Last updated August 1st, 2019

These days there is a huge range of Bluetooth controllers to use with RetroPie. Some retro gamers may prefer to use traditionally wired controllers when gaming on RetroPie. But modern Bluetooth controllers have the benefit of being wireless, come in many different styles and work fantastically with RetroPie.

When it comes to Bluetooth controllers and RetroPie, there are many options out there you can try. There are modern controllers used on modern gaming consoles that can be sued with RetroPie. There are also some retro game controllers made with Bluetooth functionality that combine the retro feel with the new connection technology.

I have a few Bluetooth controllers that I regularly use with my RetroPie, where I switch the controller I use depending on the type of game I’m playing. I’ll go through the process of how I get each controller connected and working with RetroPie. The three controllers I use in this article all share the same main steps, but they have some minor differences.

8bitdo SF30 SNES Controller | Dave McLean

8bitdo SF30

After setting up my first RetroPie there was a point where I wanted to play the retro games with a retro style controller. I decided to look for a SNES controller that had Bluetooth connectivity and to give that a whirl with my RetroPie.

After a bit of online research, I ended up purchasing the 8bitdo SF30 controller, which is a replica of the old school cool SNES controller but with Bluetooth. Here is the link to the Amazon page of the 8bitdo SF30 controller if you are keen to get it for yourself.

Connecting the SF30 controller is super simple, and is the second quickest of the Bluetooth controllers in this article to set up.

  1. Go to the Configuration menu in your RetroPie
  2. Next, go to the Bluetooth option
  3. At the bottom of the menu make sure 8bitdo mapping hack is turned off.
  4. Start pairing mode on your 8bitdo controller. On my SF30 8bitdo controller his can be done by pressing and holding the start button for a few seconds. Your 8bitdo controller will start flashing if it correctly starts pairing mode.
  5. Soon after pairing mode has started on your 8bitdo controller, go to Register and Connect Bluetooth Device.
  6. Give your RetroPie about 10 seconds to finish its search for your 8bitdo controller. Your 8bitdo should be listed as one of the available Bluetooth devices. Select it.
  7. Choose DisplayYesNo as the security mode for your DS4 controller.
  8. Your 8bitdo controller is now connected to your RetroPie!
PlayStation Dualshock 4 Controller | Dave McLean

Sony Playsation 4 Dualshock 4

The Sony PlayStation 4 Dualshock 4 controller is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes how successfully is Bluetooth connection is with RetroPie. Some people can get it to work correctly with the Raspberry Pi built-in Bluetooth connection. For some people, this doesn’t work, and alternative Bluetooth connection solutions such as using a USB adapter are needed.

With my current RetroPi setup, I’m one of the lucky ones where my Sony PlayStation 4 Dualshock 4 controller connects to my RetroPie with needing any other accessories. Here’s what you need to do to connect your Sony PlayStation 4 Dualshock 4 controller to your RetroPie without an adapter.

  1. Go to the Configuration menu in your RetroPie
  2. Next, go to the Bluetooth option
  3. Start pairing mode on your DS4 controller. This can be done by pressing and holding the Share and PS buttons for a few seconds. Your DS4 controller will start flashing if it correctly starts pairing mode.
  4. Soon after pairing mode has started on your DS4 controller, go to Register and Connect Bluetooth Device.
  5. Give your RetroPie about 10 seconds to finish its search for your DS4 controller. Your DS4 should be listed as one of the available Bluetooth devices. Select it.
  6. Choose DisplayYesNo as the security mode for your DS4 controller.
  7. Your DS4 controller is now connected to your RetroPie!
Xbox One Controller | Dave McLean

Xbox One

I purchased an Xbox One controller recently as I was a big fan on the Xbox 360 controller for PC. I used it quite a bit for fighting games on PC such as Ultra Street Fighter 4, and it’s great to use for retro fighting games on the RetroPie.

There are extra steps to get this controller connected to RetroPie via Bluetooth. But I’ve found it performs the best between my two modern console controllers. Its’ totally worth the effort if you have one of these controllers lying around.

Fro the below steps to work, your Xbox controller needs to be model number 1708 or higher.

  1. Update the firmware on your Xbox One controller. This can be done by plugging your Xbox One controller into your Windows 10 PC via USB cable.
  2. Get to the command line on your RetroPie by pressing F4 on your RetroPie keyboard, then type in:sudo nano opt/retropie/configs/all/autostart.sh
  3. Scroll upwards, press Enter to create a line before the “emulation station” line then type in:sudo bash -c ‘echo 1 > /sys/module/bluetooth/parameters/disable_ertm’
  4. Then press Ctrl + X, then Y, then press Enter to save all of the changes you have made.
  5. To make sure your RetroPie makes use of the new changes, reboot your RetroPie by typing in sudo reboot in the command line.

Now we have finished the first initial Xbox One controller requirement, lets move onto the Bluetooth connection.

  1. Go to the Configuration menu in your RetroPie
  2. Next, go to the Bluetooth option
  3. Start pairing mode on your Xbox One controller. This can be done by pressing the Xbox button. Your Xbox One controller will start flashing if it correctly starts pairing mode.
  4. Soon after pairing mode has started on your Xbox One controller, go to Register and Connect Bluetooth Device.
  5. Give your RetroPie about 10 seconds to finish its search for your Xbox One controller. Your Xbox One should be listed as one of the available Bluetooth devices. Select it.
  6. Choose DisplayYesNo as the security mode for your Xbox One controller.
  7. Your Xbox One controller is now connected to your RetroPie!

To sum things up

The 8bitdo SF30 controllers work great with some of the older 8-bit to 16-bit games, while the more modern PlayStation Dualshock 4 and Xbox controllers compliment the more modern retro games well. But each of the featured Bluetooth controllers has their own unique place with my personal RetroPie setup.

Its great to be able to switch between differend controller styles reasonably quickly and to not have to worry about controlelr cables getting in the way of enjoying retro gaming.

Thank you for checking out my guides to connecting some popualr Bluetooth controllers with RetroPie. I hope the Bluetooth connection guides for the featured contollers above were useful to anyone that want to use them. Did I miss anything out? What Bluetooth controllers do you use with your RetroPie? Take a leap into the comments below and let everyone know.

Dave McLean

Dave McLean

Dave McLean is a graphic and web designer, with a passion for all things digital media. He's also a video gaming enthusiast, both retro and modern. He loves creating websites with WordPress and tinkering around with retro gaming setups using RetroPie.

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