Introduction: How to Make an Arcade Marquee Lightbox

Picture of How to Make an Arcade Marquee Lightbox

Old school arcade games are back! Learn how to make a marquee lightbox and bring your favorite game to any room!

Don't know a lot about wood-working? Neither do I! I made this to help me learn!

If anyone is a wood-shop expert, feel free to give some tips!

Step 1: Video

Watch this video instead of the written tutorial, or use it to see the steps performed while following along!

Step 2: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

Most of the supplies were bought at Lowes. If you don't have one near you, check with your local hardware store.

Marquee: I got this from Escape Pod. They sell all sorts of graphics for restoring old arcade cabinets. make sure your marquee is reverse printed and applied to 3/16" acrylic.

12V Power Supply

Switch

Power Adapter

Wire

White LED Strip

3/16" Router Bit

5/8" Wire Nails

1 1/2" Wood Screws

6' x 3.5" x 3/4" Pine Board

1/8" MDF

Soldering Tools

Drill

Gorilla Glue

Any type of saw. I used a panel saw and band saw.

Routing Table

Step 3: Preparing the Wood

Picture of Preparing the Wood

Measure your marquee and plug the width for X and height for Y. Use the equations to calculate the dimensions of the wooden sides. Cut down the pine as accurately as possible.

In each of the 4 sides, route an 1/8" channel a 1/4" into the board. My marquee was the same width as my router bit (3/16") so I widened the channel a bit for a looser fit.

Next plug your width and height into the backing equation to get the size you need. Take your 1/8" MDF and cut it down to the proper size.

Step 4: Cutting Electronics Spaces

Picture of Cutting Electronics Spaces

Take the power adapter and switch and trace around them onto one of the longer sides. Do this on the left side across from the channel. Then cut out the space that was traced. I used a jig saw, but the poor man's version would be to drill holes into the trace and carve the rest with a knife. A dremel could also work if you have access to one.

Step 5: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Assemble the bottom and 2 sides. I held mine together with a pipe clamp. Mark an inch from the side and 3/8" from the bottom. Then drill a pilot hole and add a wood screw. Repeat this process 3 more times on the bottom. There will be 2 screws to each side.

Once the bottom's finished, flip the lightbox onto the last side and add 4 more screws to attach it to the box.

Step 6: LEDs

Picture of LEDs

Cut 3 LED strips the length of your marquee. The strip in the center should run opposite to the 2 on the sides. Check the circuit diagram to make sure.

Step 7: Electronics

Picture of Electronics

The circuit in the lightbox is basically the same one we used in my movie theater poster project.

First attach a 3" wire to the positive pin of the power adapter. Attach the other end of the wire to a pin on the switch. Then take a 4" wire and attach it to the adjacent pin on the switch. After that, attach a 3" wire to the negative pin on the power adapter.

Tin all of the solder points on the LED strips and then attach the wire coming from the switch to the positive pad on an LED strip. The wire coming from the power adapter will be attached to the negative pad of the same strip. This will be done on the left side of the strip. Connect the led strips together in a snake like pattern. Follow the diagram and make sure to match the correct polarities.

Step 8: Attaching the Electronics

Picture of Attaching the Electronics

I had planned on using the wire nails to attach the electronics, but there wasn't any room to work with, so I opted for Gorilla Glue instead.

Step 9: Attaching LEDs

Picture of Attaching LEDs

Remove the backing and attach the LEDs evenly across the back of the MDF. Make sure that the LED strips end where the power connect. Lay the backing onto the lightbox and then tack it in place with the wire nails.

Step 10: Put It on Display!

Picture of Put It on Display!

After that you're done! Hang it up and plug it in!

I made another version where I painted the wood black, but I preferred the wood grain on mine!

If anyone makes one, be sure to send me a picture!

Comments

WayneA11 made it! (author)2016-12-07

I believe these will make awesome Christmas gifts. Thanks for your time in makig the guide.

MakeItYoutube (author)WayneA112016-12-07

That looks fantastic!

DuarteG2 (author)2016-08-14

If you are not constrained by the size of the marquee a wine box would work very nicely :) Maybe connect it to a Raspberry Pi so it lights up every time you are on emulationstation :D

Jimsicle (author)2016-03-09

Such a simple and genius idea! Great job :)

badly_bearded (author)2016-02-07

Looks great.

gravityisweak (author)2016-02-06

Nicely done! Ive got some old glass from a vintage exit sign. I think I'll make that into a marquee.

MarkL90 (author)2016-02-05

Hi,

Nice job and interesting project. Other than possibly mitering the corners and staining to personal preference I cannot see how one would improve upon this. Thanks!

MakeItYoutube (author)MarkL902016-02-05

Miters would make the corners a lot nicer! I wish I had access to a miter saw!

You can use a table saw to mitre the edges by crosscutting your board with your blade angled.

happyhippy1 (author)2016-02-05

Glue the boards together as well as using screws it will last longer and be stronger.

xxxCHICAGOxxx (author)2016-02-05

They have the same marquees on Ebay for $20 if you want to save some money.

I appreciate you taking the time to try and save people some money! The cheaper marquees you see are printed onto a translit film. They're meant to be sandwiched between 2 acrylic pieces. The marquee I used in the project is reverse printed and applied to acrylic, which is why it seems more expensive.

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Bio: I love coming up with new projects to challenge myself and to express my creativity. Make It is about me sharing that passion with you!
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