Firstly, I want to say that the inspiration for this build is due to ThereIs0nly0ne and his amazing arcade cabinet. I knew I could never build one exactly like his, I am not that skilled and I don't have a decent work-place/tools, so I decided to give it my best and also cut some corners where possible, and for a first arcade cabinet I think I did a pretty decent job.
I will talk more about this in every step.
Step 1: Planning + Sketches
This is the most important step of the whole build. This will allow you to define all the necessary parts, duration and shape of the cabinet.
I attached my initial sketches but I won't lie, they changed during the build a bit, mostly the size of the cabinet itself (image 2 and 3). The first image has the actual size of the arcade.
Must haves for my build:
- 2 players capabilities
- Stand-up play (this was probably the most important thing, I wanted to be able to stand up and play, note that I am 6'1", so yes, the arcade is fairly tall, maybe too tall)
- Vinyl wrapping
- Vewlix shaped cabinet (more challenging to build but looks much better than traditional cabinet)
Step 2: Tools + Materials
- Circular saw
- Power drill
- Power sander
- Dust mask
- 2'x2' wood strips
- Acrylic panel
- Sand paper
- Paint or Primer
- Paint rollers
- Arcade buttons + joysticks + USB interface
- Speakers + amplifier
- Raspberry Pi 2
- 24' monitor
- Artwork (paper + vinyl)
Step 3: Layout + Cutting + Sanding
I used 2 MDF sheets 49'x97' to layout the pieces and cut them out. Once they were cut, I used an electric sander (rough sandpaper) initially and then a hand sander (softer sandpaper) for the finishing touches as well as corners. You can tell from my hillbilly setup that it was not the easiest thing to do but I did not have a large enough bench.
Important: When cutting and sanding use mask since the material will create a lot of dust.
- Use your screen monitor length as base length (it will be much easier going forward).
- If you plan on using an acrylic panel to cover the front, check the dimensions before, acrylic is painful to cut since it breaks easily (better yet have it cut to dimensions by professionals).
Step 4: Base
- Have the 2'x2' wood strips go to the ground, they will server as base for the risers/wheels/feet you will install later
- Decide if you will close the back, or leave it open. Mine is open and there is an extra shelf mounted at the same level, where the Raspberry Pi and Amplifier are mounted.
- Drill each screw hole with a larger bit so that the screws align flush with the panel. You can even fill in the hole with wood filler once the screws are in.
Step 5: Control Panel
- The control panel bottom board is bolted to the base.
- 2'x2' wood strips are used to rise the top of the panel, each side being covered with small MDF strips.
- The top of the control panel sits inside so that it doesn't move and there are two hinges at the top that allow the top of the control panel to be opened.
Step 6: Sides + Marquee + Screen Riser + Speaker Panel + Acrylic Screen
The sides are bolted on the base.
The screen sits on a platform fairly high (based on my height).
The marquee is installed using small 2'x2' wood strips since it will not light up. Also there is a top board to the marquee, same size as the marquee itself, for more stability.
The speaker panel is also installed using 2'x2' wood strips (it needs to support the speakers' weight).
I decided to cover it all with an acrylic screen, more of an old-school look, which will also be covered in vinyl.
Step 7: Painting
I used drywall white paint and primer in one, on all the pieces since I will cover it all in vinyl afterwards. This is recommended if you want to make sure the vinyl sticks properly. If you don't want to use vinyl, then painting MDF is not as easy since it absorbs paint fairly fast, but there are solutions on the web.
- Apply a good 3 to 4 coats
- After the first coat, sand out large imperfections since they will show through the vinyl
- No need to sand it afterwards
Step 8: Raspberry Pi 2 RetroPie Set-up
Step 9: Speakers + Buttons + Vinyl + Stickers
The speakers and the buttons should be fairly easy to install. I got my buttons off eBay, they came with an USB controller and the wiring was fairly easy. I used two small car speakers and an amplifier of Amazon.
The vinyl is also from Amazon (1,2,3), but make sure you buy enough no matter where you get it from. If you have not applied vinyl before, it will take some getting used to but its not that hard. Make sure you get more vinyl than needed since you will make mistakes when applying it.
The sticker photos I found on forums and websites. There are a lot of different designs or you can even make your own if you're feeling adventurous. One thing to keep in mind here, make sure you get a very large image since it looses quality when printed. I used Staples to print the stickers on a banner sheet and applied it over the vinyl using double sided adhesive tape.
Step 10: Arcade Cabinet
This is the final product. I think it looks pretty good. Feel free to ask any questions you might have, I'll do my best to answer you.