Picture of How to build a Nintendo arcade
This Instructable will show you how I built my Nintendo arcade. It is a bartop cabinet that plays original Nintendo game. The arcade is completely self contained with one power switch for everything.

You can see a video of the arcade in action at Youtube, here.

Things you will need:
1 sheet of 4'x8' 1/4" MDF
1 sheet of plexiglass
1 set of joystick and arcade buttons
1 posterboard
several cans of spray paint
an older PC
an LCD monitor
1 USB keyboard
soldering equipment
nes controller ports (ripped from a four score)
DB-25 connector
2 cases of Diet Coke :)

Inside is an old PC and a 17" LCD monitor. The back of the cabinet has two USB ports and two NES controller ports. You can connect regular, un-modded NES controllers and play with those or use the joystick and buttons on the control panel.

The front end is a simple VB program that auto loads when the PC boots. You never need to connect a mouse or keyboard to load your games. The VB program gives a list of games installed. Using the joystick, you can select the game you want to play.

Also, you can connect a keyboard and mouse to the USB ports in the back and use the set as a regular PC. It has wireless internet built in.

Step 1: Building the cabinet

Picture of Building the cabinet
Draw out the arcade shape onto 1/4" MDF. Cut it out with a circular saw, jig saw, etc... Measure and cut out the remaining parts. My cabinet is 24"x18"x 24" (H x W x D). Screw all the pieces together.
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For Windows XP-Vista-7
1, click start
2.Click all programs
3.Click STARTUP (folder)
4.put a shortcut to your application here
5.The application must be a pre-made VB program or an emulator
Yeah mann dats really easy...
Bt i want dat VB prog???
make a button that does this action : start "[emulator name here].exe" "[rom name and location here].nes"
I may code it for you!
go make it yourself its easy!
Derek Vigil3 years ago
How much money would this cost overall?
I have a question please reply to me @ thethiny@ymail.com
I have found the Ground and Open for all my buttons , now I have everything ready except for one thing, how do I connect them?
I have the buttons and the pins , please tell me step-by-step how-to?
should I get a wire and connect it to the button and open-pin ,then get another wire and connect it to the button and ground-pin? So it would look like this:
Ground Pin --------| | --------Open Pin
please help I wont waste my 350$!!!
Unless I'm missing something (which is completely possible since I've only been skimming), wouldn't it be easier to use a pcb from a pc-compatible usb controller? They're really cheap, you can find them anywhere and are much easier to modify than a keyboard.
awolf13 years ago
Very cool.... Go to fav list.

But Diet Coke??? really?? I think soda is better. ^^

promotions3 years ago
Wow, this is an awesome instructable it really does show how to create a state of the art nintendo arcade.

Nintendo Repair Shop
sboekelman3 years ago
can i use a nes advantige controler for it?
T_T_ sboekelman3 years ago
not without this Chip
trosenau3 years ago
Im hoping to do this for my senior project, so in the upcoming next months :)
couldn't you just get an old tv,NES,and NES advantage controller?
how big is your monitor and extra side room so i can adjust the size some
cooltool4564 years ago
Can you use an old mac?
yes yes you can
Probably not unless you can find A: a compatible emulator program and B: a way to start it on bootup.
Ekloef4 years ago
I have one word... WOOOOOW! O_O

I have to do this some day! the relssy great part is how easy it word be to use the same machine with various emulators!

You made my head spin with inspiration! Thanks a lot =D
Krayzi994 years ago
it would be easier to get a joystick with buttons and use joytokey to configure it to keys
orangeguy816 years ago
Cool job. I did notice you attached the joystick on the top of the panel. You are supposed to put it under the wood. Otherwise, awesome.
i think it looks awesome like that. looks retro
I am thinking space dictated this design, rather than aesthetics... I personally like it looking like that, as it reminds me of a old-school arcade where they were exposed like that. Kudos!
russm313 (author)  Spokehedz6 years ago
Actually, it wasn't space. I wanted it to be an all in one bartop arcade.
Nono... I meant installing the joystick on top of the control panel instead of from the underside.
russm313 (author)  Spokehedz6 years ago
Oh I understand what you mean now. No, it wasn't a space issue. There is plenty of room below the control panel. I honestly just screwed up and put the joystick on the outside. This is the first arcade I've ever built. I am fixing it this weekend, though. I'll post updated pics once the repairs are done.
is there a way to install a driving wheel? theres a game that has 1 button a driving wheel and a joy stick its a really awsome game and i want to play it all the time thanks
russm313 (author)  orangeguy816 years ago
22,000 hits and you are the first person to mention that. I thought for sure, when I posted this, I would get eaten alive because of that screw up! I didn't notice it until after I had finished. I am actually redoing the control panel this weekend. I will be fixing the joystick and adding a thicker piece of plexiglass.
ha ha.. I only noticed that because I am building my own stand up cab. awesome job!
Wowee this is pretty cool. Like I've seen cool things on instructables but this just like tops the scales
Good job I would like to see what else you have made:)
HurcanDewit4 years ago
i love this. a lot.
craig34 years ago
Is it possible to get a drawing of the measurements for the side of it? or even possible all the pieces of it? sides, back, top and the piece underneath the tip hangover?
jackman274 years ago
did you guys know that it is illegal to play roms with a copyright on them, even if you do own the game? look at this website http://www.nintendo.com/corp/legal.jsp
Well they aren't exactly going to encourage it. It would be hard to run down to Walmart and buy one of these NES games. How are Nintendo or the makers of those games profiting on no sales of the NES game cartridges?

BTW, it doesn't say it is illegal to play or have the ROMS, it says it is illegal to download them. It actually says that you CAN have them with restrictions.
d1ndian4 years ago
Hi i always wanted to make a portable arcade system outta an old laptop. Putting a laptop and doing a few modification to your control system would make it very lightweight portable all in one laptop + arcade machine. Now how to setup everything in place is the only tricky part.
jceason4 years ago
how much does the stuff cost?
jceason4 years ago
Could you send me the pdf? jce2875@gmail.com
chance3134 years ago
This is just great!
how can we shut down the arcade without a keyboard??
mcaliber.504 years ago
i would make it so you could switch games, like the original nes
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