These directions are for the Gen 1 and 2 Cupcade kits You probably don't have one of these unless you have a very old kit!
Re-install the ribbon cable between the Raspberry Pi and PiTFT, making sure the Pin 1 (white wire) is in the correct location.

The Cupcade interface board now installs on the female header on the back of the PiTFT.

Be super careful to line up the pins! There’s enough wiggle room either way for this to be offset by one pin. The Pi won’t boot unless it’s properly centered.

The board should be oriented to sit behind the PiTFT and ribbon cable, not hanging out over the side.
Connect the female jumper wires between the analog thumb joystick and the Cupcade board, making sure the same pins are connected at each end (e.g. GND to GND and so forth). Wire colors vary from batch to batch; yours might not match this photo, that’s OK.

The Sel pin is not used. If your kit has only four wires in this bundle, just skip over that pin.
The joystick MUST be connected for the Cupcade to work.

Plug a quick-connect wire set into each of the four buttons.

There’s no specific polarity to these…either wire can go to either pin.

The two red buttons will serve as the “A” and “B” action buttons. The two black buttons are for “Start” and “Select” (the latter is labeled “Coin” on the Cupcade PCB, as this button is typically used for MAME’s insert-coin function).

Plug each quick-connect into the corresponding labeled jack on the Cupcade interface board.

Plug in the audio cable and you’re almost ready do go…
Before connecting power, make sure no conductive parts are making accidental contact with each other:
  • Quick connects or the nut on each button
  • The metal frame of the speaker
  • The back side of the Cupcade interface board
  • USB and Ethernet jacks on the Raspberry Pi
You can tape pieces down to your desk if it helps.

Once everything’s safely spaced apart, plug in the Pi. It should boot to the game menu.

If the Pi Does Not Boot

If you don’t see the system starting the boot process within 10 seconds or so (watch the ACT LED on the board), disconnect power immediately.

Carefully unplug the Cupcade interface board from behind the PiTFT and try booting again. Does it work now? If so, the problem is usually with the new parts.
  • Was the board properly aligned with the header on the PiTFT? It’s easy to get this off by one.
  • Are any of the button quick-connects making accidental contact with each other?
  • Is the joystick connected? Cupcade won’t boot without it.
  • Are the four wires connected to the proper pins in the correct order on the joystick? Even a single mislaid wire here can prevent the Pi from booting!
  • Examine the joystick closely, specifically the horizontal and vertical potentiometer dials on the sides. When you move the stick around, can you see both dials turning with it? If not, the joystick may be faulty.
If the Pi still refuses to boot when the board is connected, visit the Adafruit Customer Support Forums for help. Post clear photos showing your wiring and soldering and we’ll look it over for trouble spots and make recommendations.

If the Pi Boots Successfully

Rejoice! Test the game menu by moving the joystick around. If you have any ROMs loaded (see the “Installing ROMs” page) you can give ’em a whirl.

Some of the buttons/joystick work but not all!

Check if you have all the connections solid and going to the right location. The joystick socket connectors can slip off if yanked!

When You’re Done Testing

If you have a game loaded, hold down both the Start and Select buttons to return to the main RetroPie screen.

Navigate to RetroPie’s main menu and select the “Quit” option. In the resulting menu, select “Shutdown System.”

Wait about 20 seconds for the system to complete this operation before disconnecting power.

ALWAYS turn off Cupcade using the Shutdown System menu option. Just pulling the plug runs the risk of corrupting the SD card contents, and you’d have to start over.

Do not continue until the system is tested and the controls are known working.

This guide was first published on Apr 04, 2014. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Dry Run) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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