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.
<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>any thoughts getting the raspberry pi to work on a 19&quot; monitor... DVI cable adapted to the the HDMI with an adapter.... </p><p>I cant get it going.. it works on a widescreen but not a 19&quot; screen</p>
<p>Super assome, will try asap.</p>
<p>Just got the marquee installed yesterday. Really liked this build. I built a usb port into the front of mine so I could easily switch to controllers. <br><br>Using an old laptop i7 and Lakka. Everything runs buttery smooth. </p>
<p>I made it! Used your design specs for the cabinet, built the system via directions from 'I like to make Stuff'. Added LED lit buttons, and used my pocket hole jig where possible. Great Father &amp; Son project, Thanks!</p>
<p>hey, really like what you did here by mixing the design and 'i like to make stuff' details.</p><p>before i start i was wondering if you can contact me with any issues you had..specifically with the wiring...im kind of lost with the details given.</p>
<p>Hey! Thanks a lot for this instructable, it has been incredibly helpful. Here's my version :D</p>
<p>Thank you very much for your plans. I've made it a bit narrower (47cm instead of 50cm). For the marquee I've used a polycarbonate and put some leds behind. For the speakers, i've drilled holes in the shape of space invaders.</p>
<p>For a 27inch Monitor (I have one spare ok!) would it be a case of making it wider and using 12mm MDF on the front or would there be other things to take into consideration?</p>
<p>Good Job!</p>
<p>Thanks for the plans, they helped massively. I made my own widescreen Sonic &amp; Mario take on it. The marquee still needs work though.</p>
<p>I'd love to see the measurements too.</p>
Hi,<br>Thats great. Would u mind dharing your measurements that you use to accomodate the wodescreen. That will be great.<br>Looks really great.
<p>Hi,</p><p>This is a great project. One that I am planning to undertake. I would like to use a &quot;19&quot; to 22&quot; Widescreen Monitor&quot; instead. What are the measurements that need to change to accommodate that or the measurements can be use as it is?</p><p>It will be great if someone who have used those monitor sizes 19&quot; to 22&quot; to share their measurement adjustments. </p><p>I would be greatly appreaciate it.</p><p>Thanks in advance</p>
<p>Decided to sketch this up for dimensions sake as some of the original dims were off by decimals. Wanted to make sure everything lined up right after all. Also took a traditional arched 6 button configuration on the panel. Looks great, now to build it!</p>
<p>This is absolutely amazing. Can't wait to build one of my own! </p>
<p>Hello and thank you for your great tutorial on the arcade machine its really great!</p><p>I was wondering on the joystick area of mounting, did you just screw up into the wood from inside with small screws? Im wondering as i want the front face flush and dont want to drill through that face as it will be covered with vinyl.</p><p>Any help from all you great guys would be swell.</p>
<p>I'm almost done with my arcade...but...!</p><p><br>If someone could share which buttons of the USB card should be connected to which buttons on the arcade to simplify configuration I would appreciate it alot! <br>If....I say if...someone also could share a configuration file it would be really great.</p><p>I'm using the exact same configuration as in the instruction.<br><br>/Daniel</p>
<p>This is great!</p><p>But you missed the units a bit. 50mm in length would be a little short :)</p>
<p>I am in the planning stage, but a few questions....</p><p>1. How can I create my design for the side of the cabinet? Does anybody have an illustrator or photoshop template?</p><p>2. I was never into arcade cabinets, but I want to make this really bad for Nintendo (making it a sports theme). I am still using the classic arcade buttons, but I was wondering, which buttons would be start and select?</p><p>3. The supports on the inside of the cabinet... what type of wood is this?</p><p>Thanks everyone for the continued help.</p>
<p>Thanks for the blueprints, i used plexi for the front monitor &quot;wall&quot; painted in edges </p>
<p>I'm confused!!!<br>Your measurements on the refsheet don't make sense.</p><p>You have the wider section of the boards measured at 50mm but the shorter side at 185. Is this a weird European thing? Would you have this diagram but in Inches??</p><p>Thank you!!</p>
<p>You might want to add a zero. It's a typo. 500mm.</p>
<p>A great set of plans and instructions! A big thanks to you. Saved me hours of designing. I added front USB ports for game pads. I also made the Bezel and Marquee as removable modules using industrial grade velcro, it works a treat! The 80's have returned. Happy Days!</p>
<p>Can you link me to that USB port that you have on yours? Does it just run to a USB on the pi?</p>
Sure thing, yes both just go direct to the Pi:<br> <br> <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00UV9G8OC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1" rel="nofollow">https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00UV9G8OC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&amp;psc=1</a>
<p>Wow! That art is fantastic, where did you get it done? Is it just adhesive?</p>
<p>yes, Is it just adhesive!!!</p>
<p>Indeed the schematics provided by OP did have some stuff missing. Also there were some inconsistencys in the measurements when comparing two of the pictures. Nothing major and it's nice that you actually need to figure something out for yourself.<br><br>My project is still missing the marquee part and finetune on the Lubuntu/ES combination. Used a bit better hardware there myself.<br><br>Still need to work trough the power part and the lights too (and power switch).<br><br>Great tutorial and a fun project :)<br></p>
<p>Oh yeah and I did add the usb extensions to the front panel for possible controller use. On/off switch will be placed underneath the marquee panel (angel eye lighted one).</p>
<p>Nice! So its possible to have the arcade controls AND USB controllers connected ? I wanna do something like that but didnt think it would be possible. Do the controllers just go into the Pi USB ports ?</p>
<p>Sorry for the late reply btw - my notifications were not set up correctly..</p><p><a href="http://theyakousei.blogspot.fi/2016/05/tyo-0016-2-pelaajan-bartop-arcade.html" rel="nofollow">http://theyakousei.blogspot.fi/2016/05/tyo-0016-2-...</a> this is about the full project in details (finnish text, but a lot of pictures :D).</p><p>Youtube video about the machine up and running should be visible later on the blog as well (converted to 19GB avi instead few hundred mb mp4 *facepalm*).</p>
<p>I didn't use my RaspPi on this project - but I think it should work just as well on Rasp. I've tested this with 4man bomberman (the arcades +2x SNES USB controllers).</p>
<p>Thanks for this awesome tutorial :)</p><p>Here is my work :</p>
<p>i love MK , where did you find this theme? and how did you print it?</p>
<p>I made the visuals by myself using Photoshop, from images found on the internet. I exported the file in PDF format, with real measure in it.<br>And i sent it to https://www.pixartprinting.fr/, then i received my stickers :)</p>
<p>do you have the side left right pdfs ?? to share?</p>
<p>Think it'd be possible to get a hold of that file so I can use it to start my own design, or show me what template you used?</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: