These directions are for the current “Gen 3” Cupcade kit.

Given this project’s complexity, we’ll be testing and re-testing the system to validate our progress. Confirm your system passes each test before advancing to the next. Mis-steps are very time-consuming!

PiTFT Test

Install just the PiTFT display atop the Raspberry Pi, none of the other parts yet.

You no longer need an HDMI monitor at this point. Most can’t display the resolution we’ve configured the Pi for anyway.

Plug in a USB keyboard and connect power. The PiTFT screen should light up white. After about 10 seconds, it should switch to black, and within a minute you should see the RetroPie splash screen and then the main menu (it might be horizontal or vertical depending how you previously configured the PiTFT software).

That’s it for this test! If it works, use the keyboard to navigate to RetroPie’s Quit→Shutdown System option. 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.

If the PiTFT doesn’t work…

  • Make sure it’s properly aligned atop the 40-pin GPIO header, not offset to one side or the other.
  • Check for electrical shorts between the GPIO pins and the metal edge of the LCD screen.
  • Go back to the “Raspberry Pi Setup” page and confirm you’ve run the PiTFT install script correctly.

Do not continue until the PiTFT is working in this configuration. If it’s still giving you trouble, ask for help in the Adafruit Forums. Clear photos always help!

Arcade Bonnet and Remaining Parts

Disconnect the PiTFT from the Raspberry Pi, then plug the Arcade Bonnet in its place.

Install the 40-pin GPIO ribbon cable between the Arcade Bonnet stacking header and the pins on the PiTFT display.

Note the polarity of the ribbon cable at both ends — the white wire along one edge gives an indication. On the Pi, this should run parallel to the SD card edge of the board. On the PiTFT, this is nearest the edge with the buttons.

There are 5 pins on the joystick board, but only 4 jumper wires in the kit. Skip over the “Sel” pin…only the VCC, Xout, Yout and GND pins are used in Cupcade.

The colors of the wires in your kit may be different than what’s shown here. That’s OK, just take note of what color connects to which pin.

Carefully fold back the ribbon cable atop the Arcade Bonnet.

Connect the 4 wires from the joystick to the ANALOG header:

  • VCC → 3V
  • Xout → X
  • Yout → Y
  • GND → G

Plug the two wires from the speaker into the screw terminals and tighten with a tiny screwdriver. Polarity doesn’t matter here — either wire can go to either terminal.

Plug the 4 buttons into the 4 connectors along the same edge of the Bonnet. The order doesn’t matter right now, it can be anything for testing.

Spread out the parts on your work surface, making sure no metal bits contact each other. Connect a USB keyboard and then connect power to the Pi.

If all goes well, the screen should repeat the same process as the first test: lights solid white at first, switches to black after about 10 seconds, and then the RetroPie splash screen follows a bit later.

If the PiTFT Doesn’t Work Now

(But did work on the first test)

  • Check the soldering of the 40-pin GPIO stacking header on the Arcade Bonnet. Make sure there are no solder bridges or cold joints. If you spot any trouble, unplug the Bonnet from the Pi before re-soldering these points.
  • If you have some patience and a multimeter with a continuity beep function, unplug the ribbon cable and check each connection by inserting 2 male jumper wires into corresponding pins at each end, one at a time. It’s a rare occurrence but I’ve seen a few ribbon cables that were improperly crimped.
  • If the cable’s good but screen still isn’t working…if you’re good with soldering, try “tinning” each of the long pins of the stacking header. This fattens them up a bit, so the ribbon cable gets a better grip.

If the PiTFT Does Work

Yay! Let’s test the other parts…

Press F4 to exit RetroPie and get a command line prompt.

Try pressing the buttons and moving the joystick. Some of these should produce characters on the screen. (It’s normal that not all of them will…by default some buttons may be assigned to “modifier” keys like Shift or Control which don’t produce any output on their own.)

Press Return on the keyboard a couple of times (ignore any error message) and then type:

sudo aplay /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav

You should hear a spoken “front center” from the speaker.

If that all works…congratulations! Shut down the Pi by typing:

sudo shutdown -h now

Wait about 20 seconds for this operation to complete before disconnecting power. Then you can then proceed to the next build steps.

If the Buttons/Joystick Don’t Work

It’s normal during testing that some of the buttons won’t produce output. If any of them do work, that means the Arcade Bonnet it working and everything’s fine there. Otherwise…

  • Check the soldering on the GPIO stacking header as previously described.
  • Check that the jumper wires are making contact and are connected between the right points on the joystick board and Arcade Bonnet (remember, the “Sel” pin is not connected).
  • Confirm the Arcade Bonnet software is correctly installed as explained on the “Raspberry Pi Setup” page.

If Sound Doesn’t Work

  • Check the soldering on the GPIO stacking header.
  • Check the screw terminals are actually making contact with the speaker wires and aren’t just closing on insulation.
  • Check for a short between the speaker wires (e.g. frayed wire ends).
  • Confirm the audio software is correctly installed as explained on the “Raspberry Pi Setup” page.

Do not continue until all tests pass. You can ask for help in the Adafruit Forums.

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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