Build your own NES Classic with a Raspberry Pi 3

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Gamers are still searching for any available stock of the widely popular NES Classic Edition. Luckily you can build your own NES Classic with a Raspberry Pi 3 running RetroPie.  We’ll show you step by step how to do this in today’s Raspberry Pi Build Tutorial.

Nintendo produced a wonderful product here, but came up more than short in supplying enough units.  In fact, it was embarrassingly low in supply throughout its production.  To make circumstances even worse, Nintendo then in a very strange move announced it would cease production, even when demand was at its strongest.

We’ve jumped the gun and made our own Super Nintendo Classic Edition before the initial announcement, but we wanted to follow up with how to make your own NES Classic Edition in case you were one of the many left in the cold without being able to find one.  Below are the parts needed and links to purchase them from (we are not affiliated with any of the vendors or sources).


The CanaKit bundle will have your Raspberry Pi 3 (recommended for best gaming experience and nice features such as WiFi and Bluetooth that are missing from previous models), heat sinks and official power adapter.  The SanDisk Ultra 32GB Micro SD card will supply plenty of room for the RetroPie and all the emulator and roms you’ll likely every put on it.  The NES Case simply opens up via screws and you place the Raspberry Pi 3 into it and tighten everything back in.  Just don’t forget to put your heat sinks on first.  The iBuffalo USB Gamepad is an excellent controller and this enables you to play both NES and SNES games.  Grab two if you plan on gaming with friends.  There is no need to spend big bucks on a HDMI cable, so the Amazon Basics High Speed cable works great and is well priced.  Lastly, the Anker 3.0 USB card reader will be needed if you don’t have SD reader on  your computer.  I prefer the USB 3.0 adapter myself and at $9.99, it’s tough to pass on.

You’ll first need to load RetroPie on the SD card. Click on the Download link for Raspberry Pi 2/3 on this page – Click Here.   Once it is downloaded, use Win 32 Disk Imager to place this image on  your SD card (which should be inserted into your computer and registered by now through a standard card reader or the USB card reader).   This is very important, make sure you select the SD card and not any other drive when using Win 32 Disk Imager to write the image!  

Once that is finished, you can take the SD card out and place it into the Raspberry Pi 3.  Put the Raspberry Pi 3 in the NES case first and then place the micro SD card inside.  Plug in the HDMI cable and then your power supply. You should then see Emulation Station screen and then RetroPie will finish loading.  You’ll then be welcomed by a screen to configure a controller. Plug in your iBuffalo USB gamepad and hold down any button.  Now follow the prompts for the corresponding buttons.  It will eventualy get to controls you don’t have such as left analog, right anaolog and so forth.  This is fine, just hold down a button you have already used for 2-3 seconds and it will bypass these until it reaches the end and you will press the A buton once it is on “Ok”.  You should then be able to browse the RetroPie dashboard and access RetroPie Setup where you can configure your network, themes, audio options, Bluetooth devices and more.

Of course now you want to add your roms to your Raspberry Pi 3.  You’ll need a flash drive. It needs to be the NTFS or FAT32 file system, which most will be.  If you need to, you can simply right click on the flash drive within “My Computer” and select format if needed.  Delete everything on the drive and then right click wihin it and select “New Folder”.  Name this folder retropie.  You’ll then insert this drive into your Raspberry Pi 3.  Wait a few minutes and then remove it.  When you insert this back into your PC, you should now see additional folders inside the one you just created.  Add the roms you have (legally you should only have roms that you have bought) into the respective folders, such as NES roms into the NES folder. Once finished, eject the flash drive and once again plug it back into your Raspberry Pi 3. Give it 2-5 minutes depending on how many roms you added.  Remove the flash drive and reboot the system by hitting start on your controller and selecting the option at the bottom that says “Quit” and then selecting “Restart System”.  It will ask you to confirm, select “Yes”.  Now RetroPie will load and you should see all your roms in their respective folders.

To scrape for all the nice description and game pics, I recommend Steven Selph’s Scraper.  ETA Prime on YouTube has an excellent tutorial on this.  It’s step by step and is by far the best way to get all your game art and descriptions setup. Once it starts running, it grabs and places this data where needed and then you will have a slick looking and running system.

Along with the NES case and capablitiy of the Raspberry Pi 3 running RetroPie, you’ll now have a far supeior system that looks just like the NES Classic, yet outperforms it in every possible measure.  If you have any questions or problems, feel free to reach out in the comments section or visit the official RetroPie page HERE.

Below is our finished product.  I hope this has helped and you enjoy your new custom NES Classic!

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