Setting up PS3 controllers on Retropie (Gasia/ Shanwan clones)

If you like retro-gaming you probably came across RetroPie, which allows to turn your Raspberry Pi into a retro-gaming machine.

RetroPie supports game-controllers of many different brands, however it can be difficult to configure them, especially if you chose a wireless (bluetooth) controller. I decided for a wireless Sony PS3 controller and purchased a pair of “compatible” devices from Aliexpress a.k.a. Gasia/Shanwan clones.

IMG_7667a

The RetroPie Wiki  provides some useful information on how to pair these controllers with a bluetooth dongle. At the moment RetroPie supports PS3 controllers using the sixad daemon, which is part of the QtSixA package.

The QtSixA  Sixaxis Joystick Manager can connect PS3 hardware, but it takes over bluez/ bluetoothd service and other bluetooth devices, so that keyboards or mice can’t connect when sixad is active.

Thus, I was wondering why there is no ‘native’ bluez support for PS3 devices. A Google search revealed that bluez comes with a ‘sixaxis’ plugin supporting only “genuine” PS3 controllers. However, I found on the gmane mailing list that bluez patches are currently under development, but none of them made it into an official or main developer branch, yet.

BlueZ PS3 support using the Sixaxis plugin

Fortunately Szymon Janc, one of the bluez developers, provided some patches for the OpenELEC.tv Mediacenter. [Update: 2016-09-28] However, development of OpenELEC.tv seems to be dead, since there were no updates for quite a while. Therefore, I do not expect that patches supporting other PS3 clones will be released soon.

Here is a short tutorial on how to use these patches for RetroPie and to fix the annoying PS3 Shanwan/Gasia pairing problem:

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Hjalte
5 years ago

Hi.
Thanks a lot for the detailed walkthrough, i’ve followed every step. I’ve purchased a ‘golden ps3 controller’ on eBay, it shows up in dmesg as: “input: SHANWAN PS3 GamePad as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb2/2-2/2-2:1.0/0003:054C:0268.001C/input/input44”. bluetoothctl can see the BT MAC addr, but for the life of me i can’t make it pair/connect. I rumbles constantly when plugged into USB. sixpair shows to lines: current and setting bt addr, both being written as my usb bt dongle mac. Any tips on what I could try or some output I could post here to help you help me. Thanks a lot in advance

Hjalte
5 years ago
Reply to  luetzel

Hej igen! Thanks a lot for your quick reply. For testing purposes I’m on my laptop with lubuntu (16.04 LTS 4.4.0-34-generic). BT dongle is: ID 0a12:0001 Cambridge Silicon Radio, Ltd Bluetooth Dongle (HCI mode). I have been testing both with sixad for Shanwan and the patched bluez you provide. I’ve had one controller (out of two) connected once with bluetoothctl by running $connect “bt addr”. After the one successfull bt connection the name changed to [NEW] Device 04:43:6D:A5:63:25 PLAYSTATION(R)3Conteroller-PANHAI (yes with a spelling mistake in controller). Sometimes when i try sixad it hangs at: sixad-bin[2943]: One event received sixad-bin[2943]: unable… Read more »

Hjalte
5 years ago
Reply to  Hjalte

Oh, and the extra “usb_control_msg returned: 8” is just me adding a printf to sixpair.c to check the return value during pairing.

Hjalte
5 years ago
Reply to  luetzel

Thanks a lot again, hope you had fun here in DK 🙂 bluez version did indeed check out to 5.40, thanks for the tip. I tried enabling debugging, so far dmesg give me some timeouts on Bluetooth: hci0 command 0x0408 tx timeout (also on 0x0405 and 0x0409 occasionally). Furthermore service bluetooth status gives me the following errors when trying to pair and connect: bluetoothd[1968]: sixaxis: compatible device connected: PLAYSTATION(R)3 Controller (054C:0268) bluetoothd[1968]: Can’t get HIDP connection info bluetoothd[1968]: connect error: Connection refused (111). hciconfig gives UP RUNNING PSCAN, but not the ISCAN you have in the tutorial output. Can’t do… Read more »

noname
5 years ago

Thanks a lot for your work. Got my shanwan clone paired on pi3 with internal bluetooth. Now got it paired on gentoo system with usb-bt.

In both cases it did not work out of the box. sixpair was always ok, but no bt-pairing.

I only got it working after running sixad (killing bluetooth) and qtsixa.

gentoo wiki says clones not working, but they do with your bluez.

Josh
5 years ago

Martin,

Your guides seem to be the most thorough explanation of these issues. I’ve tried to follow your instructions to the T, including redoing a Pi3 with retropie, bluez, QtSixA. I can get SixPair to give me a good MAC address output.

But then I can’t pair. If I go into bluetoothctl it can see the controller, and will “connect” when I press the PS button such that it is on. But it won’t ever pair…. Any thoughts on this or how to debug?

Thanks

5 years ago

Hello leronardo and everyone here . could someone please guide me in this tutorial ?
I’m totally lost in this tutorial , I’m noob with RP .

I have 3 ps3 shawman controls and can not use any = (

somebody help me, please

5 years ago
Reply to  luetzel

I stopped in step 2 , I am in doubt which part is the operating system and which part is the raspberry

Leonardo
5 years ago

thanks, it worked fine! 😉

Stevo
5 years ago

Hi Luetzel, when I am getting stuck when I try to make the sixpair utils. When I run make, I get:

gcc -Wall -O2 hidraw-dump.c -o bins/hidraw-dump
gcc -Wall -O2 sixad-jack.c -o bins/sixad-jack -ljack -lm
gcc -Wall -O2 sixpair.c -o bins/sixpair -lusb
sixpair.c:9:17: fatal error: usb.h: No such file or directory
#include
^
compilation terminated.
Makefile:8: recipe for target ‘tools’ failed
make: *** [tools] Error 1

Any ideas how get past this?

Stevo
5 years ago
Reply to  luetzel

You are a champion Martin! That seems to have worked beautifully now on my Pi3 and RetroPie 3.8.1 build!

I’ve now gotten both Shanwan controllers to pair and they both seem to still work after a full shutdown. (I’ve had other experiences when they would pair – but need to be re-paired after a reboot).

Now, we just need to ensure all this good work of yours make it into the RetroPie 4.0 build.

Again…Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Cheers
Steve 🙂

auwear
5 years ago

Thank you for this tutorial but I am still having issues connecting 2 controllers at the same time, and I can’t stop the controllers vibrating when I connect them via USB to charge. Can you please help me at all?

acdc go
5 years ago

Also be sure that: sixad-sixaxis have appropiate permissions:
cd /usr/sbin/
chmod 755
sudo reboot

this worked for me.

trev E
5 years ago

awesome stuff, thanks for the guide!
my 2 PS3 Shanwan controllers now work via BT- but the gasia doesnt.. guessing cant get both working together?

Trev
5 years ago

Ha took me 10 mins to spot the typo! sudo service bluetooh restart should read “bluetooth”