Step 2: Tools, Materials, and Other Miscellaneous Items
I'm surprised I actually spelled miscellaneous right...
Anyway, here's a quick run down of the things you're going to need for the construction of an arcade machine:
Materials (the bare minimum):
(Semi-optional) A plan/ blueprint/ sketch of the machine's design
At least three sheets of MDF Plywood
Plexiglass cut to your arcade's specifications
Screws (I recommend some medium-length screws for most of the build)
A can of High-Gloss paint of whatever color you want
A can of primer paint
A Computer with sub-decent performance (depending on what games you want to play)
A computer monitor
Arcade Controls (a general list):
6-8 buttons for gameplay
1 button for inserting a coin
1 button for exiting a game
A saw of some kind. I recommend getting a saw that allows you to cut in any direction for any sharp turns in the design.
Sawhorses of some kind
That's really all you need for this build. Although, there are some points I would like to cover about some of the materials list...
1. The Plan
A plan, sketch, or blueprint of any sort will work wonders for a project like this. This way, everything is aligned perfectly, everything fits right, and you have a nice looking arcade machine. I went to my local arcade and took the dimensions off a Mrs. Pacman / Galaga arcade machine, recorded the dimensions, and drew my blueprints from that. Needless to say, I got a couple of weird looks while I was measuring the machine with my measure tape and meter stick.
2. The plywood
The type of plywood you use greatly influences how well your arcade machine stays together, how well it's painted, and how smooth the machine will be. I recommend you get some sheets of MDF plywood. I say this because MDF plywood is easy to cut, has a smooth surface, and with a couple of coats of paint, it will look great. The only con is that MDF plywood soaks up paint, so it is hard to completely paint without having to apply two to three coats of paint. That being said, moisture will cause the wood to start breaking loose, so be careful of that as well.
Plexiglass is completely optional. You may or may not want to (or have the money to) have plexiglass on your machine, which is perfectly fine. Keep in mind that this is more of a guide than a "this is how I did it, and you'll do the exact same thing" kind of instructable. But if you do get plexiglass, measure out the dimensions of the control panel (the place the controls are on), the bezel (the part covering the computer monitor), and the marquee (the lit up portion at the top of the machine). These help the machine to become more aesthetically pleasing, but doesn't affect the overall operation of the machine.
Whatever you do, please, PLEASE don't spend too much on a computer for something like an arcade machine. The reason I say this is because you don't want to put a brand-new Alienware tower in it just to play pac man. There are hundreds upon countless thousands of old hand-me-down computers at thrift stores, relatives, friends, and even computer shops (ask for a dead computer-- often they'll give you a computer that just has a defective hard drive of some sort. Replace with a new hard drive and some other components, and you're set). They are begging for a new life, a new beginning, so why not use an old computer that would otherwise be thrown in a landfill forever?
6. Arcade Controls
As I said earlier, I did not have sufficient funds to buy and install real arcade controls into my machine. So I used two ASCII PS1 Arcade sticks (which are surprisingly getting harder and harder to find) and a PS1 to USB adapter instead. Although I could have done something more elaborate (like inlaying the controls into the control panel), the end result still works just as fine as actual arcade controls. If you have the money, please, buy the actual arcade controls, learn how to solder, and install real controls instead.
I believe I've done enough talking, so let's get to the manual labor part of building an arcade machine.