Picture of Easy Cab (arcade)
Here are instructions on how to build an upright arcade cabinet. I have built a couple of arcade cabinets and have enjoyed learning how to build them and customize them.

a preview video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-3FZYUdghI

I wrote these instructions to assist those who are not yet comfortable in taking on a project like this singlehandedly. I tried to make it as inexpensive as I could, while making it easy to design and construct one with the minimum required skills. I will not be talking about programming or where to download videogame files from, but I’ll offer references to sites that will.

I believe this is a great first project to pick up because not only do you get something awesome at the end but you get to learn about: electronics, soldering, construction, and designing. Once these skills are picked up, they can be applied to other projects.

I used a jigsaw, router, and drill to build this cabinet so the tool requirement is not out of reach for a beginner.

Before starting this project please read though the whole instructions, because there are many different things that can be done.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Tools:

Picture of Tools:
Here is a full list of tools that are needed to construct this arcade. If you don’t know what these are you can go to your local building supply store and ask because they will know. 
You will need:
� Drill
� Drill bits
o 1 1/8th spade bit – I got mine from Wal-Mart in a set for $10 (it needs to be this size for the buttons)
o A drill bit set for various holes – again Wal-Mart for about $14
o A Philips screw bit – usually comes with the drill
o A countersink bit- (used to make the screws flush with the wood)
� Router
� Router bit – I bought it for around $17 (it’s a slot cutting bit and ill post a picture , I used a 1/16 th inch)
� Knife – (to cut the t-molding)
� Soldering iron
� Hot glue gun
� Wire cutters
� Hammer
� Jigsaw- I bought mine for $20 at Wal-Mart (make sure you can cut angles, meaning the faceplate can bend at least 45* degrees)
� Jigsaw blades- cheap like $3 for a couple (buy fine saw tooth or smooth wood)

Here are a couple of pictures that go along with the tools:

Step 2: Materials:

Picture of Materials:
game pad.jpg
There are a lot of different options available for building and designing your arcade. That’s what makes this so much fun, the fact that you can customize almost everything about it! Here are the materials I used for mine:

Wood: -- (2) black melamine 4’X8’ft sheets of 5/8th inch thick mdf $85
- I used (2) 4’X8’ft sheets of 5/8th inch thick mdf covered in Black melamine. I have painted one and I have used the melamine on one. I highly suggest the melamine to be used. It is a little more expensive but once you buy paint and primer (mdf soaks up paint like a sponge!) it is around the same price. I got each sheet for about $40 to $50 and it does come in different colors. What I had to do, was go and place an order through to get it delivered, so I had to wait 2 weeks for it to come in.

T molding: -- (40ft) of 5/8th inch T-molding $25
- You need about 40 ft. of t-molding I ordered mine from
 http://www.t-molding.com/store/home.php .These guys are great they will send you free samples of each kind so you can look at them before making a decision. The only down side is it did take 5 days to get them delivered. It cost about $25 to buy the t-molding

Screws: -- Box of Black 1- ½” inch screws
- Makes sure they are black, the screws blend into the melamine and makes them hardly noticeable.

Hinges: -- Any kind will do

Latch / bullet catchers: -- anything that will lock the drawer into place

Plexiglas: -- Purchase this after the cabinet is built
- I had my cabinet together and just measured from cornet to corner, and wrote down the dimensions. Then handed it to a glass shop were they cut it out for you, and it was only $12 dollars.

Finishing nails: -- They are not needed, but I tack down the start and end of the t-molding.

Drawer slides: -- (1) 16” door slide $13

Buttons: -- (16) Happs push buttons & (2) competition joysticks $51
- Ebay is where I bought my buttons you can get them in almost any color and they come with everything you need. Here is an example :


There are many different types around the web, go and google “arcade push buttons” There will be lots of different style and prices. Just make sure the 1-1/8”inch diameter ones are bought, and it will screw into a piece 5/8th inch thick mdf. Another example is: http://groovygamegear.com

Button interface controller: -- (2) USB gamepad with 14 inputs OR a ipac controller
- There are two choices when it comes to connecting the push buttons to a computer. What this does is allow the extra buttons being added to be read and recognized by the computer.
- There are two ways:
- 1. Buy a $40 dollar ipac controller from a website Example site here: http://groovygamegear.com/webstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=303
- And another option is here:
- http://www.ultimarc.com/JShopServer/section.php?xSec=2
- OR
- 2. Buy (2) 14 button USB gamepads. This is a lot cheaper it only cost me $10 and I had a soldering iron laying around so I didn’t have to buy one. This is the cheaper route and works ok, but is a pain in the A#$... Here is a picture of what has to be made.

A lot of little wires have to solder to a lot of little connections, and it is a delicate and annoying process. This is where the soldering iron and glue gun come in. If the ipac controller is bought instead, a soldering iron and glue gun will not be needed, possibly saving some money. (For more information go to the “button control board part of these instructions”)

Poster Board: -- I grab (1) 22” by 24” black poster board from Wal-Mart for 70� cents
- I would grab (2) in case a mistake is made. This is what he monitor bezel is made out of. A hole the size of the monitor screen is simply cut out.

Wood Glue: -- Any kind and any size. I used it, but the screws are more than enough to hold it together.

Speaker wire: -- Solid core speaker wire got from RadioShack for about $7 (make sure it’s not bare wire)

Pencil: -- Note: if you are making a black arcade buy a white pencil it helps a lot.

Yardstick / ruler: -- Make sure it’s bought in inches; this will make the lines being drawn a lot easier to follow when cutting.

Tape measure: -- To measure lengths

Braces: -- (2) two by fours that were 8 feet long
- You can use anything to brace the sides together for example: L-brackets, but I used a two by four and had them cut down the long way to make them closer to a square shape. I went this way because it cost me $6.50, and because the place I purchased the two by fours from charge me 25� cents a cut. (Take a look at the inside pictures of my arcade to see what I am talking about.) L-brackets cost more money!
Surge protector: -- $5 at Wal-Mart with 7 ports

Step 3: Layout:

Lay out:
There are many plans and examples on the web, but I decided to try my own because I needed it to fit my needs. Some of the things I had to consider was:
� How much room can I spare?
� How heavy is it?
� How many players can I put on it?
� How much space does each player need?
� How big is my screen going to be?
� Do I want the keyboard available?
I decided to make a 2-player arcade; that did not take up a lot of space to do this  I had to use a flat screen.
Note: (A CRT monitor will not fit in this cab) most CRT monitors have a depth of something like 26” inches. There is only 20” inches of space between the front and the back of this cabinet design. I did this so it would fit on (2) sheets of mdf.

Feel free to change anything you want just remember to plan out everything first.
I found it to be really helpful to go ahead and draw all the pieces needed, onto the 4’X8’ ft. sheet of mdf.
 how i laid mine out is in the image posted:

- I had one side piece cut out from each sheet of mdf and then used the remaining parts to cut out the pieces that go in between the arcade sides.
We will start with the sides of the arcade. Here are some drawings and dimensions of just the side. Remember the front, top, and back pieces are 24” inches wide.

This is where the yard stick comes in handy. Measure out from the bottom left corner and mark the points, then draw a straight-line between each. Make sure the line is clear and straight because you are going to have to follow along with a jigsaw to cut it out. At each turn I drilled a hole, so I could place the jigsaw in and cut again at a sharp angle.

Once the sides are cut out now is time to pull out the router and route the sides. When using the router remember to get the cut exactly in the center of the stock because if you don’t, the t-molding will be off center. I found it best to go ahead and cut a test piece and apply the t-molding.
If the tmolding fits correctly then you are all ready to go.
(Warning: Mdf is bad for the lungs and this creates lots of dust so be sure to wear a dust mask!)
Note: it is important to hold the router flat on the surface, if the router is angled at anytime during the cut, the t-molding will be off, so take your time.

The next step after routing the edges of the side panels, is to apply the t-molding. Grab the t-molding and start applying it from the back. Hammer the t-molding in softly and along the edge.

When you get to a corner cut out a notch so the t-molding will bend nicely around the corner. When you get to an acute angle just make little slits and continue to hit into place.

Once you cut out both sides draw a line 1-1/8” inch in all the way around from the outside.

The reason for making this outline is to have a half inch lip all the way around the arcade. This helps protect the arcade as well as making it easy to hide the ends of the width pieces.
The white line needs to be drawn 1-1/8th” inch in all the way around the arcade, because this is going to mark were the brackets are to be laid. There will be other measurements based off this line; for example, it shows how long the inner pieces are going to be, just measure cross section to cross section and that will be the length of the piece. For example: the top piece white line is 11-1/2” inches long therefore he pieces to be cut out for the top is 11-1/2” inches by 24” inches big.

Now screw in the brackets up to the white line all the way around, making sure that they are being spaced evenly throughout the arcade.
Once you have the blocks cut out, screw them into place. Make sure you have more than one screw in every bracket.
It should end up looking simular to the example image when finished:

Step 4: Now the rest of the pieces

Picture of Now the rest of the pieces
personal pieces size arcade.png
Once the sides are together, now is the time to cut out the remaining parts. Now measure the length of each white line and cut out that length, and then make it by 24" inches.

Look at very top of the cabinet. Measure the length of the white line that was drawn earlier. My length was 11-1/2” inches, so the piece is going to be 11-1/2” inches by 24 inches
There is an example of all the pieces: Make sure you measure every pieces don’t just base it off my drawings.

A few special notes: (Read this before cutting out all the pieces)
• The drop drawer top edge needs to be cut at an angle. To do this, just adjust the angle plate on the jigsaw and cut it just like before. The drop drawer needs to be trimmed a little bit the in 24” inch way so it doesn’t grind and scratch the sides.

• The speaker mount pieces are also at an angle to make a flat face for the marquee to set on. To make the speaker holes you can drill a hole then cut out a circle or you can purchase a saw hole bit and cut out a 2” inch hole.

• The front bottom needs to extend far enough to cover the bottom piece, so the bottom piece end grain does not show.
(this and the control panel are one of the few pieces that extend over the with line.)

• Route the front of the slide drawer and the front of the control panel pieces, and apply t- molding.

• The drawer slide piece needs to be cut to 23” inches instead of 24” to accommodate the drawer slides.

When I cut out these pieces I would cut a long strip that was 24” inches wide across and then slice it up into the right size.
There is an example below of a long strip being cut to several pieces.

Step 5: Constructing:

Now is the time to screw the pieces onto the sides using the braces. Here are some picture examples:

I placed the screws from the outside going through the mdf into the brace. Make sure you pre-drill. Create a pilot hole for the screws and make sure you don’t counter sink too far, but if you do, just color it in with a sharpie and you can’t tell. Use glue if you feel like you need to, but the screws should be strong enough.

Example of pilot and counter sink is shown:

when one side done add the other side and screw it in. Your cabinet should now start to look like an empty arcade.

Drawer slides:
When the drawer slides are place in make sure they do not get in the way of the drop drawer. You want to be able to shut your drawer. About ½” behind the white line should be enough space. Here some pictures of the drop drawer.

I found two hinges that I liked, but lots of people like to use a piano hinge. I colored in the top of the drop drawer with some black paint and black sharpie.


Step 6: Buttons:

Button holes:
You need to put some time into thinking how the button should be laid out. Some buttons that are needed are: a start button, a coin button, and others for various reasons. There will also need to be a hole for the joy sticks. The same size hole I cut out for the buttons worked for me. The best thing to do is to draw on a piece of paper and physically place your hands were the buttons would be, to see how it feels. Once the layout is done mark it on the control panel piece, and put the 1-1/8”inch spade bit into the drill, and start drilling. Here are some examples of layouts and I picture of mine:

Installing the buttons:
Simply push the button into place and the then screw the button into the nut on the other side. Just like a normal bolt and nut.
There are button schematic:

Step 7: Button wiring:

Button wiring:

This might look overwhelming at first but it is in fact pretty easy. Just take it step by step.
There are two routes to having your buttons wired:

1. You can buy a ipac controller interface board, which will be a little pricy but it is a lot easier and has more buttons.

2. You can buy two 14 input usb controllers and solder each connection. This is about $30 cheaper if you have a soldering iron and glue gun already. I bought the two Usb game pads at a second hand store for $2 a piece so I went this route.

Soldering up the button interface board:
First you need some wire. I used speaker wire but you can use network cable, or regular wire.
Take apart the usb controller so it looks like the image:

This is very time consuming and requires a steady hand. The connections are very close to each other and you can’t have a wire going across both. But once you are done it feels good.
To make sure the connection works go ahead and plug it into the computer. Then go to start > control panel >devices or game controllers> then click you usb game pad controller. Right click it click game controller settings> click properties. The screen should look like captured image:

When a connection is made it lights up red. If one of the directional buttons is being pushed the axes cross hair will go that direction in the picture above I was pressing left and down at the same time.
I used a spare piece of wood to keep things in order and help make it sturdy you don’t have to do this but it does help.

As you can see once the connection were soldered on, I hot glue gun it into place then stapled the wire down so it wouldn’t move. This allows the wires to be messed with and keeps the soldered joints from breaking off.

Connecting the buttons:
Once the game pads are tested and working. Go ahead and mount them in the arcade cabinet. I mounted mine right under the monitor support piece.

Connect one end of the wire to the ground part of the micro switch and the middle tab. Example image is given:

Then slip the micro switch into the button housing.

Once you connect all you buttons you are ready to go.
Note: don’t worry about connecting the up button with the up joystick micro switch it doesn’t matter when you run an emulator, you choose what button does what function.

Step 8: Speakers:

Picture of Speakers:
2010-04-03 13.32.56.jpg
The speakers are easy just get some computer speakers like in the image:

Any kind will do just make sure that it plugs into the wall and the computer because the need to have its own power source. Take apart each speaker and cut the wires connected to each speaker. Remember which wire went to what because it has to be reconnected. Mount the speakers on the speaker board. Pic example:

Then attaché some wire to each speaker and run the wire down to the speaker box that has the power button and volume control. I mounted mine right above key board right inside the arcade. You can’t see it but it is easy to access. Pic example:

I also used the speaker box to house my power button. I just screwed though the plastic and mounted the speaker box to the inside of the arcade cabinet.


Step 9: Power button:

Picture of Power button:
motherboard cables.jpg
Power button:
If you don’t want to go around and find the power button in back of the arcade, and rather have easy access to it, the power switch will have to be extended out just like the speakers. In a computer case there will be a power switch cable, it is usually a white and orange wires and the plastic tab says (power SW) pic example:

Simply cut the cable and extend the wire out of the computer case, then hook it up to a new button or a micro switch.

Step 10: Monitor Bezel:

Picture of Monitor Bezel:
Monitor bezel:
 To do the monitor bezels first get your Plexiglas. To get the measurements for you Plexiglas measure the height and width of the monitor window space. Then either go to a glass shop and buy it  were they cut out the size for you, or go to home depot and buy a sheet of it and score it to size with an Exacto knife. Then break it were you scored it. After the Plexiglas is cut out grab the black poster board and cut out the screen size of your monitor and place them into the cabinet.
Images below:

Step 11: Get to gaming:

Picture of Get to gaming:
2010-07-23 12.52.51.jpg
2010-07-23 12.53.51.jpg
There is a instructable on how to make your own marquee at: http://www.instructables.com/id/how-to-make-a-vintage-arcade-marquee/ (thanks to slimguy379)

Some other helpful websites:
http://www.hyperspin-fe.com/ , this is the site were i got my frontend

Now hook up all the cables: plug the computer in, plug in the keyboard and mouse, connect the monitor and plug in the game pads. The arcade should no be able to turn on from the external switch and the computer should recognize and read all the buttons. If you have any more questions email me at: tomj300sr@hotmail.com

I hope you enjoy there instructions and it help you decide to build your own  :)
Here are some random pictures that might help out:

1-40 of 69Next »

First Arcade Cabinet Built, running Gameex,

Took Awhile to build, not the handiest person with tools, but decided to give it a go, looks pretty good for first attempt, a few blemishes, but bring back memories from the old days of games If anyone has the plans on autocad can you pm me,


Looks pretty sweet. I especially like the Donkey Kong decorations you've put on it. I'm wondering, what type of wood did you use and where did you get it?

i used 16mm mdf, then used oil paint, undercoat it first, any hardware store has it, if ur in Australia go to bunnings I got it for 30 dollars a sheet, U only need 2 sheets one for each side, careful when cutting mdf makes alot of mess and dust,

i used 16mm mdf, then used oil paint, undercoat it first, any hardware store has it, if ur in Australia go to bunnings I got it for 30 dollars a sheet, U only need 2 sheets one for each side, careful when cutting mdf makes alot of mess and dust,

Nice job. How did you 'attach' the monitor bezel?

I got stumped on how to attach it, so i just used a bit a super glue on each corner and attached it to the plexi glass, thats why you see the dark small black stains on the top of the bezel,

Thanks for the reply. Also curious, did you use the poster board approach from the instructions? At least in the pic you posted it looked good.

Yes i used the poster board, i tried cardboard but didnt look good, so i tried the black poster board and it looked so much better, and if you make a mistake, poster board is cheap as

One last question - where did you get the plexiglass for the bezel? How much did it cost? I was looking at homedepot.com and it was more expensive than I was expecting.

My Friend got me the plexiglass from his work, but when i was looking around it was about $30-40 at acrylicplastics for the size i wanted, cheapest way is going to hardware store and just buying a sheet and the scoring it out yourself, but its a lot more work

FrankA2 made it!5 months ago

Used these instructions to make a full size arcade, came out great.


I like the blue Tron colors you've chosen. But I have a question for you. Did you use the same wood that was used in this instructables page? If so, where did you buy it? I'm just trying to gather tips. Thanks! :)

how did you end up doing the monitor benzel? how did you attach it to the plexiglass?

felipe.icp3 months ago

I'm building one of these right now, and Just wanted to leave some suggestions:

For the parts, buy SANWA buttons and JLF (the stick), this is the best japanese brand, and most pro fighting game players use them, I have 3 sets of them and regret nothing.

For the controller PCB, you can buy the multi console cthulhu made by toodles that will work with pretty much any video game console + pc after everything is plugged in. You can alternatively use the PC and PS3 PCB sold on ebay. I have used both and they work great.

jthroop4 years ago
Thanks for the instructable, I am almost done with mine based mostly on your drawings, used 2 4x8 sheets of 3/4" melamine from Menards $29 each. Ordered the controls and Tmolding from groovygamegear, cut the melamine out on a CNC router, I have the cad drawings laid out on 49x97" sheet (size of the melamine) if anybody wants them.

Just wondering do you still have the cad drawings laying around, would love to have them


uitechclub (author)  jthroop4 years ago
hey it looks great ( you just made my week)

out of curiosity what is the table size of your cnc machine. i was also wondering how well the 3/4 th inch melamine works. i live on a third floor and didn't want to pick up such a heavy cabinet, but I bet it is more sturdy using the 3/4th. the speaker holes look amazing I wish I did the same thing.

it look amazing i hope it brings you lots of enjoyment if you have any questions feel free to ask! :)
The CNC is a 5'x10' machine at work, I used the 3/4" because that's what they had in stock, but it worked great. very heavy yes, next time I would add wheels to the bottom, also I made the bottom door swing out and I will have some USB ports in the bottom of the monitor cover acrylic. I should get the buttons/joysticks on Wednesday. I'll be sure to post finished pictures when I am done.
same here. i also used 3/4 inch. Heavy.
kminnie11 months ago
Dw I see you used a 20"
kminnie11 months ago
What size monitor did you use
writzy1 year ago

what was the mame menu you used it is very cool

and if you would like to remove all the windows xp logos i can send you a email on how to do it.

i am making a mame arcade just waiting the controlers

Mistablik2 years ago
Thanks for this great idea. i finished mine at the end of last year. it turned out to be really cool and is way fun to play
i ended up using mala though cause i couldnt figure out hyperspin. Plus my computer inside is kinda slow so mala is a little easier on its brain. lol
Thank you, uitechclub, for making this instructable for us. The way you broke the steps down was very clear and easy to follow. Mistablik and I had a great time making one.
PhoenixGG2 years ago
That is an awesome build. What version of the Mario rom do you have on the screen?
bekabam2 years ago
Hey there, if you ever did find those CNC plans, I'd love to take a look at them.

I'm starting my build and got word that I may have access to a CNC machine, and specs would be awesome to have.

visivopro2 years ago
I would love the CNC Router drawings!
uitechclub (author)  visivopro2 years ago
Hey, ill try to look it up but i have been moving quite a bit. What format do you want them in?.stl, .dxf, etc....

also ask jthroop he CNC his whole Cabinet, he should have some files.
visivopro2 years ago
Thanks for the plans, I just started my two days ago, here is the progress so far!
uitechclub (author)  visivopro2 years ago
I wanted to make sure I thanked you for sharing your pictures. I really appreciate it.
JoeShmo12 years ago
Fantastic design! I just got approval from my Electrical Engineering Department to make a pair of these cabinets as recruiting tools. The only question I have is were you able to save enough mdf to make a back panel or is it open on the back?
uitechclub (author)  JoeShmo12 years ago
That is fantastic news!!! I built the last arcade as a recruiting tool for our department as well.

To answer you question quickly : the design only covers about 50% of the back because i ran out of mdf stock and i needed room to remove and place a whole desktop inside. ( watch the youtube video i go behind the arcade)

If you don't mind me making suggestions:

The problem with this design is when potential students ask questions about it, i couldn't just open up the arcade and show them. Another problem is to move this thing around was a pain in the a$$ because i had a free floating computer inside. ( what ever you do just get rid of the desktop case and mount components inside the arcade!!! ) to solve these problems i would recommend making a bartop arcade. It is smaller and cheaper on material cost. Second i would make a side plexiglass. This will allow people to see all the wiring. Pretty much think of it as a custom desktop with a screen and arcade sticks.

and also i have really wanted someone to install these on the sides of an arcade: http://www.amazon.com/MengYi-Luminglas-GREEN-Plasma-Glass/dp/B006L7CYIC

They are just suggestions lol. but hey if you have any questions let me know! I will reply as soon as i am able to, and i love helping with this type stuff. If you have any questions about games, emulators, front ends, or light guns. shoot me a message.
Well they're finally done. Here's a link to the album. I put plexi glass windows on the side lit with LED strips. The computer was mounted to a panel in the cab and is layed out so prospective students can see all the parts.
uitechclub (author)  JoeShmo12 years ago
That is awesome, thank you for sharing this!!!!

I am working on designing and building a claw machine game right now. Because of my new job i haven't been able to spend time on it, but this have rejuvenated my interest in finishing the project.
Mistablik3 years ago
I am starting one of these but I am having trouble using hyperspin, I can't get Roms to open when you choose a game in the home menu.
man. i'm having the same problem. I guess to the forums I go.
uitechclub (author)  Mistablik3 years ago
this best advice i can give you is to ask on the forums in hyperspin, they are very good at getting back with request for help.
Mistablik3 years ago
I am using blue t-molding to give it a Tron look!
mllmTECH3 years ago
Nice cab, I was wondering is the line going down the centre of the control panel a sticker ?
1-40 of 69Next »