A Super Easy Arcade Machine from 1 Sheet of Plywood

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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!
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warrior9133 months ago

Hey. I was going through your list of sites and i saw a few joysticks and i cant decide which one to get for good performance and price because id like to get two. Thanks

For fighters go with a Sanwa JLF, for shoot em ups and run-and-guns get a Seimitsu LS-32. I prefer the seimitsu myself.

manfrey3 months ago
I've been planning to build one of these for a while and finally have all the parts together. I noticed that my existing Mad Catz TE stick is exactly 16" wide and a similar thickness to your control panel. I'm going to move the wood currently reserved for the control panel from the top of the arms to the bottom of the arms, giving me a nice drop-in shelf for my existing stick.
manfrey manfrey3 months ago

...and all done (aside from the marquee)! Used a single piece of 2x4 for the arms, plexiglass, and a removable monitor mounting bracket instead. For anyone looking for a computer to put in the back, I used a small refurbished business desktop; Newegg has plenty to choose from for $100-200. It fits easily when stood up on its side.

For the speakers I drilled holes underneath the control panel shelf to let sound through and simply taped some speakers to the top of the computer.

I have almost zero woodworking experience and it still turned out great, thanks again Vigo!

Great Instructable! Have had this favorited for months and am finally getting around to starting this project. My only modification is to use a CRT monitor for light gun support. Thanks again for the awesome project!
rascaluk5 months ago
hey. About to have a crack at this for the kids. Is there anywhere I can get a clearer look at the plans? If I blow these up I can't see the measurements and I need to convert them to mm for the wood shop here to cut em for me...All the best, Paul
if you look close enough the marked measurements are:
across the top: 2", 10", 12"
down left side: 8", 8", 16", 16"
bottom: 12", 12"
internal right side measurement: 2"
down right side(1): 2", 16", 2", 2"
down right side(2): 48"
sbdesigns5 months ago
My cabinet. I added a tv/monitor bracket, allowing screen to be rotated for vertical games! Works well. Might add a marquee, but enjoying it too much.
rbrown597 months ago
Can the Zero Delay handle a 4/8 way joystick and 8 buttons? What about a 4/8 way joystick and 10 buttons?
It can handle 12 buttons.
I use 4/8 way joystick, player1 start button, coin credit button, 6 action buttons (think Street fighter), a "Back" menu button, a "Pause" button, with still 2 spare button ports on ZD board. P.S.: See the schematic of ZD board in Vigo's instructable.
tavomax8 months ago
Hi Vigo. Great idea for a small mame cabinet.
Just wondering, where are the spikers?
vigothecarpathian (author)  tavomax8 months ago
The speakers are mounted directly behind the control panel. I just used standard PC speakers. There is an open area under the controls for the sound to come through to the front. To adjust the volume, I just reach my hand underneath the control panel and turn the volume dial.
tamz279 months ago
im new to this and this looks awesome and simple! i was just wondering, how do you turn the laptop on and off? do you have a special switch for it? if so how do you connect it?
vigothecarpathian (author)  tamz279 months ago
Hey tamz27! Well, you can always just turn the laptop on directly with its power button by reaching around. I added a switch by opening taking off the laptop panel, then soldered on two wires to the laptop board where the power switch, then I connected an arcade button on the back of the machine to the wires. So I only need to slip my hand around to the back and press the button to turn it on and off.

Soldering on a laptop can be tough though. You should check your laptop's bios. You might get lucky and it will have an option to turn on when plugged in. If that is an option, you click everything on with the switching on a power strip that it is plugged into.
cgreer610 months ago
That's so awesome!
smoses410 months ago
I need to contact you but I don't know how. Email llease
dansan10110 months ago
I designed a cabinet very similar to this! But youve gone and made it far better than i ever imagined mine! Brilliant work!
agraydon11 months ago
GREAT Instructable ! I took the plans and made the console with 1.5x the dimensions as I wanted a standup console but don't have the space for an 8 foot high enclosure ! I made some minor modifications to the control board also and made it a two player system.

This is a great base for anyone wanting to make their own system. Thank you so much for the inspiration !
funkytaco agraydon11 months ago
How'd you make it two player?
What part of the plans did you change to make this two player
bobhill12511 months ago
How could you change this to be two player
bobhill12511 months ago
How could you change this to be two player
RyGuy17611 months ago
Congrats! Glad to see another arcade enthusiast make it to the top! Perhaps you could use my Instructable to make your own fighting game to put on your prize winning machine!
vigothecarpathian (author)  RyGuy17611 months ago
Thanks, RyGuy! Definitely! I have been hearing about MUGEN but never tried it before. Your instructable has already been a help. I will give it a go soon, thanks!
piratetv111 months ago
congrats on the win, great design.
vigothecarpathian (author)  piratetv111 months ago
Thank you! And congrats on your very worthy 1st place build as well. :)
thank you.
ecsaul2311 months ago
Way to go! Glad to see you at the top!
bajablue11 months ago
vigothecarpathian (author)  bajablue11 months ago
Thank you very much!!!
sourcand4511 months ago
This is AMAZING!!! you've got my vote :) but i was also wondering if i would be able to hook up the encoder to a raspberry pi
vigothecarpathian (author)  sourcand4511 months ago
Hey, thanks sourcand45! Well, the encoder reads on windows as a generic HID gamepad, but with my personal experience, it is a pain to get most encoders to run on a linux system. I am a complete linux dummy though. I believe it is most likely doable, but I personally was never able to get any gamepad working on linux in my attempts.
ciliatu11 months ago
Very simple concept to make a very slick looking cabinet! Great instructions too! Thanks! Hope you win the contest!
vigothecarpathian (author)  ciliatu11 months ago
Thank you so much!! :-)
jburgos11 months ago
I just started building mine and I'm making it a cross between the two, where'd you get the steering wheel and pedals? I love the look of yours
vigothecarpathian (author)  jburgos11 months ago
I used an older racing wheel I was able to get for free. It was a Thrustmaster Pro digital 2. Good luck with your build!
ArtoYear11 months ago
I have to say you're so cool ! 劲啊!
vigothecarpathian (author)  ArtoYear11 months ago
Thanks so much!!! 多謝!
mpoyner11 months ago
Maybe I missed it in your description, but where did you get your controls and why did you choose those over others? Thanks! Awesome Instructable.
vigothecarpathian (author)  mpoyner11 months ago
Thanks for that!

You make a great point, Joystick and button choice is critical. Now that you mention it, I think more needs to be said about the controls. I'm gonna go ahead and add a step to cover control choice.

The joystick I have is actually a cheap unbranded joystick I had bought directly from China, back when I was importing arcade parts and reselling them. It is a cheap, but good quality joystick. I would compare it to the Zippyy Joystick. You can get one for $9.00 plus shipping from

The buttons are Happs buttons, which were the standard found in arcades in the US from the 90's on. I used them because I had a lot lying around from old arcade machines I bought.

I will let you know when I have a step on controls added. Thanks for the comment on it!

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