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Please help with RetroPie Build (USB ports and Atari Paddle Questions.)



  • Dear Raspberry Pi, RetroPie, Emulation Station, Stella, & 2600-daptor.com,

    I think I need most of your (and your communities) help.

    Will the following work? Am I planning this build correctly?

    Background:

    I have been collecting video games since being a kid (MANY years ago) and have a “lot” of old video game systems, controllers, and games. I would like to create a Raspberry Pi “RetroPie” based system to play backups of some of the old games I own in a smaller foot print than the old systems, as well as using HDMI.

    I am pretty sure I can get the Atari 2600 joystick games and NES, T-16/PC Engine, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, and Atari Jaguar gamepad games working, but I have a few questions regarding multiple players/controllers, and especially emulating Atari 2600 games that need “paddle” controllers.

    Ideally, I would like to have a single Raspberry Pi system (3b), running RetroPie, running Emulation Station as a front-end, running Stella as an Atari 2600 emulator, as well as other emulators for the other systems. For the Atari 2600 joystick games and all the other systems, I believe that USB SNES controllers will work fine, but I have a couple of problems.

    1. There are only 4 USB ports on the Raspberry Pi 3b. There are several 4 player games on the T-16/PC Engine, Sega Genesis, and Super Nintendo, so I need to either use all 4 USB ports, and that leaves me no “spare” USB for a memory stick, keyboard, mouse, and/or hooking up paddle controllers for the Atari 2600 / Stella Emulator so I probably have to connect a USB Hub to one of the USB ports.

    2. The Atari 2600 / Stella Emulator will work with Super Nintendo Game Pads for most games, but I am very interested in making sure some of my favorite analog “paddle” games work. On the internet I have read mixed feedback as to whether a set of Atari Paddles connected to a 2600-daptor connected to a USB port on the Raspberry Pi will work (some say yes, some say no.)

    Summary:

    So, I am considering building:
    • A Raspberry Pi 3b system
    • Running RetroPie
    • Running Emulation Station
    • Running various emulators including Stella
    • Hooked up to a USB Hub (at least 6 port possibly more)
    • With 4 USB SNES gamepads connected to the hub
    • With 2 pairs of Atari 2600 Paddle controllers (2 paddles each connector), connected to 2 2600-daptors, also connected to the 6 port USB hub
    • The 3 remaining USB ports on the Raspberry Pi can be used for memory stick, keyboard, and mouse

    Questions:

    So, my questions for Raspberry Pi, Retro Pie, Emulation Station, Stella, 2600-daptor.com, and related communities are:

    1. Can I connect a 6 port or bigger USB Hub to a Raspberry Pi 3b (giving me at least 9 USB ports total)?
    2. Are there any limitations on how many USB connections (how big of a hub I can connect) to the Raspberry Pi? Hardware-wise? Given the RetroPie architecture? Given the Emulation Station architecture? Given Stella’s architecture?
    3. I want to have 4 SNES game pads (4 USB) and 2 sets of 2 Atari Paddle controllers (2 2600-dabtor to USB) connected to my system. 8 controllers via 6 USB ports. Will this work given Raspberry Pi? RetroPie? Emulation Station? Stella? 2600-daptor?
    4. Other than the 4-player Atari 2600 / Stella paddle games, there are several 4 player games on the T-16 / PC Engine, Sega Genesis, and SNES. Will these work on the system described above? Any issues configuration or otherwise?
    5. Do Atari Paddle controllers work with Raspberry Pi, running Emulation Station, running Stella using 2600-daptor adaptors? Are there any known issues?
    6. Does anyone have an alternative to Stella-2600-daptor to play Atari paddle games using Raspberry Pi and RetroPie?

    Any other comments, ideas, suggestions appreciated!

    Thank you very much for the help!

    Lee

    Lee Frank
    Bloomfield, NY



  • On a different forum a users indicated the Raspberry Pi could support up to 127 USB devices (including the hub itself) and suggested using a powered USB Hub, not one that draws power from the Raspberry Pi.

    Any other ideas/comments/suggestions?

    Thanks!

    Lee



  • @lfrank22001 if you use stella and not lr stella, every single atari device works on it. I use the 2600-daptor ii every day on my pi. Stella also auto detects the paddles when using a 2600-daptor or 2600-daptor 2. If they didnt by some chance i can tell you how to set them. In stella you can program all of the switches to a controller as well. You can play paddle games with a joystick or you can use an analog stick as a paddle.


  • Global Moderator

    @edmaul69

    I was hoping you'd weigh in on this. I remember you saying that you had a 2600-daptor II. One question I have for you that I imagine will be informative to the OP as well is if the onscreen paddles "stick" to the side of the walls using these adapters as they do when simple mouse movement is used? I've mentioned this bug before in other threads and that in later versions of Stella it's been fixed, but I'm curious if it's an issue with the 2600-daptor II here.



  • Thanks edmaul69 and mediamogul!

    OK... First off, I'm planning a build, so I don't actually "have" a Raspberry Pi and/or any of the other hardware / software yet, so I apologize in advance if I'm asking stupid questions or stuff that would be obvious if I actually had the hardware and software in front of me.

    Based on feedback so far... the only limit on the number of USB ports the Raspberry Pi can support is 127, so there's no problem adding a 6 port or bigger USB Hub to the Pi. I think a 6 port hub should work for me.

    The plan is to connect 4 USB SNES controllers and then 2 sets of 2600-daptors vers. II each connected to a pair of Atari Paddles all connected to the hub.

    RetroPi says it supports Stella OR Stella-Ir.

    I "think" the only difference between the two is that Steall-Ir is "configurable" and Stella is "hard-coded". Although I think you can launch Stella with command line instructions which would kind of be like configuring it. Is this right? Any other differences?

    My questions/concerns is. I don't want to be plugging/unplugging controllers all the time. I just want to have the 4 USB SNES control pads in ports 1, 2, 3, 4 of the hub and Paddle sets 1 and 2 connected to separate 2600-daptor II's to port 5 and port 6. Most of the games and systems that use 4 players (NES, T-16/PC Engine, Sega Genesis, SNES) should read those 4 game pads on ports 1-4 just fine. But what will Stella do when it finds 4 game pad controllers and then 2 sets of paddles? Will it even "look" past the first 2 controllers? There only were ever 2 control ports on the 2600.

    If it matters, I could go the other way. Put the 2 sets of paddles on ports 1 and 2 and hope the other systems, skip them and search for the game pads on ports 3 through 6.

    From what I've read... native Stella is more "up to date" and "better" at finding and setting up configurations for different controllers. But what I haven't been able to find yet is how many controllers will it find in total and how will it assign them. That's why I've been kind of leaning towards the Stella-Ir because I could configure it (I think) to do whatever I want it to, but if the manual config of Stella-Ir doesn't work as well as letting Stella just do her thing.... well I need to know that.

    Thoughts? Thanks!

    Lee


  • Global Moderator

    @lfrank22001 said in Please help with RetroPie Build (USB ports and Atari Paddle Questions.):

    I "think" the only difference between the two is that Steall-Ir is "configurable" and Stella is "hard-coded".

    It's actually quite the opposite. lr-stella is at the mercy of whichever features the RetroArch team decide to include from the mainline Stella release. This being the case, there are a wide array of useful and sometimes outright necessary features that can only be accessed by running Stella proper.



  • I'm assuming Stella is bigger than Stella-Ir. Given what I'm trying to do, I don't think memory card space should be an issue, or even speed of running a program.

    Are there any draw-backs to using Stella instead of Stella-Ir?

    Still wondering about how Stella will sense controllers and would sense and assign controllers with a 6 port hub with either 4 game pads in ports 1-4 and 2 paddle sets in 5 and 6 or reversed.

    Thanks!

    Lee


  • Global Moderator

    @lfrank22001

    Are there any draw-backs to using Stella instead of Stella-Ir?

    Higher learning curve? One aspect of lr-stella that I imagine many people find appealing is that having the options stripped away makes it more straight forward to configure the few options that remain. It's sort of the same trade off you would find in a Apple verses Android comparison.


  • Global Moderator

    @lfrank22001 said in Please help with RetroPie Build (USB ports and Atari Paddle Questions.):

    Still wondering about how Stella will sense controllers and would sense and assign controllers with a 6 port hub with either 4 game pads in ports 1-4 and 2 paddle sets in 5 and 6 or reversed.

    You just map the physical controller to whatever virtual 2600 port you want through the GUI. It's not too dissimilar from any other emulator.



  • @lfrank22001 usb'have an order. Plug the paddles into the higher numbered ports. They should auto work but if not tab is the menu button and you can change everything in there. For ease of use plug in a mouse. I originally had my 2600-daptor external and would plug into usb 0. Configured all my controls that way. Then i swapped to usb 3 and it worked correctly. Stella has a strange way with the configs. It reconizes different setups. If you change controllers



  • Sounds like everything should work! I'll let you know how it goes!
    Thanks!
    Lee


  • Global Moderator

    @edmaul69

    Plug the paddles into the higher numbered ports.

    Very nice.

    One question I have for you that I imagine will be informative to the OP as well is if the onscreen paddles "stick" to the side of the walls using these adapters as they do when simple mouse movement is used? I've mentioned this bug before in other threads and that in later versions of Stella it's been fixed, but I'm curious if it's an issue with the 2600-daptor II here.

    Have you ever noticed if this is an issue?



  • @mediamogul i have not seen any sticking with the paddles. Explain exactly what happens and i will test it. I play warlords and meidevil mayhem the most.


  • Global Moderator

    @edmaul69

    The actual issue is a side effect of how the games were originally programmed rather than being an actual Stella issue. When an onscreen paddle hits a wall, the location of that paddle has the potential to keep moving indefinitely, even though the graphic looks to be at rest against the wall. To move the paddle to the other side of the screen, it must then travel the extra distance it went past the wall before it comes back in line with the graphic, where it will then begin to travel. For all uses and purposes, it gives the impression that the onscreen paddle sticks to the walls.

    As mentioned, this eccentricity also exists in the original software, however there is a limit to when the physical paddles will keep sending input that corresponds with the intended onscreen movement. When older versions of Stella make use of a mouse for analog movement, there is no limit to the movement and continues on past the walls. Now, I know that the 2600-daptor II makes use of the original paddles, but sometimes adapted controllers don't always perform 1:1 with their original design and I was wondering if this "bug" was an issue before I went through the trouble of buying a few myself.

    The biggest offenders to test would be any of the 'Breakout' titles.



  • @mediamogul ok so this is not an issue really with the paddles. If you set an analog stick up as a paddle and not a dpad its not an issue either. There is only so far you can turn a paddle or an analog stick set up as a paddle. So if you go too far it is a fraction of a second to be back on course. With the 2600-daptor you need/want to center-ish the paddle before plugging in. Doesnt have to be exact because there is little movement that you truly use on a paddle. Tom designed it to mimick the 2600 with paddles as much as possible. I assume the real atari is identical to this so i dont see the "flaw" in the game design being a problem at all.

    As far as putting the paddle to center before plugging in, i turn my paddle turned all the way to the left. Then i put my fingers on 1 and 7o'clock. Then i turn it back to the right until my finger are on 12 and 6 o'clock. Then it is centered. You can hot swap the paddles and joystick. So if you plug the paddle in and you have it turned too far one direction and it interferes with your ability to move further one of the directions, just unplug the paddle itself, recenter and plug back in. No need to mess with the usb end.


  • Global Moderator

    @edmaul69 said in Please help with RetroPie Build (USB ports and Atari Paddle Questions.):

    If you set an analog stick up as a paddle and not a dpad its not an issue either.

    Every time I've tried to do this, the analog stick simply acts as digital input, with the least little bit of movement thrusting the paddle in either direction. However, as this particular issue veers too far away from the OP's query about the adapter, I might tag you into another thread regarding this sometime else.

    As for the rest of your comments on the specifics of operation regarding the 2600-daptor II, it's great to know exactly how you dial these things into range. based on your comments, I think I'll go ahead and make an order. It sounds like they're a great option.

    Thanks for the input.



  • @mediamogul actually at the moment it still pertains to him. He asked about how they work and alternatives. The analog stick is the only real alternative and i explained the paddles.

    So for both of you here and everyone else who stumbles on this page this is how you set up an analog stick as a paddle. Keep in mind that when an analog stick is untouched you are centered so if you let go you will jump back to the center position on the screen. So in the input settings/emul. events scroll down to paddle you will see three options, paddle x analog, (x being the number displayed) paddle x decrease and paddle x increase. I believe paddle analog is for when you only use one potentiometer like an unmodified paddle. Increase and decrease is for analogs. If that doesnt work to your liking try analog. If you are using all seperate controllers with analog sticks, then set up their joystick fire buttons but dont set up their paddle fire buttons. Only set up paddle fire buttons if they are going to be different buttons than the joystick fire button.

    If stella doesnt already preset up the 2600-daptor which it should and is programmed into stella to do, here is what you need to know. So for the fire button for paddle 0 (player 1) do not set a button to fire because if you do you will cancel out the joystick fire. However you need to set player 2's paddle fire to button on the paddle if you are using them.

    I hope this helps both of you in your decision. I personally will not play them without paddles. It is perfect with them.



  • Thanks for the extra info!
    Lee


  • Global Moderator

    @edmaul69

    Very, very informative. My TV is currently occupied for a NetFlix binge session, but I look forward to trying your suggestions. With any luck it'll solve my issues. Of course the paddles are looking like a better option anyway.



  • @mediamogul if i could recommend any controller for any emulator this would be it.

    Here is something cool i made. I gave these to a friend after having them for a while, but i made them by mixing joysticks and paddles. Then i found out some company actually made them in brazil back in the day.

    alt text

    alt text



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