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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
My Epic Journey to Update a GamePi43
By Robert Basler on 2021-05-22 13:35:50
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com

I got a GamePi43 with Recalbox on it for Christmas. Right after I got it, it started prompting me to update. I thought sure, so I pushed start. That was the beginning of my epic journey.

The updater complained that there wasn't 3GB free on my 32GB micro SD card. That was weird given that it was brand new and only had a few games on it. I checked, and sure enough it was right. It turns out the partition table had 24GB of unallocated space. I made up a USB stick with gparted, moved the partitions around so that the middle one had room to grow, then I discovered that the SHARE partition is formatted exFAT. Nothing can resize exFAT partitions.

So I downloaded one of the premade images from the waveshare website and installed that. All the default games were gone. I still only had 3GB free.

So I downloaded the latest version of Recalbox, installed it. Buttons don't work. But I do have full disk space! So I followed the instructions on the GamePi43 page to install their driver. Black screen, wouldn't boot.

I did this many, many, many, many times, two days worth, reimaging the card, trying different things based on the GamePi43 instructions and various articles I found on the internet. I learned a lot about Recalbox and the GamePi43, but every time it ended in a black screen or non-working buttons.

This post is so I know what to do next time.

  1. Download a premade disk image from the GamePi43 wiki.
  2. Install the disk image on your MicroSD card then run that build.
  3. Connect the GamePi43 to your network (using a cable is easiest at this point because trying to operate Recalbox to set up the Wifi with a keyboard is ridiculous.)
  4. Type RECALBOX into Windows explorer to open the network share on your PC.
  5. Copy the entire share folder to your PC's storage.
  6. Turn off the GamePi43. Take the MicroSD card out and on a PC use gparted to move the last partition to the end of the sd card, and delete the SHARE partition (the middle one.)
  7. Put the MicroSD back in the GamePi43 and wait. It will have a black screen for a few minutes. It is recreating the SHARE partition.
  8. After it starts, check that the buttons still don't work.
  9. Open RECALBOX on your PC, copy the entire share folder from your PC's storage back to the RECALBOX. It will complain about some log files, it is safe to skip those.
  10. Reboot

I now have a GamePi43 with the full storage available and mostly working buttons. The A/B and X/Y buttons are mysteriously swapped now but everything else works fine. Fixing that will be my next project.

I diffed the two SHARE folders thinking I'd be able to post a simple configuration change so that I could try the newer versions of Recalbox, but there were four folders worth of differences, hundreds of files, it wasn't just config changes needed to make it work.

I replaced my missing games by looking around on the Internet Archive which is where I rediscovered Konami's Scramble in a MAME archive. I lost a lot of quarters to that game in the '80's!

Recalbox is still prompting me to upgrade, but I'm going to ignore it now and play some games.

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