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DMG Post 2: Building a Replicate

Authored by: Ryka Jain and Prayag Nambiar

There’s only one problem. Neither Prayag nor I (Ryka) have ever built a game console.

So we set out to change that by building a replicate– defined as an object replicating/copying someone else’s project. Our replicate was a homemade game console meant to show us how some of the earlier game consoles worked. After all, “We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”

Finding tutorials online was easy. We just searched up “how to build a game console” and browsed through our options– a lot of options. After rigorous research, we settled on How to Make Your Own Game Console : 6 Steps (with Pictures) - Instructables by natamaker. A simple tutorial written specifically for beginners like us.

The best part? We have the skills and materials to build this quickly and easily.

To build the project, we needed six things:

For the last one, I had a variety of different game controllers at home. With that in mind, we opted to wait until we finished setting up the Raspberry Pi to test out controllers since we didn’t need one until we wanted to start playing.

After a good deal of figuring out how to flash RetroPie onto the microSD card, learning how to use BalenaEtcher (huge thanks to this very handy tutorial), and figuring out how to change settings on the console without a game controller (spoiler alert: it involved using the USB keyboard), we were finally ready to test out controllers. 

We brought the Raspberry Pi to my house and assembled every single type of controller I had. 

An off-brand Nintendo Switch pro controller (we didn’t want to try the actual Switch joy-cons), an old Playstation Dualshock controller, an original X-box controller, and a controller that had been connected to my dad’s Raspberry Pi game console (gifted to us). Three of them were Bluetooth controllers, while the last was a USB controller.

And the only one that worked was the USB one. 

When we tried the off-brand pro controller, it crashed the Raspberry Pi. The Dualshock didn’t work, and the X-box controller refused to connect. Apparently, we needed an antenna to connect that. So our next steps? To get a 64GB microSD card, download some games, and figure out how to connect Bluetooth controllers.

Another level conquered, but the adventure’s far from over. See you next time!

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