Guide: RG350 Initial Setup and Orientation

Last updated 06OCT2020 (see Changelog for details)

Hey, congratulations! Your shiny new RG350 device just arrived on your doorstep. You’ve opened the box, excitedly opened the “Quick Start Guide” and “User Manual” that came with the device…and were immediately disappointed. They’re not great. So instead of having to struggle through those documents, I’ve created this handy guide which will get you up and running in no time.

Table of Contents

First things first
Navigating the RG350 firmware
RG350 hot keys
Shortcuts to exit emulators
Loading games onto your RG350
Miscellaneous tips and tricks

Changelog

First things first

  • Powering On the Device: I’ve heard of many people who couldn’t figure out how to turn the device on. To turn on your RG350, you must press and hold the Power button for at least two seconds — it’s just a beat longer than you’d think it would take.
  • Powering Off the Device: It might sound counter-intuitive, but do NOT use the power button to power off your RG350. Think of the device as a small computer (which it is); you need to shut down the operating system in order to prevent data corruption or loss. So when you’re done playing, go to the Settings tab and select the “Power Off” icon.
  • Resetting the Device: Similar to the point above, you should only use the Reset button as a last resort, like when the system has frozen. It might seem convenient to press the Reset button every time you’re done with a game, but it’s better to close out the application or emulator using its own menu (see: Shortcuts to Exit Emulators below). You can also press Power + Select to force close any app (see: RG350 Hot Keys below).
  • Charging the device: Use the right USB-C port to charge the device. The left device is for USB dongles or USB gamepads (see my accessories guide for more info). You should always use a 5V/1A charging adapter (i.e. an iPhone power brick vs. an iPad power brick), anything else may overheat your device or not fully charge the battery. The light will turn red when charging, and will turn off when fully charged (if your light never turns off, that’s an indication that you are not using a 5V/1A charging adapter). When you are down to 10% battery, the green power indicator light (above the face buttons) will flash on and off.
  • Don’t charge the RG350 while playing it. The CPU on this device has no fan attached to it, or any heat sinks, which means that it can get very warm inside. If you charge while playing, that means the CPU and screen are both running, and the batteries are heating up everything to boot. There are several reports of screen issues after playing the RG350 while charging; while these issues usually resolve themselves after the device fully cools down, it’s better to play it safe and charge it while the device is powered off.

Navigating the RG350 firmware:

The RG350 operating system (“firmware”) is based on an open-source project called OpenDingux that was created in 2013. OpenDingux is based on Linux, and is relatively straightforward. OpenDingux has a default user interface (called a “frontend”) known as GMenu2X. Think of OpenDingux like “Windows”, and GMenu2X as “Windows 10”. There are other frontends that you can install on your device, but they will all maintain the OpenDingux firmware (more info on frontends can be found in this guide).

In a nutshell, the OpenDingux firmware is capable of running a series of apps that have the file extension of “.opk”, which stands for Open Package; they’re a lot like an “.exe” file. We’ll refer to them as just OPKs. These OPKs are organized into four main tabs: Applications, Emulators, Games, and Settings. You navigate through these tabs by pressing the L1 or R1 buttons on your RG350.

  • The Applications tab contains miscellaneous apps, such as Clock (where you can set your device’s time), GMU (a music player), Input Tester (where you can double-check each of your buttons to make sure they are working properly), and DinguxCmdr (a powerful file management system — more on that in this Guide).
  • The Emulators tab (pictured above) contains all of the programs which will run your retro games. Think of these emulators as the applications which load the retro game files — they’re their own mini operating system, meant to emulate the original gaming environment. Some emulators, like FCEUX, can play multiple types of games (NES and Famicom Disk System). You’ll also find that there are more than one emulator per system in some cases, like Genesis Plus GX and Picodrive — they both play Sega Genesis games. When you first buy an RG350, it usually does not have any retro games loaded (for more info, see the next section, “Loading Retro Games onto your RG350”).
  • The Games tab includes games that run natively on the RG350, no emulator required. Depending on which firmware is loaded on your RG350, there may be dozens of these games on your system, or maybe just a few (or none at all). Many of these games are indie creations (like Cave Story), or free versions based on classic games (“FreeDoom” uses the Doom engine but isn’t the classic game). The advantage of these OPK-based games is that they are very simple to start up, and they run perfectly on the RG350 — after all, they were designed to play on the OpenDingux system. To dig more into the wonderful world of native games, check out this guide here.
  • Finally, the Settings tab includes a few crucial apps. For starters, this is where you power off your device (aptly named “Power Off”). Here you can also change your system’s skin for a new look.

Some quick points: no, you cannot rename these OPKs within GMenu2X (for example, you cannot rename “Fceux” to “NES”). You also cannot reorganize them (say, alphabetically). You also cannot hide or delete them right there in the interface (but you can using DinguxCmdr — more info here).

To change the wallpapers in GMenu2X, go into media/data/local/home/.gmenu2x/skins and find the skin you use (“Default”, “ScanlinesBlue”, etc), and make a folder named “wallpapers” there, and put the wallpaper (320.x240 resolution, .png file) inside this folder. Then in the settings tap, select the “Wallpaper” app and scroll to your image. For information on how to access the media/data/local/home folder, check out this guide.

Honestly, GMenu2X is kinda clunky, and definitely an eyesore. I recommend you install and run a different frontend, like SimpleMenu for a completely different experience, or 350teric (pronounced “esoteric”) if you want a similar interface but with more control (like renaming or hiding your apps). You can find all of this information within my SimpleMenu guide.


RG350 hot keys

The device has a number of hot keys that allow you to adjust its settings on the fly.

  • Adjust brightness: Power + the Volume +/- keys (10 total increments)
  • Adjust sharpness: Power + Up/Down d-pad keys. Hold for two seconds to go to min/max settings.
  • Force exit an app: Power + Select
  • Force left analog stick mapping to match d-pad: Power + B
  • Force right analog stick to simulate a mouse: Power + L1 (L2 = left mouse click, R2 = right mouse click)
  • Stretch to full screen: Power + A (not supported by all apps). This option adjusts the hardware scaling.
  • Take screenshot: Power + X. Images are saved as .png and saved at /local/home/screenshots on your internal card..

Shortcuts to exit emulators

Because each of the emulators were developed by different teams, they all have unique ways to get to their menu. Note that you could always just press Power + Select to force exit the emulator, but it’s probably better to go to the menu itself. It’s quite a challenge to memorize all of the shortcuts, so here is a quick guide to reach each major console and handheld menu:

FCEUX (NES): Start + Select or Power button
Final Burn Alpha (Arcade): L + R + Start
GamBatte (GameBoy + GameBoy Color): L or Power button
Genesis Plus GX (Game Gear, Master System): Start + Select
GNGeo (NeoGeo): Start + Select
Handy (Atari Lynx): Select or Power button
MAME4All (Arcade):
OSwan (WonderSwan Color): Select
PCSX4ALL (PS1): Power button
Picodrive (Genesis, 32X, Sega CD): Select
PocketSNES (SNES): Start + Select or Power button
Race (NeoGeo Pocket): Start + Select
ReGBA (GameBoy Advance): Start + Select or Power button
Stella (Atari 2600): Start
Temper (TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine): Select
XMAME (Arcade): L + R + Select

Loading Retro Games onto your RG350

Before we get started, let’s quickly discuss copyright. I’ve written an entire post about this, but long story short: the download and use of ROMs has not been tested in court. Downloading emulators is certainly legal, although loading copyrighted information into them (like BIOS files) may be questionable. Using these emulators to load ROMs (the game data files themselves) is another story. The general consensus is that as long as you own the original game disc/cartridge/file, you can back it up into a ROM file to use in an emulator, or even potentially just download an additional copy from the internet, under the Fair Use standard. Think of it this way: if you buy a Janet Jackson CD, you are certainly within your rights to rip that CD into mp3s and load them onto your computer/phone, etc. This is also the Fair Use standard. Now if you want to download mp3s you don’t own via Napster, KaZaA, or whatever method kids are using these days, that’s not good. Similarly, downloading ROMs without owning the game is a copyright violation, and illegal. That being said, none of this has been tested in court, so the story could change at any time. For example, Nintendo’s site very strongly suggests that they consider downloading any ROM, even if you own the game already, is illegal. But of course they would say that, a large component of their corporation is encouraging fans to re-buy their classic products.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s put some of your ROMs onto the RG350. You will want to store your ROM files on your external (“TF2”) microSD card. This is the card slot that is on the bottom of your RG350, or on the bottom-right of the RG350M and RG350P. You can use any card, all the way up to 512GB, to store your files.

My comprehensive RG350 install guides:

Above you will find my install guides for the four categories of systems available on the RG350, to include specific requirements for various emulators. All the same, here is a quick primer on the process:

  1. Format the external (TF2) microSD Card. You can format it using guiformat Windows/PC, or the Disk Utility program that comes with MacOS (format it using MS-DOS FAT32). Name the SD card something simple like “sdcard” or “RG350”.
  2. Create a file structure that makes sense to you. In your home directory, create a folders named “ROMS”. Inside that folder, make more folders based on the systems you plan on running on your RG350: NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, etc. These names don’t matter, but you’ll want to make them relatively simple and intuitive for when you tackle more advanced projects in the future.
  3. Transfer your game files (ROMs) to their respective folders. This is a simple drag-and-drop procedure. Things can get complicated for certain systems, like PlayStation or Sega CD, but I’ve made a comprehensive guide for all of these systems here (coming soon).
  4. Turn on your device and use the emulators to navigate to your ROMs. For this step, simply click over to the “Emulators” tab on your device, choose the correct emulator (e.g. FCEUX for NES games), then navigate to where the ROMs are located. Typically, you will have to navigate to the “media” folder, then whatever the name of your SD card is, then whatever you’ve named your specific ROM folder (like NES). Pick your game, and it should boot right up.

Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks

  • The HDMI output will likely not work right out of the box. You need to patch the firmware to the latest update, which supports HDMI output. Check out my guide here for more info.
  • Like the Nintendo Switch joy-cons, the RG350 analog sticks have small rubber tabs at their tips, and they can fall off if you pull at them. One of these tabs flipped off when I was taking it out of my pocket, and it took me a half hour of tearing apart my car seats in order to find it. So be cautious when you touch those analog sticks, or consider buying low-profile analog stick upgrades.

Changelog

06OCT2020
– added information about how to change GMenu2X wallpaper

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