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I’ll continue to update the guide as needed.
This build takes the PSPi into new territory. This majority of the time spent on this build wasn’t with a soldering iron, it was with schematic and PCB design. It started as a rat’s nest of wires in Version 2 and grew into the modular Version 2.1, and has grown again into a full all-in-one at the request of you guys reading this. Many of you wanted something you could build in an afternoon, so I’d like to introduce the Version 3. It does everything that the previous versions did and includes a few new features that weren’t ready when those versions were made.
- Properly charges the 3.7v lipo batteries. Battery voltage ranges from 3.0v (fully discharged) to 4.2v (fully charged) The board has components that prevent the battery from overcharging, overdischarging, and short-circuiting.
- The green LED is lit when the battery is operating at normal voltage. The LED becomes orange when the battery drops to about 3.5v. At this voltage only about 10% of the battery capacity remains. This warning voltage is adjustable, and can be changed by turning the potentiometer in the center of the board.
- When the system is plugged in for charging, the LED will turn orange while the battery charges. This happens when it is powered on or powered off. If the system is powered off, then the LED will turn green when the battery has fully charged.
- If the battery drops below 3.0v the system will fully power off and will not function until the battery is recharged.
- A quick push of the power switch turns the system on. Once on, it requires a connection to the Raspberry Pi to stay on. If the Raspberry Pi doesn’t have an SD card installed or if it doesn’t have the correct config.txt, then the system will not stay powered on.
- Once the operating system has booted, a quick push of the power switch will send a signal to the Raspberry Pi and the system will fully shut down. Once shut down, the system will fully power off. It will power on again when the power switch is pushed.
- If the system is not operating properly, the power switch can also be used to force the system to power off. Holding the switch in the pushed position for about three seconds will fully kill power to the board. It will power on again when the power switch is pushed.
- PWM audio amplification is included, and includes audio filtering for better quality sound.
- The switch on the left side of the board (in the position of the original PSP’s WiFi switch) will turn the audio fully on and off. Up position turns audio on, down position turns audio off.
USB data connection
- The miniUSB at the top of the boards connects to the USB port on the Raspberry Pi. This allows USB devices (thumb drive, keyboard, etc.) to be connected. This is not meant for high-power devices such as hard drives. If you need high-amperage, use a powered USB hub.
- Connects to the PSP’s joystick, allowing for up/down/left/right control. This joystick doesn’t allow for precision control, but it does allow for in-game movement in the same manner as the d-pad. This uses the same GPIO pins as the d-pad.
Hardware Installation Guide
Please test your Raspberry Pi Zero (or Zero W) fully before spending time soldering it to this board. I’m making some changes to the guide to provide some testing before the assembly begins. For issues, see the Common Problems section at the bottom of the page.
Start with a disassembled PSP. You’re going to need some of the old parts.
Attaching the Pi to the Board
Here’s how the Pi Zero gets installed onto the bottom of the board.
Secure it with clamps. Make sure the holes line up. It’s time to solder them together.
Some of you may be able to solder the boards together without these pins, but they do make the whole process easier.
Use something to prop the board so you can keep the pin protrusion small. Make sure they are only barely above the board, otherwise they will short out on the LCD bracket.
Start soldering the pins. So typically I only use lead-free solder and it usually works fine, but I don’t recommend it here. It just doesn’t do the job well enough when large boards like these are pulling the heat from your soldering iron. Please use safe practices when soldering with lead. Rosin flux also makes the process a lot easier.
Once you’ve soldered the top side, do the same on the bottom side. You can use clamps again to make sure the boards are pulled together.
Solder a couple to keep it all together, then start cutting off the excess pins using flush cutters.
Cut them as low as you can, but leave enough to solder to.
Half of the pins are soldered. You can see the shiny rosin flux I used to make the process easier.
Go back and do the same thing for the other 20 pins.
I did something for comparison here. The left side is normal leaded solder, and the right side is high quality lead free solder. The left side took about 30 seconds to do, and the right side took about 10 minutes. The left side was easier and came out much better.
Here is the bottom all soldered up.
One more important step. Use a rag and some rubbing alcohol (91-99%) to clean up the flux. It doesn’t make anything work any better, but it looks a lot better and is far less sticky.
Trim the Plastics
This plastic piece has to be removed from the PSP case to make room for the board.
Optional Feature – Headphone Jack
Install the headphone jack into the case with hot glue. This jack comes from the PSP’s old board. If you think you’ll have trouble removing it, you can also purchase one here.
Solder wires to the jack.
Optional Feature: External microSD Card Access
Please only do this once you have everything else soldered up and tested. I seriously recommend inserting the microSD card directly into the Pi Zero and verifying everything boots before continuing with this part. This has been the cause of nearly all the issues people are having.
These holes are for the microSD card breakout. This allows you to relocate the microSD connection elsewhere on the PSPi. It’s not required, but it’s really convenient to be able to swap the SD card out easily.
This part definitely requires flux and lead solder.
Use an ohmmeter to verify the solder joints are good. The SD card pins match the unsoldered pin holes below it. When checking, skip the 4th pin from the right. The microSD has only 8 pins, and the SD has 9 because there are 2 GND pins.
Hot glue your SD to microSD adapter into the empty compartment on the left side. This isn’t part of the kit, so you’ll need to get one when you buy a microSD card.
Don’t fill the whole compartment or you won’t be able to slide the cover off to remove the microSD card.
Optional (but recommended) Feature: External USB Connector
Solder wires to these two pins on the microUSB adapter. This USB adapter is included with the kit.
Solder the two wires to these pads on the board.
Install the board, attach the white power connector, and slide the FPC-24 cable into the open connector.
Flip the black piece down to lock the cable into position.
Repeat the process for the left side controls and the FPC-10 connector.
Finish Connecting the Headphone Jack
If you chose to attach the headphone jack, then solder the three headphone wires to the board pin holes labeled H.L (headphone left), H.R(headphone right), and HG(headphone ground)
Finish Connecting the External microSD
If you chose to attach the external microSD adapter, let’s start soldering it up.
Solder a wire to each of the SD adapter’s 9 pins.
And attach the wires to the board. Isn’t that convenient?
Soldering the Speakers
Solder the left side as shown. Just strip the headphone wire back a little to expose it. Attach them to the -L and +S on the right if you want reduced volume (and reduced PWM noise), or to -L and +L if you want much louder volume (and more PWM noise)
And flip the left side control board into position.
Solder 4 wires to the joystick pads. Use some hot glue to secure and insulate them.
Solder the red and black joystick power wires to J+ and J-.
And solder green and yellow to X and Y.
Putting it Together
Install the LCD bracket. Make sure you break off the part that usually sits below the joystick. Just bend it back and forth a couple times to break it.
If your bracket is bent at all and you’re afraid it might cause a short circuit on the board, you can put some tape over the board to keep it insulated.
Install some screws
Install the LCD panel into the bracket. If there is a sticky pad on the back of the LCD, you should remove it (or at least most of it).
Install the control board at the bottom of the LCD.
Flip it upside down and install the controller board onto the FPC ribbon.
Solder wires for power and composite signal.
Solder the composite video wire to the pad on the Pi.
Solder the LCD power wires to the pads on the board.
Remove the stickers and plastics from the two batteries and solder them together.
Be careful with the batteries. They have protection circuits on them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still cause damage by short-circuiting them
Put the top cover on and put the remaining screws into place.
Solder the battery wires to the board. Take your time doing this and make sure you don’t hook it up backwards. Bad things will happen.
The LCD controller position is close to the Pi, so it’s a good idea to use hot glue to keep everything secured and prevent short-circuits.
And here it is.
I look forward to seeing how you guys decide to build your own.
One final thing to note is that the system does run warm, especially if you’re playing and charging it at the same time, and the new Pi Zero W runs even warmer. It’s a good idea to add some vent holes in the back cover so the heat can be removed.
Software Configuration – This is a work in progress
Download the following files:
Copy the downloaded config.txt to the boot drive
Extract the Buttons and Shutdown zip files and copy to the same boot drive.
Insert the microSD card into the PSPi and attach a USB keyboard. Power the system on and let it do its thing. It may reboot a few times to resize partitions. Once it fully boots you should see the controller configuration, but now is not the right time to do that. Press F4 on the keyboard to exit to the command line. The following commands have to be typed exactly as shown here. Don’t capitalize anything and don’t miss or add spaces.
Type the following command and press enter:
sudo bash /boot/setupcontrols.bash
Follow the prompts to install it.
Then type this command and press enter:
sudo bash /boot/setupoff.bash
Again, follow the prompts. Reboot the system.
You’ll be taken back to the controller configuration, and you can use the buttons to configure the buttons now. I’ll post details showing which buttons I usually configure for each function, but this can be a matter of preference. When you get to a button that doesn’t get configured, just hold any other previously configured button to skip it. The analog joystick doesn’t get configured, it works from the D-pad configuration.
Common Problems – This is currently being updated
It powers off a couple seconds after turning it on.
Possible Cause 1
Software configuration. 90% of the issues so far have been software and were resolved by repeating the process detailed in the guide.
Make sure the SD card was imaged properly. Use Win32DiskImager or a similar tool to copy the RetroPie image to the SD card.
Make sure you copy over the modified config.txt file and overwrite the original one. There is already a config.txt, so you must overwrite it.
Possible Cause 2
The solder joints between the Pi and PSPi need some work.
Test for a connection on each pin between the top of the PSPi and the bottom of the Pi Zero.
No image on the LCD
Possible Cause 1
The SD card wasn’t imaged correctly.
Use Win32 Disk Imager to copy the RetroPie image.
Possible Cause 2
Connection issues to SD card.
If you’re using an SD to microSD adapter to relocate your microSD slot, then check all your wires. Make sure none are disconnected, and certainly make sure no connections are shorted. Try inserting the microSD card directly into the Pi to rule out wiring issues.