Raspberry Pi PALPi Handheld Takes Retrogaming on the Go

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Arnov Sharma)

The Raspberry Pi is a popular first choice for many makers looking to create an emulation platform. Its comfortable size and capable specs make it an optimal choice for amateurs and pros alike. It also helps that the community has vast amounts of support for anyone who wants to game on this classic SBC. Today we’ve got another brilliant Pi-powered gaming handheld to share with you. This one, known as PALPi, was created by a developer named Arnov Sharma.

It wouldn’t be much of a handheld if it wasn’t portable, and this build is no exception. It’s designed with hinges so the screen can be folded up, and there's a built-in battery board to keep it mobile. It’s intended for retro gaming emulation and can run classic console games for systems like the NES. This has been a work in progress for a while and it’s worth noting that this is the sixth iteration of Sharma’s PALPi project.

The latest update for PALPi V6 is the addition of its battery board. This is a custom PCB that sports two lithium cells inside of an SMD battery holder. It can be recharged and fits neatly into the underside of the unit. According to Sharma, the battery lasts up to three hours.

The system is powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero W that connects to another custom PCB created by Sharma. It enables the convenient port connections and buttons necessary for user input. There are also LEDs worked into the system for a professional touch. The screen is a 4-inch PAL display panel which, according to Sharma, was taken from an old car monitor. All of the hardware is housed inside of a 3D-printed shell.

Software-wise, you could use just about anything from Raspberry Pi OS to Lakka or RetroPie. In this case, however, Sharma has opted to use Recalbox OS. This operating system is designed for retro gaming as well, but also comes with a selection of free games pre-installed which is useful if you want to start off gaming without having to load a bunch of ROMs into your system.

If you want to get a closer look at this Raspberry Pi project and maybe even recreate it yourself, check out the full build guide over at Instructables, and be sure to follow Arnov Sharma for more cool creations as well as any future updates on this one.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.