Picture of Furniture grade cocktail arcade cabinet
I'm a product designer, videogame geek, and apartment hobbyist. I got bitten by the MAME arcade bug, and needed to get a wedding present for my friends Dorothy and Arvon, so I decided to design and construct an arcade cabinet that would be unobtrusive and could hopefully become a family heirloom.

Using the cocktail arcade form factor, I focused on simple, classic games like Pac-Man and Galaga which are displayed in portrait mode on screen. Sticking to these classic games also limited the complexity of the interface, meaning I could go with a simple 4 way joystick, a trackball, a couple of play buttons, and some menu buttons. While I wanted to go simple and elegant, I also wanted it to be versatile and upgradeable. My version only has 2 play buttons, but are arranged so that 4 more could easily be added, and the trackball makes running a jukebox or GUI pretty simple.

The styling I chose for the cabinet is meant to evoke the WHOPR computer from "War Games" and still feel like a piece of furniture. The wooden sides are slatted to allow for air circulation and as a place to mount the speakers. The shelf surrounding the monitor cabinet is there to add space under the glass for the controls and act as a shelf for little Japanese toys and trinkets. The sides and back of the unit are fairly plain since it's probably going to end up living out it's days as an end table.

This instructable is meant to be a record of how I made the cabinet, it is NOT meant to be about making a MAME computer ( although I do include the parts I used ) The resource I used for setting up the electronics was "Project Arcade: Build your own Arcade Machine Machine" by John St. Clair available from amazon.

This entire project was built in a messy corner of my tiny studio apartment, and cost around $600, but I did use my office's drill press, band-saw, spindle sander, and belt/disc sander mainly for working on the aluminum components. I also "farmed out" the production of the sticks to my dad who has a table saw. It should be noted that all my dimensions are in inches and the dimensions I give for the pine wood pieces in the materials section are 1/4 to 1/2 inch over in terms of width and 1/4 in thickness. This is just how their lumber is marked. The original design was created in SolidWorks.
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themacguru1 year ago
How much would it cost for you to build one of those for a dad of 3 year-old twin boys?!! I have little time and energy to build one of my own - sadly to say... Please let me know... 562-413-0336 text me
Dumchicken4 years ago
o moi gorsh you should put burger time in here!
jschlarb4 years ago
ronmaggi6 years ago
For good cabinet quality clean holes, use forsner bits. They can be found at Rockler.
boris_19816 years ago
NICE!!!!! just by looking at it, makes me feel like im in the early 80's. :P BOM CHIKA WA WAA!!!!
this looks like it would make a nice case for my gaming computer
ikoda7 years ago
Where did you get the buttons?
Happcontrols.com is a good source for such things
mydian_nightshade (author) 7 years ago
Hi everyone, I've just entered this project in the Instructables Book Contest and was hoping for advice on anything I should clarify, illustrate, or photos I should change. The cabinet is thousands of miles from me right now, but I have more photos and was considering making one for myself. Let me know, and wish me good luck!
Nice cabinet. What CAD Program did you use?
mydian_nightshade (author)  technodude927 years ago
SolidWorks - I use it all day at work as an industrial designer, so I know the program very well, and don't have to pay for or pirate my own copy.
That's what i though. I have a student copy thanks to my involvement in battlebots iq, it expires sometime this year :( but it is definitely an awesome piece of software to use.
egadsman7 years ago
how much did you pay to make this in total? (please specify if in US or AUS dollars)
mydian_nightshade (author)  egadsman7 years ago
$600 US, although I found donor parts for the monitor, motherboard, ram, hard drive, keyboard and amplifier.
A good way to get cheap computers for this purpose is to check with any community colleges nearby and see if they are holding any auctions or just selling off old computers. Computers as old as Pentium II could emulate games like that. (Assuming you own both the system and game that you are emulating, for legal purposes)
mydian_nightshade (author)  RFilyaw7 years ago
That's also a good way of keeping toxic CRT's out of landfill. My university had computers destined for the dumpster laying in the hallways every night. CRT is actually preferable over flat panel LCD - My friend used a cheap LCD - it didn't have the brightness to go through the smoked glass and with the flat cocktail screen orientation, the viewing angle of the LCD really screwed up the picture unless you were looking at it straight on.
whats the cheapest i could make something like this, cosmetics aside.
Probably zero bucks .. given that you can scrounge up an old computer and some wood. Guessing some dumpsterdiving could produce an old smoked glass-door or likewise from, say, a hifi-cabinett or bar. Could be hard to find the paint n such chemical things in a dumpster.
mydian_nightshade (author)  omnibot7 years ago
The purpose of this instructable IS to make it look good. I don't talk about how to assemble any of the electronics at all. If you want to know about that read the book I mention in the 4th paragraph.
And no, you can't make a MAME arcade for zero bucks. Unless you have really incredible dumpsters by you, you can not scrounge up a couple hundred bucks in Happ controls. The buttons may be cheap, but the joystick and trackball are $15 and $160 respectively. If it doesn't have arcade style controls, you may as well be playing on your cell phone.
Ah .. but with some skilled work recycled materials could be made to look quite well even on a small budget. (still loving this idea)
Yeah, this is beautiful, but definitely could have been cheaper. I'm looking at an optical trackball on ebay as I type this that is only $35. I have to build one of these. Great work!
I've scrounged up one three-player arcade cabinet before, complete with buttons and joysticks. Keep your eyes open, something will come up.
Running it on an old computer and scavenge an old joystick, adapt it to your needs...
I'm about to make one of those with a pac man plug in play controller
mwwdesign7 years ago
Great job. As an industrial designer myself, I can really appreciate your skill and approach used in this. Very nice work, all the way. :)
rustlabs7 years ago
man thats awesome. the finished product looks sweet!
Astinsan7 years ago
I would of stuck with a more stable lumber product. CDX/ACX changes its shape in humidity. MDF or Particle board would be a better medium. If your doing it for weight I would do a stabilized CD / AC like MDO.
mrgalleta7 years ago
Looks great! Congratulations!
NachoMahma8 years ago
. Great job!
LasVegas8 years ago
From one Mame fanatic to another... Great job!
seconded, i made my own cabinet a year or two ago and it's very fun, i might have to make a smaller one to replace it some time since it's so huge though
Mine's a bit large too... A restored original cab. http://mame.how.to/
lemonie8 years ago
As a scenod thought, the original Namco Space Invaders (one of which can be found here http://www.trenthouse.com/) have a wee bit more room for your beer and an ash-tray...
It's still a very cool build regardless.

Zujus8 years ago
Really neat instructable! ;)
Honus8 years ago
A beautiful piece of work and a great instructable- I so want to make this!
zuixro8 years ago
Wow! This is great! It looks like it would be easy to add another control panel to the other side to make it two player.
mydian_nightshade (author) 8 years ago
Thanks for the comments guys, but I have a question: I just noticed that I accidentally categorized it under craft and RIDE instead of craft and TECH - is there any way to change it?
On the bottom of the right sidebar is a category interface. I've also done it for you.
NikonDork8 years ago
Excellent Instructable - Very thorough, and detailed. The finished product is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks very much for posting this.
Very sexy if I say so myself.
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