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Flashing an SD card for use in a Raspberry Pi

If you’re planning using a Raspberry Pi, or similar, to run a retro-gaming system, one of the things you will need to do is flash an SD card. It sounds a bit complicated, but it basically translates as ‘bunging the operating system you want on an SD card’

Please note, that though these are the instructions are for a Mac – it is very similar if you’re using Windows for the installation process.

What you will need

  • MicroSD card* (with at least 8GB of storage)
  • Mac, Linux or Windows computer for set-up
  • A way of plugging the MicroSD card into your computer (some computers have a slot for this anyway, but there are MicroSD->SD and MicroSD -> USB convertors available)

*Some earlier Pi’s use a standard size SD card, but all recent ones use a MicroSD

Setting up your SD card

First of all, make sure the SD Card has got nothing on it, and it is ready to use by formatting the card. You can do this by using the SD Memory Card Formatter from the SD Association.

Next you will need to download a tool called Etcher, which is available for Mac, Linux and Windows. This will put the required software on to your SD card.

You’re going to need the software to put on your card. Retropie and Lakka are both good for retro-gaming. Make sure you choose the correct version for the raspberry pi you are running on (note, that Retropie doesn’t yet support Raspberry Pi 4’s)

When you download the file, make sure you don’t uncompress the file when you download it to your computer – it needs to remain in .zip or .gz format.

Now fire up Etcher.

Choose Select Image, and choose the file you wish to flash to your SD card.

Warning: When selecting your SD card, make doubly sure that what you are selecting is your SD card. You don’t want to accidentally wipe over your operating system or external harddrive!

Lastly, press Flash! – it should only take a few minutes.

You may need to enter your computer’s admin password to continue.

Once the SD card had been flashed remove it from your computer and put it in your Raspberry Pi.

Pretty simple! You can also use Etcher to back-up your SD cards once you have them as you like them.

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