Introduction: How to Build a Sit Down Driving Arcade Cabinet

For show and tell today I brought an instructable that will demonstrate how to build an arcade style sit down driving game cabinet. Play all of the old school favorites like Out Run or fill your "Need for Speed" playing the latest xbox driving games.

Step 1: Why and How Did I Build This. Well I'm Glad You Asked

I love to make things and after building and enjoying my MAME cabinet I realized that while it worked great for Pac-Man, the classic arcade controls left a lot to be desired when I wanted to sit down to Spy Hunter and other driving games. For one thing, I couldn't sit down. And Spy Hunter is so much more fun with a steering wheel than a joystick. So I decided to build my own. I chose to use an xbox instead of a PC with MAME because as fun as Out Run is, you just can't beat the graphics on today's consoles, and you can still play the old school games with an xbox emulator. I used Sketchup to create my cabinet design and scrounged or bought most of the materials from Lowes. This project takes a few days to complete and you will need some basic wood working and painting skills. If you had to buy everything I would say it would cost about $400.

Step 2: Tools and Materials

-Table and/or circular saw
-Miter saw or hand saw
-Electric drill
-Countersinking drill bit (a must have for smooth finish. See picture)
-Saw horses (2)
-Router with rounding bit
-Sander (electric and hand)
-Paint brushes (small roller, 2" foam, detailing brush)
-Misc. shop tools(tape measure, t-square,pencil,safety glasses, drill bits etc)


- 2 4x8 sheets of 3/4" MDF
- 1 4x8 sheet of 1/2" MDF
- 1 4x8 sheet of 1/8 bead board
- 3 8 foot 2x4's
- Screws - 2" and 3/4"
- Bolts - 2 5" bolts with 4 washers and 2 nuts
- 2 3" long x 2" wide PVC pipe pieces.
- Small finishing nails
- Wood putty
- Black Paint - 1 pint
- Green Paint - 1 pint from Lowes matched to steering wheel color
- Plexiglass - 1/8 inch 2x4 piece from Lowes
- Xbox - with the games of your choice
- Tv - 27inch (try to find one that turns on when it gets power)
- Steering wheel - Fanatec Speedster 3 w/ force feedback .
- Seat - Pulled from a Mazda RX7 at the junkyard.
- Brake lights - Salvaged boat trailer brake lights
- Custom Marquee - Made by my brother and printed at Kinko's
- Velcro stips - Lowes
- Hook - Lowes
- Powerstrip - Lowes
- Light - 2 foot Fluorescent from Lowes
- Car mats - Free from old car

Step 3: Building

Print these plans and if you have Sketchup download the file to get better views.

Begin by measuring and cutting the base frame pieces out of the 2x4s per the Base.pdf. These measurements are a combination of real arcade cabinets and (perhaps even more importantly) what I needed to use to be able to get this thing into my basement. Feel free to adjust the size as needed. Once the pieces are cut, lay them out to make sure everything is squared up and screw it together. I recommend pre-drilling all of your holes. Don't forget your safety glasses.

Put your 3/4 inch 4x8 sheet of mdf on some saw horses. Draw and cut out the large sides, TV base, steering wheel base and floor panels. Measure and cut the top, seat back, lower side pieces and console shelf from 1/2 inch mdf. Screw everything to the frame as shown in the plans. To install the xbox shelf inside the cabinet, notch around the 2x4 support and screw on three sides.

For the marquee box you will need to decide how deep to make it based on the width of plexiglass you use. Cut out the marquee box pieces and nail them together. Using a router and a rounding bit, half router the front top and bottom edges to your liking. Finally, measure and cut the plexiglass. *Note about plexiglass. If you cut it with a jigsaw or a similar tool, use a very small tooth blade or expect a lot of cracks. I recommend using a sharp utility knife and scoring the plexiglass multiple times. Here are some more plexiglass tips

I used 1/8 inch for the back panels just to cut down on the overall weight of the cabinet. Measure and cut the back panels to fit. Use finishing nails to attach them to the side panels.

Steering Wheel base
Cut and attach the bottom steering wheel reinforcement plate to the under side of the television base. Using a jigsaw, cut the steering wheel base out and round it to your liking. An optional extra step at this point is to router cup holders on the steering wheel base. There's room for it, and I like to have a tall cold one with me when I am driving my 1985 Porsche 911 through Coconut Beach.

Depending on the seat you get there will be different ways to attach it to the frame. I drilled 4 holes and used the existing seat hardware. What ever you do make sure it's secure!

Step 4: Sand and Paint

As my 8th grade wood shop teacher would always say, right after you told him your project was done: "When are you going to start sanding?"

Sand all of the corners and wood putty all screw holes.

Drill a hole large enough to fit the power cords and AV cables through the back middle of the tv base. Also drill a hole where the left marquee spacer touches the top panel and marquee box. (see pictures) This will be used for the back lighting power cord. Lastly, drill a hole through the far left side of the steering wheel base to fit the controller cords.

Using a small roller give it two coats of black paint.

After that dries, use a detail brush to hand-paint the flames on the sides and under the seat. I would recommend making a cardboard template of your design so that it can be easily recreated on all sides. Then free-hand a personalized license plate on the back.

Attach the marquee box using long bolts, washers and screws, threading the power cord through the hole you drilled earlier and securing tightly.

Step 5: Final Touches

Here is a list of the last few things to do.
- Get a marquee printed up. Use mine or try one of these examples
- Mount the power strip inside and underneath.
- Nail down the car mats with at least 10 roofing nails.
- Stick two velcro strips down the center of the mats with matching location on the bottom of the gas/brake. Make sure the strips are long enough so the pedals can be adjusted for you to play and for your niece--the seat will only adjust so far, and we want everyone to enjoy this gaming experience.
- Install a hook for the second controller to sit on while not in use.
- Twist tie up extra cabling inside.
- Hook up a network cable for online gaming.
- Sit down and play.

Step 6: After Thoughts

If I could go back in time and think about it more or see an awesome instructable like this one. I would have made the steering wheel base adjustable and built a switch for the brake pedal that would activate the brake lights.

I hope you enjoyed my first instructable, and get inspired to build your own driving game cabinet.



colossalman made it!(author)2017-05-30

Way to go, looks great!I am looking for inspiration on a similar build, thanks so much!

wjohnson.2019 made it!(author)2012-08-03

how much did the wood cost. And where did u buy it lowes or home depot?

wjohnson.2019 made it!(author)2012-08-02

did you pay for the seat?

Stryker made it!(author)2012-08-02

Yes I went to an auto junk yard, told them what I was looking for and they helped me pull the seat for about $50.

wjohnson.2019 made it!(author)2012-08-01

Hey man. I want one so bad but i don't want to use an Xbox. Will a playstation or wii work too? thanks-will

Stryker made it!(author)2012-08-02

I'm pretty sure you could use any gaming system with some minor modifications.

tinker234 made it!(author)2011-05-28

wow hey could i use driving simutlars and or make a game

Invention+geek made it!(author)2011-02-01

Thats awsome!

SonicX+22 made it!(author)2011-01-15

you could sell this, but now people know how to make it

casman300 made it!(author)2010-04-30

did you make the pin ball machine?

Stryker made it!(author)2010-04-30

No.  I bought that for the wife it was her favorite as a kid.

maxpower49 made it!(author)2009-04-07

nice but i had an idea im going to use with mine i am going to build a strong computer for my mame cabinet and then run a second monitor cable with a tv adapter to the driver arcade machine

Kasm279 made it!(author)2009-08-27

good idea, but some games dont show on a second monitor in "extended" mode or sometimes not even in "mirror" mode

Yerboogieman made it!(author)2009-07-19

Was the RX7 in pretty good shape? What body style?

Stryker made it!(author)2009-07-20

It was in bad shape, in fact I took the passenger seat instead of drivers side because it was the only good one. I don't remember the model sorry.

grassy123 made it!(author)2008-07-16

what if two players wanted to play... you could possibly build a second cabinet and make or even get a connector to play on two screens like a computer

zleebme made it!(author)2009-04-19

all you would have to do is link them via ethernet cable and choose the system link option

Stryker made it!(author)2008-07-16

You could do that no problem with 2 xbox's. However I don't have the room for that setup.

grassy123 made it!(author)2008-07-16

yea i no but it was just an idea

Airsoft_ninja made it!(author)2009-04-02

me too, AWSOME JOB!!!

N1CK4ND0 made it!(author)2009-03-14

lol, ive always wanted to do this, but have been too lazy :]

gage03 made it!(author)2009-03-11

good job

rc+jedi made it!(author)2009-02-12

did u post the mame project ible? good work! bravo!

Stryker made it!(author)2009-03-11

I didn't make an instructable but here is a little website I did for it.

tbenefi33 made it!(author)2009-01-07

Thanks for sharing I found my next project.

Jeffereymeowmeowpuffs made it!(author)2008-11-22


sumit381 made it!(author)2008-08-04

Hello, I am building this using your instructable. It is very helpful except I'm a little confused about some of the measurements. I downloaded your Google Sketch file for measurements. However, when I take measurement in Google Sketchup, they are shorten than what are listed in your PDF files. For example: The 2 side panels are listed in the PDF files are having a high point of 58" and the back point at 50". In Google Sketchup, the high point is at 50" and the back point is at 43 3/8". Can you please tell which measurement I should use? Thank you and once again, great instructable!

Stryker made it!(author)2008-08-05

Yeah sorry about that. I dont' know if I drew it exactly like I built it. I kind of just used the sketchup file as a rough picture. You will have to do a little tweaking as I recall from the build, but I believe the .pdf is the correct height I used. Have fun building and playing. Send me a picture when your done and if you have any other questions let me know.

Hephestus made it!(author)2008-07-17

dude this is awesome if I had enough room in my games room I would make one (5.0 rating from me)

Stryker made it!(author)2008-07-17

Thanks, glad you like it.

grassy123 made it!(author)2008-07-16

o and i had another idea get a cheap surround sound set and hook that up and have even better sound

Metal4God made it!(author)2008-06-17

question does anyone know if a gamecube steering wheel will work with mario kart double dash? and will their be a holder for the controller on this

the_burrito_master made it!(author)2008-05-13


maxpower49 made it!(author)2008-04-21

what is the marquee made of is it just paper covered by plexi-glass or is the entire thing plastic

Stryker made it!(author)2008-04-21

I took my graphic to Kinkos and had it printed on high gloss paper. Then just sandwiched it between 2 pieces of plexiglass. I CAREFULLY drilled a few holes to attach it to the wood.

diablopartain made it!(author)2008-04-16

love the job good all the way around. I had a mortal kombat arcade hull that I used as an entertainment centor but I split with my old lady now its roting away in some mine storage unit in south louisiana

dmont52 made it!(author)2008-04-11

Awesome idea... I happen to have a used "racing" style seat and an old Mad Catz steering wheel/brake setup laying around my house that I have no use for. I now have a use for BOTH of them. Also, I love the fact that you pointed out "Keep Right" sign... I couldn't agree more!

LMO made it!(author)2008-01-05

Good job, sir. I have one of those RCA tv's - they're friggin immortal. I think you deserve a laser cutter for this, or at least a nice Leatherman.

Stryker made it!(author)2008-01-05

Thanks, I have been thinking of all the things I would use the laser cutter for.

babyboi512 made it!(author)2007-12-31

sweet :) i will make one wen i move out!

Stryker made it!(author)2007-12-31

Let me know if you do and I'll help you if I can. BTW don't forget to vote for me if I make the finals in the laser contest.. :-)

mr.coolyo made it!(author)2007-12-02

Dude thats like the coolest thing contruction thing i've ever seen !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yeah thats just really cool

Stryker made it!(author)2007-12-10

Thanks, you should build one.

bofthem made it!(author)2007-11-20

Would you consider submitting this to the Mashup contest?

Stryker made it!(author)2007-11-20


jakee117 made it!(author)2007-11-18

yeah what he said ... lol

jakee117 made it!(author)2007-11-14

beast and you can vote go the top

Stryker made it!(author)2007-11-15

I'm sorry I don't understand your comment.

Doctor+What made it!(author)2007-11-17

go to the top of the page, and hit the little plus button, thats what he means.

Doctor+What made it!(author)2007-11-17

Awesome!! (the geek quickly runs to his natural habitat -best buy- and dances his magical dance, in celebration of finally being able to live out his fantasy without having to sell organs)