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A Super Easy Arcade Machine from 1 Sheet of Plywood

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Picture of 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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swoodall23 days ago

I have a question I am going to be using it for tetris asteroids and space invaders which joystick would you recommend for that? Oh and price isnt a problem

Just get a Zippy - about $10 and they work great. You know originally Asteroids was played with buttons though right... not a joystick...?

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pocketscience2 months ago

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!

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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.

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twheeler4 made it!2 months ago

Thanks for the awesome plans - I used them as a general guideline when building a mini-arcade for my nephew. Perfect dimensions for using Parts Express speaker vinyl rather than painting - cheap and highly recommended. I also added t-molding that I picked up from Rockler. My arms were maple to class it up a bit and still stay durable, and the controls are an X-Arcade BYO kit.

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What size wood did you start with? Did you have to make your cabinet wider than 16" to fit two controllers? Looks amazing btw!:)

Plan was essentially the same as instructed, but I started with some leftover MDF that I had from a full-size cab, so it might have taken a bit more. I think I went 22" wide. Basically I followed the plan for the sides and the two bottom panels, then I winged it on the rest.

mrnadnad1 month ago

My brothers an I about to make a two player arcade machine, so my brothers could play with me too! are the games compatible for two players, too?

If the original games allowed 2 players then running the same games in MAME should allow 2 players. If you're doing a stand up machine you should be fine, but cocktail cabinets (where the players sit at opposite ends) obviously need to rotate the screen. I've found that not all games rotate correctly. If you look at my custom front-end below you'll see little arrows to the left of the game names - these are the games that do rotate on a cocktail correctly from my experience. Again, if you're doing a stand up this isn't an issue. Just make sure the encoder you go with has enough inputs.

skandukuri2 months ago

Hi, this looks super cool! I was wondering how you set up the software and all that. Does your cabinet boot directly to Mala? Also did you configure the CPU on another computer with a keyboard, etc...?

Thank you! You've really inspired me to take action and start building this! :)

vigothecarpathian (author) 2 months ago

Wow, that is wild! Its very unique and catchy, I love it! Extra controller option is very cool, too!

tommylien2 months ago

Final Product. All made from left over wood flooring:

Dell 20" 5 point touch Screen - $135

Arcade Gaming 3" Trackball - $50

Madcatz Street Fighter Controller (Wii) $35

Wii to USB Adaptor for 2 players

Extra Controller can be attach at the bottom of Cabinet.

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jkuehnau3 months ago

I guess there's a few steps you passed up I am a little confused about.

For starters, how do you go about applying edge banding? Where can I even find that?

Also, in the cabinet I see you didn't go over the bottom on the inside you clearly installed. I imagine it's there for support, weight and storage, but how did you go about installing that? Did you just use the doweling again?

I also assume the entire back is open, which is fine, easier to access.

What did you use for sound?

vigothecarpathian (author)  jkuehnau3 months ago

Hi Jkuehnau! Edge banding can just be rolled on using a "J" roller. You can buy edge banding with an adhesive back, or alloy your own adhesive and roll it on.

There is very little to the inside. I used a 16" long section of 2 x 6 board across the bottom to make it bottom heavy. I just used 90 angle brackets to screw to the sides. The rest of the supports across the side are larger square dowels and it is sturdy. It keeps the cabinet from sliding around when playing or wobbling when getting too rough. You can also use the 2x6 to mount leveling feet on the bottom so it always sits firm.

The entire back is open and there are computer speakers mounted in the back in the underneath of the control panel. Since it is open, the sound travels through just fine.

tommylien3 months ago
(removed by author or community request)
vigothecarpathian (author)  tommylien3 months ago

That is great! I love the re-purposing of the wood flooring!. Touchscreen is also a great feature. It looks excellent so far!

tommylien3 months ago

The first touch screen MAME cabinet using Vigolix tenplate. So I bought a cheap 20" touch screen from Dell for $135 and decided to built a compact MAME cabinet based on the Vigolix Template. The materials were left over wood flooring that I add some accent color staining based from the Google Display Design I saw at Best Buy. Work is still in progress.....

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warrior9136 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.

manfrey7 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 manfrey6 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!

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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!
rascaluk9 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"
sbdesigns8 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.
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rbrown5911 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?
sbdesigns rbrown5910 months ago
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.
tavomax11 months ago
Hi Vigo. Great idea for a small mame cabinet.
Just wondering, where are the spikers?
vigothecarpathian (author)  tavomax11 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.
tamz271 year ago
hi,
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)  tamz271 year 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.
cgreer61 year ago
That's so awesome!
smoses41 year ago
I need to contact you but I don't know how. Email llease
dansan1011 year ago
I designed a cabinet very similar to this! But youve gone and made it far better than i ever imagined mine! Brilliant work!
agraydon1 year 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 !
How'd you make it two player?
What part of the plans did you change to make this two player
bobhill1251 year ago
How could you change this to be two player
bobhill1251 year ago
How could you change this to be two player
RyGuy1761 year 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!
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