Raspberry Pi Zero Powers Game Boy Advance Retro Pie Handheld

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Cheat_Steve10)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — the Raspberry Pi goes with retro gaming like peanut butter and jelly. Today we’ve got another fun retro gaming project to share with you, this one created by a maker who goes by Cheat_Steve10. He’s managed to stuff our favorite SBC inside of an old Game Boy Advance (GBA) and even uses the original hardware for input.

The project relies on a Raspberry Pi Zero and allows him to emulate all sorts of games using RetroPie. The original screen has been replaced with an LCD panel so you don’t have to find the perfect light source just to see what you’re doing. It’s battery-powered, making it totally portable, and uses the original buttons. This project is similar to Zarcadeuk’s Game Boy Advance SP drop in kit but is more homemade and less commercial.

According to Cheat_Steve10, this is actually the third version of his attempt to make a GBA Pi Zero RetroPie rig. He’s been working on perfecting the setup since 2020. Previous editions used a GBA SP and lacked hardware for audio output so this time he opted for the original GBA which has more room for a speaker module.

In the original thread shared to Reddit, Cheat_steve10 explains how he’s using a Raspberry Pi Zero W. This keeps a small form factor that’s light on power with the added benefit of wireless support. The screen is a 2.8-inch TFT display that connects via SPI, a USB sound card is used to process audio output and the buttons work using the GPIO pins on the Pi Zero. Cheat_Steve10 confirms that the unit gets roughly 2 hours of use with a 1000mAh battery.

Like we mentioned before, this is a RetroPie project. If you haven’t played around with it much before, check out our guide on how to set up RetroPie. The display module relies on a library known as Fbcp ili9341 for output. The button input relies on the GPIONext library—an open source Python tool.

If you want to get a closer look at this Raspberry Pi project, check out the original thread shared to Reddit as well as the demo video posted to YouTube showing it in action.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.