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Description: Do you own a Raspberry Pi2 or Pi3? Have you always wanted to use it to set up your very own gaming station? The SparkFun PiRetrocade provides you with all the control hardware and arcade software you need to play almost any retro arcade and console video game! Included in this kit are five concave arcade buttons, a joystick, an SD card preloaded with Porta Pi, and all of the connective tissue. The only thing you need to provide is your own Raspberry Pi (we recommend the RPi3) and a screen to play your games on! We even designed the box the SparkFun PiRetrocade comes in to be converted into a custom game pad. Just cut out the designated points with the included utility knife and you’re ready to play!

The image on the SD card is called Porta Pi Aracde and is a collage of several programs compiled by Ryan Bates at Retro Built Games. The image contains RetroPie, Emulation Station, RetroArch and Retrogame. The only thing you need to worry about is powering your Pi, attaching a monitor through an HDMI cable, and loading up your desired games.

Other than the Raspberry Pi 3 (and a means to power it), you’ll need wire strippers and crimp tools to assemble your PiRetrocade, as well as a monitor, HDMI cable, and speakers or headphones. Make sure to check out our Getting Started Guide below for complete assembly and installation instructions!

Get Started with the PiRetrocade Guide

Kit Includes:

  • 5x Arcade Buttons
  • 1x Joystick
  • 1x SD Card with Porta Pi
  • 20x Female quick disconnects
  • 20x 6-inch M-F Jumper Wires
  • 1x Utility Knife
  • 4x Screws and four nuts


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Customer Comments

  • I want to build this into an old Arcade Game Cabinet I have complete with coin slot for quarters. Is there an input for the micro-switch on the coin mech that would allow one play per time it is tripped? It will be fun to have it in my basement and require my friends to cough up quarters to play it.

    • Ryan Bates over at has a great tutorial on adding a coin slot + acceptor to a cabinet build. Since it is just an optical sesnor you could make your own coins which would be pretty rad. We also sell which accepts 6 types of coins. The Hatermatic github repo by Mike Hord is a good place to look at how to wire this one.

  • Thinking of getting this for a friend for Christmas (he loves games). I have limited funding (it’s a long, sad story) but I do have a 1st-generation Pi Model B… will this kit work with it, or is that a bad idea (or both)…?

    • I got it to work with my 1st generation Model B, but it was a big, big pain. The supplied SD card with PortaPi won’t work with the PI 1 — it crashes when the emulator is run.

      I had to make a new SD card image from for the PI 1. Then I added retrogame,, and change the configuration file to match the buttons. There might be a step or two I’ve forgotten, but it works now. Performance seems to be adequate for the few simple games I’ve tried.

  • What am I doing wrong? There are only about five games I can load and play. Games like doom load up in the middle of a already played game session even if I pick “New Game”. RetroPie says there are 13 games available but I cannot get into any of them. I need some help.

  • To make a 2-player setup would one just need an extra set of joystick and buttons, or would different software and hardware be needed?

    • It depends on what hardware you have. If you have a Raspberry Pi model B then there is not enough GPIO to add player 2 controls. If you have a model B+ with the 40-pin header then you will need to update the software as well.

      To update the software (Edit Keyboard Mapping): 1.Boot up your raspberry Pi with a keyboard. Once you are in Emulation Station press F4 to get to a terminal. 2.Type: “cd Retrogame” 3. Type: “sudo nano retrogame.c”

      4.Scroll down to about line 74, You should see an input column and a column for the corresponding keyboard mapping.You can add player 2 controls here as well re-assign the GPIO/keyboard mapping for Player 1.

      Once you are done updating make sure the last line of this block of code does not have a comma at the end the way the previous lines do.

      1. Crtl+O to save the file.
      2. Ctrl+X to exit the editor.
      3. Type “make” to recompile the file.
      4. Type “sudo reboot” to restart your Pi.

      Now you need to update RetroArch so that the emulator recognizes the new keyboard mappings. In the terminal type: “startx”. Navigate to the retroarch.cfg file which is located: /opt/retropie/configs/all and scroll down to the keyboard inputs. Make the changes that reflect the changes you made to retrogame.c save the file and it should be good to go.

      If you have any questions just let us know.

  • I think my card has become corrupted. Is there a disk image I can download to create a replacement?

    • I did the same thing, trying to remap keys for the Mame emulator to match the buttons. I followed the link in the Tutorial to RetroBuilt Games. Here’s a copy of the link:

      Then I downloaded the “RetroPie_V3.8.1 for Pi2 / Pi3” image and used Win32DiskImager to re-image the card. That seemed to get me back to square one.

  • I just noticed, the description says this comes with a 1x SD Card with Porta Pi. The only Raspverry Pi that uses SD is the B. The A+, the B+, the 2 and 3 all use micro SD cards. Which does this come with? an SC or Micro SD?

  • Looking at the parts list, I see Female quick disconnects listed, but only male quick disconnects when I search your site. Are the female ones not available on your site or is it the male ones? If so, which size, since you have two different ones listed when I search. Thanks.

  • I would get this if it it came with a better enclosure, as in a plastic case that would be sold separately.

    • Yeah this is meant to be a temporary solution until you build/buy a cabinet. Pretty much any project enclosure big enough to hold the joystick and buttons will work. But I may just pitch this enclosure idea to engineering on Monday. Have a good weekend.

      • Thanks for the response. I do have the tools to build this into an off the shelf project enclosure. I plan to pick one of these kits up as soon as the new ESP32 is in stock! Please do pitch the idea…it would be better than a sloppy DIY solution.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5

Based on 3 ratings:

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Great fun

Had a great time building with my son. Inspiring us to go further to build a cabinet. Sparkfun was great when we cut the holes wrong, they shipped out another box free of charge. Note when you cut the whole to cut the white area only so they are not too big. Tons of fun, you will lose some sleep.


Easy build. You best have a raspberry pi 3 as recommended in order to use the whole thing immediately. Everything else is included! Great!

Very Cool Project!

I thought this was a very cool project and fun to put together. Now that I’ve built mine, I went to Hobby Lobby and found a plain wood box that was very close tot he size of the cardboard box and built my new permanent place for these controls. I already have plans on making that installation better, longer wires, that way when I open the top it doesn’t pull the wires out of the GPIO pins on the Pi. Also, plan on using a GPIO extender so I can remove the pi by disconnecting a ribbon cable vs having to plug each wire back into the pi each time. This kit helps teach you be basics, then you can expand from there. Well worth the money.

Related Tutorials

PiRetrocade Assembly Guide

October 28, 2016

Build your very own retro gaming controller using the SparkFun PiRetrocade Kit.