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.
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.
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!
A Simple Way to Get Netflix on Your Raspberry Pi 3!
Like 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.
But, 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.
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:
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!
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.
With this connection, you still don’t have audio, but you can add it with a usb sound card adapter.
My 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!
8Bitdo Zero Gamepad on Retropie 4.2!
The 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.
Here is a how to setup the 8Bitdo Zero Bluetooth Gamepad, on Retropie 4.2.
Note: 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
Push 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.
Step 4. Connecting the Gamepad to Bluetooth.
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.
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!
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!
Yep! The NEW Raspberry Pi Zero W, now comes with onboard 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!
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!
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)
For 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!
Anyway, 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!
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.
And the green wire from the PC speakers, connected to the line-out on the Zero.
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.
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.
Then go into the USB Device Settings and enable the volume controls.
Check 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
SainSmart 5 inch LCD HDMI Touch Screen Display – For Raspberry Pi 3.
I recently purchased this neat little sainsmart 5 inch LCD hdmi touch screen display, on Amazon.com for under $40. So far it works pretty good on my Raspberry Pi 3 with the Raspbian PIXEL desktop. And, worked fine for playing games on RetroPie.
It’s a little tricky to use as a touch screen for me, because I have fat fingers and the stylus pen (if included) is a little shaky in my hands. But it’s ok, as long as you don’t need to double click on anything.
What makes it neat though, is it comes with a special HDMI coupling adapter and female GIO Pin connection header, to connect it directly to the Raspberry Pi board and HDMI output. So there is no soldering needed. And when connected this way, there is no extra power adapter needed to run the screen.
You can connect it just to the HDMI output with an HDMI cable, but you will need another power supply, to get the power going on it that way.
If you are running the more recent Raspbian image (Nov. 2016 PIXEL Desktop), you can connect the display directly to the Pi and it will work right out of the box. But you will need to add some lines to the config.txt for the resolution to display correctly. And, you will need to download and install a driver, for the touch screen to work.
To Adjust the Screen Resolution
Something they don’t include with the screen, is the instructions on setting the resolution so the desktop fills most of the screen. To correctly set it, you will need to ssh into the Pi and add some lines of code to the config file.
Once at command prompt, type: sudo nano /boot/config.txt. Then move the cursor down past the last line of text at the bottom and hit enter to create a skipped space, and then copy and past this in:
hdmi_cvt 800 480 60 6 0 0 0
Then hit the Ctrl x on the keyboard, then Y and enter to save it. Then type sudo reboot at the prompt.
When it reboots, it should fill most of the screen.
How to enable Touch, on the Sainsmart 5 inch lcd hdmi touch screen display (WARNING!!! Will not work on noobs install, only jessie! Download here and follow install instructions here, if you don’t know how to do that.).
It also has no instructions included on how to enable the touch screen (you can find them on the sainsmart.com wiki). You need to install the driver for that. I suggest going through the GUI on the Pi itself, instead of ssh into it. Open a browser on the PI and download the driver from http://repository.sainsmart.com/index.php?share/file&user=bbu_sainsmart&sid=hPpZMsVO. Once downloaded to your Pi, open the downloads file and cut and paste the file to the home/pi directory.
1st open the terminal and go ahead and do an update and upgrade the OS (PIXEL/Raspbian):
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
Then open a terminal again and copy and past this in at prompt and hit enter:
tar xvf LCD-show-151020.tar.gz
It should unzip the file.
Then either type or copy and paste this into the terminal at prompt:
Then either type or copy and paste into the terminal at prompt:
Wait a few minutes, and the system should automatically restart. Once booted up successfully, try out the touch screen with the included stylus pen or your finger.
And there your go!
Anyway! I like it and plan on using it to one day build a hand held gaming device. You can find it here for purchase!
How to change the task bar location and add or change the background image or color, on the Raspbian Raspberry Pi Desktop!
Change Task Bar Location
When you first install the Raspbian OS and startup your Pi, you will notice the task bar location and application quick launch icons, are at the top of the desktop.
Did you know, the task bar can be moved to the bottom, left or right, of the desktop? And, you can edit the quick launch icons too? Here is how to do that.
1st, right click in a blank space of the task bar to bring up the task bar settings menu, and click on “Panel Settings” in the list.
Under the Geometry tab, you click on the location you want the task bar and it will move there. There are a few other settings there you can change, if you want to change the length and width, etc. Click OK to save the location.
Edit the Quick Launch Icons
Usually, the default quick launch icons in the task bar are the web browser, file cabinet, terminal, Mathematica, and Wolfram. But these icons can be edited to what you want.
It will bring up a box like the one here to the right. Click on Application Launch Bar in the list and then click on the Preferences button and it will show a box like the one below.
On the left side of the box, are the icons that are already there in the tray. Click on the ones you want to remove and click the remove button in the middle of the box. On the right side are applications you can add. Click on the ones you want to add and click add button in the middle of the box, at the top. You can also switch them around with the up and down buttons. Then click OK when done.
As an example, I removed Mathematica and Wolfram icons and added the Sense HAT Emulator, to the quick launch tray.
How To Change the Background Image
With the new PIXEL desktop Raspbian update, you can choose from several images to use as a background. Just right click in any area of the current desktop background and it will bring up a window box with a list. Click on Desktop Preferences, at the bottom of that list.
Then to change the background, click the little folder icon next to Wallpaper, to bring up other background image choices.
Choose the one you want (it shows a small thumbnail preview to the right) and click open and it will be set as your background image.
Or you can also just use a background color, if you want.
Just above the line that has the image, is the Wallpaper mode. Select “Fill with background color only” in the drop down list. Then adjust the color wheel and click on the color you want. Once done, click OK and then click close to close the box. Then the background will change to the color you picked.
You can also use both, a color and a background image. Play around with these settings until you get the desired look you want, on your Raspberry Pi!