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Make a Better Looking Arcade Machine on a Budget

Picture of Make a Better Looking Arcade Machine on a Budget
Given that advice on building homemade arcades is fairly easy to find, I'll be focusing on how to make yours look good. So maybe this is more, "How to Keep Your Arcade Cabinet off of Crapmame." Or sort of a "Martha Stewart Gives Advice on Arcade Machines," which I totally wish she would.
 
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Step 1: Applying Control Panel Artwork

Though not the most robust option, printed graphics behind acrylic panels will look brighter and just pop more. I don't know the physics behind it, but clear acrylic just makes stuff look better. Printed graphics are much cheaper than vinyl decals, and give you freedom to design with as many colors as you feel like.


Cover the whole panel in double-stick tape, and leave one side unsticky.

Next, line up the graphics. Holding it up to a light helps with this. Tack down the sides with low-tack tape to keep them aligned.
-Tip: make sure to leave enough bleed to run off the edges, and enough gutter to keep your graphics from getting cut off (or close to it).

Peel back the waxed paper from the double stick tape, and carefully lay down the graphics. Move from one edge to the other, smoothing down the artwork as you go.

Now trim the edges. Poke a blade through the middle of a hole, and cut to the edge. Keep the blade pressed against the edge as you work your way around the cut. The edges are cut the same way, but they're less curvy, so you can relax a little bit easier.
MrPapaya2 years ago
Are the printed graphics done on a home inkjet printer? They look too good for that. If not, where could I get printouts like that done? We do not have Kinkos around here, but have Staples, The UPS Store, & some mom & pop type copy shops.

Your cabinet really looks arcade authentic. It reminds me of some of the Atari & Kee Games cabinets from the seventies.
TieDyedPie (author)  MrPapaya2 years ago
Thanks for the compliment.

The graphics were done at a local printer on glossy stock, if I recall. I'd see if any mom&pop type stores around you have any samples of their work and take it from there.
Some good tips here for making a lot of projects look good. Well done.

One question, not owning a Laser Cutter I'd do the token slot the hard way, with drill and hand file, and lots of spares. If you are using a laser cutter could you not use the laser to "engrave" your print pattern and then paint the4 whole back surface, then polish the paint off of the high spots? It wouldn't be so "quick" a project, but would it work?
TieDyedPie (author)  Dream Dragon3 years ago
It might work, I think I've heard of people doing something similar by rubbing in black crayon and scraping off the unetched spots.

The easiest way would be to print stencils on transparency paper, though you may have to layer a few to get good opacity.
The scrape it off technique may leave a rough surface. Then one would need to polish the tops flat. And after polishing the tops the valleys would be filled with polishing residue. Then the valleys would need to be cleaned out and the paint in the valleys might get scratched.

Avoid frustration, avoid the scrape method. :)
Clayton H.3 years ago
This is quite a good intructable. I'm curious where you got the plans for the initial cabinet. I've been looking into making one of these for a while and cant find any good instructions.
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