Have you wanted your own arcade machine, but never thought you had the time, skills, tools or money to make a stylish cabinet?
Here is the solution!
I have designed an extremely easy to build, affordable and stylish cabinet. Now you can build one too. With this home arcade machine, you can play arcade and home console games with a true arcade feel.

What makes this cabinet so special?
  • Easy Woodworking:There are no curves or special cuts to make, every cut is a straight cut and little measuring is needed. The only power tools needed is a saw, a drill and a sander.
  • Extremely Affordable: The entire cabinet cost me less than $100 to build! I did have an old laptop I put in that I am not counting in cost, but this is cheaper than a small bartop cabinet!
  • Easy to do: I built this in two weekends, and I was going slow!
  • Stylish: Most Viewlix style cabinets are extremely complicated and very expensive to build. Usually between $1000-$1500 This cabinet has everything that is great about a viewlix. Striking angles, design for seated play, slim profile. It is an affordable eye grabber.
The cabinet I will be showing you here is a mini cabinet, perfect for kids or as a sit down cabinet for adults. Most of the cabinet is build from one sheet of 2' by 4' by 1/2" sheet of plywood. You can follow these instructions and build a full size cabinet instead by doubling all the dimensions. You would use a single 4' by 8' by 3/4" sheet of plywood instead. 

So follow along if you finally want to make you home arcade machine a reality!

Step 1: Materials

Here is what you will need to begin:

Hand saw or jigsaw.
Straight edge for drawing cut line
Power Sander, preferably random orbital.
Drill for drilling screws and 1 1/8th spade bit for drilling arcade button holes.
Cutting knife
paint roller if painting by hand
Adjustable wrench for bolts
Wood Clamps

1 sheet of 2' x 4' X 1/2" plywood or MDF wood. This make up the core of the cabinet.
Spare and scrap wood! I used 10 feet of leftover 3/4" square doweling wood and 4 feet of 1/4 by 4" wide flat doweling wood.
16 inches of heavy wood lumber for a base. A 2" by 6" is great. 
paint, either can of spay enamel, or bucket of paint if painting by hand.
Arcade controls
An arcade encoder. You can get a Zero Delay arcade encoder from ebay for $11
An old Laptop or computer with flat monitor, up to 17 inch screen. Save that old computer from the scrap heap!
Small computer speakers.
Art board for bezel
Screws to keep the cabinet together, bolts to bolt on the control panel and controls, varies in size depending on the controls you use.
Putty to fill imperfections.
(Optional) Vinyl edge banding as as a stylish protectant around edges of cabinet.
(Optional) Plexiglas sheet for monitor cover and marquee
(Optional) 12" fluorescent light for a light up Marquee.

OK, lets dig in!
<p>I'm still in the process of making mine...the upscale to 2x for adults is too tall. The average height of an arcade game is about six feet. I'm unclear where the pieces marked &quot;arm&quot; go, the notch in the backside is most likely going to be used as the actual arms of the control panel, but because the thing is too tall, the control panel will have to go at the top of the notch instead of above it. Also unclear on how the control panel is covered up from the underside cause I've seen several of these with exposed wiring which is not ideal. And there's the whole backside of the unit which seems uncovered - yeah it's against the wall, but you still want something covering the backside to protect the electronics inside. My machine likely won't be as wide as the 2x control panel numbers seem to be in the blueprint - I just need the joystick, buttons and the trackball mounted, and the average size of arcade control panels is a little more than two feet. Just seems like there's some unanswered questions in the steps, and need some pics of completed products.</p>
<p>just again. How do you get the games onto the monitor. Is a hard drive needed?</p>
<p>Or a 60-in-1 board or an ArcadeSD board.</p>
<p>You need an old computer, a program called MAME, and some sort of front end to run it (a piece of software that will allow you to easily pick a game with a nice menu).</p><p>Hit up the thrift shops and look for Core 2 Duo equipped computers. Those often do the job just fine. Pentium 4 or Pentium D computers could do it, but try to go for Core 2 Duo. Then you'll need to A. Learn how to use and set up MAME and a front-end, B. Need to get arcade ROM files (these are the games themselves), which if you want the classic arcade games is not legal and I can't supply you with them, and C. You need to know how to set the computer up so that it automatically goes into the front end, so you don't need to use a keyboard and mouse to use the arcade cabinet.</p><p>Here is a good guide on the same deal, just follow the steps that explain those three points I mentioned: http://www.maximumpc.com/how-to-build-a-kick-ass-mame-arcade-cabinet-from-an-old-pc/</p>
Had to make it less arcade-y to please the wife but wasnt too bad. By far the most expensive part were the buttons/joysticks ($80), plywood/trim wood/hardware ($60), Plexiglass ($20), monitor ($20). I built the stools too which cost about $30.
Do you have any more pictures of your construction? Side view/back view? I need to make mine a little more &quot;living room friendly&quot; and I like the way your build turned out.
sorry if they are sideways!
These didnt really show the final product. I found that i had to angle the monitor down because it was an old lcd that really changed color/brightness if you didnt go straight on. But that wasnt too terrible to do. Couldve gottenva bigger monitor amd smaller bezel but the monitor is square and most arcade games are in that aspect.
<p>Almost finished just waiting for some speakers that will go under the screen and a bit of painting :).</p>
<p>Your arcade looks amazing. I am just curious what the dimensions for your controller box are?</p>
<p>Woody, that looks awesome! How did you finish/paint the wood? Your finish looks very smooth and natural.</p>
<p>Looks great! Did you build this at 1.5 times the original size (4 ft x 6 ft)? What size monitor did you use? What are the dimensions of your control panel?</p>
Hi holtzer yeah I used 4x6 18mm ply so it stands just under 6 foot tall and is 60cm wide. The monitor is 22&quot; :)
<p>Where did you order the buttons?</p>
<p>Hi Bobby i got them from ebay. They come from China so i was expecting a long wait but they only took about 2 weeks to arrive. Link below :)</p><p>LINK</p>
<p>I scaled it up by 1.5x &amp; put in dual controls. I really like the dual sticks since they can be mapped for games like Robotron 2084 as well as being used for 2 player games. The speakers on top are 5 1/4&quot; Rockford Fosgate being driven by a small $10 Lepai amp - the volume controls are peeking through the lower left side below the monitor. <br><br>We also installed Gstream on the Raspberry Pi as well as PiPlay for MAME, so the sound system can be used as a DLNA sink (to play music) from apps like Bubble uPNP.</p>
<p>I just finished making my cabinet, based on these plans! It's a little over 6' tall, about 1.5 times the dimensions in the 'Ible. 3/4 birch plywood, with a cherry and Dark Walnut stain. Really happy with how it turned out. The Front-End is one I wrote for this guy. The marquee is just a placeholder currently. </p>
<p>how big is that monitor? Any issues with durability? Thinking of going after your setup!</p>
Awesome idea! Thanks for the inspiration. This gift was a huge hit!
<p>hi guys, just wondering how to get the games up to the monitor? do you need a keyboard or hard drive? Do you download the programs to a laptop? Can someone run through the steps from mounting the monitor to putting games on it</p>
<p>IsaiahL 12</p><p>You will need a computer to run the games. An older laptop like was used in the post, or an old desktop will do. I recommend an Intel core 2 duo at least. Older, slower computers will also work, but I've gotten excellent out of an old 2.3GHz machine.</p><p>Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux operating systems will all work.</p><p>Google &quot;MAME&quot; the Multi Arcade Machine Emulator. This is the software that emulates all the old game machine hardware. The games themselves are copies of the original game machine ROMs (read only memory) are copyrighted software, and technically, you can only legally use them if you own the arcade hardware they came from... Technically...</p><p>The copies of the ROM are called ROMs. They can be found laying around the Internet. The I telnet Archive has conveniently archived them for us. The archive is 45GB. Considering that the old games were only a few Kilobytes in size, that means there are MANY THOUSANDS of games there.</p><p>Google will find you all the information you need to get these running on your computer. The awesome arcade cabinet is just icing on the cake!</p>
<p>Came out better than I hoped for</p>
<p>Thank you for the great design! I made one for my daughter sixth birthday, saved me lot of time being able to do all the plywood on the panel cutter with straight cuts only. I've added a top &quot;box&quot; to make it more arcade-like, to host marquee and speakers. Other modifications, I've added a keyboard-mouse tray hidden behind a door under the controls, and a &quot;control panel&quot; with leds to host power switch, volume, headphone and mic jacks, usb etc.</p><p>Also the monitor is hinged and can rotate 90&deg;, I wanted to make it auto-rotating but couldn't finish it in time for birthday.</p>
<p>This is awesome - one quick question - how is the stability?</p><p>Obviously with a full size machine there is a lot more weight for the mad sessions that can come up in some games - does this not just rock around?</p><p>Cheers!</p>
<p>This is awesome - one quick question - how is the stability?</p><p>Obviously with a full size machine there is a lot more weight for the mad sessions that can come up in some games - does this not just rock around?</p><p>Cheers!</p>
<p>Is the programmable encoder software open-source and could be ported to an OS other than Windows?</p>
<p>Yep, it worked fine on my old iMac laptop, at least with the frontend I am using</p>
<p>I'm using the same encoder on my Mac-based version of this... it's a joystick encoder, not a keyboard encoder - so there's really no configuration needed as long as your front-end can accept joystick input.</p>
<p>I have an old MacBook Pro and I'm running OpenEmu for the emulators/frontend. Would the ZD encoder work with it, because my only alternative is a 2004 Dell Inspiron!</p>
<p>Great Job!</p>
<p>Hey there, I'm just wondering where I can get the plywood in the UK. Could anyone send a link please?</p>
<p>Made a couple of these last year. They were fun projects. You can view the video of them in action here: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ai5mCW06r1U" rel="nofollow">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ai5mCW06r1U</a></p><p>Or if you prefer the step by step building process, check out my blog: <a href="http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,141778.0.html" rel="nofollow">http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,141778.0.html</a></p>
<p>Can you make one for me ?</p>
2 player. 6ft hight with 20&quot; LCD monitor. Added 2 game controllers to play 4 player games.<br><br>Very fun build. Appreciate all the help from this article!
<p>Im thinking of making this and using a Rasperry Pi B+ for the brains. Im also gonna paint it blue and slap vintage Donkey Kong decals all over it becuase Im obsessed with that game. </p>
<p>Great work! im just about to start this build, i will be powering it with an old xbox with coin ops 6 and hooking it up to a 22 inch monitor so im using the 6x3 plyboard, i have made a few changes but the design is based on your cabinet. So far i have designed a 3d cad file on tinkercad and will add photos as i go. here is the link if u want to see the design in 3D <a href="https://www.tinkercad.com/things/fJVzr8koLb4-arcade-cabinet" rel="nofollow">https://www.tinkercad.com/things/fJVzr8koLb4-arcade-cabinet</a> </p>
<p>Great instructable! me and my brothers made our own arcade machine based on your instructable, works great!</p>
<p>the design is so futuristic~ i love it!<br>i made a slit bigger version of your design, about 6'' tall, using raspberry pie+ emulation station as the console system.</p>
<p>Vigo, can you go into more detail on your laptop setup? I assume you removed the screen and ran a cable. What did you do for a power switch?</p>
<p>Can you put the measures in cm please????</p>
<p>1&quot; = 2.54cm...</p>
How could you change this to be two player
<p>Scale up to 1.5x (2x is way too large, unless you want a 4 player beast), and use the layout guides from Slagcoin here for the buttons/joysticks: http://www.slagcoin.com/joystick/layout.html</p>
<p>answered my question lol. personally been thinking about a big daddy 4 player, with light guns.... and a trackball...should be enough.</p>
<p>This is awesome! I have a cocktail cabinet I built many many years ago, but this has inspired me to build another cabinet based on your design. I have an iMac sitting around doing nothing so I've designed the cabinet to take that instead of a PC and monitor combo. My cocktail cabinet uses a Mac mini and LCD panel running my custom front-end with an I-PAC etc so I'm going to replicate that setup but might look at the ZD encoder just for something different. Here's my design - the front panel is translucent so you can see the iMac in the design, but the whole thing will be black when complete. Thanks for the inspiration!</p>
<p>Slow progress, but I have the basic cabinet assembled. I've also completed the wiring harness for the joystick and buttons and the ZD encoder. Had to modify my custom front-end to support the ZD encoder as it acts like a gamepad, not a keyboard.</p>
<p>Done! Thanks again for the inspiration!</p>
<p>Quick question, did you follow the actual design plans, or did you double the dimensions? My biggest concern is having a control panel that can fit two players, which doesn't look like it would fit in the original, but in yours, it looks like there's space to spare</p>
<p>I scaled the concept up, but double was too big for my purposes. I ended up with a CP 600mm wide, which could fit 2 players - with a bit of elbow jostling to increase the fun.</p>

About This Instructable


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Bio: Vigo is an electronics enthusiast with a passion to bring back the nostalgia of the past. His goal is to share major projects that anyone ... More »
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