The 'Galactic Starcade' is a DIY retro bartop arcade cabinet for two players. It is powered by the Raspberry Pi micro-computer and plays multiple types of retro games - primarily NES, SNES, Megadrive and arcade (MAME) games. Using a Pi keeps the cost, weight and complexity to a minimum but the cabinet could also house a more powerful PC-based system to play more modern games.

I've always wanted an arcade machine for authentic retro gaming but they take up a lot of space and cost a lot of money. Making a custom bartop cabinet like this one solves both of those problems. It also lets you play potentially thousands of games on a single machine. This project costs under £200 (approx. $320) to make, whereas a prebuilt custom cabinet can set you back four or five times that amount!

This is my first big DIY project and my first Instructable - be nice! Any questions or feedback are more than welcome in the comments.

UPDATE #1: Thanks for the great reception to the Starcade everyone! Very pleased to have placed in two competitions and won some top loot from Instructables. I'm loving the photos in the comments, keep 'em coming please!

UPDATE #2: After a ton of requests I have finally got round to making some handy PDF guides which show all the necessary dimensions to make this arcade machine even easier to build yourself! I've knocked up full 1:1 scale printable guides for the side panels and the control deck, plus a reference sheet with dimensions and angles for the rest of the panels. You can download the PDFs below. Enjoy!

Step 1: Tools and materials

If you want to follow along at home, here is the basic recipe for the build. Substitutions for similar items are fine - this is just documenting what I personally used. I've shown how much I found each item for online, although bear in mind that quite a bit of this stuff was already lying around the house and I didn't actually go out and pay for. This list should show you the total cost if you were to buy everything.

You will need:

  • Internals
    • Raspberry Pi model B - £24 (Amazon)
    • Clear case for Pi - £3 (Amazon)
    • Heatsink for Pi - £3 (Amazon)
    • 32gb class 10 SD card - £12 (Amazon)
    • 4-way extension lead - £1 (Amazon)
    • Fused switched mains inlet socket - £7 (eBay)
  • Display
    • 19" LCD TFT monitor with built-in speakers- £25 (eBay)
    • HDMI to DVI cable - £2 (Amazon)
  • Controls
    • Joysticks + buttons + USB interface - £44 (ultracabs)
  • Cabinet
    • 12mm MDF board 1829 x 607 - £15 (B&Q)
    • 9mm MDF board 1829 x 607 - £9 (Wickes)
    • 6mm MDF board 1829 x 607 - £7 (Wickes)
    • 3m x 15mm coloured t-molding - £6 (arcade world)
    • 750ml all-purpose white primer - £9 (screwfix)
    • 400ml matte black spray paint - £3 (screwfix)
    • 600mm brass piano hinge - £5 (Wickes)
  • Marquee
    • Plexiglass 500 x 240mm - £3 (screwfix)
    • Flexible LED strip kit - £13 (Amazon)

Approximate total spend = £191 ($305)

You will also need the following tools. A lot of these are pretty common but if there's something you don't have - borrow it! I personally borrowed a great deal of tools and advice from my housemate, fellow retro gamer and all-round good egg Jonny from 1up Living. He pops up in a few of the photos and generally helped a lot with the build.

You will need:

  • USB keyboard and mouse
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill with ~28mm, ~12mm, and ~2mm bits
  • Clamps!
  • Table saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Router
  • Sandpaper
  • Filler
  • Wood glue
  • Screws
  • Paint roller and small brush
  • Patience
Yay. Finished my cab based on your plans. <br><br>Next one started (50%) complete.
Hope you are still here. Planning to build one for my kids during winter vacations, would love to know more about the side buttons configurations.
<p>any chance you could point me in the right direction for the graphics . id love something similar to your.</p>
<p>Hello Chillimonster, I was wondering how I can do the side panels artwork like urs. I followed the template provided here to do my bartop but now I want to create some side artwork like u did to urs. Is there an adobe photoshop template for this bartop so I can just paste my artwork to it?</p><p>Thanks.</p>
<p>Well, you certainly went and raised the Bar. Topping my build... Congratulations good sir. Good luck on the contests and I voted for ya. <br><br>And yes all puns intended. :D </p>
<p>Thanks MoTinkerGNome! I don't think your build is taking a backseat by any means, console yourself with the fact that I voted for you too! (Puns equally intended.)</p>
<p>i just wanted to know, when you wired the controls up did you glue the panel in place after that?</p>
<p>And even if we don't win the contests. We still have awesome Pi-Cade Machines. <br><br>On a separate note we need to work out a pinball machine that runs android for Pinball Arcade. Their software and tables are awesome I just hate touch screens for gaming. <br><br>Could use a 24 for a mini or a 32&quot; 1080p TV/Monitor Mercury switches or accelerometers could work for the nudges and tilt and buttons and microswitches are easy..... HMMMMM stand alone pinball emulator... </p>
<p>I guess you know about Visual Pinball.</p>
<p>Oh yeah, I have a 23&quot; and a 15 that are decently proportionalized to each other. I just am fighting with the software. Once I get that worked out Ill build a mini pin table. </p>
<p>Hey, welcome to instructables, this is amazing! I hope to you keep positing awesome things!</p>
<p>Thanks MsSweet! I really appreciate the lovely response I've had from you guys over at Instructables :) I fully intend to post more awesome things in future!</p>
I love how well documented this is! I love that more and more people are building arcade machines. They are all just so beautiful!
<p>Just completed mine, thanks a lot. Did a few mods, like the control panel is removable, USB extender in the front. More info on it here </p><p><a href="https://retropie.org.uk/forum/topic/5593/space-invaders-themed-bartop-arcade-uk-completed" rel="nofollow">https://retropie.org.uk/forum/topic/5593/space-inv...</a></p>
Hi mate, looks amazing. Was wondering where did you get the control configuration sticker printed on the side of the screen. Cheers
<p>i made it in Photoshop, here it is. Prints out on A4 perfectly and fits snuggly in the side bezel</p>
<p>After reading this thread I made mine (see pic). I went for a 20 inch 1600 x 1200 re monitor though. Also I used a pair of Logitech z200 speakers which I hacked apart in order to seat the volume dial under the marquee - I even did this in a way that you can plug in headphones underneath the marquee.</p><p>Some TIPS for someone building this...1. Attach the screen to the wooden surround (bezel) before permanently attaching it to the frame. 2. Attach the control panel last and make sure all controls are in it before attaching as its near impossible to wire up from inside the cabinet. 3. Cut 2 x hand slots in the top above the back door for carrying it. 4. Put small rubber door stops as feet on the base to make it easier to get a hand under the machine for lifting. The carry slots and the machine being 10-15mm off the ground make it much easier to carry. 4. Get a bezel vinyl as well as the other surface vinyls as its definitely worth the extra $20. Paul at Rockstar Print (UK) is the place to go! 5. If you have kids like me - dont load up the machine with lots of ROMs, start with 5-10 classics that are easy to play so the kids get used to the use of the machine without it being too complicated whereby they may get overwhelmed and loose interest. 6. As mentioned earlier... install an easy to use/get to volume dial for the speakers as some ROMs have different volumes. </p><p>I'd looked around at various kits and designs and settled on this one and I'm glad I did as spending the time ordering all the parts and building it is as much fun as playing it. Thanks to the original poster for taking the time to do the plans and steps. Good luck to anyone who builds this... Im happy to answer any questions if you have any.</p>
Planning to build one with my kids for winter holidays, got any game title children friendly that you recommend?!
<p>Before doing this project I was a total DIY noob! Had to buy all the tools and learn how to use them (such as Routers etc).<br><br>Its been a very enjoyable project, took about 3 times as long as it should but its now finished. Made a few smallish changes to the instructions and also built in a full PC build. (Also moved monitor size to 20&quot; with 1600x1200 screen).<br><br>Thanks for your guide!</p>
Do you have any guide how you configured up the controls and is the side button to reboot the system.
<p>OMG OMG yours is exactly what I thought mine would look like in my head and bam there it is in a picture in the comments complete with the same bubble bobble (my all time favourite arcade game) graphics I wanted to use. Do you mind telling me where you got the graphics from?</p>
rockstarprint.co.uk were the guys who did mine, it was a bit pricey though.<br><br>You can give them your exact measurements and they will print accordingly. (make sure you give them measurements slightly bigger so u can trim to size. better to be over than under).
<p>Snap, same 1600 x 1200 monitor also. Also used logitech Z200 speakers with integration headphone jack, volume control and subwoofer output.</p>
<p>Wow incredible job. This was your first project? You have natural talent.</p><p>Just curious what size speakers you used in the cab and how they sound? I am looking at some used 2.5&quot; 8Ohm 1 watt speakers on ebay.<br><br>Also would you mind sharing your measurements for the cabinet?</p>
The speakers were actually butchered logitech speakers I had for 4/5 years. I took the speakers out and mounted them inside the marquee section.<br><br>The grills were cheap &pound;1 purchases on ebay from china.
<p>Absolutely love it!! This is what i want to achieve. (Rasp Pi though). Just cant seem to locate a 20&quot; monitor at 1600x1200 though... any ideas?</p>
http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&amp;_trksid=p2047675.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.XHP+LP2065.TRS0&amp;_nkw=HP+LP2065&amp;_sacat=0<br><br>This is the monitor I use. It turns back on automatically when powered off and powered back on again so no need for power switch.<br><br>I took the plastic housing off from the monitor also.
<p>Hello,</p><p>After having built two 1-Player bartops (see below previous post, Metal Slug and Spiderman), I built two other ones for friends, but 2-Players this time. The chosen theme were Metal Gear Solid and Street Fighter.</p><p>This instructable was really inspiring me :-). Once again, thanks!</p>
<p>Hi! I want first to congratulate you for your very detailed instructable. I've been so inspired by your bartop project that I've already built two '1-player' arcade machines (one for me, one for a friend), and I'm now starting a '2-players' bartop. Thanks a lot for having shared your project on this instructable!</p>
<p>Can i ask where u got the Metal slug Side pannel Decal ?</p>
A friend of mine did it with Metal Slug images found on the net, and using inkspace / gimp to build it.
<p>hi there i just wanted to know, did you use t-molding on the edges or did you paint them? because im ising 18 mm mdf and i wond be able to use t moulding, do i have to use it?</p>
Hi, I just painted it as I used 12mm MDF. The result is more than acceptable if you sand it correctly.
<p>Thanks so much for posting your instructable! I made a video of my construction from start to &quot;almost&quot; finish. I've linked to your instructable as credit for the original design and re-uploaded my own pdf with a couple changes for my build. I hope that is alright :)</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NUmrwvQ0reI" width="500"></iframe></p>
Awesome. Run into this instructable through your YouTube. Planning to build one during the winter break with my sons.
<p>Would you be willing to share a high resolution version of your Galactic Starcade Marquee? Of all of the marquee designs out there yours is the only one my wife likes and will approve of on a cabinet I am making for our family room. I was going to print it off 8&quot;H x 26&quot;W inches.</p>
<p>Hi there,</p><p>Awesome project. I am making one myself thanks to you! trying to configure for two players and am getting nowhere. It seems the xin mo usb board (same as you used from ultracabs) and a pi 3 don't like each other. I know you linked to other articles but that hasn't helped much. How did you get yours to work?</p>
Arcade #2 completed. My new primary hobby, can't get enough of putting these together. I've amended the design here, adding other features as well as making up a few of my own. thanks once again.
<p>Do you get vibration or movement on the control board since it's on a hinge?</p>
<p>Hello, </p><p>Does someone have the solution to print the PDF document in real size on A4 sheets ? I tried many solution from Adobe Acrobat (100%, real size, ...) but checking the squares, i've got 4 x 4,5 cm squares ??</p><p>As you might imagine, this doesn't fit the MDF i've cut...</p><p>Does someone can provide me the right square reference we should find ? </p><p>Sorry for a such silly question, but.... I've tried 2 printers at my job, 1 at home and don't find how to solve this...</p><p>Tie.</p>
<p>excellent plans, made it and was quite easy thanks to this tutorial</p>
<p>Just waiting for graphics to arrive! Thanks for the great write up. My biggest challenge was converting everything to inches. I used 3/4&quot; maple plywood originally intending to polyurethane it but i messed up and had the face grain on the inside of several panels. Oh well, nothing black paint and graphics cant fix.</p>
<p>can anybody recommend me a good set of arcade buttons? Maybe something from Amazon or Ebay.</p>
<p>Addicore.com</p><p>search arcade</p>
<p>My Version is called Yoshicade.</p><p>The exterior is MDF I got for $3NZ, Screen $5NZ from </p><p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/Seagull-Centre-464719636929794/" rel="nofollow">https://www.facebook.com/Seagull-Centre-4647196369...</a></p><p>Artwork by my Daughter</p>
<p>I made it myself with some lttle changes , thanks for sharing yours :)</p>
<p>Can you explain how you added the USB slots? Does the arcade controller give the USB port game controller priority over the joystick/buttons?</p>
<p>Hello,<br><br>This starcade is great :)<br><br>I am a noob in woodworking but how did you manage to cut parts with measures under the millimeter (90.7 or 544.3) ? Can we round these measures?</p><p>Thanks a lot</p>
<p>Would be nice to include the inch/foot dimensions for those of us who aren't on metric.</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a guy who likes games and design and making stuff.
More by rolfebox:Wafalafel: delicious blend-free waffled falafels How to create a cryptic egg hunt for grown-up treasure hunting fun 2-Player Bartop Arcade Machine (Powered by Pi) 
Add instructable to: