Five Minute Fun with your Monku R1: Retro Cubicle Commando


  • A Monku Retro 1,2,3 / ODROID-C1+,2,XU4 (It is expected these devices are configured with Ubuntu and MATE. Check the references below for R1, R2 devices and R3 devices.)
  • A USB Audio Card x1
  • A Wireless GameSir Controller x1
  • An ODROID USB WiFi Adapter x1

Introduction and Tutorial Goals

We all get bored at work and sometimes we have an opportunity to kill some time. This tutorial shows you how to convert your Monku Retro console into a Retro Cubicle Commando! The perfect console for gaming discreetly on a VGA screen. The steps below will show you how to adjust the scripts on your Monku R1, R2, or R3 (ODROID-C1+, -C2, -XU4) so that using the custom control button to switch to VGA mode automatically adjusts the retroarch config file to use the USB audio card. The R3, ODROID-XU4, does not use custom control scripts but you can just run the scripts that alter retroarch's audio configuration by hand. You will need a Monku Retro device, like the one we showed you how to build R1, R2 & R3 devices, a USB audio card, a USB WiFi adapter, and a wireless gamepad for stealth - links provided earlier. We will use earbuds for audio and wireless wherever possible to keep a low profile when gaming during cubicle downtime. Follow the rest of the steps to create a Retro Cubicle Commando of your own. First, a little bit about the parts needed. The wireless GameSir gamepad is not really required. You can get away with using the wired version for about half the price. Hardkernel has a very good price on that model so be sure to check it out when you’re shopping for parts. We recommended getting the wireless version because it is easier to hide and less noticeable--no long black cord; which are all things that we need for our Retro Cubicle Commando. You can also avoid the USB audio card cost. But who wants to play games with no sound? The WiFi adapter is also optional if you do not plan to do any web surfing on the nearby cafe's customer WiFi network, otherwise, it is a perfect addition to our stealthy retro gaming console. Alright, let us get started.

Setting Up the Audio

First things first, let’s turn off full screen mode in retroarch. Launch retroarch, if needed, navigate to the Drivers section and scroll down to the Video option, scroll down to the Start in Fullscreen Mode option, and set it to off. Use this same process and turn it back on when we are done adjusting retroarch. The screenshot below depicts the setting that needs to be adjusted.

Next, navigate to the Drivers section of the menu system and select the Audio option. Change the Audio Driver option to alsa. Scroll further down and look for the Device option. Make sure to leave the setting on its original value. Use the left and right navigation to flip through the available audio devices. Note: If you are unable to select any devices, exit retroarch, restart it, and try to flip through the available audio devices again. We will be adding the config file changes by hand so this part is not the most important.

If you are having trouble listing the audio hardware through retroarch, exit retroarch and open up a terminal at the menu location Applications -> System Tools -> MATE Terminal. Type the following command, aplay -L you should see output similar to that shown below.

You should see an entry that is similar to this one, hw:CARD=ODROIDHDMI,DEV=0, and after plugging in the USB audio adapter one that is similar to this one, front:CARD=Device,DEV=0. Make a copy of these strings and save them in a temporary file. Run the following commands from the terminal in the odroid home directory, i.e. the default directory.

$ cp .config/retroarch/retroarch.cfg .config/retroarch/retroarch.cfg.Orig
$ cp .config/retroarch/retroarch.cfg .config/retroarch/retroarch.cfg.VgaAudio
$ cp .config/retroarch/retroarch.cfg .config/retroarch/retroarch.cfg.HdmiAudio
We are making a backup of the current retroarch config file and two copies we can use with scripts to alter the audio configuration. Once those commands are done running, open up retroarch.cfg.VgaAudio using your favorite CLI editor, I will use nano.
$ nano .config/retroarch/retroarch.cfg.VgaAudio
Scroll down to the line that has the audio device setting. Change the value of this setting to front:CARD=Device,DEV=0. Repeat these editor selection steps for the retroarch.cfg.HdmiAudio file except for this file enter hw:CARD=ODROIDHDMI,DEV=0 for the audio device value.

Once these changes have been made, write some scripts that utilize the files we have just created. Use your favorite editor to create the following files.

$ cp /home/odroid/.config/retroarch/reroarch.cfg.HdmiAudio \
$ cp /home/odroid/.config/retroarch/reroarch.cfg.VgaAudio \
Let’s set the proper permissions for these files. Run the following commands at the terminal.
$ sudo chmod 755 set_vga_audio set_hdmi_audio
$ sudo chmod +x set_vga_audio set_hdmi_audio
Run the set_vga_audio script you just created and get ready to test out your retro gaming console on a VGA screen with USB audio adapter. Fire up retroarch and verify the Device setting.

Head over and try out a game with your headset on and experience stealth retro gaming you can pull off at your desk! Note: Do not forget to restore the full screen setting to all copies of the retroarch config files, even the new ones you have made! Just use Ctrl + W and type in fullscreen to locate the entry, set its value to "on" if it is "off." Do this for all copies of the config file.

A slightly less stealthy Cubicle Commando setup but it gets the job done.

Setting Up the Controller

I will assume that the GameSir wireless controller has not been previously configured for your retro gaming console. This next part will walk you through configuring a new controller for a Monku Retro 1, 2, 3 (ODROID-C1+, -C2, -XU4) device. Let us get antimicro configured so we can start controlling the desktop environment with the gamepad. Open up a terminal, I will not list the menu path for it from this point forward. Type antimicro in the terminal and wait for the app to launch. Connect your linux supported controller and make sure that antimicro recognizes it. If it doesn’ work, you will need to try another controller. Click the Controller Mapping button on the bottom left hand corner of the UI. This is where you tell antimicro about the base functionality of your controller. If you do not have a button for a specific position in the list, for instance Linux seems to ignore the blue central button on the GameSir controllers, use your mouse to click down to the next viable option. Match up the buttons on the gamepad with the controller graphic's green button indicator. Note: Some buttons, like triggers, fire multiple times and you will have to use the mouse to back up the position of the mapping and fix the double entry. Click save when you are done and return to the main antimicro UI.

You will see a new mapping on the main antimicro UI that contains buttons for all the new mappings you just made. What we are going to do here is setup mouse support so that you can control the desktop environment from the gamepad when retroarch is not running. We will use the left thumbstick for fine-grained, slower, mouse control and the right thumbstick for faster mouse control. The A and B buttons will serve as the left and right mouse buttons. Right click on the left thumbstick area and select mouse normal from the option list.

Click on the left thumbstick buttons again and find the Mouse Settings button at the bottom of the window. The image above shows the button we are looking for. In the mouse settings window, set the Horizontal Speed and Vertical Speed to 10 for the left thumbstick as depicted below.

Do the same thing for the right thumbstick except set the Horizontal Speed and Vertical Speed to 30 as depicted below.

Now let us map the mouse buttons, close all dialogs and get back to the main antimicro UI. Find the A button in the button list below the thumbstick and dpad listing. Click on it then click on the Mouse tab. Select the left mouse button. Do the same thing for the B button except choose the right mouse button for that mapping. Below is a screen shot depicting the left mouse button mapping in action.

Take it for a spin while the main antimicro UI is open. You should see the mouse move around the screen as the button listings in the antimicro UI turn blue to indicate they are active. Test how it feels, adjust the speeds of the mouse controls as you see fit.

When you are all set to go back to the antimicro main UI, click the Save As button at the top right hand side of the screen. Save the controller configuration as game_sir_wired.xml or whatever you want to name your controller in the ODROID home directory as shown below. I will provide a copy of my XML file ( if you are using a GameSir controller you can just use it and save yourself some time. If you are using an Easy SMX controller use this ( file.

Click on Options -> Settings in the antimicro menu and make sure only Close To Tray and Launch In Tray are checked. This will ensure antimicro lives in the app tray and does not clutter up our screen. We have one more setting to adjust and then we will be done with antimicro and on to retroarch!

While still on the antimicro setting window, click on the Auto Profile option on the left. This will determine what profile will automatically be associated with the attached gamepad. You only get one mapping. It would be cool if it had different options for different hardware but as far as I can tell you are setting it up for the controller you have. Click the Active checkbox at the top of the window. Then select the Default row in the table. Click the Edit button and browse to the controller mapping XML file you saved just a few steps back. Click Ok, then quit antimicro. If it appears in the system tray, click the controller icon in the system tray and quit the app. Nice! We are done with the antimicro configuration!!


Next up let us whip retroarch into shape. Fire up retroarch from the menu system, I will not list the menu path for it from this point forward. First, let’s get the gamepad working in retroarch. In retroarch, you can use the keyboard arrow keys, enter, and backspace to navigate the menu system without the gamepad. Make sure you have a mouse, keyboard, and game controller connected to your ODROID. First thing we will do is get the controller working. Use the arrows on the keyboard to navigate right to the Settings section, then move down to the Input section as shown below.

Adjust the settings on this screen as you see below. I usually set the max number of controllers to 4 since there are 4 USB ports. And I like the "L1 + R1 + Start + Select" Menu Toggle Gamepad Combo setting. Let’s face it, if you’re accidentally hitting this combination during game play something isn’t right. Leave the remaining settings and scroll down to the User 1 Binds. You will have to setup each user input in this way it is not too bad and only takes a minute. Tip: Map the A and B buttons by name not position. If you’re using a GameSir controller, the colors green and red map to positive/select, negative/back button usage. It’s just what I like to do, but you can map ‘em anyway you like!

Perfect, that should be all you need to do to use your new wireless controller. Stealth gameplay is just around the corner.

Setting Up the WiFi USB Adapter

Plug the WiFi USB adapter into your ODROID device configured as a Monku Retro gaming console or, otherwise, running Ubuntu and MATE. At the top right hand corner of the desktop screen, after closing retroarch, if need be, you should see a network icon, click on it. Use the menu options to add a new wireless network so you can surf the web when your not gaming.

Well that wraps up this tutorial. I hope you enjoyed it. Now go get some stealth retro gaming hours inside your cubicle!


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply