RG351P firmware guide

Last updated 14OCT2020 (see Changelog for details)

The operating system found on the RG351P is a little different than those found on other devices. For example, the RG350 devices have two SD cards — one that holds the operating system, and another for game files. The Retroid Pocket 2 has internal storage for the operating system, and one SD card for all of your game files.

The RG351P has just one single SD card, and it contains both the operating system AND your game files. This is advantageous if you don’t want to have multiple SD cards to deal with, but it also has one big disadvantage: if you mess up that SD card, you lose BOTH your operating system and your game files.

So this guide will show you how to back up your current SD card, and how to also install a fresh version of the software onto a new card.

The RG351P is very much an “in-progress” device, and so I expect to update this guide periodically as newer, more efficient methods are discovered. At this time, EmuElec is the only operating system that works with the RG351P, so we’re going to focus on this OS in particular for now.

Table of contents
Before we get started
Save your BIOS folder
Back up your current SD card
Restore your backup on a new SD card
Flash new software onto an SD card
Notes on the "Storage" partition

Changelog

Before we get started

The file system on your RG351P SD card is a little weird. Your PC or Mac operating system will recognize two “drives” when you plug that card into your computer. That’s because the SD card actually has multiple partitions — one that contains the operating system (called “EMUELEC”), one that contains your system storage (“Storage”) and and another that contains your games folders (called “Games”). The “Storage” partition won’t be readable by your PC or Mac, so you may not see it at all (and if you do, it will probably be write-protected). But you can access this partition in other ways (like via WiFi FTP), which I’ll cover in a later guide. Instead of getting mired down in these details, it’s best just to recognize that when you plug your RG351P SD card into your PC or Mac, you will likely see multiple “drives” appear, and that’s perfectly normal.

Also, you’re going to be using an SD card reader to plug the firmware card into your PC or Mac. Many retro devices come with free USB 2.0 SD card readers, but they are prone to breaking (or even messing your card up). I recommend you invest in a legit SD card reader, like this one from Anker, which will give you USB 3.0 speeds and some peace of mind.

Save your BIOS folder

The RG351P comes with a folder that’s filled with various BIOS files necessary to properly run your system. No matter what you do with your card — back it up, overwrite it, etc. — be sure to save that BIOS folder onto your PC or Mac for safe keeping. That way you can paste these files back into a card at any time. The folder isn’t huge, about 175MB altogether, but it’s irreplaceable.

To save the BIOS folder, simply plug your SD card into your PC or Mac via an SD card reader. Inside the “Games” partition you will find a folder named “BIOS” — save that folder somewhere and you’re done.

Back up your current SD card

strongly recommend you backup and remove your firmware card, and store it somewhere safe, and create a new firmware card to tinker with. That way, if something goes wrong, you can simply pop the old card back in and have a working system again. And in all honesty, the microSD cards that ship with the RG351P are notoriously cheap, and have a high fail rate based on my experience with RG350 cards. Replacing them with an SD card from a reputable brand like SanDisk or Samsung will also give you some peace of mind.

MicroSD cards are relatively cheap, and you’ll want a larger card, such as a 128GB card (but up to a massive 512GB), to store your games. A 128GB card will allow you to store a LOT of 8-bit, 16-bit, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 64 games, as well as quite a few PS1, Dreamcast, and PSP games. I think it’s the perfect sweet spot in terms of price and storage space. But if you are looking to store a LOT of PS1, Dreamcast, and PSP games on your device, you may want to consider a card that’s larger than 128GB.

Okay, here’s how to backup the stock card so that you can re-flash it onto another card.

  1. Remove your SD card from the RG351P, and then plug it into your PC via an SD card reader.
  2. Download and install Win32 Disk Imager (PC) or ApplePi-Baker v2 (Mac), both are free to use. Follow these instructions to create a backup (.img) file of your microSD card.
    • For Win32 Disk Imager (PC), click the folder icon and select the location you want the .img file stored, and in the “File Name” box, write out the file name for your .img (like “RG351Pstockfirmwarebackup,img”). Be sure to write out the “.img” file extension as well, the app will not do it for you. Click the “Open” button to exit this menu. Under the “Device” section, select the “EMUELEC” partition of your SD card (don’t worry, it’ll copy the entire disk, not just that partition). Finally, click the “Read” button to create the .img file (expect it to take about 15 minutes, but up to 45 minutes).
    • For ApplePi-Baker v2 (Mac), select the EmuElec partition on your microSD card using the “Select Disk(s)” window. Near the bottom right of the screen, there is a series of “Options” icons. Hover over the second one and you’ll see “Enable Linux partition resize”. This will shrink your backup to its actual size, not just the size of the SD card – very handy. Select this option, then click the “Disk to File” button, and create a name for your backup file and choose where you want it to save.
Resizing the “Games” partition after flashing the firmware onto a new card

Restore your backup on a new SD card

Once you have your backup image, you can flash that image directly onto a new card.

  1. Create a new firmware microSD card. Insert a new microSD card into your computer.
    • For Win32 Disk Imager (PC), select your backup .img file by clicking the folder icon under “Image File”, and navigating to wherever your stored it during the previous section. Click the “Write” button, and wait for it to write the image to your new microSD card.
    • For ApplePi-Baker v2 (Mac), select your new microSD card in the “Select Disk(s)” window. Near the bottom-right of the window there are some buttons for “Options”, be sure to select the second option, which says “Expand Linux partition”. Click the “Restore” button and navigate to your backup .img file. The file will then write to your new microSD card, and then expand the partition, allowing you to skip the next step.
  2. Resize the “Games” partition. If you are flashing the stock (64GB) SD card onto a larger card, on a PC it won’t resize the partition to take up all that extra space. So we will expand that partition so you can take advantage of whatever free space is still left on that card. Luckily, if you’re on a Mac, the ApplePi-Baker v2 software already did that when you wrote the .img file onto your new card during Step #1 above, so you can skip to the next step. For Windows/PC users, you will want to download and install DiskGenius.
    • For DiskGenius (PC), open the app and find your SD card using the menu sidebar on the left (it will typically be named “GenericSTORAGE DEVICE” or something along those lines, depending on your SD card reader). You should see three partitions within that SD card: one called “EMUELEC”, another called “STORAGE” and another called “GAMES”. Right-click on the “GAMES” partition, and select “Resize Partition”. You’ll now see a slider that will allow you to drag the GAMES box to increase or decrease its partition size (and decrease the “Keep Unallocated” box). Drag it all the way to the right so that it is taking up all the unallocated space (see the picture above). Click the “Start” icon and you’re all set.
    • For Mac users, there have been times where I get errors with ApplePi-Baker and its partition resize feature. If this happens to you, uncheck the “Expand Linux Partition” option and flash as you normally would. You can then use Paragon Hard Disk Manager to resize the partition manually. This app costs $40 but has a free 10-day trial, so get all of your partition extensions done in those first ten days; otherwise, you’ll spend half the price of an RG351P just extending a partition!
  3. Insert the new microSD card to your RG351P. At this point, you can add new games to the “Games” partition on your card, or just plug it right into your device and start playing the games that were already on there when you made your backup.

Flash new software onto an SD card

While it’s handy to have a backup of your original firmware, I actually prefer to flash a brand new software image onto my new SD cards. This gives me the freedom to start over from scratch and tweak the system to my exact preferences.

At this time, Anbernic as not released their official firmware files, but some very nice and smart people have already figured out how to create a stock firmware image for you to flash onto a new card. There is also an experimental version of the firmware that has an updated version of EmuElec (3.8), so you can also test that out if you’d like.

Note that the 3.8 test version doesn’t create a “Games” partition on your disk, so you will have to SSH/FTP the game files onto your disk via WiFi (see Notes on the “Storage” partition below). Additionally, after flashing the 3.8 image onto your new card, you can just insert it directly into the device and turn it on — it will expand the “Storage” partition automatically to take up the free space on your card.

Here are the files:

Official OS Update (EmuELEC 3.7) (09/26/2020)
Modified EmuElec v3.8 with latest update (test OS; use at your own risk)

To get started, download one of the files above and unzip it; place the .img file somewhere easy to access, like your Desktop.

  1. Download and install Win32 Disk Imager (PC) or ApplePi-Baker v2 (Mac), if you haven’t already. Both are free to use. This software is necessary to write the new firmware to your card.
  2. Create a new firmware microSD card. Insert your new microSD card into your computer.
    • For Win32 Disk Imager (PC), select your .img file by clicking the folder icon under “Image File”, and navigating to wherever your stored it earlier. Click the “Write” button, and wait for it to write the image to your new microSD card.
    • For ApplePi-Baker v2 (Mac), select your new microSD card in the “Select Disk(s)” window. Near the bottom-right of the window there are some buttons for “Options”, be sure to select the second option, which says “Expand Linux partition”. Click the “Restore” button and navigate to your .img file. The file will then write to your new microSD card, and then expand the partition, allowing you to skip the next step.
  3. Resize the “Games” partition. If you’re using a PC, you will need to expand the “Games” partition so you can take advantage of all available space on your SD card. Luckily, if you’re on a Mac, the ApplePi-Baker v2 software already did that when you wrote the .img file onto your new card during Step #2 above, so you can skip to the next step. For Windows/PC users, you will want to download and install DiskGenius.
    • For DiskGenius (PC), open the app and find your SD card using the menu sidebar on the left (it will typically be named “GenericSTORAGE DEVICE” or something along those lines, depending on your SD card reader). You should see three partitions within that SD card: one called “EMUELEC”, another called “STORAGE” and another called “GAMES”. Right-click on the “GAMES” partition, and select “Resize Partition”. You’ll now see a slider that will allow you to drag the GAMES box to increase or decrease its partition size (and decrease the “Keep Unallocated” box). Drag it all the way to the right so that it is taking up all the unallocated space (see the picture above). Click the “Start” icon and you’re all set.
    • For Mac users, there have been times where I get errors with ApplePi-Baker and its partition resize feature. If this happens to you, uncheck the “Expand Linux Partition” option and flash as you normally would. You can then use Paragon Hard Disk Manager to resize the partition manually. This app costs $40 but has a free 10-day trial, so get all of your partition extensions done in those first ten days; otherwise, you’ll spend nearly half the price of an RG351P just extending a partition!
    • Additionally, another option for Mac users would be to run an Ubuntu image via VirtualBox. Ubuntu’s built-in Disk Image Write and Disks tools will allow you to flash the image and resize the partition without any additional software required.
  4. Check your BIOS folder and add game files. At this point, go into the “Games” partition on your card and check the “bios” folder. If it is empty, paste over the BIOS folder you saved earlier in this guide. Now, you can add new games to the “Games” partition on your card, and then plug it into your RG351P to start playing the games.

Notes on the “Storage” partition

Now that you have a freshly-minted SD card, let’s talk about the “Storage” partition on your SD card. This is an EXT4 (Linux-based) partition that cannot be properly read by Windows Explorer or Mac Finder — it often won’t even show up unless you’re using specialized software. Inside of this partition are several important folders and files, like:

  • RetroArch cores
  • EmuElec/EmulationStation themes
  • Save States
  • Save Files
  • Shaders

By default, this partition is sized at 1.36GB, and 400MB of this partition will be taken up by your system files. That leaves you with about 1GB for all of your cores, themes, save states, save files, shaders, and more. It’ll be hard to fill that space up, but it’s something to be aware of if you decided to throw dozens of themes into your device. As an example, I loaded seven themes onto my device, and they took up 200MB.

To access these folders in your partition, your best bet is to connect to your device via wireless FTP. I will create a “transfer guide” soon, but here is a quick snapshot of the process:

If you don’t have an early RG351P model with an internal WiFi antenna, you will need to use an OTG adapter and a WiFi USB module. In EmuElec, press START, then select “Network Settings”. Turn on the “Enable WiFi” toggle, then add your WiFi details. Back out of this menu with the B button and your device will connect to the network. Go back into the Network Settings and make note of your IP address; it will be something like 192.168.86.##, with the last two ##s the number your router assigned to your device (this number will change periodically).

Open up your FTP client, like WinSCP for Windows/PC, or ForkLift for Mac. Create a new connection, and for the FTP address, add your IP address. The username is “root” and the password is “emuelec” (no caps). Once you connect, you should immediately see the storage folder. Note that you can also wirelessly transfer games onto your device with this method (you’ll find all your game folders in the “roms” folder).


Changelog

14OCT2020
– fixed incorrect link
– added Ubuntu suggestion for Mac users

09OCT2020
– published guide

3 thoughts on “RG351P firmware guide

    1. Hi Brandon, unfortunately EmuELEC is not compatible with the RG350. They are both Linux-based devices, but this version of EmuELEC is built specifically for Odroid-Go Advance (OGA) devices, which is what RG351P is.

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  1. hi, can I ask how can I partition to have a games partition for easy transfer of roms to the sd. Installed 3.8 but somehow I only see 2 partitions thanks appreciate all the help

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