Raspberry Pi Pico Drives $10 Nintendo 64 Flash Cart

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Konrad Beckmann)

We love retro gaming on the Raspberry Pi but there’s nothing quite like retro gaming with a Raspberry Pi. Instead of running an emulator on a Pi, this Raspberry Pi Pico Nintendo 64 cart project, created by maker and developer Konrad Beckmann, is using the Raspberry Pi Pico to host a ROM that runs on the original Nintendo 64 console.

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A demo of the project is already live and showcases an example cart booting up a Super Mario 64 ROM on the Nintendo 64. It’s capable of running more than original ROMs for anyone interested in loading up some modern-day homebrew on the classic console. According to Beckmann, plans are already in the works to add more features and optimize the system even further.

Beckmann has an affinity for retro gaming, as made clear by his GitHub project repositories which include a collection of emulators for the Nintendo Game & Watch handheld. This collection is a port of an existing emulator collection known as Retro-Go. The original Retro-Go project was designed for ESP32 boards but Beckmann likes using original hardware which is evident in today’s project, as well.

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The demo board is built using a full Raspberry Pi Pico module which attaches to a custom PCB. That said, Beckmann is planning a new Nintendo 64 flash cart project that uses just the RP2040 microprocessor (Arturo182's RP2040 Stamp is seen in the render) rather than a full-sized Pico. Schematics have already been drafted and the new boards will be available to him for testing soon but, in the meantime, this Pico board serves as a wonderful proof of concept.

Beckmann explains how the emulation cart is programmed, detailing that the Pico emulates the Nintendo 64 cartridge by obtaining data from external flash as a response to bus requests. He uses the PIO (Programmable Input/Output) on the Pico to implement IO handling. All of the code used in this project is available at GitHub for interested parties to explore.

If you want to recreate this Raspberry Pi project for yourself or just develop something similar, check out the original project thread shared to Twitter by Beckmann. It provides not only a working demo of the cart in action but also an in-depth look at its creation process. Be sure to follow Beckmann for more cool retrogaming projects as well as 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.

  • Pollopesca
    This could make for a great alternative to those ridiculously expensive n64 EverDrive carts. Would be nice not having to hit reset to save data as well. Much potential.
  • KananX
    This is pretty cool, I very much prefer original hardware to emulators and I have a N64 as well.
  • TerryLaze
    Admin said:
    Konrad Beckmann is using a Raspberry Pi Pico to power his custom Nintendo 64 flash cart capable of running original and homebrew ROMs on a Nintendo 64 console.

    Raspberry Pi Pico Drives $10 Nintendo 64 Flash Cart : Read more
    We love retro gaming on the Raspberry Pi but there’s nothing quite like retro gaming with a Raspberry Pi.
    Go home article, you're drunk.