H2+ RetroPie/Steam/Kodi with Some HW Mods

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H2+ RetroPie/Steam/Kodi with Some HW Mods

Post by Zer0Cool »

Have been using a Raspberry Pi 3B+ with RetroPie, Steam Link and Kodi and it works well enough. Then I saw the H2+ and decided I wanted MOAR. So the following is my run-away, over-the-top project using the H2+, a ITX case I will mod to use the H2+ in and the same relative software mentioned above. This is mostly about doing something not "needing" it.

- 16GB (2x 8GB) G.Skill Ripjaw DDR4 2400Mhz SODIMM's RAM. Model: F4-2400C16D-16GRS
- 500GB Crucial P1 m.2 NVMe SSD
- 1x Solid I/O Shield for the Case
- USB Bluetooth 4.0 dongle (Linux compatible out of the box)
- Rii i8+ Mini Bluetooth Keyboard with trackpad
- Spare case fan (140mm 3pin, 120mm PWM, 92mm 3pin...likely use the 140mm or 120mm)
- Spare XBox One X wireless/bluetooth controller

HW Plans:
My ideas for hardware hinge around modding an ITX case to fit the H2+, get the/a power button to be functional and to mount a fan on the inside top of the case above the heatsink to pull in cold air.

For the case I will be attaching motherboard standoffs to match the H2+ such that its rear I/O lines up with the back of the case. Have not decided how I will do this yet. I then plan to cut out openings in the solid I/O shield I ordered to match the I/O of the H2+ board so that the I/O is flush with the back of the case with minimal openings/gaps. I will likely start this with a Dremmel and then maybe move to sheers for the 90 degree angles.

As the H2+ onboard fan header is not the "traditional" connector used by most PC boards/fans I plan to make at least 1 adapter cable to go from the fans native connector to the boards native connector. To do this I had to identify the connector types which took a little digging but here it is for others:

H2+ fan connector:
- "JST GH" is the designation of the connector, which I derived from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JST_connector as its the only 1.25mm pitch connector listed AND many of the ebay listings use this terminology ("JST @@", with @@= 2 character code for type)
- 1.25mm pitch as specified in official specs on ODROID site for the H2+
- Seems most readily available on ebay for ~$10 for 10+ cables (JST GH to JST GH)

"Standard" 3/4 pin fan connector:
- Pretty much just generically called the same, "3/4 pin fan connector", situationally with "PWM" tacked on to the name. They are immediately identifiable as the same connectors you would see on the typical PC case fan/board connector.
- Found the ends on Amazon for $9 for 5 pieces (requires crimping)
- Alternatively its easy to find 3/4pin PWM fan extension cables with male/female ends. No crimping required this way, just splice JST GH cable to this cable. Can find these at about the same price as the connectors too.

I will then drill out the mounting holes for the fan in the top of the case to match my selected fan. I have so many lying around I have yet to decide which. The case should be able to use 1x 140mm OR 1x 120mm OR 1 to 2 92MM fans mounted from the top of the case. Other than 2x 92mm fans in top, other configurations would also work if I ever feel the desire to add 40mm fans on each side of the case. The intention is to mount the fan on the top panel of the case but inside, not outside as I have seen some other cases setup. There should be a sliver of clearance between the heatsink on the H2+ and the fan. I would have the fan pull air in and blow down on the heatsink.

I do NOT expect to hook up the front USB ports on the case as the H2+ does not have a header for this, but I do want to get the power button working. The power button and USB ports are on a single PCB though and I am unsure yet if the power button can be cabled properly to the expansion headers. Even if it can, I was thinking of pulling out the USB ports, cutting the opening a little larger and mounting the 20x4 LCD panel in its place to report things like CPU, GPU, RAM, temps, etc. To do so the stock power button would go and I would need to get/mod the LED power button that ODROID sells to fit the case.

Once the H2+ is in the case and up and running I plan to stress test and gauge cooling options. I plan to test the following:

- HS (heat sink) with stock paste, no fan
- HS with stock paste and fan
- HS with Thermal Grizzly paste and no fan
- HS with Thermal Grizzly paste and fan

I am interested in seeing how of a difference if any different paste makes and the fan make. In brief testing last night and the H2+ sitting out in the open I was impressed that in admittedly short runs (stress-ng for 10 mins and compiling RetroPie for about 30-60 mins) that temps never went over the low 70 Celsius mark with just the stock HS. It also took a while to build up to that and then when done hammering the CPU quickly subsided. At idle temps were about 30 Celsius (~70 F ambient).

I am hoping to stress/benchmark CPU, Graphics, RAM and storage...mostly for fun and to make sure things are stable.

Software Plans:
As of now my plan is to use Ubuntu 20.04 Minimal Desktop as the OS with RetroPie, Steam and Kodi installed. Unfortunately, unlike the RPi3B+, there is no x86 Steam Link package. Also RetroPie fails to install Kodi for me. So I do not get the same integration of the 3 RetroPie is capable of on the RPi. However I think I can add Steam and Kodi to emulationstation (the front end RetroPie uses) to imitate the same presentation and functionality.

I have Ubuntu set to auto login and to run "RetroPie" (really emulationstation) on startup so when the machine boots it goes straight to full screen, TV/Controller use ready. I have not used the XBox One X controller with the H2+ yet but it worked great over bluetooth with the RPi and I expect it to work just fine. The Rii mini keyboard worked out of the box with Ubuntu and should allow me to type/navigate more easily in cases where the controller isnt feasible.

So RetroPie will give me the ability to retro game using various emulators and the H2+ should be perfectly capable of putting out 4k@60 for practically any system, even beyond what the RPi could handle (like PS2 for example).

Steam itself will be used mainly to remote play/stream games on Steam from my Win 10 Gaming PC to the H2+ and my TV. I also expect this to be able to output 4k@60 and run consistent/smoothly.

Kodi will simply let me use the H2+ more as a media center to watch videos, listen to music, etc. I dont plan to do this often but may help for casting stuff to the TV or playing game recordings/home video on the TV.

I plan to take some before/after pics, benchmark/stress test further and then use it. I'll share how it works out of course, but so far expect it to work well. Also before people jump in about things like RAM or storage being too much, I know. At the time of purchase 16GB RAM was $60 and 8GB was $60...no joke. Also, 500GB for NVMe was not terribly expensive, at $60 as well getting a lower capacity to save $10-20 wasn't all that important. I figure its better to have the excess specs in case I re-purpose the H2+ later.

In any case hope you guys find this interesting. Thanks
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odroid (Fri Jul 31, 2020 8:58 am)

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