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Noob questions about multiple controllers and USB boards



  • Hey all, I'm brand new here, I've been lurking and reading a while but finally moved forward with ordering a bunch of parts (arriving in a few days) and I think I know what I'm going to do and how to do it. But I have a few questions about "extras" I'm curious about.

    I'm planning to do retropie using a pre-made image (likely a 128 GB image from removed) on a Pi 3 B+. I bought one of the inexpensive controller packages from Amazon with two joysticks, 8 buttons each, plus 2 smaller buttons each, and USB boards that each set plugs into. Those two boards will connect to 2 of the 4 USB ports on the Pi. From what I understand, that's all pretty plug-and-play.

    Two questions (at least, for now):

    1. I originally bought an i-pac2 before I decided to "dumb it down for starters" with the packaged kit. But since I have it sitting in my house, could I buy a trackball and spinner, install those in my cabinet, hook them to the i-pac2 (in its dedicated trackball and spinner ports), and plug that into the Pi also? I've searched for a listing of all the joy/button/key inputs that retropie asks for when starting up and can't find it anywhere, so I have no idea whether there is something easy that a noob like me could do to add a trackball and/or spinner. And if so, would certain games (say, centipede for trackball) be able to use that ball for movement as well as a button attached to the other board in a different USB port for firing? Also, since I have a two player cabinet, do those devices work where two players (or more) take turns on it, as with an actual arcade game, rather than it expecting two separate devices like the joysticks?

    2. Similarly, if I have a USB nes or snes controller, could I plug that into the third or fourth Pi USB port and custom-program certain games (the nes or snes ones, obviously) to use that instead of my cabinet joysticks and buttons? In other words, would it remember that all the other games used my cabinet controls, but if I plugged in the nes controllers, those nes games would operate via the nes pads? Or would the nes pads conflict with the joystick and buttons?

    TIA,
    Pete


  • Global Moderator

    Hello and welcome to the RetroPie forums !
    First of all, we don't support 3rd party image, especially the ones with illegally distributed ROMs (like the one you mentioned). The only pre-made image we support is the one from retropie.org.uk/download. Also, links to ROMs or ROM sites are also not allowed in the forum, so I've removed the reference in your post to a well known site for such things. Please read again the forum rules before posting such content.

    For your questions

    1. Yes, you can use a spinner/trackball to play games - see a detailed explanation on how to configure them here.
    2. Yes, you can use additional gamepads and configure them specifically for a system (i.e. Nes, SNES, etc.). You can use the Retropie joystick selection tool designed by @meleu, from here.


  • Thanks for the responses. Sorry about the image reference, it won't happen again! (wipes egg off face, realizes I knew that)

    So, installing RetroPie from this site, when you first start up and get the gray DOS-looking controller set up screen... is there a list somewhere on this forum which shows every input asked? I would love to see that list and know what options I will have, as it will help me decide what buttons I want to install in my cabinet.

    I have seen the thread here about "what buttons are needed" and opining about using a hotkey vs. having dedicated load, save, exit, etc. As mentioned, the controller package I purchased has 8 buttons available per joystick as well as two other smaller buttons (presumably meant for select and start), and I also purchased a set of 4 more buttons (2 "coin", a "one player" and a "two player"). If I knew what all options were available at setup, I might repurpose 2 of the set of 8 (since many folks seem to think 6 buttons are enough) into load, save, etc.


  • Global Moderator

    @PJPJPJPJ said in Noob questions about multiple controllers and USB boards:

    So, installing RetroPie from this site, when you first start up and get the gray DOS-looking controller set up screen... is there a list somewhere on this forum which shows every input asked? I would love to see that list and know what options I will have, as it will help me decide what buttons I want to install in my cabinet.

    It's in the get started section - https://retropie.org.uk/docs/Controller-Configuration/. ES tries to cover for all possible buttons and joysticks present on a PS or Xbox controller. There's also a video linked which shows this process.

    I have seen the thread here about "what buttons are needed" and opining about using a hotkey vs. having dedicated load, save, exit, etc. As mentioned, the controller package I purchased has 8 buttons available per joystick as well as two other smaller buttons (presumably meant for select and start), and I also purchased a set of 4 more buttons (2 "coin", a "one player" and a "two player"). If I knew what all options were available at setup, I might repurpose 2 of the set of 8 (since many folks seem to think 6 buttons are enough) into load, save, etc.

    Each console has its own gamepad - see this page for a detailed overview. The main variation is within the Arcade games, where it really depends on the game - but that's not really my area of expertise. You can look up various builds posted on the forum for real cabinets and their setup and others might chime in and give you advice.



  • @mitu said in Noob questions about multiple controllers and USB boards:

    It's in the get started section - https://retropie.org.uk/docs/Controller-Configuration/. ES tries to cover for all possible buttons and joysticks present on a PS or Xbox controller. There's also a video linked which shows this process.

    I've seen that, and I guess I'm not fully grasping how it's going to behave because that only shows "one controller detected". I assume that "one detected" is because one USB is device is plugged in in that example, and it's offering the options which go with that controller (SNES, Xbox 360, PS3, etc.) being plugged in. It doesn't explain how the menu will look when I have two separate USB boards and possibly a third (i-pac2 with ball and spinner), and what will be presented as options for each. I assume with my custom-built cabinet, I will get some sort of "generic controller" detected, so I am wondering what options it will give me. It also isn't clear where/when/if the hotkey action options appear - it lists the defaults at the bottom but not in the format of the stuff above. Are the hotkey action items listed in order to be assigned, or do they default as indicated and you can only change them by going into the config menu?

    Also, one post I saw seemed to indicate that if you reassign a hotkey action to a single button on your cabinet (rather than leaving it as "hotkey + (button or joystick direction)", then all the other hotkey actions must be assigned a single button and can't remain as a two-press action. Is that correct?

    Each console has its own gamepad - see this page for a detailed overview. The main variation is within the Arcade games, where it really depends on the game - but that's not really my area of expertise. You can look up various builds posted on the forum for real cabinets and their setup and others might chime in and give you advice.

    Yeah, I've read various threads opining on button arrangement, but my question is really a derivative of the above questions; I'm less worried about arranging the buttons for my gameplay and more concerned about what other buttons I should have on my cabinet in order to make it easy for my little kids and for visitors to play.



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