Useful things to know about the RG351-503-552 handheld functions, settings and shortcuts

This article provides tips, pointers and best practice for using your specific Anbernic 351, 503 & 552 devices and varied operating systems.

Please keep in mind that we provide generic guidance on how each operating system works and there may be differences between systems and versions.

If you chose to explore and install a system your device did not ship with, it may very likely not be supported by Anbernic as they, nor your reseller have control over many aspects of these. So while an exciting time, please tread with caution as setting these systems up comes with its own unknowns and challenges. 

3 initial things to consider are charging, battery life and shutting down

On the 351 range, Anbernic recommends using a 5V 1A or 5V 2A DC power supply/ charger.
A genuine Samsung AC fast charger is well suited with an output of 5V 2A, as will the older iphone at 5V 1A and ipad chargers delivering 5V 2.1A, however newer apple charges are rated at 9V 2.2A.

You will also need to use a USB-A to USB-C charger. A USB-C to USB-C will not charge! 

So a large USB connection like what's on a computer on the power side and the smaller C port on the Anbernic DC port. Keep in mind there are usually 2 OTG Ports of which one is DC.

 

There is nothing stopping you using other methods like your computer or other battery banks, chargers. That said we have experienced devices not charging properly and exhibiting strange behaviours when not charged as recommended by Anbernic.

On the topic of battery, if your device has inbuilt WiFi Anbernic recommend turning it off when not in use to reduce battery drain and improve device performance at low charge.

We have experienced cases where controls have become unresponsive or display misbehaves at around the 30% mark. So while this isnt always the case it emphasises the importance of using the right charger and ultimately battery care of your console.

You can turn your Anbernic console off using the power button, however best practice is to power it down via the menu by pressing >Start >Quit >Shutdown System. We'll explore this in more detail below.

OK, let's move on..

The heart of your device

Longevity wise, as the Micro SD card stores the operating system and titles, you should consider making a backup of the card, or storing it away and upgrading to a premium brand name card setup.

The standard cards that come in these devices are not premium and can fail meaning you can lose any tweaks or updates you may have made or even worse required system files.

There is a consensus in the retro gaming community that the standard cards  should be backed up and stored away and that you purchase a premium card as soon as you can.

Should you chose to not update the card, we recommend backing up the standard cards before you proceed to make any changes to your setup/Micro SD Card.

 

Backing up and/or making a new card

We use a 3.0 micro SD card reader and Win32DiskImager for Windows10.

While a 3.0 reader is up-to 10x faster than a 2.0 reader, either will do the job. If you experience slow speeds it could be your computer's USB is 2.0.

You'll need to remove the Micro SD Card from your Anbernic by pushing it in. Be prepared as it can fly out once you move your finger away. Insert into the card reader already connected to your computer.

CAREFULLY cancel any windows and prompts to format the card.

Using Win32 Disk Imager 1.0 click on the folder to the right of 'Image File'.
Select where you want to save the backup of your SD Card and give it a file name eg 'rg351pBackup' it will automatically add the .img extension.
Click 'Open'.

Open file explorer and check what drive your Micro SD card is listed as, usually D or E, but be sure as it will backup whatever drive you select.
Chose that drive from the 'Device' drop down.

Untick OR Do not tick 'Read Only Allocated Partitions' as you want all partitions on the SD card backed up.

Click the 'Read' button and walk away.

Make sure your computer isn't set to hibernate or turn off when not being used!

To write rg351pBackup.img back to a new SD Card, just do the opposite, chose the existing image file, then the target SD Card from 'Device' and click the 'Write' button and walk away :-). 

 

Formatting the card

Before applying an img onto a new or used SD Card you can format it first to ensure its in good shape. While you can use your computers software or other programs, we and many others use the SD Card Formatter software by TUXERA.

WiFi

The difference between a 351P and 351M is the M has inbuilt WiFi and an alloy hard shell. The 351M & 351V both have inbuilt WiFi.

To achieve the same with the 351P/351MP you will need a WiFi dongle/adapter.
You will likely need a female USB A to a male USB C adaptor. This will plug into the the left OTG port on your anbernic RG351P/MP.
The Wifi dongle will be a male USB A 802.11n nano.
Make sure to carefully push the dongle in so that its seated well in order to make a good connection with your Anbernic device.

Activating and Connecting to your WiFi

EmuELEC

>Click the Start button >Network Settings >Enable WiFi >wait for it to activate

>Click on WiFi SSID >Hover over your network from the list and click A >Click on Wifi Key and use the keyboard to enter your WiFi password >Click OK and wait for the connection.

>Click back out of Network Settings and you should see the "WiFi Enabled" prompt >Go back to the main menu and select EmuELEC Settings, Ensure "Enable SSH" is enabled.

 

351Elec

>Click the Start button >Network Settings >Enable WiFi >Select your network in Wifi SSID section >Use the keyboard to enter your WiFi password in WiFi Key.

 

ArkOs

In ArkOs the WiFi settings are not where you would expect and found in the main games section.

Scroll down/up through the consoles page and near Openbor/PC Engine you'll find >OPTIONS. At the base of the options list, sometimes obscured you'll find >WIFI. Once you enter this section, you can use the shoulder buttons on your 351 to move around and highlight + to add/connect to your WIFI. To exit click on the X symbol.

How to access your games and files

You can remove the micro SD Card and plug it into your computer using a 2.0 or 3.0 card reader. Transfer speeds will vary depending on number of files and size however if your computer supports it, using a 3.0 card reader will be the fastest route.

Using an FTP program from your PC or Mac is a convenient way to add/remove ROMS, images and apply/ test adjustments quickly. Compared to a 3.0 card reader, FTP can be slower especially if you are doing a big update and pushing gigs worth of files.

If FTP is your desired route, once you have connected your Anbernic console to your WiFi, make sure to note its IP address.

FTP:

The linux systems that run your Anbernic console use SFTP on port 22 for a more secure connection. From your computer or other device simply chose the SFTP connection type from within your desired FTP program. On PC we have used WinSCP and FlashFXP.

EmuELEC 

Your consoles IP address eg. 192.168.0.11
u/n: root
p/w: emuelec

 

351Elec 

Your consoles IP address eg. 192.168.0.11
u/n: root
p/w: 351elec

 

ArkOS

When you connect the console to your WiFi make sure to >enable remote access. 
Like 351Elec Ark also uses the more secure SFTP on port 22.

Your consoles IP address eg. 192.168.0.11
u/n: ark

p/w: ark 

Micro SD card Storage

EmuELEC

351P & 351M have OS, storage and games on one card in 3 partitions.

Partition 1 hold the operating system files and formatted using fat16 so you can view it using your Windows or Mac computer.

Partition 2, is where all the emulation files are stored along with related themes, cheats, saves, screenshots etc. This partition uses Linux EXT4 so can only be viewed using Linux systems or specific programs. Should you wish to explore Linux file transfer programs tread carefully and be sure to backup your SD card prior incase it becomes corrupted. Windows cannot read this and should it see it, will likely prompt you to format it when inserted into a card reader on your windows computer.

The last partition is where the goodies reside. This holds the game ROMs and BIOS files. Its formatted using Fat32 so you can easily access it using your PC or Mac.

Powering down your device

Why should you consider powering down your Anbernic console via the menu by pressing >Start >Quit >Shutdown System ?

 

Data corruption

While your device is booting or doing its thing it can store changed or processed data in RAM. Worse case scenario if the device is accessing the card and/or not had the chance to save above-mentioned data before you hard power it down via the on/off switch, there is a chance of missing or data corruption.

 

Save state and progress data

During gameplay your console will keep track of progress and updates. The biggest loss is save states/ metadata. Depending on how long you've been playing, your operating system and settings, this can happen incremental or when the device is turned off.

RetroArch progress is saved when you exit a game.

EmulationStation also saves data to the card upon shutdown using the menu and not the power button.

Shutting down using >Start >Quit >Shutdown System ensures the console has enough time to perform all of the above and shutdown in a proper fashion.

Not doing so will mean at minimum you lose progress and saves, however its not recommended and can result in tears of varied levels.

Save states - allow you to save the progress of a game and load/continue from that point later on. Irrespective of console many will use RetroArch which is where this happens. To access 'Save State' or 'Load State', press down on both Joypads while in your chosen game. From there scroll down and press A to save current position or load a previously saved position.

Best practice please :-)

 

Drastic - Nintendo DS

Drastic is a standalone Nintendo emulator, so unlike most other consoles it does not use RetroArch. Here's a few pointers;

351P/ M/ MP 

To exit game depress left Joypad, scroll up one position taking you to bottom of list being >Exit Drastic >click B

L2 shoulder switches between DS screens

R2 shoulder switches between single and dual DS screen view

R2 shoulder then pressing L2 shoulder will let you swap order of dual view screens from left to right and vice versa 

Use the Right Joypad to control pointer and A button to select

Daphne - Laser Disc emulation

Daphne emulates all the old school laser disc titles, like Drastic it does not use RetroArch.

Keep in mind that some titles will take longer than usual to load, so be patient, as what appears to have froze is likely loading..

Here's a few pointers;

351P/ M/ MP/ 552 

To exit game depress both Select & Start buttons together.

To add coins press Select 

To play press Start

Some laser games will give you a move prompt like a coloured dot/area or an arrow. You will then need to timely respond with a movement in that direction or a button press. Its all about timing and speed. 

 

Exit from a Game

RetroArch 351V

Hold down left Joypad and then press circle Function button >Press B >Go up 1 position with Joypad or Dpad >Press A on Quit RetroArch

Tip: 351V volume on left side if held down in either up/down position will adjust screen brightness. 

351Elec

Press Select and Start buttons twice at the same time

RetroArch RG503

Hold down the Function button located 2nd to the right at base of console and press the >Start button top right. This will jump you back to menu without other options.

 

RetroArch 351P /351M/ 351MP

>Press both Joypads simultaneously >Press B >Go up 1 position with Joypad or Dpad >Press A on Quit RetroArch

or if you have hotkeys enabled;

>Double press both Select / Start at the same time

 

ArkOS 351P /351M/ 351MP

>Double press both Select / Start at the same time

 

RetroArch RG552

Electro Arcade devices have the Hot Key set to the Select button. Holding down Start / Select at the same time when using Linux will exit your chosen game.

To boot from Linux you need to have the 16GB micro SD card in the TF1 slot.

 

351Elec Specifics

PS1 Titles

By default these are set to use the standard controller. Should you find a particular game loads with no working buttons, from within the game on 351P /M /MP >Press both Joypads >Scroll down/up to "Controls" and press A >Scroll down/up to "Port 1 Controls press A" For "Device Type" select either "Standard" or "Dual Shock" by using left/right DPad. Click B and then return to game by >Pressing both Joypads. Repeat the process to try other Controller types. In some games this can be used to change between using the left DPad or Joypad.

This approach can be used on other consoles to swap between different controller types when experiencing control issues.

 

PSP Titles

PSP titles can be tweaked in-game per title to improve play and performance.

To do so press down on both joysticks together to view the menu. From here select >Settings and press B.
Move over to graphics and try the following settings;

  • "Frame skipping" 1
  • "Frame skipping type" Number of frames
  • "Auto Frameskip" tick
  • "Force Max FPS" 30

Depending on how each game performs you can tweak the settings to your liking.

 

Keyboard/ Mouse based games

Using the above approach you may need to select >RetroKeyboard and then scroll down to map your desired DPad/Joypad/Buttons to what the specific games original controls were. For example Arkanoid uses Numeric pad for left/right and space bar to shoot. Once mapped and tested select >Save Game Remap File.

 

Game Search

Works in each console, not across all games. When in the given console be it N64, Nintendo DS, PC Engine etc >Press Y. Keep in mind you will need to repeat this and >Press RESET to remove the filter text and show all games again.

 

Removing unused game assets

So you've previously deleted unwanted games and looking to free up more space on your card? You may still have images, videos and other assets from those games. From your main menu Press >Start >Emulationstation Settings >Developer >Clean Gamelists & Remove Unused Medias

 

Background music - skip/next

If your setup has background music when your looking through the game lists, pressing the left Joypad will skip to the next track/tune.

 

C64/ Amiga Emulation

Some games will take longer to load and appear to have frozen on the blue C64 load screen - be patient :-).

Keyboard show/hide: Select button or pressing right joystick

In-game selection: B button

Space bar: X (Used to skip intro's etc)

Run/Stop: (R/S) key on virtual keyboard (bottom left near commodore key)

Enter key: Used after entering your name (RET)

 

Firmware Updates

If you are running pre 2.0 firmware you'll need to do a fresh/new install.
From 2.0 onwards if auto update does not work, you can download and place the upgrade file in GAMES/update folder. This folder will sit inline with your ROMS folder.  

On this page scroll down to "Upgrades" and you'll be able to chose your console be it RG351P/M or RG351V.
RG351 latest available stable releases

 

ArkOS

RetroArch settings menu - with caution!

From within any game hold Select then press X at the same time

Dreamcast

On the 351MP to load a game in 640*480 hold down the A button. Otherwise you get 320*480

Changing per game emulation core

Depending on your Custom Firmware setup and emulators, each console be it Arcade, NES or others you may have the option to select a different core on a per game basis. Why? A game may not play well or play at all on one core and perform much better with a different core.

To See what cores are available per game in ArkOS, navigate to the particular game and click Select. Click on >Edit this games metadata, Click on >Emulator and see if there's another option. Select that and then below this you will have available >Cores for that given emulator. Select a Core and either click B for back or scroll to the base of menu and click on Save.

Try loading the game to see if it loads or performs better. Repeat this process until you find the emulator/core match that works best for the given game ROM file you have.

Add a game to favourites

Hover over title and >Press Y 

Normal or High Clock

From factory your Anbernic device will run at a clock speed of 1.3 GHz. Under >Options, setting device to >High Speed will increase clock to 1.5 GHz.
You will need to check and see how this impacts game performance along with battery life.

Issues playing GBA Titles?

If your Game Boy Advanced titles are not working, try changing the emulator core.

From the main games list page >Press Start >Emulator Settings > Nintendo GBA.
Set Emulator to >RetroArch.
For Core try using >MGBA

Press B all the way back to the games list menu and give a GBA title a try.

Options > 351 Files

Navigarte through file manager with extreme caution. To exit file manager press Y and then Select Quit.

 

Adding ROMs 

These instructions are generic and may vary depending on your console, operating system and any custom settings. Use this as a reference as there are indepth guides on ROM versions and settings out there.

Retro game corps has a few guides and videos.

If you're using the factory OS on your Anbernic handheld then there are two primary differences being OS and games on 1 SD card or OS on 1st card and games partition on the second SD card.

The 351V, 351MP, RG503 and RG552 come with a second micro SD card slot so as a default the 2nd slot is used for games storage. This is by software setting not hardware.
If you're using custom firmware like ArkOS, AmberElec etc you have the option of running OS and games from 1 card. You may consider doing so with upto a 512GB or potentially 1TB card.

Art and Image preview aside, using methods described above to access the games partition, once you've placed the ROM in the right folder it should come up in that consoles game list be it N64, Mame etc.

If the ROM is not showing, double check the folder and extension you are using.

If it does load but fails, depending on the console be it N64, Dreamcast, Mame etc you will need to source the correct ROM version compatible with the BIOS files your using. Mame ROMS include 0.78, 0.119, 0.213. If you have multiple BIOS versions setup you'll need to select the matching emulator from your settings section. 

Here is a Github link outlining systems, paths and ROM extensions Systems and paths

 

Titles to try

Mame/Arcade: Pengo [1982]

Sharp X68000: Galaga '88 [1987]

PC Engine: Xevious [1990]

PC Engine CDROM: Super Raiden [1992]

Neo Geo: Spin Master [1993]

FBN Arcade: Air Assault [1993]

Sega: Chuck Rock [1994]

PSX 1: War Games Defcon 1 [1998]

N64: Batlle Tank Global Assault [1999]

DreamCast: 4 Wheel Thunder [2000]

Capcom II: 1944 The Loop Master [2000]

Sega Naomi: WWF Royal Rumble [2000]

GBA: Action Man: Robot Atak [2004]

Nintendo DS: Asphalt Urban GT2 [2005]

Super Nintendo: New Super Mario Land [2019: fan made to celebrate 30 years]