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Waveshare Game Hat - thoughts.

  • Thought I would share my opinions on my Waveshare Game Hat, for the Raspberry Pi.

    I got mine from ebay because it came with everything from the off. The Game Hat, 3D-Printed case, Samsung 18650 Battery, SNES-coloured buttons, Tron-style vinyl wrap. I installed a Raspberry Pi 3B+, and a couple of Pi heat sinks.
    Installation was fairly easy to do, despite the lack of included instructions. A few fiddly moments with the 6 small metal shafts and screws - it's easy to fit together wrong, to make it more fiddly than required. I wrongly installed everything to the Game-Hat first, which made fitting the case a bit too annoyingly fiddly, to a point I had to take a breather. So I calmly took everything apart and started from the case, upwards. Total install time, about 30 minutes - I took my time, and double-checked at every moment.

    I installed a 128Gb micro sdcard, starting with a fresh Retropie install, followed by roms, tweaks, and drivers. If you go down the route of doing everything yourself then googling "Waveshare Game-Hat drivers" takes you to a driver download + PDF help. A keyboard is required at this point to type out a few commands, then a reboot. A few things need to be added to the config.txt, I did this on my PC. Then pop the card in the Game-Hat and switch on.
    Once booted, the screen looks great, colourful and sharp. The controls were picked up after installing the driver, earlier on, and work ok. The analogue stick takes a bit of getting used to, especially since it's being used as digital controls - dpad. The buttons are very clicky, but work ok and responsive. The first games I tested were those that scroll left or right, and vertically - shmups. This was to test the screen for tearing. I kept reading about tearing, from a few posts and reviews on the net. I genuinely couldn't see any tearing, and wonder if those experiencing it had installed the drivers and (importantly) made the appropriate changes to the config.txt. The only slight downside to the screen is the size of the text, it is quite hard to do anything from a command prompt - those with younger eyes will benefit.
    Overall, I really like it, for the money you pay. I don't think think there is anything quite like this out there for sale. Sure, there are many hand-held pi projects to buy, but most use or only have room for a Pi Zero. This can fit a fullsize Pi 3B+, and a couple of heatsinks. I can't comment on battery life yet, due to only having this arrive this morning. So will update this post, in a few days.

    Downsides. The anlogue stick, it's not too bad and it is responsive. But, it's not a d-pad, and that will be a game-changer for some.
    The buttons are very clicky, but are also responsive - I didn't notice any lag in, for example, Snes Super Mario World, NES Mario 2/3. The "on" switch is tiny, and once inside a case you need to use a small flat-head screwdriver to move it. Hopefully, I can source a plastic cover to fit the switch. Once inside a case, the USB and Ethernet ports are not accessible. So, if you want to use a wireless keyboard + dongle then you will need to install it before fitting a case. Once there, it will have to stay there.
    I will add pictures, later today - it's 1am here, so I'm off for some sleep.

  • Global Moderator

    I also have been thinking about grabbing this. The Analog stick replacing the D-Pad is a massive turnoff for me. But to be honest, it might fix some problems I've had with projects lately. I built my GameboyZero from the AIO board... and even tho all the connections match up perfect, I can't press Right on the D-Pad. It just doesn't make connection. An analog would alleviate that completely.

    I'd probably want to hook a Pi2 to this to save as much power as possible. I might grab it since the price is reasonable. Thanks for sharing this link.

    EDIT: Ordered one. But looks like it will be a month or two before it arrives. Soooo... maybe a late birthday present? LOL

  • It's a shame one can't configure the analogue stick as both digital AND analogue controls, you could then use the analogue controls in MAME for Outrun, Pole Position, etc.. If there was a switch to flick between analogue and digital, that would make it almost perfect.
    One other slight downside is that there is no screen protector, such as a small piece of glass or plastic. I might see if I can get something on ebay, the screen can collect a bit of dust, scratches, etc.. if it's not protected.
    I now have mine mirrored to my other Pi 3B+, so I have a almost 1:1 copy of my sdcard. This is where it shines because I can switch off the Pi on my CRT, and carry on gaming on the Game-Hat.

  • Some pics. The Game-Hat isn't screwed together, so I could take some internal pics.


  • administrators

    Got one of these now.

    Currently setting it up - Their drivers pack is a bit hacky. They have modified the source of mk_arcade_joystick_rpi rather than just providing a custom config. No need to use anything from their drivers so far.

    You can use the mk_arcade_joystick_rpi driver from retropie-setup. Once it is installed go to /etc/modprobe.d/mk_arcade_joystick_rpi.conf and change it to

    options mk_arcade_joystick_rpi map=5 gpio=5,6,13,19,21,4,26,12,23,20,16,18

    these values were extracted from their hacked driver.

  • administrators

    Their default config.txt has a 640x480 which doesn't match the actual display resolution. They also have the custom screen mode set to 4:3 ratio which seems wrong but maybe it matches taking the pixel ratio into context. A custom screen of 480x320 didn't seem to work anyway - but a mode double that does. Going to have a play about with the display settings.

  • @BuZz thanks for the posts, very useful as someone putting this together for the first time.

    For the resolution side of things, I have this working in config.txt:

    hdmi_cvt=512 384 60

    I went with the smallest 4:3 mod8 resolution that worked... My theory being that the smaller the resolution the better in terms of performance - seems to be behaving itself.

    I did try 3:2 to keep it in-line with the screens (apparent) aspect ratio but it didn't provide good results on PSX (wasn't making full use of the screen).

  • This is in my config.






    hdmi_cvt=480 320 60 1 0 0 0




    I use 480x320, system-wide. I found anything lower didn't look as sharp as native res.

  • @John_RM_70 had a quick go with your config but was getting the blank screen issue...

    Will try again in the near future though, glad you've got it set properly :)

  • administrators

    @John_RM_70 maybe the screens or controller board are not all the same as my screen does not like running at native Res. (No output). Which is a shame.

  • @BuZz That is a shame. Hopefully, this isn't a quality control thing and Waveshare aren't cheaping-out on some screens.
    Have you or Arptastic, tried their official image ?
    Links here, at the bottom of the screen. Maybe worth a test, if you have a spare 8Gb sdcard lying about.

    Would be interesting to see what resolution that image boots up with, and how they've setup the emulators.

  • I stick with the hardware 4:3 option you can find in the IPS screen menu, so Two vertical black lines, but aspect ratio is respected.

    I have issues with it's battery : It is an "MX JOE" 18650 battery, mainly used in Ecigs... NOT so good ..(rewraped they say)
    this battery is advertised at 3000mah with a max instant current draw of 35 Amps.
    I do NOT think It is true though, since I have not a long Time to play before I see the small bolt upright.
    I think I am going to swap for a Sony VTC6 battery that seems to be a little better after reading tests on ECIGS forums...
    this hat only uses 1 Slot for a 18650, and I was wondering If I could put a 2 batteries slot (in paralel) to get a better autonomy...
    I admit I do NOT know anything about electronics and I was wondering If this could fry either the hat or the pie...
    Does anyone have an advice about that ?
    I know It is retropie forum and It Is NOT related to hardware. But maybe someone in this huge community has the answer....
    voilà !
    Please pardon my bad English...
    good day everyone !
    merci !

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