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Emulationstation Pixel Desktop Shortcut No Command Line

How to create a emulationstation desktop shortcut to get to back to RetroPie from the Pixel Desktop, without going to the command line!

You can easily install the Pixel Desktop from the RetroPie setup menu (Configuration / Tools >> Raspbiantools >> Install Pixel Desktop Environment). It takes a while, but once installed and after restarting Emulationstation, it will be in the Ports menu on RetroPie.

Enter the desktop with whatever button you setup to enter the games with, on your controller.

*Note: You will need a keyboard and mouse to navigate the desktop!

Once you are at the desktop, right click somewhere on the background and choose, “create empty file” and name it, emulationstation.desktop.

Then download the icon below (right click and save as), and move it into your /home/pi directory.

emulationstation desktop shortcut

Then right click the new empty file and choose, “Text Editor” from the list. Then in the editor, copy and paste or type this information below in the box and save.

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Games
Comment=EmulationStaion
Icon=/home/pi/emulationstation.png
Exec=pkill Xorg
Type=Application
Encoding=UTF-8
Terminal=false
Categories=None;

I found this code here.

The icon should change to the ES icon, once saved. Then test it by double clicking the icon. It should take you back to the Ports menu on RetroPie. You may have to reboot for some settings to take effect.

And there you go, you can now exit the Pixel Desktop with the emulationstation desktop shortcut! Fun!

Netflix on the Raspberry Pi 3 – How-to

A Simple Way to Get Netflix on Your Raspberry Pi 3!

netflix on raspberry piLike many others, I have longed for the day that the Raspberry Pi would be able to play videos natively from Netflix. And like many others, I have tried several different ways to make it work, to no avail, but I kept trying.

So, why keep trying?

Well because the Pi 3, should be able to play video from Netflix. It has the right amount of processing speed, ram and runs on a modified Debian based Linux distribution. After all, it plays fine on a smart phone, with even less specs than the Pi. And it even runs in the Chrome browser on a Linux OS (albeit x86 based), and plays Netflix video, just fine.

So, I thought maybe Netflix just has some sort of block on ARMv7 based processors (which the Pi 3 has). Or a block on running on open source software, afraid they would get hacked or something. But many Linux distributions are open source, so that isn’t it either!

Then what is it?

Well, I am not exactly sure. I could go into a bunch of technical stuff to try and explain it, but I really don’t know exactly what I am talking about. I do understand it a little bit, but not totally. It has something to do with a Chrome plugin called widevine, that allows Netflix video, and other protected video content, to play in the Chrome browser. Widevine is automatically installed and enabled, when you install Chrome on your computer.


netflix on chromiumBut, the Chrome browser will not install and run natively on the Pi. Instead you have to install and run Chromium, which is an open source modified version of Chrome. Chromium however, does not come installed with the widevine plug in. But it is available through a code package that installs Chromium and the required patch for widevine to work, thanks to someone named krusti8 found on the raspberrypi.org forums. The code also installs a Netflix shortcut under the internet menu section on the Pixel desktop, called the Netflix Launcher.

netflix launcher

To install it on the Pi 3, it’s probably a good idea to 1st do an update. Open the terminal and type sudo apt-get update and hit enter. Once done and at the prompt again, copy and paste this code:

wget https://github.com/kusti8/chromium-build/releases/download/netflix-1.0.0/chromium-browser_56.0.2924.84-0ubuntu0.14.04.1.1011.deb
sudo dpkg -i chromium-browser_56.0.2924.84-0ubuntu0.14.04.1.1011.deb

It will start downloading and takes a little time installing. It actually installs in two parts, so you need to watch for when it finishes installing the 1st part, and then hit enter for the second part at the command prompt.

This was pretty simple! I got it up and running on my Pi with no issues! Now I can watch Netflix directly on the Pi! Without streaming from another PC or without using some other virtual windows emulator! Woo Hoo!!!! Thanks kusti8!

Enjoy!

Raspberry Pi Zero Composite Video How-to

How to use the Raspberry Pi Zero Composite Video Connection!

As you may know, unlike the other Raspberry Pi boards, the Raspberry Pi Zero does not have a composite video output jack. But there is a spot to add one. Then you can plug it into a TV screen that does not support HDMI but has RCA type composite inputs.

I followed this video here, to add one to my Pi Zero W and plugged it into an old TV and it worked.

raspberry pi zero composite video

With this connection, you still don’t have audio, but you can add it with a usb sound card adapter.

raspberry pi zero composite videoMy idea for this was to revive a portable DVD player set I bought for the kids to play in the car, when they were little. Was going to use it to make a little car entertainment center. The set has one unit that is the DVD player and the other is just a monitor. The DVD player was broken but the monitor still worked. And, it has composite video and audio inputs. Unfortunately the screen is a little damaged though, with a couple of black lines in it.

Maybe I can use it on one of those cheap backup car monitors though or another portable DVD player. Put Retropie on it to play games and Kodi to watch movies stored on a flash drive.

Anyway! I thought it was neat that I got it to work. Takes a steady hand to solder the raspberry pi zero composite video connection, but I got it!

 

 

Homemade Gringo Style Cheese Enchiladas Recipe

Here is my Homemade Gringo Style Cheese Enchiladas Recipe! Yum!

Nope, it’s not a traditional cheese enchiladas recipe but it works for me and my family. And, they are delicious!

cheese enchiladas recipe

You will need:

  • A medium size skillet.
  • 8 to 12 corn tortillas.
  • A steam cloth (cheese cloth) or thin kitchen towel and a couple of large paper towels, to wrap tortillas in.
  • 1, 16 oz block or two 8 oz blocks of mild cheddar cheese, grated.
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped onion.
  • A 9 x 9 or bigger metal (non stick) sheet pan with sides, or glass baking dish (I was able to fit 9 enchiladas tightly in the 9 x 9 pan).
  • Enough foil to cover the pan.

Seasonings:

Note: I put all my seasonings in a bowl together (except for the flour and oil which I bowl each separately or just leave in separate measuring cups), ahead of time.

  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 & 1/2 to 2 TBS Chili Powder (I use only 1 1/2)
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • Optional for spicier flavor: 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Dried (crushed) Oregano
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 14.5/15 oz can of Chicken Broth.

Chili Gravy
The Chili Gravy for this Cheese Enchiladas Recipe is what makes it good, instead of using Enchilada Sauce from a can!

Heat the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in medium skillet over medium heat.

Then when oil is ready (should sizzle when you drop a pinch of flour in it, add the 1/4 cup of flour.

Stir to completely dissolve all the flour real well and heat until mixture is a very light brown.

Add seasonings a little at a time, and mix in until well blended.

 

Add the can of low sodium chicken broth and stir frequently until well blended and it starts to thicken. Should be almost the consistency of a thin gravy (maybe just a little thicker). You want it thin enough to mostly cover your enchiladas, but not be runny. Cook and stir longer to thicken. If it gets too thick, you can add a little water at a time to thin it out. Then turn off heat when it’s the consistency you like.

add the chicken broth

Steaming the Corn Tortillas
I know most people fry the tortillas to soften them up, but I steam them in the microwave, which makes the recipe less greasy!

Wet the steam cloth and wring it out good and lay it on a flat surface. Put 3 or 4 tortillas in the center and wrap the cloth around them. Microwave for 1 minute. Repeat for however many enchiladas you are making.

Check tortillas and microwave an additional 20 to 30 seconds, if tortillas are not yet soft and pliable (should be soft but not mushy). Be careful!!! The cloth will be very hot and so will the tortillas, with hot steam.

If you don’t have a steam or cheese cloth.

Take a thin kitchen towel, get it wet and wring it out good. Then set a couple of large paper towels on top of the wet towel. Set tortillas on top and fold over the paper towels to wrap up tortillas and then fold the towel over that. Then microwave for 1 minute. Add 20 to 30 seconds to the time if needed. They should be soft but not mushy.

Add the Cheese and Roll Them Up!
Add a loose handful of cheese (and onions if you desire) to one steamed corn tortilla at a time, and roll it up a like a burrito, a little tight but not too tight, or it might split the tortilla.

homemade gringo cheese enchiladas recipe

And as you roll one up at a time, place in the (non stick) sheet pan with sides, or the glass baking dish, close together.

homemade gringo cheese enchiladas recipe

Add the Chili Gravy and Top With Cheese!

You may need to thin out the gravy with a little hot water if it has thickened up while sitting in the pan. Then pour as much of the chilly gravy from the skillet as you want, over the enchiladas. And then top with the left over cheese (not too much now or it may take too long to melt).

cheese enchiladas recipe

Cover pan with foil and bake in the oven on 350 for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until cheese is well melted and bubbly.

Serve Immediately! 

Serve hot with a side of refried beans, chips and salsa!

 cheese enchiladas recipe

Hope you enjoy my Homemade Gringo Style Cheese Enchiladas Recipe!

Salud!

8Bitdo Zero How to Setup in Retropie 4.2

8Bitdo Zero Gamepad on Retropie 4.2!

this is how small this 8bitdo isThe 8Bitdo Zero gamepad is a cute little (as in tiny) wireless Bluetooth gamepad, that has a similar button layout of a Super Nintendo game controller. You can use it for playing games on your Windows PC, Mac, Android tablet, Android Smart Phone, iOS devices and Raspberry Pi. You can also connect it to your smart phone and use it as a shutter button to snap pictures, hands free. And, it also connects as a keyboard.

I bought my gamepad from here.

8bitdo zero

Here is a how to setup the 8Bitdo Zero Bluetooth Gamepad, on Retropie 4.2.

my raspberry pi 3Note: I have only connected the 8Bitdo Zero to my Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi Zero. I have not tried it on anything else yet. And so far, it works decently on Retropie 4.2. As long as the games you are playing don’t require more buttons, than a Super Nintendo controller would. Works well on Nintendo and SNES games!

But at 1st I had a little bit of trouble figuring out how to get it set up correctly. If you have it turned on to connect as the wrong device, it will not set up the buttons to work correctly in the games.

Step 1. Charge the 8Bitdo Zero Gamepad

Plug it in with the included short usb cable and charge it on a usb port of your computer or with a phone charger. It will blink green until it is fully charged and then shut off when done.

Step 2. Getting the Gamepad Ready

8bitdo zero layoutPush and hold the start button for 2 seconds. Then you should see it blink. If it blinks more than once in a row, the controller needs to be reset. To reset it, hold down the select button for 2 seconds. Then hold down the start button until it shuts off (8 to 10 sec).

Step 3. Retropie Configuration

With the controller off, enter the Retropie configuration menu and using another usb connected gamepad or keyboard (need to configure the keyboard in the main menu controller configuration, if not already). Then select BLUETOOTH in the menu.

select bluetooth

Step 4. Connecting the Gamepad to Bluetooth.

 register bluetooth device

On the next screen, select “Register and Connect to Bluetooth Device” and press OK. You should see a screen saying it’s searching, and then press and hold the start button for 2 seconds. It will start to flash on/off with a blue light, as the Pi searches for a Bluetooth device.

Once found, it should display the mac address and the name of the controller. Then press OK.


(If it doesn’t find it, try it again. If it continues to not find it, you may need to restart retropie. The Bluetooth on the Pi 3 isn’t really good but works most of the time.)

The next screen should show this above with 1. DisplayYesNo at the top selected. Then just choose OK.

If it connected successfully, you should see “Successfully registered and connected to”, and the mac address of the game pad. The blue light should not be blinking at all now.

Note: On the Retropie Github 8Bitdo setup guide, it shows to setup the udev rule for joypad, as described in step 12, found here. I did not do that. I also left the 8Bitdo mapping hack (OFF – new firmware)!

Now press OK and then Cancel on the next screens to get back to the the configuration menu and use the correct button to on the keyboard or other gamepad to exit and get back to the game system screen.

Step 5. Configure Gamepad

Then you will need to go to the main menu and configure the controller buttons.

configure 8bitdo controller

I just set mine up like a snes controller (used the a for the b button and b for a button and used the L and R buttons as left and right triggers).

Then you should be good to go!

Reconnecting

If the gamepad sits idle for a while, they will disconnect. You should be able to reconnect them by holding down the select button for a second or 2. It will flash really fast and then reconnect. If you restart Emulationstation, when you see the Emulationstation screen, press and hold the select button a couple of seconds to reconnect.

Sometimes when it reconnects, it will go haywire and make the system screen scroll fast. Just push any button to make it stop, usually. I have had some issues where it wouldn’t stop and had to do a shutdown or restart by way of ssh (or just unplugged the power).

Also, you may have to go through the Bluetooth setup again, once in a while if you have problems. And, the charge lasts a long time, but if you continue having connection issues, try recharging it.

Anyway! Enjoy playing your games!

Raspberry Pi Zero W – Now with Wifi and Bluetooth!

Yep! The NEW Raspberry Pi Zero W, now comes with onboard Wifi and Bluetooth!

wifi bluetoothraspberry pi zero w, with wifi and bluetooth

Great, it will no longer need a wifi and bluetooth dongle! And for one of my projects, the zero controlled external speakers, I won’t need a usb hub anymore! It can also take over as the media player on my TV in place of the Pi 3, so I can use it in other potential projects where I might need more processing speed and memory.

There is also now an official Pi Zero case!

raspberry pi zero w, official case

Now all it needs is a way to add a speaker (for projects like a homemade mp3 player or pigrrl zero) without needing a hat/dac or usb sound card, or reconfiguring the GPIO pins. Maybe next upgrade? lol!

Anyway! You can learn more about the NEW Raspberry Pi Zero W @ raspberrypi.org!

Control External Speakers Using a Pi Zero

Pi Zero control external speakers!

UPDATE: Now with Pi Zero W (W = on board wifi), you can eliminate the need for the wifi adapter and the 4 way usb hub!

Using a Pi Zero to control external speakers, remotely from your couch!

(sorry about my redundant wording, it’s for google search engine stuff)

pi zero control external speakersFor a while now, I have had these Creative SBS powered PC speakers, connected as external speakers, to my TV. It sounds great, especially when watching movies!  It’s really amazing how much these little speakers can enhance the TV’s sound quality, especially the bass.

But, to turn the volume up or down on these speakers, used as external speaker on my TV, you have to get up and physically turn the volume nob. Not too much trouble, but if you didn’t turn them down before or after you shut the TV off, you might get blasted the next time you turn on the TV. Not good when you can’t sleep at 3am in the morning, so you try watching a little TV to pass the time. Then you turn it on and it blasts noise into the still of the night, waking up the whole house!

pi zero controlled external speakersAnyway, so recently I bought a Raspberry Pi Zero and have been wondering what to do with it. I have lots of ideas like building a robot car, a portable retro game console or maybe use it as a spare desktop or printer server. But then I thought, why not set it up to control the volume on the external speakers connected to the TV!

For this to work though, the Zero has to have a few things that it doesn’t. An audio source to get sound in and out (except out from HDMI). And a way to connect remotely to the Zero to control the sound, like over a WiFi or Ethernet connection.

Things You Will Need to Control External Speakers with a Pi Zero

But the Pi Zero does offer support for sound through a USB connected sound card adapter that has a line-in and out port, and an internet connection with a WiFi adapter / Ethernet adapter. And with an OTG cable and USB hub, you can connect both!

usb sound adapter usb hubusb wifi adapter

 

From the audio out on the TV, I have connected a male RCA Y adapter cable (red and white) to 3.5mm male round pin jack, to the line-in port on the USB sound card.

male rca y adapter to male 3.5mm jack
And the green wire from the PC speakers, connected to the line-out on the Zero.

connection setup pi zero control external speakers

Then I installed the latest version of Raspbian Jessie OS on an SD card, inserted it into the Pi Zero. Connected the HDMI to the TV and power and booted it up, and installed the OS. I also did an update and upgrade through the terminal (sudo apt-get updated, sudo apt-get upgrade) on the Pi. And, enabled ssh and VNC through the Raspberry configuration menu.

enable vnc and ssh on raspberry pi

Now To Get The Sound Card Working to Control External Speakers

To enable sound on the USB sound card, you have to right click on the speaker icon to bring up the audio properties, and click on the sound card, to put a check by it.

enable usb sound

Then go into the USB Device Settings and enable the volume controls.

control external speakers set up

enable volume slidersCheck the boxes to enable the speakers/headphones, microphone or line-in (not the capture). Also enable the auto gain control. But once you enable everything, close the box and then go to the Switching tab and uncheck the auto gain control. This may remove some of the distortion from your sound card. Also, be sure and enable the mic/line-in levels, if they are marked with a red X, grayed or blacked out.

uncheck gain control external speakers

For now, just leave these boxes up and then turn the TV input to a TV station. If everything is connected correctly, there may be a slight delay and some pop noises, but then you should hear sound.

Once everything was installed and running, I was able to disconnect the Pi Zero from the HDMI on the TV and used the VNC viewer installed on my computer, to control the desktop on the Pi (more about this below).

How to Setup the Pi Zero to Control the Volume Remotely, From Your Couch!

With the VNC server enabled and setup on the Raspbian desktop. You should be able to control your Pi Zero from any computer with the VNC viewer. Check out these instructions here, to learn how to set up and use VNC on your Raspberry Pi.

It will be easier to control the Pi with a laptop. You can carry it into the room with your TV, so you can hear and adjust the sliders where you want them. Then tap OK to close the settings boxes on the Audio Device Settings.

If you have an iphone or android smart phone, you can go to the app store and download the VNC viewer. You can then bring up the Pi Zero in the viewer. Move around the screen until you get the pointer on the speaker icon. Tap on the speaker icon to bring up the volume slider. It’s a little tricky, but tap the slider nob with the pointer on it and then tap, hold and drag the nob, to move the slider up and down.

Control Volume with SSH

You can also download an ssh app on your phone and ssh into the Zero to control the volume. Type alsamixer at the prompt and this brings up the mixer control. To raise and lower the volume, use the 1-9 keys on the keyboard. Or use the plus and minus keys.

alsamixer controls

And there you go! That’s how you control external speakers with the Pi Zero! And, you can probably use this same setup for many audio devices you may have external speakers connected to.

Easier Way to Set Resolution Raspberry Pi

Are you using the Raspbian Jessie OS on your Pi? Need to change or set the resolution to better fit your screen or monitor?

Did you know you can now change or set the resolution on the Pi without editing the config.txt file manually? Yep! With the latest OS update, you can now change or set resolution directly through the desktop GUI.

Note: This is done pretty much the same way under the PIXEL desktop, but the menu just looks a little different.

Just click on the Menu button on the task bar, and click on Preferences. Then look for Raspberry Pi Configuration on the bottom of the list.

change resolution raspberry pi

Then look about 3/4 way down the System tab section for, Set Resolution.

Click the down arrow and choose your setting, then click OK.

Then click OK at the bottom of the Config box and choose to reboot!

When it brings up your desktop, you should see the change! Simple as that!

If you don’t see these setting on your version of the desktop, you may need to do an update. Open a terminal and type: sudo apt-get update (If prompted during update install, choose yes to continue). Then reboot!