three sets of wires through the cabinet towards the Picade X HAT and place the console assembly back in place on the cabinet (best not to fasten it on yet, in case you need to adjust any of the wiring).
You should now have five sets of wires at the back of the cabinet ready to be connected to the Picade X HAT (six pairs from the coloured buttons, four pairs from the side and front buttons, one black pair from the power button, one black and red pair from the power button, and five wires from the joystick, all ending in Dupont connectors (that's the ones with the pins)).
Before things get too busy with the wiring, we'd suggest plugging in the micro-USB cable that provides power to the screen. The small micro-USB end goes into POWER IN on the screen driver board, and the big USB-A end goes into one of the USB ports on the Pi.
Before plugging in the joystick cable, take a peek at the underside of the console assembly again. If you've got the connector plugged into the joystick correctly, with the clip facing you as you look at the bottom of the joystick, the GND wire is the one closest to the edge of the joystick, corresponding with the number 1 on the white connector. Follow this wire to the other end (the wires all have different markings, so this should be straightforward) and plug the pins into the JOYSTICK header on Picade X HAT, making sure that the GND wire is in the right place.
If your joystick only has one direction that works later when it comes to mapping the controls, then the wires have been connected back-to-front. Simply remove the pin connectors from the JOYSTICK header on the Picade X HAT, flip them 180 degrees, and plug them in again.
To connect the coloured buttons, take the six pairs of pins at the other end of the cable and connect them to the header marked BUTTONS from 1 to 6 (the orientation of the pairs of pins doesn’t matter, as long as each pair of pins corresponds to one button). If you've plugged them in order, it should be easy to figure out what pair of wires is associated with each button, although it doesn't matter a huge amount which button is connected to which position, as you'll be configuring the buttons in software later on.
Connect the front and side buttons in the same way, to the ENT, ESC, 1UP and COIN headers.
The pair of black wires from the power button should go into the header labelled ON, and the red and black wire goes into the header labelled LED - this is the only one that matters which way you plug it in, so make sure the red wire goes into the header labelled + (that's the one furthest away from you).
You're almost done with the build!
Once you're happy everything's plugged in correctly, remove the console assembly again. Attach the two remaining brackets to the outside of the cabinet with M3 nuts and bolts, with the side of the bracket with three holes pointing upwards. It's worth leaving these nuts and bolts a little bit loose, until you've attached the bracket to the console assembly.
You can then secure the console assembly with more M3 nuts and bolts through the console acrylic.
All that's left to do now is to put the back of the cabinet on - with the good side facing outwards, slot the two tabs at the bottom of panel F into the slots at the base of the cabinet, and the protrusion on panel C into the slot at the top - you might have to flex the top of the cabinet slightly to get it in. Pop one of the o-rings over the nobble to keep everything in place.
Peel off the protective layer on the front of the screen acrylic and console acrylic if you haven't already, and you're done!
We recommend the Retropie operating system for your Picade! 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!
We'd recommend only using official Retropie images with your Picade, 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.
Plug your power supply into the USB-C connector on the Picade X HAT (the HAT will supply power to your Pi). Press the power button on the Picade or on the Picade X HAT and your Picade will now boot up!
If you get a 'No Signal' message on your screen when it's booting up, you'll need to do little jiggery-pokery to get it working. Raspberry Pi OS (which Retropie is based on) initialises its display before it initialises its USB ports, so because we're powering the screen from the Pi's USB ports it's not being detected on boot. We'll need to add a line to the Pi's config.txt file to get it to do things in the right order! There's a couple of ways you can do this:
If you've got a computer with a microSD card reader you can plug the SD card back into your computer (unplug the Pi before you take out the SD card), and navigate to the SD card in Windows Explorer (or equivalent file manager). Because the SD card is now formatted for Linux, a Windows computer might give you a message about there being a problem with the drive, don't let it try and fix it :)
Open up config.txt in a text editor such as Notepad, and scroll down until you find the
# from the beginning of this line, save the file, put the SD card back into your Pi and try powering it up again!
Alternatively, you can edit config.txt from your Pi. To do this you'll need to unplug the USB cable connecting the Pi to the screen and power the screen from an external power source (such as a microUSB power supply or phone charger), so you can see what you're editing! Once you've got an image on screen and Retropie has loaded, press F4 to exit the Retropie GUI. Type
sudo nano /boot/config.txt to open up config.txt in a text editor, and delete the
# from the beginning of the
hdmi_force_hotplug=1 line as above. It's
ctrl-x and then
y and then
enter to save the file when you're done.
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 power button 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).
Once Retropie has started up again, press F4 again to get back to the terminal. To run the Picade HAT installer, type
curl https://get.pimoroni.com/picadehat | bash and press enter, then follow the instructions. If you get a 'could not resolve host' error, there's probably a problem with your Wi-Fi settings, go back to raspi-config and try inputting them again, then rebooting.
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!
From Retropie's welcome screen, you should now be able to hold down the joystick or any of the Picade buttons to start mapping the keys. The Picade 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!
Once you've installed the software, the volume of the Picade 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 is now set up and ready to go!
Need something for this project? You can use the links below to add products to your Pimoroni Shop basket for easy checkout.
10-inch display with PICO-8 £225.00
8-inch display £165.00
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
2GB RAM £33.90
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
4GB RAM £54.00
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
8GB RAM £73.50
Universal USB-C Power Supply - 5.1V 3A
NOOBS microSD card (3.3)
NOOBS microSD card (3.3)