Pi Cart: RetroPie in a NES Cartridge

RetroPie builds take up approximately 40% of my daily project searching. Whether it’s across social media, within the depths of YouTube, littering my inbox, or shared across office messaging, I see RetroPie everywhere.

I see… RetroPie

I can look across my desk right this moment and spot two different USB controllers and two RetroPie-imaged SD cards from where I sit. True story.

The mess of Alex's desk

The ‘organised’ clutter-mess of my desk…

Because of this, my attention tends to be drawn away from the inner workings of a gaming build and more toward the aesthetics. After all, if I’ve managed to set up RetroPie, anyone can do it.

When it comes to RetroPie builds, it tends to be the physical casing that really catches my attention. So many makers go the extra mile to build stunning gaming units that really please the eye.

Taking that into consideration, can you really be surprised that I’m writing about the Pi Cart? I mean, c’mon: it’s awesome-looking!

Pi Cart originator Zach offers up a complete how-to for the project, giving all budding gamers and tinkerers the instructions they need to fit a RetroPie-enabled Raspberry Pi Zero into an old NES cartridge.

Using a Raspberry Pi Zero, a four-port USB mini hub (to allow for the use of more than one USB controller), an old NES cartridge, and all the usual gubbins, it’s fairly easy to create your own Pi Cart at minimal cost. 

RetroPie Pi Cart

There are many online guides and videos which give you all the information you need to install RetroPie on the Raspberry Pi, so if you’ve never tried it before and feel a little bit out of your depth, I can assure you that you’ll be fine.

Then all you need is a glue gun (this is possibly the most expensive component of the build!) and an hour or so to go from Zero to retro-gaming Hero!


Michael Horne avatar

Spotted this a few days ago and have already ordered the necessary parts :-)

Sean avatar

So the necessary parts have been just added to my amazon cart. This is going to be fun.

Ping^Spike avatar

Cool project! On a similar theme I built the Raspberry Pi and the arcade controls in to a PlayStation 2 case to make a completely portable / stand alone unit too :) http://www.pingspike.com/category/raspberry-pi/retrostation/

Alex Bate avatar

That’s a really cool build! Well done.

goldfingeroo7 avatar

Just finished building a cocktail arcade that was given away at a foundation raffle. https://www.reddit.com/r/RetroPie/comments/54li2d/cocktail_arcade_cabinet_running_retropie/

Nobody of Import avatar

This is a, “What can you *REALLY* do with a PiZero…” item as much as a RetroPi casemod.

Epic on all sides, to be honest (And now I’ve got plans for at least ONE of the PiZeros I just bought recently on sale at MicroCenter…)

pbuyle avatar

Back in 2014 I made a similar project using a Rapsberry Pi. I had to de-solder a few connectors (audio, video, USB, Ethernet) to make it fit.


SamVimes avatar

Thanks for that!

It answers my question, why anyone would use a Zero if a bigger RasPi would also fit inside the cartridge. Just re-solder the usb-ports and you don’t even need a hub.

I would crunch the inside of a xbox 360 controller wireless receiver in there and maybe even try to solder an angled gpio out that is accessible from the side of the cartridge.

Don’t get me started!

Ze Huberto avatar

I think this might have been the first project I have seen so far…

perrodingoo avatar

That’s nice, but RecalBox and Lakka Tv have better performance on 3D games and some emulators, than RetroPie has.

Solomon Trimble avatar

I was inspired by this and got everything I need, Iwas wanting to connect an 8bit do nes controller to it… Can i plug a bluetooth dongle into the amazon usb driver and connect to it, since the pi zero does not support bluetooth…

I dont want to put my name on avatar

Yes you can get a BT dongle for Bt controllers

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